Providence’s 17 Best Secret Bars, Hidden Gems and Speakeasies

Providence's seventeen best secret bars and speakeasies for indoor, outdoor and takeout cocktails, beer and wine.
Courtland Club, Providence Laura Ganci

Beverage Director Laura Ganci mixing up drinks at Courtland Club. Photography by Wolf Matthewson

One of the cool things about Providence is the number of off-the-radar bars and speakeasies that take a little sleuthing to stumble on. Locals know where to go, but visitors need inside intel to know where to search for these hidden gems. Many have outdoor patios and all offer indoor imbibing, but don’t forget, you can always order takeout cocktails, beer and wine to enjoy at home, too.

Editor’s note: Looking to expand your horizons beyond the Creative Capital? Check out our expansive list of niche bars and hidden gems throughout the Ocean State here

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345 Plant City. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

It might not look open from the outside, but if you know, you know. This secret bar is located across the street from its big sister restaurant Plant City, and while there’s a sign outside, the windows are dark and the doors are locked. Don’t give up. It’s part of the experience. Pull a few door handles to no avail, then go around the side to an open door leading to the kitchen. A cook might show off some culinary skill (right now it’s rolling vegan sushi), but hover in the doorway, and they’ll nod to say you’re in the right place and lead you from a red carpet to a dark and mysterious, plant-based cocktail bar. Grab a bar stool or sneak to the back where there’s a hidden nook with couches where you can evade social media snaps.

The details: 345 South Main St., Providence, 347-4429, instagram.com/345plantcity

 

The Avery

This is the OG that preceded all other elusive bars in Providence. It more recently embraced its patio instead of hiding behind dark curtains. Back in the day, there wasn’t a sign in sight, but now it welcomes the world with hand-painted lettering on the window marking its spot right out in the open. The twinkle lights and fountain make Luongo Square a magical spot to sip cocktails and rare bottles of craft beer outdoors, but the dark and moody interior with tin ceilings and a dark wooden bar make it the ultimate atmosphere for conversation.

The details: 18 Luongo Memorial Sq., Providence, 262-9009, averyprovidence.com

 

Justine’s

A bar that’s so secret, you do a double take before even entering. We dig it. Located behind a velvet curtain in an incognito lingerie store in Olneyville, Justine’s is the perfect speakeasy bar experience. Cocktails are inexpensive and the decor transports you to the past when illegally was the only way to imbibe. This bar pays homage to ’50s pinups, ’70s cinema stars and scandalous Prohibition babes. Wear a vintage frock and a hot red lip (pin curls optional), then kick back with a sidecar or aviation and think about all the lady bosses who lived back in the day fighting for change, then get motivated to kick butt against today’s atrocities.

The details: 11 Olneyville Sq., Providence, 454-4440, Facebook Page

 

Courtland Club

Long live the live jazz bar! Sit back and relax to local acts like the Leland Baker Trio on Sundays and live deejay sets to lounge to on most other nights. Courtland Club is a bar with no sign, down a nondescript side street on the West End of Providence. Just turn the knob and find out if you’re in the right place, but you’ll already know since the lively patio gives it away. Although it’s still considered a hidden gem, the former bakery-turned-social-club-turned-gathering-spot is welcoming to “all genders, races, ethnicities, religions and personal identities.” Guests can become members and gain privileges like access to lockers for securing special bottles, monthly perks and exclusive invitations. Go for a full meal of meatballs made with lamb from Hopkins Southdowns farm on housemade flatbread with garlic yogurt sauce, a margherita pizza or housemade black tea pappardelle with spicy gin and tomato cream sauce, Grana Padano and fresh herbs, and of course, don’t skip snacking on treats from the kitchen like Peking-style wings and irresistible cast-iron cookies.

The details: 51 Courtland St., Providence, 227-9300, courtlandclub.com

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The Leland Baker Trio, including Baker on the sax, Marcus Grant on the drums and bassist Conway Campbell, performs on Sunday nights at Courtland Club in Providence. Photography by Wolf Matthewson

The Slow Rhode

The Southern-style restaurant comes from the same owners of Broadway Bistro and small plates are the way to go. We love dishes that sexy-up casual fare like the falafel plate with cucumber and mint and blistered shishito peppers with honey-whipped ricotta. The drinks are some of the best around, and it’s well-known as a hospitality industry favorite to avoid mainstream mayhem when the college kids are back in town. The details: 425 West Fountain St., Providence, 351-0006, theslowrhode.com

 

Glou

The new cocktail and wine bar from Alexa Trembly and Emory Harkins, the owners of Twenty Stories bookstore down the street, features a magical patio that’s three times the size of the interior. Twinkle lights illuminate an area to the right of the former Malachi’s building set off by planters, and the patio continues in the back. Cocktails are expertly mixed with housemade syrups and fresh-pressed juices like the Palace with gin, Aperol and grapefruit and the Mariposa with mezcal, kiwi, pepino and lime. There are curated bottles of wine and zero-proof drinks that rival the booze-filled beverages, too. The clean white interior gives off a bright and airy daytime vibe but evolves into a dreamy candlelit mood come nightfall.

