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Allie’s Donuts (North Kingstown, RI)

Sometimes I really worry about the state of donuts these days. Most of the local donut places have closed and been replaced by Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts. And worse yet, most of those don’t even cook the donuts on site anymore, they truck them in (it’s no longer “time to make the donuts”). So most donuts these days are stale, pale imitations of what a donut should be. But every once in a while I find a local donut place that shows that some people still care and try and make a good product. One of these is Allie’s Donuts in North Kingstown, RI. I went there several times a kid with my grandpa, but in recent years I’ve either never been around at breakfast time, or it’s been a holiday and Allie’s was closed.

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Wein-O-Rama (Cranston, RI)

I’ve covered a lot of hot dogs on this list. Chicago Dogs. Pink’s Hot Dogs in LA. Coney Island dogs. Rochester White Hots. And even the hot dog’s cousin, the Half Smoke. You’d think I’d be running out of hot dog varieties, but, really, I’m only barely scratching the surface (God bless the fine folks at Wikipedia for gems like this). Which brings me to the latest variety, the “New York System” hot dog, native to Rhode Island (and not, as the name would suggest, New York… but then again, you won’t find a Coney Island hot dog anywhere near Coney Island, NY, either. Sometimes, you just gotta roll with it). For those that have never heard of the style, New York System Wieners (or, in a regional mispelling, several places use the mispelling “Weiner”, such as today’s entry) are similar to a “Coney Island” or a “Michigan” hot dog. It starts with a slightly smaller veal and pork sausage than your normal hot dog, served in a steamed bun with meat sauce (sweeter and milder than Coney Island sauce, and definitely way too mild to be called a “chili”), mustard, onions, celery salt. The last of these is what makes the style unique, since while celery salt is a standard Chicago Dog topping, it’s not often seen on a Coney Island dog. In any case, there are several “Hot Wiener” joints in Rhode Island, including Olneyville New York System, Saugy’s, and today’s entry, Cranston’s Wein-O-Rama…

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Farmstead Lunch (Providence, RI)

Providence is always surprising me. Anyone that has followed the Providence food scene has been aware of Farmstead (the Wayland cheese shop) and their good reputation for supplying excellent cheeses. Well, this spring the folks at Farmstead opened a small deli and sandwich shop in Downcity, one that several people were recommended that I try. So, this week, while passing through town to visit my grandpa down in Wickford, we stopped by for sandwiches…

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Gracie’s (Providence, RI)

When I was growing up (including trips in college in the early 90s), Providence was fairly rough around the edges town, and fine dining in Providence mostly consisted of going to some Italian restaurants up on Federal Hill. However, over the last 10 years or so, it’s been really pleasant watching Providence rebuild itself as a nice town. And one thing that Providence really has excelled at is the restaurant scene. Providence now sports several incredibly good restaurants, including such gems as Al Forno, Pot Au Feu, and Blue Grotto. And, of course, Gracie’s, which has been on my hit list for several years (when it was first recommended to me, it was located in Federal Hill, and not downtown like it is now)…

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Stanley’s (Providence, RI)

(Closed) A few weeks ago I was visiting my grandfather in Rhode Island along with my brother, and we decided to pick up lunch in Providence. One place that has been on my list for a while was Stanley’s. Stanley’s Hamburgers has been a venerable burger stand in Central Falls, RI for decades, and they opened a new Providence location this last spring. I’ve been meaning to check it out, but since my previous trips to Providence were on holidays, Stanley’s was closed. This time they were open. Stanley’s is pretty much a burger bar. The main attractions at Stanley’s are the burgers and the fries. The burgers are fairly thin patties, that are cooked by smashing them into the grill to get a good char on them (a technique familiar to people that have been to Steak n’ Shake). The result is a nicely crisp burger, albeit a little on the light side, so I usually get a double burger at these sorts of places.

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Wickford Diner (Wickford, RI)

My experience at the Wickford Diner was a complete fiasco (in the second sense above), but the resulting comedy of errors was so entertaining that I just had to tell other people about it. This isn’t really a complaint, since in the end the humor of the situation greatly outweighed any of the inconvenience. This Memorial Day, I found myself in Wickford, RI, immediately before the morning’s Memorial Day Parade. Carol and I were hungry for a little breakfast (our earlier efforts at Allie’s Donuts failed, due to Allie’s being closed for the holiday), but the Wickford Diner was open. I’ve been to the Wickford Diner several times before in the last umpteen years (previously in 2001, 1996, and probably sometime before that), with pleasant memories of the basic staples of RI cuisine: corncakes and chowder…. It quickly became obvious that something wasn’t quite right that morning…

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Modern Diner (Pawtucket, RI)

Over Memorial Day weekend I was visiting my grandfather in Rhode Island, and used this as an excuse to visit one of my favorite breakfast joints down that way. The Modern Diner is tucked away in a quiet corner of Pawtucket, RI, and is your classic Streamliner “diner car” diner that’s since been augmented with some additional kitchen space and seating. The Modern sports quite an extensive menu, including several dozen specials posted on the wall by the entry. Pretty much anything I’ve craved for breakfast, they’ve had, including most any type of fruit-covered waffle, and about a dozen varieties of Eggs Benedict (including lobster). They are also pretty inventive, I’ve seen some pretty fancy french toast dishes here as well…

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