25 Can’t Miss Places to Eat in Providence

Whether you’re visiting the Providence Campus for the first time, or you’re planning a return trip, there are always new restaurants to try. Since the city’s Renaissance in the 1980s, the food scene has grown by leaps and bounds, and no trip is complete without a stop at one of the city’s delicious dining establishments. JWU alumni have made their mark on the city as chef-owners, bakers, front-of-house managers, sommeliers — you name it. While the list below doesn’t strictly stick to alum-run spots, it’s fair to say that most (if not all) have some kind of JWU connection.

For a small city, Providence’s dining scene is incredibly diverse. From authentic Indian cuisine to traditional Italian fare, ramen, Korean fried chicken and Southern comfort food, there’s something for everyone, gastronomically speaking!

providence river walk at night

1. Bayberry Garden

225 Dyer Street, Providence, RI 02903

Designed to encompass a modern English garden, Bayberry Garden brings nature to the city. High ceilings and bursts of natural light create a relaxing atmosphere while you sip on a signature cocktail and indulge in oysters from the raw bar. There’s also plenty of gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options including the caramelized plantain tart, baby beets and carrots, ora king salmon crudo, chocolate cake and sconcigli.

2. Den Den Korean Fried Chicken

182 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906

From vegetarian to spicy dishes, Den Den Korean Fried Chicken has crafted a menu that caters to everyone. Start with the pan fried dumplings, potato twisters or kimchi pancakes and then dig into the spicy Korean ramen, Korean style BBQ, garlic or spicy scallion chicken or the spicy rice cakes with one of their delicious toppings. A gluten free menu is also available!

3. Friskie Fries

100 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903

Open until 2am on weekends, Friskie Fries is a lifesaver when you’re craving a late-night snack. Putting a twist on classic french fries, you’ll find some creative options like the S’moresome, a box of fries coated in mini marshmallows, melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. For something more savory, the Miss Potato Head features smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, sour cream and fresh scallions.

4. Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

215 Thayer Street, Providence, RI 02906

Another popular spot for ramen is Ganko Ittetsu Ramen, which focuses on Sapporo style ramen where the base is sautéed in a wok before being mixed with the broth. This adds a charred taste and aroma to the soup! If you’re craving something spicy, the Gankara Miso is a popular dish featuring seven types of spice and paste.

5. Geoff’s Superlative Sandwiches

401 South Main, Providence, RI 02903

At Geoff’s, you’ll find over 90 sandwiches to choose from. The menu alone is enough to leave your mouth watering. Triple deckers, fish sandwiches, double combos and meatless sandwiches are just some of the sandwiches you’ll find at this sandwich shop. Add and remove ingredients to create your perfect sandwich or order a salad for something a bit lighter.

6. Gracie’s

194 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903

JWU alum and Executive Chef at Gracie’s, Matthew Varga ‘05 has helped this fine dining establishment win the AAA Four Diamond award five years straight. Events and weddings are also hosted at Gracie’s. There are a number of platters, three course dinners, late night snacks and bar packages available for your special day. Don’t miss out on delicious desserts from JWU alum and Pastry Chef Melissa Denmark ‘10.

7. Harry’s Bar & Burger 

121 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02903

Voted #1 burger in Rhode Island, Harry’s Bar & Burger is recognized for its sliders and boozy milkshakes in decadent flavors like maple bourbon and frozen oreo. You can also go bunless with a hearty slider bowl. JWU alum Harrison Ekhay ‘08 is the Vice President and John Elkhay ‘77 is the maestro of Chow Fun Food Group, which owns and operates Harry’s Bar & Burger.

8. Hemenway’s

121 South Main Street, Providence, RI 02903

For fresh New England seafood, don’t miss out on Hemenway’s, run by JWU alum Tobey Sanborn ‘97. The menu is packed with seafood options including the shellfish platter, steamed mussels, crab cakes, lobster bisque, grilled swordfish and lobster mac ’n cheese. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll find an assortment of rich desserts like the pumpkin cheesecake and warm apple shortbread crisp.

9. Kabob and Curry

261 Thayer Street, Providence, RI 02906

Cooking show host, author, instructor and owner of Kabob and Curry, Sanjiv Dhar ‘90 is a talented JWU alum known for his creative Indian dishes. Recognized as Rhode Island’s longest serving Indian restaurant, Kabob and Curry offers shareable plates like chicken and lamb samosas, papdi chaat and pakoras. There are also plenty of seafood and vegetarian entrées.

10. Kin Southern Table + Bar

71 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903

A popular Sunday brunch spot, Kin Southern Table + Bar serves traditional southern food like shrimp and grits, beignets, fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffles. If you’re looking for a cocktail at brunch, Kin offers mimosas, bloody marys and boozy coffee.

11. Knead Doughnuts

125 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence, RI 02906

Using local milk and eggs, fresh yeast and real vanilla bean, Knead Doughnuts is dedicated to providing Providence with quality doughnuts. From the traditional cake doughnuts to dessert-inspired flavors to fall doughnuts like cider and maple glazed, the selection at Knead Doughnuts makes it tough to choose just one. JWU alum Wetherly Hundley ‘13 has been the production manager of Knead Doughnuts since its opening in 2016.

12. The Malted Barley

334 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Offering a lengthy list of craft beer and cocktails, The Malted Barley is the perfect spot to unwind. Nothing pairs better with a craft beer than a freshly made soft pretzel like the chipotle pepper and smoked gouda stuffed, mozzarella and tomato stuffed or bacon and cheddar. The Malted Barley also serves warm pretzel sandwiches and waffles along with over 10 dipping sauces to choose from.

