Whoever said, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” never met lunch, our favorite dining pit stop. Here are dozens of yummy ways to nosh at noon.
Though often overlooked, on the go, or skipped entirely, we think lunch deserves a lot more love. After all, if breakfast and dinner are the bread, lunch is the meat in the middle of a day's sandwich — the culinary oasis that separates morning from night. Several decades past bologna on white bread, today's lunch is as simple as a salad or as indulgent as a lobster reuben. We sampled dishes across the state in an effort to revive the midday meal, so cancel a meeting, carve out some time, and break out the napkins.
The staple. The touchstone. The double-breaded barometer by which all other lunches are judged. Go ahead and shove your meats, your cheeses and — God forbid — your veggies into a bread blanket. We'll just call it a midday meal.
BanhMi: Roasted pork with pickled vegetables, cilantro and chili peppers on a French baguette ($3.80)
Pho Paradise, 337 Broad St., Providence, 369-7985.
Grilled Cheese: Mozzarella and manchego with red onion and spinach on multigrain ($10)
Rue de L'Espoir, 99 Hope St., Providence, 751-8890, therue.com.
Shellfish: Half a pound of Maine lobster meat with hot butter on a traditional roll ($33)
Barking Crab, 151 Swinburne Row, Newport, 846-2722, barkingcrab.com.
Fish: Pan-fried white fish, mango salsa, avocado, arugula, sweet pepper aioli ($14)
Boathouse, 227 Schooner Dr., Tiverton, 624-6300, boathousetiverton.com.
PB & J: Freshly ground peanut butter with Nutella, granola and banana ($5.75)
Jolly Roger, 2257 South Main St., Providence, 709-8986.
Pork: Marinated pork, lettuce, viajero cheese, tomato, pickled jalapenos, onions, avocado and refried beans served toasted with ham, chipotle sauce with onions ($5) m
El Rancho Grande, 311 Plainfield St., Providence, 275-0808, elranchogranderestaurant.com.
The “Mad Men” meal may be over, but the corner office crew still gathers (occasionally) to talk shop without the boss around. Here’s where they go:
Equally high profile, Capriccio seduces with its subterranean swagger. Dimly lit (just bright enough to glimpse the passing suits — yes, jackets are still recommended) and private enough to cut a big deal, this Downcity institution makes everyone (that's Hermes scarves or gold chains) feel welcome.
Tommy’s Place and Eddie and Sons Diner draw those who want to break bread and talk briefs. Expect huge portions, 1950s prices and rib-sticking comfort food like macaroni and meatballs and baked meatloaf.
On the company bill? Cafe Nuovo’s best red. When court’s in session, Parkside and Hemenway’s are obvious choices. Proximity brings in courthouse catch-alls: brokers, lawyers, bankers. The very real potential of a judge sighting ups the cachet factor significantly.
Movers-and-shakers in the arts and nonprofit world have their own hangouts. Not a member of the Art Club? No worries, Tazza has creative cred. Artful food and hip environs are a winning combo.
Gluttony, They Name is Lunch
There's nothing here for the Cracker Eaters — those who graze through the day with some pretzel sticks and a wedge of cheese. In fact, we're sick of lunch being treated like a movable feast. This is a full-on, sit-down, immobilizing meal. Clear the afternoon, ’cause you're gonna need a nap.
What are kids eating today? Can you drag them anywhere that you would actually eat yourself? Our part-time staffer — eleven-year-old Lily — lays down the lunch law for Lilliputians.
Harry’s Bar and Burger
Two juicy Hereford sliders on a Burger King budget? Did we mention they have beer, too? Go for the one with American cheese and grilled onion, and ask for lots of the mayo-ketchup-yellow-mustard-tarragon-hybrid “special sauce.” A side of salt and pepper fries is extra ($2), but a must.
121 North Main St., Providence, 228-7437, harrysbarburger.com.
Carb counters can take solace in knowing Fellini’s New York-style pizza is made with whole-wheat, and it’s thin. After that, they’re in trouble. Our pick, the Sweet Heaven, is topped with bacon, ricotta, scallions and a creamy parmesan sauce. Never has a name rung more true.
166 Wickenden St., Providence, 751-6737, fellinipizzeria.com.
East Side Pockets
We credit East Side Pockets for turning even hardcore carnivores onto chickpeas (okay, the fried factor doesn’t hurt, either). They claim their massive falafel, a traditional Middle Eastern street-food staple, is the best around; we say we’ll take ours with extra hummus and hot sauce, please.
278 Thayer St., Providence, 453-1100, eastsidepocket.com.
Roast Beef Sandwich ($3.40)
The Beef Barn
Nostalgia coats every wall of this North Smithfield staple — from the iceberg salad to the BLT on white toast with a squeeze of mustard. But it remains the simple roast beef sandwich on a softie bun that lures lunch eaters from Gymboree to geriatric. Order it rare, slather it with barbecue sauce and call it a day.
4 Greenville Rd., North Smithfield, 762-9880, thebeefbarn.com.
New England Clam Chowder ($4/cup)
Blount Clam Shack and Soup Bar
A Warren institution, Blount is setting up shop in Providence’s Knowledge District. The all-you-can-eat-soup bar boasts daily-changing flavors, but we’re purists. Their signature clam chowder runs through our Sox/Pats-loving, New England veins. White, of course, with bushels of clams, plus the requisite potatoes, onions and hint of bacon.
371 Richmond St., Providence, 245-1800, blountseafood.com.
Salad (a.k.a. Rabbit Food)