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Off the Brochure Travel Guide: Providence, Rhode Island

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Kurbota Pork ChopSelf-professed foodie David Latt reports on some of his favorite off the brochure finds in Providence, Rhode Island and beyond.

There’s been an incredible transformation in Rhode Island’s food scene, largely due to a  community of chefs who get together to share secrets, go out foraging for mushrooms, etc.

These guys are totally into food in a way that would thrill any locovore. They eat of the land, they find local fishermen who bring in their catch from the Narragansett Bay.

These guys are incredible talented, the food is affordable, and parking is a lot easier than in Boston.

There are places like Bacaro or New Rivers which are more formal. But the great thing about Providence is it’s a relaxed eating environment. There are casual places on Broadway, for instance, like Julian’s. It’s a great hipster hangout where the wait staff is tattooed, you can have a beer brunch on the weekend.

For more, visit Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Providence, Rhode Island.

Chef Derek Wagner - Nick's on BroadwayJust down the block is a wonderful place called Nick’s on Broadway. The chef is Derek Wagner, and this is the most inventive and energetic guy I’ve run across. His food adventure is really fun.

You come in for breakfast and instead of poached eggs on hash, you’ll get poached eggs on short ribs. What a cool way to start your day.

At a place called Café Nuovo, and as a special, they had oysters with beurre blanc and American caviar. Those are classic ingredients, with classically trained cooking. But you get a more relaxed approach, more adventuresome look at cooking.

For more, try Rhode Island Renaissance: Providence’s Locavore Chefs.

These guys are totally into a food in a way that’s very exciting. And because this is a community, they all hang out together.

Perfect Manhattan at the Red FezAfter work, they’ll go to a place called The Red Fez. Upstairs is music, downstairs is a bar, and it has the coolest bar food. It all seems like food you’ve had before, but with a twist. They’ll serve tacos, but it will be duck tacos. There’s poutine, which is traditionally French fries with brown gravy, but at the Red Fez they do it with Portuguese sausage. They’ve lifted everything up a notch.

And it’s not just about the thriving food scene. In the mid-1970s, the mills were closing and Providence was a very unhappy place. The state was suffering horrible unemployment problems and the aftermath of so much industrial development that went bust.

The story of Rhode Island is a story of caring about the natural environment. Large swatches of the state are devoted to wildlife refuges and bicycle paths and parks. If you go to Block Island, half of the land is under some kind of protection.

Want more recommendations? Don’t miss our Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Providence, Rhode Island.

Don’t miss David Latt’s in-depth reporting on culinary experiences in Rhode Island:

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