Breakfast in Rhode Island
We flipped out over stacks of pancakes; sampled eggs scrambled, fried, poached, baked, stuffed with cheese and whipped into frittatas; and bit into bacon both crisp and flimsy — all in the name of finding the best spots for morning meals in our state.
With assistance by Jamie Samons, Leigh Vincola, Sarah Francis, Joshua Aromin, Lilli Paknis and Carla Aveledo
Toad in the hole at the Cooked Goose.
Potential T-Swift Sighting: The Cooked Goose
The coffee’s not the only thing buzzing at this quaint Westerly spot: According to tabloids, last July, Taylor Swift’s bodyguards created a minor scene to prevent other diners from photographing the pop songstress. Most mornings, the scene is laidback and comfortable. Speaking of coffee, they’ve been brewing New Harvest beans for ten years, and a cup of it is on the house if you have to wait for a table. Once seated, each party gets its own thermal carafe. Get the indulgent lobster Benedict or the signature truffled eggs, a gussied up toad in the hole with perfectly baked eggs, fontina, asparagus and truffle oil.
92 Watch Hill Rd., Westerly, 348-9888, thecookedgoose.com
Egg Sammy Salvation: Olga’s Cup and Saucer
The journey began a year ago: a search for the best breakfast sandwich in the state. We sampled far and wide, biting into rubbery fried eggs topped with processed cheese and disappointing bacon. But then, a thing of beauty: a housemade English muffin layered with an over easy egg dripping with golden yolk, melted gorgonzola, crisp applewood smoked bacon and a slice of tomato for that hint of acidity — the holy grail of breakfast between bread. Olga’s Cup and Saucer wrapped it up and packed it to go with a hefty stack of napkins. Trust us, you’ll need ’em.
103 Point St., Providence, 831-6666, olgascupandsaucer.blogspot.com
Corned beef hash with two Baffoni's eggs and Wayland Bakery toast at Elmwood Diner.
Comeback Story: Elmwood Diner
Two communities cried when the Locals and the Liberty Elm Diner shut down, but the good qualities of both places merged to become one at the resurrected Elmwood Diner. Zoe Neves and Paul Smith revitalized the 1940s diner car and reclaimed its original name, and former Locals chef Andrea LaFazia serves a simple menu that follows the farm-to-table movement. Ingredients like Baffoni’s eggs and poultry, Pat’s Pastured meat and Narragansett Creamery cheese make their mark on the menu alongside New Harvest coffee. Try the custard-soaked sweet bread or the corned beef hash made with brisket that’s been brined for nine days and braised for six hours, served with two eggs and toast from Wayland Bakery.
777 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 781-0777, elmwooddiner.com
Fancy Brunch: Nicks on Broadway
The place may be called Nicks, but the owner and chef is Derek Wagner. The story goes like this: A Johnson and Wales student spends many late nights eating at his favorite diner and gets to know the owner, Nick Sammartino, and his sons. Years later, Nick tells Derek he wants to retire and sell the restaurant at age seventy-nine, and the rest is history. Nearly fourteen years later, Nicks lives on at its newer, bigger location with the same name (the original Nicks was at 259 Broadway, now Pizzeria Gusto). Wagner runs the kitchen, schooling the next generation of passionate chefs and building Nicks’ reputation to Rhode Island institution-status, recently earning a “Million Dollar” review from famous Brit critic Giles Coren. Pay attention to the specials, especially eggs Benedict with seasonal ingredients like wild mushrooms, and fiddleheads in the early spring.
500 Broadway, Providence, 421-0286, nicksonbroadway.com
Non-Touristy Breakfast: Corner Cafe
In Newport, there’s no shortage of highly regarded restaurants for dinner, but what about breakfast? Don’t settle for prepackaged pastry at your hotel’s continental spread when you really want a morning meal to remember: like the bistro scrambler at the Corner Cafe, a place that’s as vital to locals as it is to tourists. Multigrain bread is piled with scrambled eggs, baby spinach, onions, provolone and grilled shrimp and topped with a rich hollandaise. On weekends, the wait may be long, but turnover is quick, so once you sit down to eat, you’ll soon be off to continue your journey with a full tummy.
