Let’s face it, Thayer gets pretty old after first semester. So instead of doing “the usual” (whatever Thayer destination that might be) during the weekend, Make-a-Day-of will feature various Providence neighborhoods, giving you the tools and tips to get your butt of Brown campus and out on the town.
This week, we’ll feature a Providence destination that every Brown student should know and love, yet surprisingly seldom do — Wickenden Street.
A five-minute stroll off campus, Wickenden is Thayer’s hipster cousin, just replace Starbucks with intimate coffee shops and Urban with antique boutiques. But like Thayer, Wickenden holds enough tastes and quirks in 5 blocks to keep you entertained for a whole day.
But first, a quick Providence history lesson. Wickenden Street gets its name from Providence co-founder and Baptist minister William Wickenden, the area’s original settler. Years later, the strip transformed into a Portuguese-American hubub. Those pastel colors — not a hipster creation, but Portuguese inspired.
On to the highlights. Here are some of our suggestions for your Wickenden exploration.
A small vintage store that holds everything you’ve always wanted to find plus hundreds of other objects too keep you entertained. Spilling out onto the sidewalk, Curiosities is all the unused junk of Providence’s garages collected in one space. A quick glance at one of the store’s walls and you’ll find antique postcards, tea sets, records, pieces of scrap metal, 70s roller derby skates (size 7), and a framed tapestry of Jesus. Yea, it is everything you ever wanted! Also, the store’s dog — very friendly.
Walking into this store is like walking into the set of Marie Antoinette. In the words of the store’s owner, this boutique “is European.” Especially useful during the upcoming Valentines Day weekend, Mignonette features jewelry, perfumes, and beauty oddities from Paris and Italy. While this store caters more to feminine costumers, everyone can get a kick out of lacy Parisian lingerie.
The Curatorium stays very true to it’s name, it’s an artsy museum shop minus the museum. Or an extended section of Urban’s books and trinkets. This store includes odd cooking utelnsils, lego architecture (for the kid in all of us), and a squirrel lamp for (only) $120. So, like a museum, its fun to look but defnittly not to touch. Or buy, for that matter.
After visiting Wickenden’s odd boutiques, stop by these cafe’s to sip on quirky drinks and ponder your hipster self.
This cozy nook of a cafe offers a variety of menu options (including breakfast all day!) and “fine gourmet” coffees like the Funky Monkey, a double espresso shot with chocolate and banana syrup. With your primate coffee you can try the omelet special, a warm muffin, or some hummus. Cafe Zog’s back courtyard serves as a venue for live music. Props if you are able to snatch the coveted booths at the back of the cafe.
Much like Cafe Zog, this small cafe, with quirky decorations and open kitchen, is a great spot to sip some coffee and enjoy a book. If you’re there early, try The Chubbins, their breakfast special including three eggs any style served with bacon, ham, sausage, homefries and toast. Like a Denny’s breakfast platter, but way more hip. For an “afternoon delight”, Amy’s Place offers wraps, soups, or salads a long with a variety of drinks and baskets full of muffins.
Also, be sure not to miss these honorable mentions — Ethnic Concepts (smoke shoppe with the “largest selection of glass and accessories in New England”), Tokyo Restaurant (way better sushi than Shark, perhaps the best sushi in RI), Angkor Restaurant (Cambodian cuisine!)
There you have it! Remember, these are suggestions, it’s up to your rummaging to find even more great places. If you find any other blog-worthy spots on Wickenden, or have suggestions for other neighborhoods you want to see covered, leave a comment!
Till then — happy exploring!
— Ana Alvarez