Article by Contributor Tricia Bielinski
As time marches on in these summer COVID times, many have enjoyed the decreased security and quarantine measures that were in place for all of us not so long ago. We’re able to see friends and loved ones again, get our hair cut and our nails done and even go to our beloved restaurants that were so greatly missed during the height of the stay at home orders.
That said, not everyone is running to book reservations and dine amongst others no matter how socially distant they may be. The prospect of being in a closed space with other diners so soon when there is still the threat of the coronavirus is too much for some. The numbers reportedly go down, then up and there is no vaccine and understandably so this results in what would be a very anxious experience for a lot of people.
That does not mean you are condemned to a life of pure takeout! Mother Nature has blessed us with an amazing summer thus far, and there are a lot of ways to take advantage of a dining experience here in Rhode Island that doesn’t have you inside of a restaurant!
One of the COVID silver linings in my opinion is how creative people have gotten when it comes to using outdoor space. Tables have popped up where there were none before, and patches of grass, beach sand, or lawn make for a perfect picnic spot. You can park in downtown Providence and take a walk over the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge. Grab a cool drink from Plant City for the stroll and finish up at Dune Brothers, the cutest little seafood shack that you ever did see in the middle of a city! The seafood is fresh and they also serve up cold beer and wine that you can enjoy at one of their outdoor picnic tables.
Urban Greens Coop on the west side of the city has started serving up freshly cooked lobsters and fish and chips on Friday nights. Enjoy at one of their outdoor tables or take it to your favorite park with a blanket and a couple of outdoor lanterns for a unique outdoor dining experience!
The Zac Brown band said it best, “there’s nothing better than a cold beer on a Friday night.” You can sit in the outdoor beer garden run by Trinity Brewing at Biltmore Park. Dinner is a hot dog from the stand that has every topping you can think of…cheap and cheerful! If you time it correctly you can enjoy it while watching one of the stand-up comedy nights they occasionally run.
Staying with the beer garden theme, the Weekapaug Inn sets up an outdoor beer garden every Friday night serving up cold brews from Von Trapp brewery out of Vermont. There are lawn games, German food, and even a German band to enjoy along with your view of the saltwater pond the inn is situated on.
Basil and Bunny out of Warren have launched a bunch of pop updates at various spots (think Proclamation Ale!) and also a line of summer picnic kits along with Like No Udder that is not to be missed for anyone looking to scratch that vegan itch!
Back down to South County, the Ocean House has an outdoor taco shack serving gourmet tacos with fillings such as beef barbacoa or grilled jerk chicken. The best part? There is a menu of custom handmade cocktails made with Tito’s Vodka, and they donate a portion of the proceeds to the local Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center…so you can enjoy your “Tito Rita” and support a good cause at the same time!
Lastly, one of my favorite cocktail bars in the state, The Eddy, is serving their amazing cocktail creations and snacks in the Middle Street alley Wednesday to Sunday from 4-11 pm and if being outside is still a little daunting you can take it to go!
I recently hosted a happy hour on the beach with friends and we packed up hot dogs, fried chicken sandwiches, and some cucumber melon mint sangria to enjoy during the golden hour with the beach as our dining backdrop! There are so many options going on at the moment, and it’s been so fun to see how so many establishments have really let the creative juices flow to give people options to enjoy the food and drink from the state’s amazing culinary scene in whatever fashion they feel most comfortable to do so. Cheers!