110 Broadway, Newport, 846-0606, cornercafenewport.com
The Crowd-pleaser: Cozy Grill
“They have really good coffee,” says a breakfast guru sipping from her cup. That’s important with this morning crowd, and the New England brew proves strong and hot, percolated by two Bunn machines that stand like worshiped statues on the back counter. The dish is the pulled pork Benedict: two poached eggs and pulled pork piled high on a halved corn muffin dressed with barbecue hollandaise — a choice that tempts with a ten-pound weight gain as a souvenir. “No, only one,” is the server’s quick reply. But if you prefer heart health over heart attack, try the healthier options, including the California omelet made with egg whites, stuffed with grilled chicken, tomato, just a touch of bacon and cheese and topped with pristine sliced avocado.
440 Warwick Ave., Warwick, 941-9088, thecozygrillwarwick.com.
Other location: 473 Tiogue Ave., Coventry, 821-3440, cozygrillcoventry.com
Fresh Baked Muffins: Green Eggs
The overflowing muffin tins summon from the open kitchen; the scent of baked apples and blueberries wafts through the air. The mounded tops are bedecked with apple chunks and cinna-mon and sugar crumble or >>
clusters of sweet berries. Order one grilled with butter: Swoon. Watch the show at the counter as owner and chef Suzi White crafts plates with care, adorning dishes with a single purple edible orchid. The pancakes are exceptional; try the pumpkin with raisins and walnuts, both baked in and topped off with a smattering of housemade maple cream. And if it’s healthier options you’re after for omelets and eggs, they’ll sub in egg whites for almost anything and swap out home fries and toast for fresh fruit.
576 Metacom Ave., Bristol, 253-3443, ilikegreeneggs.com
Gorge Fest: Fatti Mac’s
You know you’re in for it when the plates are the size of grade school lunch trays. The slender fella in the kitchen is the owner; “I can definitely eat but I was just blessed with a good metabolism,” says chef Sean McAdam, who actually named the restaurant in homage to his dad’s nickname, Mac, combined with his love for big food. And as if French toast wasn’t already indulgent enough, he dips housemade apple and banana bread in egg and other secret ingredients, grills it and then tops it with sauteed apples or quick-flambeed bananas and a pool of syrup. “It was a happy accident,” he explains, when a couple wanted dessert after dinner and he had to think creatively with the banana bread he had on hand. The omelets — which take up most of the real estate on said lunch tray — are made with three or more eggs and stuffed with steak and cheese, or any veggies you please.
91 Franklin St., Westerly, 596-3663
Breakfast All Day: Brickway on Wickenden
Brickway was retro before retro was cool. Vintage tables come in candy colors and some can expand or retract depending on the size of your party. This is the place to come for an old-school breakfast served all day; we’re talking simple eggs over easy with toast, home fries and bacon and, if you’re feeling famished, maybe the two-by-four: two of each with pancakes on the side. The eggs are flipped until tender and gooey, the toast is hot and buttered on the spot and the pancakes are the kind just like mom made you on a lazy Sunday morning. Yea, you might be able to make it yourself at home, but at least you won’t have to do the dishes. 234 Wickenden St., Providence, 751-2477, brickwayonwickenden.com
Two of Everything: Phil’s
Dream sequence commence: two eggs any style, two strips of bacon and two links of sausage plus warm home fries, crisp toast and a larger-than-life pancake — are you drooling yet? Phil’s 2s is the fan-favorite choice of both hungry customers and doggy-bag enthusiasts alike. Located on Main Street in Wakefield Village, this much-loved spot offers daily specials (pumpkin pancakes, anyone?) and die-hard classics alongside service that is as fast as it is friendly. Whether you’re an early bird or a late-sleeper (breakfast is served 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.), slide into one of the cozy booths, sip endless coffee and make the best of the most important meal of your day.