The details: 134 Ives St., Providence, instagram.com/glou.pvd

 

Needle and Thread

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Photo courtesy of Needle and Thread.

Look for the Needle and Thread logo on the door, then head down the spiral staircase (hold onto the railing — this is my mom voice!). Descend into an underground bar that was previously a tailor shop for more than forty years. Handsome leather chairs, brick walls and a tin ceiling await, along with a small- and large-plates menu of corn fettuccine, tiny tuna tacos and roast chicken, plus a cocktail menu that spotlights whiskey and smoky mezcal. Inventive bevies include the Money Clip with blended scotch, Cherry Heering and house bitters accented by a hundred-dollar bill. Jive to music from deejays and live jazz musicians, scheduled on certain nights.  The details: 45 Peck St., Providence, 437-8725, needlenthreadpvd.com

 

 

Durk’s Bar-B-Q

Follow Durk’s on Instagram at @durksbbq for the cheeky industry memes alone (and try not to spit out your spirits). The barbecue restaurant not only has some of the best slow-smoked ribs, brisket, pork and chicken around, available seven days a week, it also prides itself on a terrific whiskey collection. There are 180-plus bottles from which to choose, as well as a cocktail list developed by the same team at the Eddy, including an old fashioned on draft, a mean margarita, boozy house punch and more. But you can also grab a quick bite and a High Life to watch the game, or head to industry night to schmooze with other hospitality folks on the first Sunday of each month starting at 10 p.m.

The details: 33 Aborn St., Providence, 563-8622, durksbbq.com

 

Sport and Leisure

When you walk into this fancied-up sports bar, what catches your eye first: the back bar made from halved canoes, the green Tiffany and Co. basketball, or the vibrant drinks with decor to match? After sipping on an elegantly garnished cocktail or two (the passion fruit margarita is surely refreshing), stick around for the food. Choose from the Asian chili cauliflower bites, the street corn nachos and the S&L Burger — made with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and housemade S and L sauce. Come in for late-night shenanigans including bright orange sports coolers filled with beer or save your misbehavin’ for Sunday brunch.

The details: 108 North Main St., Providence, instagram.com/sportandleisurepvd

 

Tiny Bar

Cocktails in all the colors of the rainbow garnished with fresh herbs and flowers are the name of the game at Tiny Bar. The outdoor mural by Lena Mac, commissioned by the Avenue Concept, provides a vivid backdrop for conversation with friends (and lovers). There’s also a beautiful sculpture by Michael Alfano in the courtyard. The whimsical indoor and outdoor cocktail bar offers seasonal drinks for sipping at the “tiny” indoor bar, at outdoor tables or inside the heated tent. Try the purple Amethyst cocktail with lavender and the Soirée made with Bully Boy gin specially created for Tiny Bar with lavender, rose hip and rose petals, elderberry and lemon. With one of the biggest patios around, Tiny Bar is actually living large.

The details: 377 Richmond St., Providence, instagram.com/tinybarpvd

 

Hide Speakeasy 

If the George on Washington is the place to grab an elegant dinner, then the Hide Speakeasy — located beneath the restaurant’s front entrance — is the spot you sneak off to afterward for a good time. Once an illicit speakeasy serving patrons of the Dreyfus Hotel, this velvet-draped space has been serving up cocktails and sultry vibes since before Buddy Cianci made corruption synonymous with Providence. Try a modern twist on a classic cocktail, like the Old Meets New — an old fashioned with tequila instead of bourbon — or one of the creative small bites (lobster PB-and-J, anyone?). The roaring ’20s live on in deejay and comedy nights that keep Washington Street hopping all weekend long. 