13. Massimo Ristorante

134 Atwells Avenue, Providence, RI 02903

Featured in Best of Rhode Island, Massimo’s menu consists of Italian cuisine like the signature Spaghettoni alla Carbonara the Pesce al Guazzetto. Planning an event? Massimo Restaurante hosts weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate events and more.

14. Nick’s On Broadway

500 Broadway, Providence, RI 02909

Owner, chef and JWU alum Derek Wagner ‘99 has crafted an astounding menu of sandwiches, pasta, seafood, salads and sweets at Nick’s On Broadway. Order several small plates for sharing like the New England cheese plate. The rosé and oysters menu pairs oysters and a bottle of rosé or you can opt for a charcuterie or cheese plate. Brunch is also available before 4pm.

15. Oberlin

186 Union Street, Providence, RI, 02903

Award-winning chef, owner and JWU alum Ben Sukle ‘08 has created a cozy atmosphere and noteworthy menu at Oberlin. This New American restaurant is recognized for its diverse selection of saké, beer and wine, and open kitchen where fresh breads (take home and pre-order available!) are baked to perfection. You’ll also find an assortment of handmade pastas, local vegetables and fresh seafood dishes on the menu. End your entrée with the warm apple and ginger tart and beeswax ice cream, the melon sundae or the basque-style cheesecake with poached pears.

16. Ocean State Sandwich

155 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Offering a variety of both hot and cold sandwiches, Ocean State Sandwich is a great place to grab lunch during a day out in Providence. Vegetarian options include the vegetarian black bean burger, hummus and vegetable wrap, Greek wrap and Caesar wrap. Stay warm in the winter with hot sandwiches like the Cuban or turkey chutney. This is another JWU alum establishment brought to you by Lorraine Handwerger ‘80.

17. Persimmon

99 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906

JWU alum Champe Spiedel ‘01 owns Persimmon with his wife Lisa Spiedel. The menu changes slightly each night to showcase Champe Spiedel’s talent and to keep things interesting at Persimmon. Popular menu items include croquettes, black spaghetti with bottarga, and spaghetti bolognese.

18. Plant City

334 S Water Street, Providence, RI 02903

This delicious vegan food hall offers an astounding number of plant-based pizzas, sandwiches, smoothies, baked goods and pre-made meals, perfect for on-the-go. Plant City also features a gourmet marketplace stocked with vegan cookbooks, cruelty-free personal care products, desserts, cheeses and so much more.

19. Providence Coal-Fired Pizza

385 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

For a crispy crust and tender dough, Providence Coal Fired Pizza is a must-try. Indulge in classics like the Margherita or try one of the unique creations like the Baby Bella, a flavorful balance of cremini and oyster mushrooms, ricotta, mozzarella and truffle oil.

20. Providence Oyster Bar

283 Atwells Avenue, Providence, RI 02903

Located in Providence’s historic Federal Hill and managed by JWU alum Ethan Umrichin ‘22, Providence Oyster Bar boasts a beautiful upscale dining room, fresh oysters, clams and seafood dishes, brunch options, catering and take-out. Book a table for lunch or dinner and enjoy the raw bar, shooters or platters.

21. PVDonuts

79 Ives Street, Providence, RI 02906

JWU alum Lori Kettelle ‘12 founded PVDonuts with her husband Paul Kettelle. With Lori’s background in baking and Paul’s experience in operations, marketing and advertising, this pair has created a hand-crafted doughnut shop that’s worthy of a stop on your visit to Providence. Vegan and flourless donuts are available along with monkey bread, fritters and coffee rolls. Cool off in the summer with an ice cream donut sandwich!

22. Res American Bistro

123 Empire Street, Providence, RI 02903

JWU alum Evan Matthew ‘07 opened Res American Bistro with two long-time friends, Ryan Whitecotton and Stephen White. Situated in downtown Providence, this cozy restaurant offers a wide-range of traditional cuisine including steak tartare, fresh pappardelle and duck confit. The brunch menu offers a diverse selection of savory and sweet options like Belgian waffles, French toast, benedicts and scallion cheddar biscuits.

23. Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar

65 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI 02903

Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar uses a rotating farm-to-table menu to highlight the incredible local food system, promote sustainability and support the community. Craft beers and spirits are also from local brewers and distillers! You’ll find fresh vegetables on the menu like Brussels sprouts, fried and tossed with a house made apple chutney and local beets, marinated with a whipped Narragansett ricotta, pickled fennel, orange and vinaigrette.

24. Xaco Taco

370 Richmond Street, Providence, RI 02903

JWU alum John Elkhay ‘77 of Harry’s Bar & Burger also runs Xaco Taco which features playful twists on classic Mexican street food. Order an assortment of tacos like the Shrimp Diablo, Barbacoa de Carne and Chipotle Chicken Tinga. Tortillas are made fresh daily! Pair your meal with a classic, spicy or blood orange margarita.

25. Yoleni’s

292 Westminster Street, Providence RI 02903

Bringing a slice of Greece to Providence is Yoleni’s, an authentic Greek restaurant and marketplace offering an assortment of sauces, soups, pastas and other delicious delicacies. Hand-crafted gyros are a great grab and go lunch option while the avocado toast with salmon or bacon is the perfect way to jumpstart your morning. For some morning or mid-day fuel, try the Greek yogurt with wild berries, cherries, granola or walnuts.