323 Main St., Wakefield, 783-4073, philsmainstreetgrille.com
The Hollywood Set: Classic Cafe
This humble diner played a role in Woody Allen’s upcoming film starring Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix. The film crew set up shop this past summer inside the restaurant, where the walls are lined with antique signs, black and white photographs, plus vintage kids’ toys. After filming wrapped, Phoenix, who is vegan, would come back for a plate of hash browns. The potato pancakes are outstanding too (and can be subbed for home fries anytime). It’s a breakfast spot with a sense of humor — explaining the difference between a medium steak and one that’s well done (a.k.a. “a dry piece of leather”). The counter is fun to watch the chefs cook, if you don’t mind the racket. Ingredients are cooked into the omelets instead of stuffed inside. We like the Kitchen Sink (eleven ingredients) and Up Yours Chicken Little (chicken, garlic, roasted red peppers, onion and mozzarella).
865 Westminster St., Providence, 273-0707, classiccaferi.com
Johnny Cake Maker: The Commons Lunch
What type of johnny cake you get depends on which side of the bay you’re on. West Bay natives craft thicker, smaller ones with a mealy interior, while at the Commons Lunch, the cakes are crepe-thin, lacey and almost as large as your plate. Enjoy yours with lots of butter and syrup or go the all-inclusive route with an over easy egg and bacon on top. By coincidence, the egg yolk becomes an even better substitute for syrup, coating the johnny cake in warm, golden goodness. Helpful hint: On Sundays, hit up Commons before the post-church rush, or else getting a table might feel like playing the lottery. Ten in the morning might just be the sweet spot.
48 Commons, Little Compton, 635-4388
Jazzed Up Java: Kountry Kitchen
If city life is getting you down, grab a table at the aptly named Kountry Kitchen to remedy your situation. Gingham and knotty pine decor provide a cozy backdrop for seasonally flavored coffee, freshly baked biscuits and crepes stuffed with mascarpone and homemade jam. Specials often include treats like a triple chocolate waffle, French toast stuffed with banana and Nutella or chourico-sweet potato hash. Kill your carb quotient for the day with the Old Timer's Breakfast, which includes biscuits with sausage gravy, eggs, home fries and pancakes. 10 Smith Ave., Greenville, 949-0840, facebook.com/kountrykitchenri
Homey Hangout: English Muffin
A sign hanging over the coffee station at English Muffin reads, “Be nice or go away.” Apparently everyone in the place heeded the sign’s advice; this room overflows with warmth. In other good news, the food meets the high bar set by the hospitality. Solid breakfast fare is delivered quickly and just as ordered. The vanilla-scented Belgian waffle is topped with hot baked apples or go for the banana split version (bananas, walnuts, pineapple and whipped cream), made fresh to order and delivered dreamily crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. 1989 Plainfield Pike, Johnston, 943-6100, facebook.com/englishmuffinjohnston
Behemoth Omelets: Georgia’s Family Restaurant
Tucked away in the northern end of Central Falls, Georgia’s Family Restaurant changed ownership in 2013, but the quality of the offerings has remained high and huge. The serving sizes are not for delicate appetites. New England brand coffee is a standout here as are the judiciously spiced home fries, to which the cook will add extra onions if you ask. Order the hash omelet: It’s salty, it’s creamy and, at the size of a Nerf football, you’ll have to be on your game to finish it in one sitting.
915 Dexter St., Central Falls, 722-7030
365-Day Dining: OV’s Restaurant
Perched just south of the strip clubs and scrap metal piles on Allens Avenue, the doors to OV’s open at 5 a.m. every day of the year. The three locations are run by Johnson and Wales alumnus Hovik Dolarian (OV is his nickname) and his mother, Sousanna. The menu boasts an impressive array of internationally themed omelets (the Polish Pierogi with kielbasa, mushrooms, onion and feta cheese; the Blatino Guatemalan with spicy fried chicken, celery, tomato and crumbled blue cheese). The breakfast melt is another favorite: bacon, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and a fried egg, griddled between two slices of rye toast.
489 Allens Ave., Providence, 461-0300.
Other locations: 5 Sanderson Rd., Smithfield, 349-5818
34 Old Colony Ave., East Taunton, Mass., 828-6868
New Traditions: Wayland Square Diner
Taking over the spot of the East Side institution Rufful's, the Wayland Square Diner still appeals to families and powerbrokers alike. Don’t be surprised to see a U.S. Senator at the next table or overhear tales about a big real estate development while you drink your OJ. The diner’s “Waker Uppers” are combo platters that fuse sweet and savory, because sometimes it’s too early to decide what you want.
