Four Squares

Twenty top spots for bargain breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night eats.

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Breakfast

Franklin Spa
Average meal: $6
It may sound like a pretentious spot, but Franklin Spa is a no-frills hangout with a pretty expansive menu. Any of their egg scrambles can be wrapped in huge tortillas, or go Southern with a heaping plate of buttermilk biscuits, sausage and gravy. If you crave dessert, they serve their ultra-thick frappes at 7 a.m. What’s better than retro? Authentic old school.
229 Spring St., Newport, 847-3540.

Blue Elephant
Average meal: $7
One part shock value (an entire loaf of bread-turned-French toast) and three parts comfort food. You’ll find all your go-to dishes at this homey colonial house, as well as variations on a theme: Benedict with bacon and chili; eggs with mozzarella, tomato and balsamic; and omelettes with green apple and brie.
312 Wickenden St., Providence, 383-8149, blueelephantprovidence.com.

Liberty Elm
Average meal: $6
More than just a diner, this eco-friendly, organic music venue encased in steel offers a modern take on homestyle cooking. Fair trade coffee, freshly squeezed juice, paninis, pizza and live, local tunes can be yours sans padded price. Oh, and, yes, they’ve got the classics—white toast and eggs over easy—for those who like Lady Liberty in traditional garb.
777 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 467-0777, libertyelmdiner.com.

Rufful’s
Average meal: $4
Fifty years old and barely more expensive than when they opened. Nothing is highbrow, but then who wants that anyway? If you show up often (and plenty do), they’ll memorize your order. Buttered toast, eggs over easy and a side of hash can all be yours for under $5. Cash only.
208 Wayland Ave., Providence, 421-2712.

The Black Goose Café
Average meal: $5
Forget fried egg sandwiches and omelets; try the grilled egg paninis with assorted cheeses or the homemade stratas, individual bread souffles in sweet cinnamon or
savory potato and bacon varieties. Muffins and scones are also made on the premises and won’t cost you more than $2.
2160 Main Rd., Tiverton, 816-0882.


Lunch

Gary’s Handy Lunch
Average meal: $6
This updated diner complete with vinyl stools and jukebox serves retro meals with that traditional Rhode Island (a.k.a. chorizo and seafood) twist. Sailors, residents and tourists flock to “The Handy” for home-cooked turkey sandwiches and the occasional prime rib and egg pairing, all high in fat and satisfaction.
462 Thames St., Newport, 847-9480.

Hudson Street Market
Average meal: $9
One quarter grocer, three quarters sandwich Mecca. Hudson Street Market may carry less on their shelves these days, but standard supplies were never as big a draw as their gargantuan grinders.  Try the avocado-tomato-lettuce-carrots-sprouts-pepper-olive-pickle-cheese extravaganza known as The Veggie.
68 Hudson St., Providence, 274-4540.

The Cooked Goose
Average meal: $8
Face it: Salt water in the vicinity sends prices skyrocketing, so this is about as cheap as
it gets in Westerly. To be fair, The Cooked Goose has some pretty upscale options. Roasted filet mignon and basil-cashew chicken salad are available on brioche buns 
for discriminating palates.
92 Watch Hill Rd., Westerly, 348-9888, thecookedgoose.com.

Crazy Burger
Average dish: $8
One of our favorite off-the-beaten-path places, Crazy Burger’s bohemian vibe appeals to health nuts and gluttons alike. On one side of the table sit cashew-stuffed mushrooms, tempeh burgers and hummus patties. On the other? Chicken wings with bourbon sauce and candy-fried ice cream. Guess which side we’re on.
144 Boon St., Narragansett, 783-1810, crazyburger.com.

Miller’s Roast Beef
Average meal: $5
You gotta love a place where you can get kosher pickles for sixteen cents. Not much has changed at Miller’s since it opened in the sixties. The orange Formica counters, the dark paneling and the swivel stools are all still there. Same goes for their signature sandwich, a tasty nod to nostalgia: warm, thinly sliced roast beef on a toasted, buttered bun.
628 Warren Ave., East Providence, 434-6678, millersroastbeef.com.


