Lots of Meals, Some Tasty

I spent a week in Rhode Island on vacation. I grew up here. When I lived here, there were some pretty good restaurants, but nothing like the dining scene that Providence currently hosts. Here's a partial list of the meals we've had and some thoughts on each.

Twin Oaks

In the 80s, Twin Oaks was one of the most awesome dining experiences in Rhode Island. The food was good quality, huge portions, and just plain tasty. The drinks were liberal. The service was amazing.

Fast forward... Twin Oaks is competing with a number of high end and "traditional" restaurants and changed the formula a bit... for the worse.

The drinks are still liberal. The service is still awesome. But the food is struggling to be something that appeals to a younger crowd because maybe much of Twin Oaks' traditional customers have aged out of the population and driven their Cadillacs to sunnier places. Sadly, the food neither appeals to this San Francisco foodie nor does it have enough ties to the traditional Twin Oaks "naugahyde" roots to appeal.

Yeah, I'll probably come back to Twin Oaks when I visit Providence... but it's more for the memories than the food.

1230 Ocean Bistro

This place was a surprise find a few years back when it was called the Hammerhead. There's a deck with awesome ocean views... and I'm pretty spoiled by ocean views. The food is solid and the service is great.

The change in name comes with some minor upscaling of the food. The food is really good. From some fancy lobster dishes to traditional what-Twin-Oaks-used-to-be chicken parm with some tasty locally caught swordfish in the middle.

This place is a really excellent choice if you're in Narragansett and want something a little less well known.

Capital Grille

The Providence location was the first location of what has become a chain. The food is good. The steaks are excellent. The service is very good. But the prices are higher than San Francisco prices. This is more of an expense account kinda place than a place to take friends or family. But if someone else is paying, it's excellent quality food and atmosphere.

Arturo Joe's

This place was the biggest surprise during the trip. We were hungry and didn't want to drive far. It was Monday, so lots of places were closed. So, we stopped in at Arturo Joe's. The hostess and server were friendly and wicked attentive. The food was traditional Rhode Island Italian style. The prices were reasonable. This is definitely a place we'll come back to on our next Rhode Island trip.

Allie's Donuts

Simply the best donuts I've ever had. Better than Voodoo Donuts. Better than any chain donuts.

Allie's donuts are not fancy. They are simply high quality donuts that are stunningly delicious.

Kelly's Roast Beef

Like Allie's Donuts, Kelly's has spectacularly high quality roast beef sandwiches and lobster rolls and fried clams. It's all very excellent food. Sitting outside, looking over Revere Beach and taking in the summer vibe is great. The prices are not cheap. The service is amazingly sucky. But the food makes up for all of that. If you want some New England food with a summer vibe, it's hard to beat Kelly's.


Wow did this place disappointment. We had fish and chips, chowder, clam cakes, and doughboys. The only good part of the meal was the fried fish.

The clam cakes contained no clams as far as I could tell. The chips (french fries) were soggy... which was surprising because the line was long so I'd expect all the fried goods to be a few minutes out of the deep frier. The tartar sauce was Ken's Steakhouse brand in plastic single-serve containers. I could continue to complain.

We had better clam cakes from the vendor at Scarborough beach. I kid you not.

It seems Iggy's is about the reputation, not the food quality. They charge a lot for what might have been good food 20+ years ago. Avoid.


After the Iggy's debacle, I was somewhat apprehensive about another beach tradition... but we tried the Portside. It was a whole lot better than Iggy's.

The clam roll (whole bellies) was excellent... the salty clam belly explosions in my mouth was summer-traditional and almost as good as Kelly's. The fries were crispy. The cheeseburger was a good hunk of meat, cheese, and bun.

Yes, it's not cheap, but worth the price if you find yourself in Galilee.

Eat Well

I hope you find some of these quickie reviews helpful and that you eat well in Providence/Boston/Narragansett.