Rhode Islanders know that to get the full Little Rhody experience you have to take a walk on our stunning beaches, take a trip on the Block Island Ferry and bask in the glow of Waterfire. But, to truly feel like you’ve experienced all that the Ocean State has to offer, simply bookmark the following locations and prepare yourself for a culinary adventure like none other. Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but what it lacks in size, it definitely makes up in unique foods which can only be found here!
1. FROZEN LEMONADE
It may have gotten its start in Italy, but Rhode Island surely has a reputation for having the frozen lemonade market covered due in large part to iconic local establishments Del’s Frozen Lemonade and Mr. Lemon. If you do a quick search on the internet, you will find pages and pages of heated conversations in regards to which frozen lemonade is RI’s best. Head to one of the many Del’s and Mr. Lemon locations and decide for yourself! Oh, and NEVER USE A STRAW. True Rhode Islanders know better… Ask for a pretzel rod instead!
2. COFFEE MILK
There’s a reason why Rhode Island made coffee milk its official state drink in 1993. We Rhode Islanders are extremely proud of our unique eats. Head just outside of RI to one of our neighboring states and the reactions to ordering a coffee milk are laughable, “You mean coffee with milk?” is the usual response. Whether you prefer one of the traditional syrups such as Autocrat or Eclipse, or one of the newer coffee syrup brands such as Dave’s or Morning Glory, Coffee milk and which syrup you prefer is serious business and completely up to you! A true Rhode Islander’s fridge is not complete without at least one container of the tasty sweet syrup. So head on down to Daves Coffee and try one for yourself!
3. A CAKE MADE OUT OF DONUTS? YES PLEASE!
Allie’s Donut Cakes are nationally renowned! We’re not exaggerating. Thrillist has had Allie’s on their Top 31 Donuts in America list for years! If you happen upon the unassuming little shop on Route 2 in North Kingstown, make sure you stop for a dozen of their old school crullers or glazed delights. Have a celebration upcoming? Be the party hero and show up with one of their iconic donuts cakes!
4. 3 ALL THE WAY
Hot Weiners are a staple of Rhode Island food culture. Ask the locals where to get the best and you’re most likely to get Olneyville NY System in response. You may have seen them featured by Guy Fieri on Food Network because, yes, they are that important to RI’s culinary culture. There is no other way to have them than on a steamed bun, all the way and up the cook’s arm – that’s RI slang for topped with celery salt, yellow mustard, chopped onions, and a seasonal meat sauce. Hot tip – nothing goes better with a Hot Weiner than an ice cold glass of coffee milk! Yelp reviewer Jesse B says it best, “A taste of heaven on earth a RI tradition. You can get a hot dog just about anywhere. If you want a wiener you have to come to Rhode Island.”
5. DON’T CALL IT A MILKSHAKE, IT’S BEEN HERE FOR YEARS
It’s sort of a milkshake, sort of a frappe… honestly, we don’t know exactly how to describe it. Coffee cabinets use one of Rhode Island’s culinary delicacies, Coffee Syrup, to create another! It’s the perfect blend of sweet syrup, ice cream and milk and you can find them at most Rhode Island ice cream spots. Coffee Cabinets are a RI staple and to truly get the full experience, you just have to visit third generation cabinet creator Erik Delekta at Delekta Pharmacy in Warren, RI for one of the best around!
6. IT’S CHEESELESS, HEAVY ON THE SAUCE, EATEN AT ROOM TEMP AND IT’S ONE OF THE BEST RHODE ISLAND TREATS! WE ARE TALKING ABOUT RI PIZZA STRIPS (AKA PARTY PIZZA.)
Don’t get hung up on its name, Pizza Strips are not found at a pizza parlor, you can only find them in RI bakeries. LaSalle, D.Palmieri’s, DePetrillo’s and Calvito’s Bakeries have pretty much cornered the market on this tasty crowd pleaser. The thick, doughy, foccacia-like base is the key. It’s a simple concept of dough, sauce and spices and is sometimes topped with grated cheese, but while it might sound simple, it’s one of the most satisfying on-the-go RI eats!
7. IT’S PRONOUNCED CHOW-DAH
The Ocean State offers its residents some of the best seafood in the world. Head over to the Kickemuit River, Narragansett Bay or any one of the many RI bodies of water and you will find folks raking, digging and scavenging for quahogs. One of Rhode Islanders favorite dishes puts the shellfish delicacy front and center – Rhode Island clam chowder is another dish that makes the RI culinary scene one that can’t be beat. Not all chowder is created equally and this clear-brothed soup is something you have to add to your must-try RI culinary bucket list. Rhode Island Clear Chowder is chock full of quahogs, potatoes, butter, bacon and rich clear broth. Matunuck Oyster Bar, may have oysters in its name, but their RI Clam Chowder is one of the best around. Head over and try it for yourself!
8. CHOWDER & CLAMCAKES. I CAN’T THINK OF A MORE ICONIC DUO, CAN YOU?
Speaking of chowder, if you want to experience RI culinary excellence head to the spot with chowder in their name. Iggy’s Doughboy and Chowder House is THE spot to grab one of the most iconic RI combos around, Clam Cakes and Chowder. As Yelper Carla M. says “Summer is not complete without clam cakes, chowder and dough boys! Be prepared to wait in line that’s how good this place is.”
9. PANCAKES ARE GOOD, BUT JOHNNY CAKES ARE ON A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL
Fun Fact – These tasty little cakes made of stone ground cornmeal were once called Journey Cakes because settlers took them on their journeys. Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, RI has been grinding it’s cornmeal the old fashioned way since 1696, because, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Rhode Islanders take this dish so seriously that we host an entire festival dedicated to Johnny Cakes every October. Visit Yelp to find out what restaurants have Johnny Cakes on their menu and to plan your trip to this year’s Johnny Cake Festival.
10. DON’T FORGET TO VISIT THE HILL
Federal Hill is recognized as one of the top culinary destinations in the world! Atwells Avenue and the surrounding area is known for their century-old Italian community that has brought some of the most amazing restaurants and specialty shops to our beautiful capital city. Venda Ravioli is arguably the best Italian specialty store in Rhode Island, maybe even in all of New England. “Venda” as the locals call it offers everything you may expect; from cured meats, fresh pasta and some of the best cannoli around! If your planning a special occasion, make your meal one you won’t soon forget and make a reservation at 5-star Yelp rated Enoteca Umberto.
To help make your life a little easier, check out this Iconic Eats collection featuring all the businesses listed above.