I'm more than a little bored with driving over the bridge and hanging out on Thames St. (There I said it!) Enter my intern Ashley who used to live in Newport and clued me in to places that the locals like to go. Turns out that many of those places also happen to be on Broadway, a short walk from Thames. It might as well be a world away though - It's a mixture of regular people (like you or me) just looking for a decent tomato soup and grilled cheese thank you very much, boho's, oldies, millennials, middle of the roadies, artists, musicians, gamers, firemen, students, recent graduates, gum shoes, and everything else in between. (And dollars to donuts you won't see tons of people wearing oversized sweatshirts with NEWPORT emblazoned across the front.) That being said, here are my top three non-tourist-y places to frequent on Broadway:
1. Smooth, Real Smooth
I searched all over Newport for 'like' the last year or two, looking for a restaurant or cafe comparable to my Pawtucket, PVD favs Garden Grille, Wildflower Bakery, and The Grange. Without much luck. Until Ashley clued me in to Raw Power Juice Bar & Kitchen. Like my go-to's on the other side of that bridge, Raw has a nice menu of vegetarian options, complete with the juices and smoothies I reach for whenever I'm feeling low energy crummy and/or my face starts looking dull and spotty.
What To Order: Sweet Potato Fries (#ToDieFor), Chief Turillo's Black Bean & Brown Rice Burger (See pix above.), Gluten Free Corn Chips With Salsa Or Hummus
The Vibe: Hospitable, casual, mellow. "It's all good."
2. Coffee, Tea And Culture Cultcha
Empire Tea & Coffee has become so popular that "they" have expanded to two additional locations (Saying a lot in a day and age when lots of people swear by beverages from that other place with the mermaid logo.). Broadway, however, was the original, which automatically makes it a little hipper than the other two, right? So, while there, impress your pals with that factoid. Then, order an iced coffee, latte or bubble tea (You should know that all the kids are drinking those these days.).
What To Order: All the drinks I've sampled, from iced coffee to cortados, cappuccinos, and lattes, have been praise worthy. No bitterness, burnt milk or other coffee related catastrophes to relate.
The Vibe: They have tons of seating and local art on display, which will make you feel like you're getting an extra shot of local culture in addition to that caffeine or bubble tea. The only caveat we struggled with yesterday was the 'individual' WiFi passwords they hand out to paying customers. (I imagine to discourage squatters looking for free WiFi with no intention of buying anything .) I mean I can't blame them, but it took me a minute or more before I could figure the damn thing out.
3. Pizza & Beer
Sometimes you just want a low key pub (Translation: Not too fancy but friendly) atmosphere where you can grab a cold drink, a sandwich or a pizza and rest your feet. (Patty J Style Tip: Peep Toe High Heels + Newport's Cobblestone Streets = A Very Bad Idea...Stash a pair of flat sandals or sneaks in your bag to change into if you're walking more than a block.) Thats's where The Tavern On Broadway comes in handy. It has mad crazy good word of mouth, with people gushing about how great the food, service, and atmosphere are. It's also off the beaten tourist path, so you can feel like a local who's just kicking back in town for a few hours.
What To Order: Their thin crust pizzas are beyond beyond. I don't eat burgers, but if you do, this place could become one of your new go-to's. They also offer a 'rotating' beer menu that changes regularly, with lots of craft brews that are so popular among hop heads right now.
The Vibe: The guy who waited on us could not have done a better job. Absolutely no complaints. We got our food quickly and he checked in us repeatedly. (One of my pet peeves is when, once you get your order, the waiter or waitress disappears and/or forgets all about you. Hello?!?!?)
Shopping, Beauty & Style Extra
Not far from Broadway, these are a few of my top picks for some serious non-tourist-y shopping while you're in the city by the sea:
- Farmaesthetics - All natural, organic skin and body care from this RI based company. It's tres affordable too. Stock up on gifts for yourself or someone who appreciates quality products that do what they say they'll do. Everyone needs their Fine Herbal Cleanser, Lip Softener, and Rosehip & Clay Mint Mask in their lives. Gwyneth Paltrow and Blake Lively are both fans btw.
- Marc Allen - Next door to Farmaesthetics is the 2nd location (The original is on North Main in PVD.) for some of the best made menswear in the state and the kind of service you were sure no longer existed in brick and mortar stores these days. Stay tuned for the full blog about Marc Allen tomorrow. It's going to be so good!
Ciao for Now,
Photo Credits: Photos of Raw Power 'burger', their sign, Nicole & me, and Empire Tea & Coffee stickers courtesy of Ashley Farney. To see more of her work, click here. All other photos courtesy of Patty J.