Sans Meal Plan: You’ve Got Company!

One of the liberties of being off meal plan that I (perhaps too often) indulge in is the ability to eat off campus. And, though Thayer does offer Brunonia a surprisingly eclectic and delicious range of restaurant choices (late-night or otherwise), it can get tiresome eating the same thing over and over again. Many visitors to Providence don’t realize the sheer number of superb restaurants in the area and are utterly surprised by the choices available. This weekend, a good friend from home is staying with me while on the pursuit of being a successful person (a.k.a. Brown Med School interview), and I want to take this time to both selfishly indulge in many of the restaurants within a walkable radius and show off Providence to someone who has never experienced her in all her glory.

Granted, there will probably be at least one meal eaten on Thayer (Meeting Street cookies? Late night Baja’s? Nice Slice for someone who doesn’t have much experience with New York style thin-crust pizza?), but I’m on a mission to talk-up Providence and its coolness factor. (I’ll downplay the rain a bit. And the masturbators.) So, where does one take a guest who has yet to experience the 401 and is on a student budget?  My plan is to start by interrogating him before each meal to figure out what kind of food he wants. Indian? Mediterranean? Italian? Asian fusion?

For those folks with (real) IDs, the GCB is a hands-down top choice for taking guests from out of town. No, it’s not a restaurant, but it has a cool vibe (probably from being in a basement) and a ton of interesting people to chat with. Cheap drinks, board games and darts? Count me in! As much as I love how close and convenient the Thayer bars are (especially Spats), I think that some of the bars downtown can be a lot of fun and I appreciate being able to mingle with some other college students in Providence. Don’t be afraid to leave College Hill for some good ole fashioned fun!

If you’re looking for a fun but casual night, Harry’s Burger Bar is a solid choice for a good night with delicious food. The sliders are top notch, the fries are addictive and the (adult) milkshakes frankly don’t need any sort of pitch to get me on the Harry’s train.  Get the M.O.A.B. (Mother of all Burgers) and you won’t be disappointed.

If your guest is looking for an affordable trip down south, check out Lola’s Tequila Bar & Cantina for some surprisingly delectable Tex-Mex fare and margaritas at the right price. If it’s your birthday, you get to wear a giant sombrero. They have a salsa menu. Chips are infinite. It’s next door to Hot Club (this one’s up to you to decide if it’s a plus or a minus). Also, if either you or your guest is feeling brave, try the Luchadores Challenge — just know you have to sign a waiver first!

If your guest is looking to expand his or her culinary palate, I might suggest any number of ethnic restaurants that are in Providence, especially in the College Hill/Fox Point area. Try Abyssinia on Wickenden for delicious Ethiopian food for carnivores and herbivores alike. Looking to cure a curry craving? Wander down the street to Taste of India for some delicious Indian food that will actually spice up your food (if you like the extra kick), unlike other Indian food establishments in the area.

For someone that appreciates a slightly more refined (and pricier) meal, try out some of the foodie hotspots in the area, such as La Laiterie, Chez Pascal, Red Stripe or New Rivers for top notch steaks, fish, charcuterie, cheese boards and desserts.  You won’t regret the trip, although you may need to live off of Top Ramen for the next few days… I think it’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Of course, this list would be useless without mentioning brunch, as a weekend visit from a friend wouldn’t be complete without eating breakfast food well past lunch time. Louis is always a good choice for early AM food, although I’m partial to Brickway on Wickenden because they tend to stuff entire avocadoes in their omelets (cue angels singing). I (sadly) only recently discovered that Meeting Street also has delicious breakfasts that they serve all day, so if Brickway seems a bit too far away then head to your favorite cookie spot for some awesome eggs and pancakes! If you like simpler breakfasts, hop on RIPTA (or take a walk) to visit Seven Stars Bakery… I have yet to meet someone that did not like their cinnamon rolls or fall in love with their scones. Their breads and pastries are well worth the short trip!

And, if all else fails, you can always steal meal credits from your friends with monopoly money. But, chances are, your company is either in college or recently experienced college and therefore does not want to eat college food. And why would you, when all of Providence awaits?

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