Pokeworks Opens on Providence’s Thayer Street

Try the fast-casual restaurant's customizable Hawaiian poke bowls and burritos.

A poke burrito at Pokeworks. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

Pokeworks has arrived from the volcanic island of Hawaii to the chilly city sidewalks of Providence. The fast-casual spot on Thayer Street serves up customizable Hawaiian poke bowls and burritos, including raw selections of flown-in-daily salmon and ahi tuna, as well as albacore tuna, scallops, shrimp and tofu and sous vide chicken. The bright and clean restaurant features counter service, where you can build a bowl or burrito on the spot by choosing which of the dozens of ingredients you want to include. It also has signature bowls and burritos available with toppings and sauces already selected to make it easier for first-timers.

“Top Chef” alumnus Sheldon Simeon is a chef collaborator behind the brand, and he’s also executive chef and owner of Maui’s Tin Roof restaurant. Pokeworks was founded in 2015 to introduce a Hawaiian favorite to cities across the nation, while bringing sustainable and responsibly sourced seafood to diners in the form of healthy Hawaiian dishes. Pokeworks now has seventeen locations in the United States and it hopes to reach 100 by 2020.

The concept is pretty neat, but it can be a bit intimidating on your first visit, even for this foodie, because there are so many options. The counter features dozens of ingredients and sauces from which to choose, but if you ask a friendly staff member to guide you through the menu, you’ll get the hang of it.

Raw fish and proteins at Pokeworks.

I started with a poke bowl with brown rice (select sushi rice, brown rice or quinoa as your base), then I added my choice of two proteins (spicy salmon and ahi tuna, but there are eight different options). Next, I added cucumber, edamame, ogo seaweed, chopped shiso, cilantro and mango. Then I hit up the sauce selections, opting for sweet chili gochujang (there are eight different sauces!). After that, I moved onto toppings and chose sesame seeds and wasabi tobiko from eleven different choices. Lastly, we reached the crunch station with another seven choices (I kept it simple with wonton crisps, but you can go crazy with everything from onion crisps and roasted macadamia nuts to toasted rice puffs and and lotus chips). Some items like avocado and macadamia nuts have a $1-$1.50 upcharge, but mostly everything else is included in the base price ($13 for two proteins or $15 for three proteins).

A customized poke bowl.

I also had the chance to sample a poke burrito, which I would have skipped, if it weren’t for a polite suggestion to try it. I had assumed it would involve poke served in a flour tortilla, but to my surprise, it was served in a roasted seaweed wrap. It’s like a giant sushi roll, including rice, poke and all the toppings you could ever want rolled up into one delicious bundle.

Topping options at Pokeworks.

So whether you choose to “Poke Your Way” by customizing your options, or go for one of the already amazing signature bowls or burritos, diners can be sure they’re experiencing authentic Hawaiian poke, using sustainable seafood options. I certainly had a lot of fun with my fish!

Pokeworks, 213, Thayer St., Providence, 401-383-4614, pokeworks.com