Earlier this year, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine voted in the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, ranking 35 U.S. cities on features such as food and drink. According to those participating in the survey, pretty much everything tastes great in Providence/Rhode Island. Due to size, the city and state were grouped together and ranked fifth nationwide for fine dining, second for both pizza and overall dining and, deservedly, first for best burgers. We may be the smallest state, but our refined culinary skills demand national attention. The newest food trend in the state is food trucks: outstanding, creative food that can be found any given day roving the streets of our towns.
Pizza By Fire (pictured above) is a food truck specializing in wood oven pizza creations. Yes, this mobile truck contains a brick oven heated by wood – it’s incredible to see. Established in 2011, Pizza By Fire cooks up thin crust pizzas infused with subtle flavors that hint to the pizza’s wood-fired origin, a true old world experience that leaves an eater both satisfied and satiated. The quality ingredients, method of cooking and originality all come together to create a unique eating opportunity that beats out the plethora of franchises spread across the state. For the current location of Pizza By Fire, call 447-9481.
One of the reasons for the wide array of fine dining options here may be attributed to Johnson and Wales’s culinary program. Although some chefs leave the state after school, others decide to put down roots such as Steven McLaughlin, owner and executive chef of the food truck Eddie’s BBQ (on Twitter: @EddiesBBQ). McLaughlin began his culinary career 10 years ago, working in local pubs and restaurants. Fast forward to today – he’s hoping to start a “BBQ revolution in South County,” with a BBQ food truck that’s as appetizing as it is affordable. Eddie’s menu features such items as a pulled pork sandwich, half or full racks of ribs and a chicken or pulled pork quesadilla. The menu also has vegetarian and fish options, including BBQ eggplant bites with avocado-chipotle-ranch dipping sauce and fish tacos. If you’re wondering why the food truck is named after Eddie when the owner is named Steven, that’s all the more reason to visit the truck and ask.
One cannot talk Ocean State food without at least giving a nod to the outstanding seafood selection. There are two food trucks in South County specializing in this delectable culinary genre. First, there’s Roxy’s Lobster (@RoxysLobster). Owner Matt Combs, who also owns Monahan’s Clam Shack in Narragansett, combines his love of food, music and atmosphere to provide eaters with an unforgettable experience. From whole belly clams to fish sandwiches featuring fresh local flounder, Roxy’s Lobster ensures no one walks away disappointed. Try Roxy’s Famous Lobster Roll – it will blow your taste buds away with its rich texture, flavor and high quality lobster meat. Roxy’s also serves seafood staples such as clam cakes, clam chowder and lobster bisque.
The second mobile restaurant specializing in seafood is the Shuckin’ Truck, which offers raw bar options such as fresh oysters and littlenecks. All seafood served on the Shuckin’ Truck comes directly from the Roebuck family fishing vessels, Salt Pond Oyster Company and other local fishermen in the Point Judith area. The local origins of the seafood is evident in the truck’s menu choices: Georges Bank Sea Scallop Roll, Block Island Lobster Roll, Point Judith Calamari and more. Since the Shuckin’ Truck is dedicated to providing the freshest seafood available, the current menu changes with what the local boats catch. Keep current at Facebook.com/ShuckinTruck.
Unless you were to travel to, say, Yuma, Arizona, finding an authentic taco within the US can be difficult. However, the Ocean State definitely has a contender with Tallulah’s Tacos (@TallulahsTacos). Designed as a “farm to taco” mobile cart, Tallulah’s Tacos provides eaters with traditional Mexican style tacos using ingredients sourced from local Rhode Island farmers. Taco menu options include Carne Asada made with beef from Blackbird Farm in Smithfield and Roasted Chicken from Pat’s Pastured in Jamestown. Co-owners Chef Jake Rojas and Kelly Ann Maurice ensure each taco is expertly crafted by skilled culinary hands, giving both your eyes and stomach a feast remembered long after the last bite. One glance at any of Tallulah’s Tacos, and you’ll know these creations are far from the mass-produced Americanized versions seen plastered on billboards.
Some may argue that the same convenience offered by a mobile food truck is also its ultimate downfall, as it can be difficult to eat at a restaurant that’s always on the move. However, thanks to the weekly Food Truck Night (pictured above) hosted at the Narragansett Town Beach (79 Boston Neck Road), finding all of your must-eat options has never been easier. Every Wednesday at 4:30pm, food trucks gather at the beach’s northern parking lot, offering folks an opportunity to try as many food truck offerings that their appetite can handle. Warm up with clam chowder from either the Shuckin’ Truck or Roxy’s Lobster, snag a BBQ tofu sandwich from Eddie’s BBQ and finish off the meal with a wood-fired slice from Pizza By Fire, all while watching the sun set over soft beach sands.
If you simply cannot get enough of the food truck experience, keep Saturday, October 20, open for the Newport Food Truck Festival. From 11am to 4pm, over 26 food trucks from all over the New England region will meet at the Newport Yachting Center (4 Commercial Wharf, Newport) for food options ranging from grilled cheese to lobster, hot dogs to ice cream. Since the festival offers such advice as “go belt-less” and “wear machine washable attire,” expect to arrive hungry and leave plump. Tickets are currently available for purchase online.
With so many outstanding food truck options within South County alone, it’s no wonder that Rhode Island ranks so high in several food categories. Whether you want to taste local flavors or crave an all-around unique eating experience, these mobile restaurants encompass the state’s nationwide popularity. All you have to do is find them.