The 33 best restaurants in Providence, Rhode Island
The people of Rhode Island love to brag about the state’s large food scene, which strikes way above its weight for the smallest state in the Union. The “state’s official appetizer,” Rhode Island-style calamari even stole the show at the virtual roll call at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
The state capital has many culinary assets: easy access to premium seafood and produce from neighboring farms and waterways; a world-class culinary school in Johnson & Wales; and tons of original regional specialties like cafÃ© au lait, stuffies (stuffed clams), clam cakes and Del lemonade. Plus, restaurant space rents tend to be cheaper than in neighboring Boston, attracting talented chefs who want to venture into the property for the first time. Home to the Rhode Island School of Design and many working artists, Providence also has an indie and artistic vibe, which has permeated the philosophy of many of its restaurants.
Update November 2021:
Providence’s food scene was flourishing before the pandemic wreaked havoc on restaurants, shutting down many kitchens for months in 2020 and others for good. In recent months, restaurateurs have had to contend with inflated prices for ingredients, staff shortages and supply chain disruptions. Despite the challenges, many homeowners have found ways to make it work by offering take-out (some for the first time) or setting up outdoor tables year-round on streets, sidewalks and patios. Some companies now also require a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination for indoor meals, so get ready for dinner.
Yet even a pandemic cannot suppress the city’s bubbling culinary energy and hometown pride, evident in every bite of Providence’s 33 best restaurants.
Note: The inclusion of restaurants with on-site catering should not be considered an endorsement for indoor dining. Studies indicate a lower risk of exposure to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk depends on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on catering offerings. For up-to-date information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit Rhode Island Department of Health.
Jenna pelletier is a Rhode Island-based writer and editor. A former food editor at Boston Magazine and editor at the Journal of Providence, Pelletier also contributed to The Boston Globe, Food and wine, and Free time in New York.
To note: The restaurants on this map are listed geographically.