Taste of the Ocean State: A Guide to The Best Restaurants in Rhode Island

Raw bar offerings with a water view

Are you coming to the Ocean State this Summer and looking for the best Restaurants in Rhode Island? As a lifelong Rhode Islander who’s sipped and tasted my way through every corner of the state, I feel pretty confident this guide will show you some of the very best places to check out while you’re here!

We might be the smallest state in the country, but the local food scene packs in no shortage of flavors! You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere that does seafood better than us, but you’ll also find phenomenal Italian restaurants, cute cafes, and some of the best ice cream you’ve ever had in your life!

Best Rhode Island Restaurants

Let me start by saying that this list isn’t comprehensive. I really had to whittle down to my absolute favorite spots, and it was not an easy task! If you’re out and about exploring and you come across a spot that wasn’t mentioned in my guide, I would highly encourage you to give them a try anyways! 

Southern Rhode Island Restaurant Recommendations

For all my seafood lovers out there, you do not want to miss out on these recommendations! Southern Rhode Island puts you down by some of our very best beaches, breathtaking state parks, the Newport Mansions if you head to the East Bay.

A visual demonstration at an oyster farm in Rhode Island
Images via Matunuck Oyster Bar

Matunuck Oyster Bar 

The Matunuck Oyster Bar is one of the most beloved restaurants in Rhode Island, and for good reason! The food is delicious and the restaurant and raw bar offer up sweeping views of Potter Pond, but part of what makes this restaurant so special is it’s owned and operated by lifelong Rhode Islander. 

Perry Raso started digging for littlenecks in Point Judith from a young age, and today, he runs one of the most successful oyster farmers in the state. In fact, you can even take a behind the scenes tour of the oyster farm tour while you’re here. He’s been doing educational tours for over 20 years. 

Matunuck Oyster Bar has some of the freshest oysters in the state, because it doesn’t get much more locally sourced than your own backyard. If you love seafood, the Ocean State is the perfect place for you, and Matunuck Oyster Bar is among the best of the best. 

Plus, they’ve also got an extensive wine list! If you’re celebrating a special occasion while you’re here, or even just looking for somewhere to go on an average weeknight night, I highly recommend Matunuck Oyster Bar! 

Learn more about Matunuck Oyster Bar

Sunset on a Rhode Island beach in South County
Image via Ocean Mist

Ocean Mist

If you’re looking for somewhere that does dinner, drinks, live entertainment, and even brunch the next morning if you partied a little too hard the night before, Ocean Mist is another local favorite spot. I highly recommend coming for Tasty Tuesday – which includes a three-course meal and a craft cocktail for only $30 – or the weekends for live music. 

If you come for brunch, the lobster benny and the Texas french toast are two of my favorite menu items. Plus, if you’re here in the morning, you can fully appreciate the incredible views of the ocean. The waves are pretty great, and you can even get a sneak peak, thanks to their surf cam!

Learn more about Ocean Mist

Inside of Mew's Tavern with fake tree
Image via Mew's Tavern

Mew’s Tavern

As a proud University of Rhode Island alumna, I can’t even count how many times I’ve been to Mew’s Tavern! I’ve continued coming back again and again, long after graduating. They mostly serve up American cuisine and local IPAs, but the menu is extensive and the vibes are hard to beat.

What other restaurant has a tree growing inside, right in the middle of everything? Or has a bar that’s covered floor to ceiling with defaced dollar bills? Some of those dollars were put up by yours truly on fun, late nights out. Whether I was here spending too much money on shots, or enjoying a more wholesome dinner with family, I have nothing but great memories from Mew’s Tavern. 

Learn more about Mew’s Tavern

Seafood plates displayed on a table
Image via Aunt Carrie's

Aunt Carries

Rhode Islanders might be at odds with one another over where to get the best New England clam chowder and clam cakes, but for me, it has to be Aunt Carrie’s Restaurant! Not many restaurants live to be more than a century old, so you know they must be doing something right!