The details: 121 Washington St., Providence, 642-6840, hidespeakeasy.com 

 

Marcelino’s

This sensual, Mediterranean-style bar opened right in the middle of the pandemic and persisted. Settle into an intimate nook with drinks labeled by dominant flavors like the strawberry-infused vodka with herbal wine, pink grapefruit and lime and the cocktail made with baklava-spiced whiskey, sweet vermouth, blossom water and honey. Bartenders create most ingredients for the cocktail menu from scratch, including infused spirits, housemade syrups and dehydrated citrus and fruit garnishes. The vegan and vegetarian-friendly Mediterranean menu features various versions of hummus, tahini, salads and flatbreads, perfect for sharing with friends or a date.

The details: 1 West Exchange St., Providence, 666-0088, marcelinosboutiquebar.com

 

The Royal Bobcat

Travel to 1920s New Orleans without leaving the state at the Royal Bobcat. This bar pays tribute to the Big Easy with saxy music and cat-centric artwork on the walls, plus velvet armchairs and exposed brick as the backdrop. The bar serves up Hanju Kitchen’s Korean-Cajun food and pretty potions including seasonal and tropical-style cocktails that are sure to fuel a fun night out. Try the Royal Hawaiian, a Hurricane or a spicy margarita. There’s monthly live jazz from some of the greats like the Leland Baker Trio, as well as Saturday night music from Kweku Aggrey and Marcus Grant,
and Wednesday jazz from Birt and Harley.

The details: 422 Atwells Ave., Providence, 537-7777, theroyalbobcat.com

 

The Walnut Room

This cocktail bar with both indoor and outdoor seating looks like the lavish interior of the Titanic. Soak up the ornate gilded and dark wood detailing, antique artwork and plush purple seating or grab an intimate streetlit sidewalk table for two. The menu offers a wide variety of cocktails served in vintage crystal glassware like A Pear Shaped Monk in Mexico (tequila, pear liqueur, green chartreuse and lime juice) and Traveling Man (bourbon, yellow chartreuse, amaro, Grand Marnier and lemon juice), plus a beer menu with something for everybody. Stay up to date on the live jazz schedule on Instagram at
@thewalnutroompvd.

The details: 245 South Main St., Providence, 227-9500, thewalnutroompvd.com

 

Lucky Enough

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Lucky Enough drink. Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

The self-proclaimed beer-and-a-shot joint is owned by local bartender and funnyman Vito Lantz and restaurant industry vet and wine and spirits insider Art Chamberland. Lucky Enough opened last winter in a brand-new building, but everything inside tells a tale of another time and place. It starts with the horseshoe bar made with bricks salvaged from the basement of the former Satin Doll and continues with the horseshoe beer tap handles and a collection of classic vinyl records and a turntable. Of course, Lantz has quirky names for all the drinks based on song titles like the “Party Every Day” cocktail (Kiss) featuring Old Forester bourbon, Bully Boy amaro and Laphroaig single malt scotch, best washed down with hoagies and grinders and “The Bear”-worthy Italian beef sandwich.

The details: 1492 Westminster St., Providence, 642-2749, luckyenoughpvd.com

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Lucky Enough has a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar that serves up drinks named after song titles. Photography by Wolf Matthewson

 

Nick-a-Nee’s

Grab a stack of bills and leave your fancy cocktail order (and credit card) for another bar. The drinks here are served best out of a can or draft line, or pick a spirit with one or two mixers already. There’s no such thing as a bar tab, just have your cash ready. Usually, there’s a live band jamming out to everything from bluegrass and blues to covers of old-timey hits and classic rock; and if not, there’s always the jukebox. The crowd runs the gamut from retired newspaper reporters to indie kids and pool sharks to couples looking for a place to two-step. The kitchen’s turning out some terrific meals that aren’t your average bar food. Go for Taco Tuesdays and Thursday pizza night, and always get a stuffie and take a chance on a sloppy Joe. Dogs are welcome indoors and out, and if that’s not your jam, then that’s your problem.

The details: 75 South St., Providence, 861-7290, instagram.com/_nickanees_ 

 

The Industrious Spirit Company

This spirit company is the first distillery in Providence since Prohibition in the 1920s. It boasts tasty cocktails mixed with made-in-house gin and vodka and locally sourced and foraged ingredients. You can enjoy the food and drinks from the comfort of your own home or select from the house menu on the heated and covered patio. Order food from various food popups, or Caribbean cuisine from Garden of Eve restaurant, which can be delivered from down the street.

The details: 1 Sims Ave. #103, Providence, 401-626-4696, iscospirits.com

 

Plus: Kimi’s Bar and the Dean Bar.

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