Amazingly (and deliciously), Rhode Island has about 100 restaurants for every 100,000 residents, making it one of the most densely-populated restaurant states in America. Add two more factors – the world-class culinary school at Johnson & Wales University and the wide-range of ethnic cultures – and you’ve got what Travel + Leisure magazine and others have dubbed one of the top foodie destinations in the nation.
One of the best ways to get a feel for the tight-knit chef and food community here is to visit one of the state’s many farmers markets. The most popular is the Saturday Hope Street Market, where hundreds of the best farms, chefs and purveyors set up, and the friendly vibe means you can chat, learn and taste along the way. Dozens of other farmers markets occur all over the state, and Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s website lists them all.
Another great lay-of-the-land strategy is to sample some of the state’s fabulous food trucks. There’s more than 60 to choose from and they serve everything – epic gourmet grilled cheese, fresh-shucked oysters, Korean barbecue and Mexican street food. Food Truck Friday at Roger Williams Park happens at lunchtime weekly at Carousel Village and features a couple of different choices each week. The Food Truck Marketplace in downtown’s Kennedy Plaza hosts a rotating array daily for the lunchtime masses.
Annually, there are lots of fun events and festivals for all to enjoy. Providence Restaurant Weeks takes place each January and July and features three-course, prix fixe menus at nearly 100 restaurants. The EatDrinkRI Festival focuses on local chefs and farms and kicks off festival season each April with four days of tastings and educational events. In June, the Little Italy section of Providence opens its doors for the Federal Hill Stroll, a night where restaurants along Atwells Avenue offer samples of entrees and beverages. The Rhode Island Seafood Festival takes over the city’s India Point Park for a weekend each September, and the latest, the Ocean State Oyster Festival, returns in the fall.