This clam shack turned restaurant is my favorite spot to end a beach day.

They’re a seasonal restaurant, so you’ll need to visit during the summer months. Whether you’re sitting in the formal dining room, or just grabbing take out to bring back to the beach for a sunset picnic, you’re sure to be blown away by these authentic, quintessential Ocean State bites. 

Personally, I highly recommend trying a “stuffie,” a Rhode Island style stuffed quahog. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, the fish and chips are great too! 

Learn more about Aunt Carrie’s Restaurant 

Two restaurants workers hold a basket of shellfish outside the black pearl
Image via The Black Pearl

The Black Pearl

I could probably write a whole separate blog post on the best restaurants in Rhode Island Newport, but if pressed for my top recommendation, I’d have to go with The Black Pearl. Truthfully, I’ve only been here once, but I’m still dreaming about the buttery black striped bass special almost an entire decade later! 

They are a bit on the pricey side, but these fresh catch bites will not disappoint. They don’t take reservations, but if you can manage to grab an early dinner, I’d recommend taking a sunset sail while you’re here. They’re both located at Bowen’s Wharf, so you can just walk right on over! 

Learn more about The Black Pearl

Central Rhode Island Restaurant Recommendations

By Rhode Island standards, Providence is a bit of a ride from the beaches, but if you’re visiting from anywhere else, you likely won’t be phased by the thirty minute drive from South County. Even by Rhode Island standards, though, these restaurants in and around Little Rhody’s capital city are so good that they’re worth the long drive!

Hand holding a drink outside a restaurant sign
Image via Massimo


You might think the Rhode Island food scene only has delicious seafood to offer, but did you know Little Rhody is also home to incredible Italian food, too? The Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence is often referred to as Little Italy, and the fountain across the street from Mossimo in DePasquale Plaza was actually hand crafted with Italian marble. 

You can’t throw a stone on Federal Hill without hitting a fantastic Italian restaurant or grocery, but Mossimo is a personal favorite of mine. The seasonal menu and the wine list are both extensive, and they have wonderful, ever changing specials that are sure to delight. 

Learn more about Mossimo

Sauce being poured over a Peruvian dish
Image via Los Andes

Los Andes

Once you have the ceviche, you’ll be able to see, or rather taste, why Los Andes is one of the most popular restaurants in the entire state. If you’ve never had Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine before, you’re in for a treat! 

The entire menu is a fusion of delicious latin flavors, and even if ceviche isn’t your thing, I guarantee you’ll find something that makes your taste buds explode. It’s got a great, high energy vibe, and if it’s warm enough when you visit, try getting a seat outside. Just don’t forget to make a reservation! 

Learn more about Los Andes

Den Den

For hearty Korean dishes like hot-stone bibimbap, seafood pancakes, and short rib barbeque, I highly recommend Den Den in downtown Providence. If you’re more Korean fried chicken, no worries, they have a secondary location right off Thayer Street in the middle of Brown University. 

Learn more about Den Den

Hands holding various ice cream dishes

Newport Creamery

I’ll always promote local, mom-and-pop restaurants over chains, but Newport Creamery is a Rhode Island chain that’s become something of an institution. Ironically, there’s no more Newport Creamery in Newport, but you can find them all across the Ocean State. 

I’d recommend going to Newport Creamery in Cranston at Garden City. You can grab a quick, casual bite, and then order an Awful Awful to sip while you stroll around the outdoor shopping center. 

What’s an Awful Awful you ask? It’s “awful big and awful good” – and much, much more than your typical milkshake. Instead of being made with hard ice cream, Awful Awfuls are made with ice milk and syrup. It’s something you need to taste for yourself when you visit! 

Learn more about Newport Creamery 

Northern Rhode Island Restaurant Recommendations

Southern Rhode Island and Providence get a lot of attention, but if you enjoy a little less hustle and bustle and the peace and tranquility that comes with heading a little further North, there are a few really great spots worth checking out. 