208 Wayland Ave., Providence, 421-2712
Cookies for Breakfast: Bridgeside Diner
In Rhode-Islandese, the Bridgeside is where Dee’s Place used to be in East Providence. Daily specials include seasonally themed pancakes (order the heart-shaped pancakes with chocolate chips and strawberries for Valentine’s Day) and cinnamon-apple stuffed French toast, alongside classic diner fare like hash and eggs or a variety of omelets. Or, you can always go for the Oreo pancakes topped with cookie crumbles, chocolate syrup and whipped cream, because you’re an adult and if you want to have cookies for breakfast, no one can stop you.
35 Warren Ave., East Providence, 438-1610, facebook.com/bridgesidedine35
Mid-Century Nostalgia: Kip’s Restaurant
From the atomic-era lettering on the signage to the vintage-style milkshake machine, Kip’s brings to mind Edward Hopper’s iconic painting “Nighthawks.” A family institution since 1959, Kip’s specializes in hot wieners. But the breakfast choices, amping up traditional diner fare with Portuguese accents, keep the place hopping all morning long. The Linguica Special features two eggs, a linguica patty, home fries, baked beans, toast and coffee for the bargain price of $8.05.
826 Newport Ave., Pawtucket, 726-9882, kipsrestaurant.net
Encyclopedic Experience: Modern Diner
Narrowing down your breakfast choice from the regular menu and the infinite wall of specials is a feat in itself at this historic Sterling Streamliner; some say it’s one of only two diner cars of its kind still in operation. The best solution is to choose sweet or savory, and ask the server for suggestions. The specials showcase the most creativity — thick French toast stuffed with melted brie and piled with roasted pears and pecans. Order the syrup on the side, or it might be too sweet. Italian eggs will satisfy the savory disciples; it’s the old toad in the hole trick on grilled Italian bread and topped with roasted red peppers. Bring cash, or suffer the wrath of ATM fees.
364 East Ave., Pawtucket, 726-8390, facebook.com/modern.diner
Bygone Breakfast: Cindy’s Diner
With a decorative homage to the 1950s, breakfast at Cindy’s is like stepping back in time. Coca Cola memorabilia, Betty Boop and doo-wop forty-fives adorn the walls in this family-owned diner on the side of Route 6. The “Happy Days” design is only amplified by the genuinely friendly service and a feeling of familiarity from the early morning regulars. Sink into a metallic red booth or grab a barstool at one of the two long counters and choose from a smattering of egg breakfasts and an entire page of pancake and French toast offerings (made with housemade bread) with all the fixings. The chunky monkey pancakes with bananas, chocolate and walnuts and a continually topped off cup of coffee do not disappoint.
46 Hartford Ave., North Scituate, 934-2449, facebook.com/cindysdinerri
Southern-Style: Bluebird Cafe
It may be located in South Kingstown, but once you grace through the glass doors, it’s like stepping south into Louisiana. Bluebird first rooted its Southwestern, Cajun and Creole flavors in New Orleans in 1987, but after relocating to the East Coast, owner Bart Shumaker picked up right where he left off. The favored plate is huevos rancheros: two eggs, dried black beans, ranchero sauce, cheese and housemade salsa layered in handmade corn tortillas from Sanchez Tortilleria in Providence. You can also add diced grilled chicken, and mix and match. And for you veggies out there, verduras rancheras are available with grilled vegetables as a substitute.
554 Kingstown Rd., Wakefield, 792-8940, bluebirdcaferi.com
Breakfast Before Sunrise: Betty’s Restaurant
It’s late, you’ve been out all night, you’re in good company, you’re hungry. There is really only one more place to go before crawling into bed as the sun comes up. This is Betty’s in North Providence, a no frills late-night breakfast joint that will appease your after-hours appetite with wit and charm. Distinguished Betty herself sits at the corner of the counter nodding to her customers as they file in at all hours. From a small, open kitchen, the crew turns out favorites like Betty’s Omelet (ham, peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni and cheese) and steak and eggs, which comes with home fries, toast and coffee. The jukebox is going, the food is hot and satisfying and everyone goes home happy.
