18 Places to BYOB in RI
Pick up your favorite bottle or brew and cheers to these places that let you bring your own booze.
Garden of Eve
405 Harris Ave., Providence, 688-5166
The Menu: Hearty Caribbean food like chicken curry, goat stew, oxtail and terrifically spicy jerk chicken paired with heaping piles of beans and rice, coconut rice or fried sweet plantains. The ten-month-old restaurant was created after owner Eve Bontemp could not find a restaurant serving her favorite Caribbean specialties from her childhood, so she created her own.
Vibe: A no-frills cottage has sparse indoor seating at two tables and a small counter, but come spring, summer and fall, a sprawling outdoor patio provides ample comfortable seating on padded wicker furniture. Bontemp is a graduate of the Rhode Island Food Bank’s Community Kitchen culinary job-training program, and she runs the restaurant with her husband and two sons. She’s also an avid Patriots fan, so be sure to discuss the team for some friendly banter.
Get: The signature jerk chicken packs a lot of heat and it’s the best we’ve ever had in this area. The curry chicken stew is a milder flavor made with coconut milk and just a touch of spice. Fried plantains are slightly sweet and perfectly crisp and caramelized on the outside. Be sure to try the sweet potato pie with chocolate chips for dessert.
Wash It Down: You can’t go wrong with Prestige beer, but you might try for a DIY rum punch, if you bring your own nips.
Just keep in mind that you can’t leave the restaurant with open containers. The restaurant also has imported Haitian fruit-flavored sodas available.
Corkage Fee: None.
Closest Liquor Store: Gasbarro’s Wines,
361 Atwells Ave., Providence, 421-4170, gasbarros.com
Dinner for Two: $25−$35.
Fine Print: This is not a gathering place for your entire extended family. The restaurant is really tiny, so be sure to arrive with small parties unless it’s patio season. The restaurant does a fierce takeout business, so that’s always a good option, too.
Thailand Modern Eatery
292 Atwells Ave., Providence, 272-0882, thailandpvd.com
The Menu: Specialties make up the menu, from the familiar pad Thai and drunken noodles to the more exotic gar pow and pad see eww. Consult the spiciness rating system to know what to expect from a one-star “tingling tongue” to three-star “mouth on fire.” The restaurant is vegan-friendly and any dish can be made gluten free.
Vibe: Expect everyone from oenophiles to the Bud Light-loving crowd at this Thai restaurant, which brings diversity to once-Italian-centric Federal Hill that’s now an international melting pot of cuisines. The restaurant has a green mentality by upcycling items for decor, and encouraging takeout patrons to bring in reusable cups, containers and bags to prevent waste. Reclaimed wood in the dining room gives it an Asian street market effect, there’s a sculpture made from repurposed cans, and mason and spice jars serve as planters for an impressive succulent collection.
Get: Start with one of the Thai-style soups, either the Tom Yum or coconut-milk-based Tom Kar. The latter might not look impressive
with white button mushrooms and chicken, but the Thai herbs infuse it with complex flavors. Gyoza are perfect pork dumplings, and the drunken noodles’ spice factor is on par with its “mouth on fire” rating. The beef pik pow is packed with vegetables and tender beef (or your choice of meat) paired with white rice.
Wash It Down: A fruity sparkling rose pairs nicely with the spicy flavors in each dish by cutting the heat. In fact, according to Food and Wine, sparkling rose “is one of the most versatile, food-friendly wines in the world.” When in doubt, go with sparkling rose all day.
Corkage Fee: $2.99 if you need glasses and a wine opener, but it’s free if you bring your own. No charge for beer.
Closest Liquor Store: Gasbarro’s Wines, 361 Atwells Ave., Providence, 421-4170, gasbarros.com
Dinner for Two: $40−$50.
Fine Print: There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the printed menu. Ask for the secret version for more traditional Thai choices. There are even secret sauces available — chili paste, powder and chili-infused fish sauce — if you know to ask for them. Now, you do.
Not Just Snacks
833 Hope St., Providence, 831-1150, notjustsnacks.com
The Menu: Not Just Snacks delivers what its name states: dishes that are hardly snacks, but rather stick-to-your-ribs Indian specialties like spicy curries and chicken tikka masala served with basmati rice or naan bread. But before you order, a warning: Indian food has a kick that’s different from the spiciness of Mexican cuisine. It sticks in your throat and lingers. The solution? While this is a BYOB joint, we recommend ordering a mango lassi, a creamy yogurt and mango drink that will put the fire out.
Vibe: Ballerinas from Festival Ballet chat in leg warmers in one corner, a rowdy group with a bottle of wine fills the space with laughter, and a couple on a first date sits awkwardly blushing as they decide what to order. The space itself is unassuming, with a mural of a woman in a sari on the wall the only real decoration, but it’s welcoming: Anyone and everyone can pull up a chair.
Get: Start with some of the so-called snacks, like the meat or veggie samosas (veggie-stuffed fried triangles) or the rice cake with sambhar and coconut chutney. Make sure to get an order of naan a.k.a. puffy, soft bread deliciousness a.k.a. manna from heaven. Dip it in any saucy curry dish and you will be happy. For a taste of everything, order the vegetarian or meat Thali platter and you’ll sample curries with rice or naan, pickled veggies, a salad and a sweet.
Wash It Down: Wine with Indian food? Sure, you could pair a perfectly adequate Riesling with your chicken korma but, personally, I think beer is the way to go, specifically an ice-cold lager (yeah, I said it). While your average beer snob would turn up his or her nose at the suggestion of a lager, it’s probably because they haven’t had Weihenestephaner’s Original Helles. This lager has a smooth mouthfeel, hefty scent of grain and is packed with flavor. In short, it ain’t no Bud Light. Its refreshing and slightly spiced demeanor will hold up to your meal without creating too much of a flavor explosion in your mouth.
Corkage Fee: None.
Closest Liquor Store: Swan Liquor, 806 Hope St., Providence, 421-5760
Dinner for Two: Less than $30.
Fine Print: Save room for the galub jamun. Besides being super fun to say, these Indian syrup-soaked doughnuts take your meal all the way.