Hand holding a fork of pasta
Images via Chelo's Hometown Bar & Grille

Chelo’s Hometown Bar & Grille

Another Rhode Island chain, Chelo’s is a great pick, no matter what corner of the state you’re in. The food is delicious, and it’s a wonderful, family friendly atmosphere. I can’t begin to tell you how many birthdays and celebrations I’ve spent here, or even just fun, memorable outings with friends. 

Learn more about Chelo’s Hometown Bar & Grille

Lucky Dog Tavern

Located in North Smithfield, Lucky Dog Tavern is a local favorite that serves up delicious food and incredible services. While some taverns only offer simple bar-eats – and you can definitely order a great burger and fries here – Lucky Dog Tavern also serves more finer fare options like prime rib, lobster ravioli, and parmigiana.

Learn more about Lucky Dog Tavern

Best Rhode Island Cafes

If you’re on the hunt for a great cup of coffee, or some delicious pastry to start your morning, I’ve also got a few great coffee shops and cafes that are a great way to start any day!

Southern Rhode Island Cafes

For those of you who love being near the water, southern Rhode Island is a perfect summertime vacation spot! We also have great caffeine fixes!

people working in a cafe
Image via Caf Bar

Caf Bar

I’m incredibly biased, but Caf Bar is one of the best spots in the entire state. When I worked in southern Rhode Island, I used to come here on a daily basis for years. The matcha mint latte with oat milk is phenomenal, and it pairs perfectly with the avocado toast on sourdough bread, if I do say so myself.

While that’s my usual, go-to order, I quite honestly have never had anything from their menu that I didn’t love. You’ll find them nestled in the heart of historic, downtown Wakefield, and the owners and all their staff are truly some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet!

Learn more about Caf Bar

Central Rhode Island Cafes

If you love to start your morning with a good cafe fix, and like to support local businesses and cafes during your travels, I have a few great recommendations for that, too!

Inside of a Persian inspired cafe
Image via Ellie's


Found in Downtown Providence, Ellie’s is a Perisian inspired cafe that’s home to the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life! They have an assortment of sweet treats, pastry, and savory breakfast items. 

It’s a great grab-and-go spot in the middle of everything, but if you have the time to spend a few minutes here, it has an incredibly warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

Learn more about Ellie’s Bakery

Dave’s Coffee 

Another Rhode Island institution is Dave’s Coffee Roasters, found a stone’s throw away from the downtown pedestrian bridge. They have great coffee, of course, but they also have their own brand of coffee syrup – something that’s completely unique to Rhode Island. 

Personally, my brand of choice when it comes to Autocrat – something you’ll find many Rhode Islanders have a strong allegiance to – but even I can admit that Dave’s helps make a great coffee milk. 

Learn more about Dave’s Coffee

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rhode Island famous food?

Rhode Island’s most famous dish is probably our official state appetizer – calamari! We’re also famous for our coffee milk, Del’s Lemonade, hot wieners. I promise, they’re all much better than they sound, and you should absolutely try them all while you’re here!

What’s the #1 restaurant in the US?

Honestly, that’s an impossible question to answer, because Rhode Island has so much to offer. We have a little bit of everything – killer seafood, lip smacking peruvian and bolivian cuisine, and life changing, authentic chinese food. For a little state, we have a lot to offer. This roundup of my favorite spots is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Why is Providence famous?

There’s a few things that give Providence a claim to fame. In recent years, it’s turned into a popular filming location, serving as a backdrop to blockbuster films like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Hocus Pocus 2.” It’s also home to an Ivy League – Brown University – and one of the top art schools in the county. Plus, we’ve got some pretty cool residents, like Shepard Fairey, who famously designed former President Barack Obama’s “HOPE” election poster.

How many restaurants are in Rhode Island?

I’m tempted to say there’s too many restaurants in Rhode Island to count, but according to the National Restaurant Association, there’s more than 3,000 places to eat and drink in the Ocean State!


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