Dinner

Sambar
Average meal: $9
You may not choose to schedule dinner at the corner bar, but Sambar’s not really your local watering hole. The menu is based on Spanish tapas, with international influences thrown in. Go for the homemade potato chips with blue cheese dressing, Santo Domingo cinnamon shrimp and Brazilian fried chicken.
515 Thames St., Newport, 619-2505, thesambar.com.

Sushi-Go
Average meal: $6
Both of the Sushi-Go locations carry an impressive inventory of fresh fish (from tuna and shrimp to red snapper and salmon), though our favorite maki are those laced with strips of mango and Asian pear. All prerolled sushi is half-price during the last hour of business. Newport and Wakefield, sushi-go.com

Cuban Revolution
Average meal: $8
True, Cuban Revolution could be just a late-night hangout. But large bar be damned—early evenings make CR a family-friendly locale. Their new tapas-style menu (garlic shrimp, empanadas and Manchego with quince paste) also makes it affordable for big groups and picky eaters. Truly authentic Cuban? Perhaps not. Totally worthwhile? Absolutely. Open weekends ’til 2. 50 Aborn St., Providence, 331-8829; 60 Valley St., Olneyville, 632-0649, thecubanrevolution.com.

Murphy’s Deli and Bar
Average meal: $8
Murphy’s offers some of the best deli-style sandwiches around. True, a $10 sandwich doesn’t sound like a deal, but we beg to differ. Murphy’s corned beef really is that good. If meat’s not your thing, you can get their seafood combo (chowder, scrod, two clam cakes and a stuffie) for just four dollars more. 100 Fountain St., Providence, 421-1188.

St. Bart’s Club
Average meal: $12
Italian worthy of a full family dinner? St. Bart’s Club has been serving it up old school for thirty years: Dinners come with a salad and pasta as well as a view of the Botticelli-inspired sculpture. Braised veal and eggplant rollatini aren’t fancy, but they’ll taste just like your childhood. Extra: The house red is super-sweet and cheap to boot.
66 Sophia St., Providence, 942-0640.


Late Night

Haven Brothers
Average meal: $5
No need to even sit down. Haven Brothers’ mobile, steel restaurant is conveniently parked downtown, so you can grab a burger or fried egg sandwich while bar-hopping. Cold chicken sandwiches are available, too, but midnight meals usually call for something hot and greasy. Serves until 3 a.m. Adjacent to City Hall, Providence.

Rick’s Roadhouse
Average meal: $9
Pool tables, a movie-size TV screen and plenty of casual attitude make Rick’s perfect for a post-work get-together that goes well past primetime. The kitchen serves until midnight, though the bar keeps pouring until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. Burgers are always good at night, but southern barbecue is a beer’s best friend.
370 Richmond St., Providence, 272-7675, ricksroadhouseri.com.

Spike’s Junkyard Dogs
Average meal: $3 
Work stinks, your girlfriend left town and sleep eludes you at 1 a.m. Spike’s is happy to get you through these tough times with a Lonely Guy Dog (mustard, scallions, sauteed onions) or the Buffalo (wing sauce and blue cheese). Happiness is yours for three bucks and an antacid. Open weekends until 2 a.m. Various locations, spikesjunkyarddogs.com

Antonio’s Pizza
Average meal: $3
Ask any college student—Antonio’s is the best way to service a beer buzz. Not just because pizza is our favorite late-night  meal but because they top it with things that would surprise the most avant-garde eaters: crab, tortellini and the ever-popular midnight-slice—Buffalo chicken and blue cheese. Weekends ’til 2 a.m. 256 Thayer St., Providence, 455-3600.

Julian’s
Average meal: $10
Providence’s culinary cross-section: Local professors and their pierced students can get a diverse array of food from nearly every culture. Mediterranean cheeses are served along with naan and falafel, but late-night regulars also bulk up on a steady diet of peanut-marshmallow-sweet potato mash. Food is served until 11 p.m., drinks ’til 1 a.m.
318 Broadway, Providence, 861-1770, juliansprovidence.com.

 

 - November, 2008

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