1075 Charles St., North Providence, 724-7993
Friendliest Morning Crew: Simone’s
Locals have been patient for a long time — two years in fact — waiting for chef Joe Simone to open his own Warren spot for breakfast. The restaurant launched with a dinner menu, and as staff and kitchen crew settled in, they added breakfast and lunch hours, with a menu featuring many of our old favorites from the Sunnyside. Everything — from the welcoming staff to the tiniest details (New Harvest coffee and little squares of housemade cornbread with berry jam brought to the table) — comes together for a charming morning meal. Children are greeted with smiling faces and giant pancakes (blueberry, chocolate chip and Lucky Charms!), while adults dig into Dutch baby pancakes filled with fruit, crab cakes Benedict or the Mediterranean Breakfast with wood-grilled bread, marinated tomatoes and two olive oil basted eggs.
275 Child St., Warren, 247-1200, simonesri.com
Morning Matinee: Theatre 82 and Cafe
Years ago, it used to be a Gymboree. Now, the unit is home to theater, breakfast and lunch. As one waitress described it, the place, which has colorful nature-inspired art throughout, is like a Rainforest Cafe minus the animatronics. And though the cheese factor of robotic animals is missing, its literal counterpart runs aplenty on the steak and cheese omelet, named the Leading Role. Loaded with shaved steak and gooey cheese, like all omelets at Theatre 82, this one comes with toast and home fries. For non-carnivorous folk, look out for the Plot with a Twist, cream cheese-stuffed French toast served with blueberry compote.
82 Rolfe Sq., Cranston, 781-2200, artists-exchange.org/theatre82.html
Smoked salmon plate at the Beehive.
Farm-Style Feast: Beehive Cafe
There’s no other restaurant more synonymous with a beehive than this little buzzing cafe of activity. Grab a menu or glance at the chalkboard specials, place your order at the counter and then they’ll hand you a little plastic animal to prop on your table to make your order’s mark in the wild (that is, the busy upstairs dining room and deck or outdoor patio). Sweet and savory options are given equal play, be it the amazing butternut cornbread hash (all farm vegetables!), the smoked salmon plate with homemade flaxseed toast, or the chocolate eclair French toast with pastry cream, chocolate ganache, bananas and coconut.
10 Franklin St., Bristol, 396-9994, thebeehivecafe.com
Huevos rancheros with bacon at Kitchen.
Mmmm Bacon: Kitchen
There’s nothing more disappointing than a strip of floppy bacon. That’s just plain sad. But at Kitchen, you can rest assured your thick slab of salty, fatty goodness will deliver the crispness you so desire, hand-cut by owner, chef and one-man-show Howard Crofts. As we wait for a table (which may take a while given the scant five available), we breathe in the bacon before we even take a bite. Order your eggs as an American omelet, a frittata or a French omelet (a softer, fluffier version cooked in a pan) stuffed with veggies and cheese of your choice (chevre, brie, cheddar or feta) with home fries and toast. Add on a side of bacon, and maybe a housemade grilled blueberry or corn muffin to split, too. Set your alarm early to up your chances at scoring a bench, then sit back and savor these slices of heaven.
94 Carpenter St., Providence, 270-4454
Nova Scotia eggs Benedict with smoked salmon on Italian bread at Julians.
It’s All About the Bennies: Julians
The purists prefer poached eggs and hollandaise with Canadian bacon on crusty bread, but for the more brazen crowd, Julians lists at least six different versions of eggs Benedict (plus a vegan version). The daily Benny special might feature salmon, hanger steak or pork loin, and always includes a playful take on hollandaise: barbecue, bacon jam, tequila-miso, white truffle or lemon pepper. You may have to put up with table waits but it’s a worthwhile side effect for quality grub and quirky atmosphere. Prove you don’t take life too seriously by hopping onboard the free horsey ride on the sidewalk. We promise you won’t lose your breakfast.
318 Broadway, Providence, 861-1770, juliansprovidence.com