First of all, I’m not a real Rhode Islander. I moved here 14 years ago fresh out of undergrad, but pretty quickly Little Rhody, and Providence especially, got me hooked. The ocean, the architecture, the arts, and the historical buildings are totally my thing. Add in the food? Never leaving.
I’m a free-lance costume designer, adjunct professor, mom of a 19-month-old, and (mostly) vegetarian. My years of biking and walking around Providence from one theatre tech or waitressing job to the next have really come in handy when it comes to knowing where to grab some food or caffeine when I’m solo, and which spots make for good family lunch dates. Hands-down my absolute favorite place to eat is Nick's on Broadway. I’ve been going there with my (highly-carnivorous) husband since we first started dating and he lived upstairs from their old location across from the Columbus Theatre (How Rhode Island is that?). These guys catered our wedding and it was the first place we took our daughter out as a newborn, we LOVE them. I could go on forever about their amazing tastings and dinner entrees (all made from locally sourced ingredients), but for busy workdays, my go-to is a bottomless cup of their delicious coffee with the tofu sandwich.
As the first vegetarian restaurant I ever went to, Garden Grille holds another special place in my heart. The Tofu BLT with avocado or Reggie’s Raw Heaven are absolutely perfect, and their vegan cheesecake is so lovely. Also, if I go in for a solo midday working lunch, I can be in and out in under 30 minutes. Yay! (With a treat stop at Wildflour, of course, because cupcakes are always the answer.)
I spend a lot of my time Downcity, a couple doors down from AS220’s Foo(d). Their mac and cheese with broccoli has saved me from creativity burn-out on many a long cold winter day. If I need to move my car, I call ahead to Grange and get lunch to go or grab a spot at their communal farm table and get paperwork handled. Also, this place is really baby-friendly and the carnivorous husband loves everything on the menu.
Any discussion of my favorite establishments has to include the essential fuel of all theatre professionals and moms of small children, coffee. Depending on where I’m headed, I literally plan these into my day. If I’m going downtown, I’ll stop at Olga’s on my way in; their coffee is strong and the raspberry and walnut scone is perfection. Days when I am on the East Side near Brown, a soy latte (or 2 – don’t judge) from Blue State Coffee keeps my brain going. Farther up Hope Street? Seven Stars is always reliably delicious. If I am having a particularly rough day, or really need a reason to go on, Coffee Exchange is my secret weapon. No project obstacle can withstand one of their daily brews or espresso drinks.
There is one final place, but I am wary of mentioning it because it’s my absolute FAVORITE place to get work done. It’s super baby friendly, but also great for quiet work time, and I don’t want it to get so crowded I have to fight for one of their comfy couches. The Elephant Room on Broad Street in Pawtuxet Village has a huge tea menu, wonderful, strong dark coffee, delicious crepes, an open airy space, and the best soundscape. I don’t know what the owner is playing half the time, but it’s so conducive to setting my imagination flying, I swear if I had the time, I could write (or draw) the next Great American novel there.
Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Jessie Darrell Jarbadan, except for Olga's interior and the exterior of Nick's, which are by Ashley Farney. Additional restaurant photos taken from the PattyJDotCom Instagram.