I ate off of Thayer, and I liked it: Where to force your parents to take you this weekend

We all know and love the best weekend of the year: Family Weekend.  Upperclassmen look fondly back on the time when their parents would visit for a couple of days to replenish snacks, buy new clothes for the upcoming bitter months and look for excuses to pawn useless dorm necessities off on us.

Often, parents will try and utilize this opportunity to relive their college years while simultaneously bonding with their now-adult children.  Read: they want to eat in the dining hall.  And to that, we must be strong! Be principled! Stand up for yourself and for all that tastes good in the world! Demand food off-campus before it’s too late and you start to notice leftovers being served in the Ratty three days in a row.  Providence was named the third best city for foodies in America [via], and now is the time to take advantage ofeducate your parents on some of the wonderful food offered here.  Let them drive you wherever your their heart desires and bask in the glory of the foodie-heaven that is Providence.  Even if fancy food isn’t your style, at least use this weekend as an opportunity to get off Thayer Street.  I know we thought that Paragon would never get old, but alas…

Pricey-but-worth-it Dinner

  • Al Forno Restaurantwww.alforno.com, 577 South Main Street, Providence, (401) 273-9760

Made famous by their amazing appetizer pizza, this classy (and relatively pricey) Italian restaurant is first-rate.  Just a hop, skip and jump away from Whisky Republic, this restaurant truly offers some of the best Italian food that can be found on this side of the Atlantic. Open Tuesday through Sunday, Al Forno does NOT take reservations, is fairly small and fills up FAST: plan accordingly. 

This nouvelle American and French fusion cuisine is the baby of the fancy artisan cheese shop Farmstead located next door in Wayland Square.  The menu is seasonal and changes often, and has a cozy, European bistro vibe.  The cheese-inspired restaurant offers everything from magnificent charcuterie and cheese boards to full on fancy baked mac and cheese. Like Al Forno, La Laiterie is open Tuesday through Saturday, does not take reservations and is a small establishment.  Expect a wait!

Excellent seafood conveniently located at the foot of College Hill.  It features a raw seafood bar, if that’s what floats your boat. Though the standard menu is delicious, ordering one of the seasonal specials will be worth your while. Hemenway’s is open daily and accepts reservations: win!

Casually Delicious

Although Wickenden is not that far away, it can feel like light years from Thayer Street when you’re starving. Most students don’t want to make the daunting 10-minute walk (seriously, guys?) to Wickenden unless it’s followed by the promise of Whisko, but it’s seriously worth it if you’re looking for quality Indian food.  Arguably more “authentic” (don’t even get me started on this loaded word, thanks American Studies…) than Kabob and Curry and other local Indian restaurants (think India, Rasoi, etc.), this small but inviting restaurant will leave your stomach happy and your curry quota satiated for the week.

This fun dive is just down the hill and offers amazing sliders and craft beer (for those of us old enough to enjoy such delicacies).  If beer ain’t yo thang, don’t sweat it ‘cuz they’ve also got amazing milkshakes!  All of their ingredients are from local purveyors and their beer menu offers selections from around the world and around the corner.  Get the sweet potato fries. Do it.


For a classic brunch that’s worth the inevitable wait, drive to Federal Hill for some good ole American deliciousness (a non-Italian rarity west of I-95).  The low-key “cool” restaurant offers brunch and dinner daily and is extremely popular amongst locals.  This visit will leave both your stomach and your wallet giddy.  Whether you enjoy a classic eggs-on-toast sort of thing or a more fanciful Lox platter, Julian’s got you covered!

  • Rue de l’Espoirwww.therue.com, 99 Hope Street, Providence, (401) 751-8890

Though this conveniently close restaurant (aptly located on Hope Street) started out as a quiche and crepe joint, it is now a fully-fledged restaurant and bar that specializes in fresh regional cooking. It has been featured in Esquire, Bon Appétit and Food and Wine magazines and has won the prestigious Green Certification Award thanks to its focus on local and sustainable ingredients (eat it up, Brown kids!).  Mainly French-American fusion, brunch at this restaurant will more than satiate your popover cravings and French cheese omelet fetishes in one sitting.  Close enough to walk, but far enough away to seem like you’re not eating on campus, brunch at the Rue will surely be a meal to remember!

Dessert: It’s what’s for (after) dinner

Located parallel to Atwells Avenue on Federal Hill, this small and hidden away European inspired dessert café offers unmatched taste explosions for sweets lovers.  No matter how much pasta you just ate on the Hill, there’s ALWAYS room for in-house made desserts of this quality.  Whether you go for lighter, fruitier desserts (think lemon mousse) or prefer your sweets downright dirty (flourless torta di cioccolata with raspberries: drooooooool), you can find a favorite at Pastiche.  Forget Ben and Jerry’s for one day and live a little!

So You Like to Drive…

If you don’t mind taking a quick drive to Narragansett, or you’re already in the Newport area, this laid-back restaurant is the stuff dreams are made of.  It’s not called Crazy Burger for nothing, folks!  Burgers here come in all shapes and sizes, for carnivores, vegans, and celiacs alike.  Although there are other foodstuffs offered, I’m inclined to ask: why go to Crazy Burger and not get, well, a crazy-ass burger?  These burgers, however, are not limited to buns and patties: how about trying out the Luna-Sea burger (salmon and pistachio pesto wrapped in phyllo)?  Or a Baa-Baa Burger made of lamb and feta cheese?  The sauces are spoon-to-mouth worthy, and the sides are fried-tastic.  Crazy Burger is also BYOB, for those of you who have parents trying to relive the glory days.  So, do yourself a favor and go to Crazy Burger, at least sometime before graduation.  I assure you, it’s well worth the trip!

So go, eat and be merry (because pretty soon your parents will be gone and it will just be you, the Ratty and rain…)!

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  1. I can’t believe this list doesn’t contain Apsara Palace

  2. Talia Kagan

    so you actually can make reservations for Al Forno on Parents’ Weekend…if you make them far in advance….

  3. Victoria Soto (Author)

    So, after a truly heavenly dinner at Al Forno last night (thanks, Dad!), I clarified some reservation info. Al Forno will take reservations for parties of 6 or more any time of the year, but try to do so really in advance because the joint isn’t that big. They will take reservations for Graduation/Commencement Weekend for parties of 2 or more as a special circumstance because of how booked they get (the manager didn’t mention Parents’ Weekend, only commencement, so I’m not positive about that one). However, for all those groups of less than 6 that still want to squeeze into this place, they’ve started taking call-aheads in order to reduce actual in-house wait time. Simply call ahead (on the same evening) and tell them your party size and inquire as to how long the wait is. They will put your name down as though you were physically standing in the restaurant, so that means you could be asked to arrive very soon or not for another 2 hours depending on how busy they are. Hope this helps, and ENJOY!

    Also, regarding Apsara Palace, I didn’t want to recommend (or not recommend) any restaurant that I have not personally been to, so I had to nix some really fabulous recommendations because of lack of personal experience there…

  4. Aaron Fitzsenry

    Drive straight past Julian’s until you reach Nick’s on Broadway. Seriously.

  5. Irene

    AS 220 should also be on here!

  6. Sam Levison

    apsara is really incredible

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