The Best Brunch Spots in Providence
Where there are college students, there are hangovers. And where there are hangovers, there are hangover cures. Providence, home to Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Johnson & Wales, is a college town as well as an up-and-coming food city. That means there are plenty of places to dig into plate-sized pancakes, creative Benedicts, and lots of other sweet and savory brunch options.
At night, James Beard Award Best Chef Northeast semifinalist Derek Wagner serves intricately plated dishes made with the best local meat, seafood, and produce. In the a.m., he uses the same high-quality ingredients in his more casual brunch. Options include pulled pork eggs Benedict; Cassoulet made with pork, lamb, and beans; and house-baked brioche French toast. The vibe is lively, thanks to the always-cranking open kitchen and energetic soundtrack, featuring everything from hip-hop to oldies.
Rolling right out of bed and into XO Café — a bit clubby, with its neon signs and graffiti-covered walls — isn't just accepted, it's encouraged. Guests who arrive at the restaurant's Sunday brunch wearing pajamas are rewarded with a free bloody Mary or mimosa. Pair those with the breakfast burrito, made with lamb chorizo, scrambled eggs, black beans, and Monterey jack, and you can go right back to bed feeling like you've accomplished something.
A quintessential greasy spoon, Classic Café does no-frills diner staples right. Undo last night's damage by sharing the massive sampler plate with a couple friends. It's piled high with bacon, sausage, eggs, French toast, home fries, toast, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy. The restaurant's retro black and red booths might look familiar; Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix's characters cozied up in one of them in Woody Allen's "Irrational Man."
Located in Providence's rapidly gentrifying West Side, this trendy hangout serves bold, creative vegetarian food in a shabby chic atmosphere. Best bets for brunch include the fried egg fried rice with spicy roasted cauliflower, the Po' Boy with fried oyster mushrooms on pretzel bread, and spicy grits with eggs or tofu. There's a full bar, but you might be better off ordering the cold-pressed green juice.
With just five tables in the dining room and a one-man show in the kitchen, eating here feels a lot like being a guest in someone's home. Chef-owner Howard Crofts whips up excellent versions of straight-forward breakfast plates — omelets served with extra-thick bacon, house-made berry muffins grilled in butter, and croissant French toast — to guests willing to wait in line for up to an hour, or sometimes two on the weekends.
The husband and wife team behind this creperie and tearoom describe it as a snuggery, a British term for a cozy place. It is indeed easy to hang out here all day, thanks to the Alice in Wonderland-esque décor, sparkling chandeliers, and working fireplaces. The menu includes more than 20 kinds of sweet and savory crepes, eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, and Guinness ice cream floats. If you want to try something with a real Rhode Island bent, take on the New York System Wiener omelet, made with hot dogs, meat sauce, onions, and mustard.
Cook & Brown Public House
Don't skip the a.m. cocktail here. Cook & Brown's nationally recognized bar program offers inventive takes on brunch drinks, including six different types of bloody Marys, stomach-soothing Fernet and Ginger Beer, and sophisticated spins on the Mimosa (try the Peachy Keen, with a splash of rye). The food, including a waffle ice cream sandwich with bacon ice cream, Babka French toast, and egg sandwiches made with chicken liver pate, are just as compelling.
A favorite among the hipster set, this restaurant has a fun, off-beat vibe. The brunch menu includes dishes named after Star Wars references, seven versions of eggs Benedict (one is vegan), and a scrambled egg pizza. Don't miss the spiked iced coffee, made with espresso liqueur and rum. As for the décor, the restroom alone has a display featuring more than 100 Pez dispensers.
If you can't stand waiting for a table, head here for grab-and-go. Momofuku alum James Mark recently opened this bakery as an off-shoot of his Asian-inspired late-night restaurant, North. The interior is small and sparse, but the flavors pack a punch. Try a Counter Culture iced coffee with an egg and cheese stuffed bagel — there's also a braised chicken and kale version — or skip right to dessert with a super rich miso-brown butter cookie.