Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dining Out in Rhode Island

I'm en route to Madison, Wisconsin for work today-- my first trip to the Cheese State!-- but I thought I would take all of you on a little visit to my favorite state: The Ocean State. And after all, it's about time for another restaurant post, right?

It is no secret to any of you readers that I love dining out, but like cooking big holiday dinners and baking treats it's another activity that my family enjoys together as well. So, in addition to those BBQ dinners and family breakfasts that I shared with you last week, we also visited a few restaurants during our trip to Rhode Island. Most of them were old family favorites, but one was new to us. And it was amazing!

Alex & me at Matunuck Oyster Bar in RI

After an early morning flight out of Chicago, we arrived in Rhode Island feeling hungry. We made a lunch stop at El Tapatio in North Kingstown, a local family owned Mexican restaurant that my parents love. It's a fun casual spot with friendly service and an extensive menu of both traditional and nontraditional Mexican dishes. I had some yummy spinach enchiladas with a side of black beans and rice, but I could have just munched on chips and salsa. Oh, and sipped on the Cadillac margarita. Mmm...
El Tapatio on Urbanspoon


After dinner that night my sisters and I took Alex to our very favorite ice cream spot The Inside Scoop. I mentioned this place already in my Top 10 Things to do in RI post, but the ice cream is so good it is worth mentioning again. My family has been coming here for ice cream for as long as we have lived in Rhode Island-- about 16 years. It was called Brickley's back them, but the ice cream is still the same: delicious. I mentioned previously that my favorites here are the pumpkin, apple pie, and coffee Oreo flavors, but this time I went with peppermint stick with hot fudge sauce. It did not disappoint. My sisters are partial to the birthday cake flavor and they also introduced my husband to a new (to him) concept in ice cream couture: the waffle bowl.
Inside Scoop on Urbanspoon


Oh, and then it rained for a good part of the weekend so we took a little break for some bowling...


The highlight of our Rhode Island dining experience (for me, at least) was definitely our dinner at Matunuck Oyster Bar. When we were planning this trip out east the only thing Alex said he really wanted to do while he was there was to eat a real New England lobster roll. So, my search for seafood began. In yet another previous post I asked you guys for suggestions on where to eat and after scouring the best reviews on Yelp!, I found a clear frontrunner that I hadn't even heard of before.


Matunuck Oyster Bar is a great little place right on the water and it was clear when we drove up that it was a good choice-- the valet line extended out of the parking lot and there was a huge group of people waiting for a table. They don't take reservations here, but after eating here I think we all agreed it was worth the wait. In the meantime, we pulled up a few chairs on the bustling patio and waited it out with cocktails from the outdoor bar.

My adorable sisters on the patio at Matunuck Oyster Bar

We were seated in about half of our wait time (you have to love when that happens!), which was perfect since a storm was rolling in at right about that time... and we were starving. Maybe it's our Midwestern roots (my parents and I are not native Rhode Islanders) but none of us are big raw bar fans, which is a shame since this is obviously what the restaurant is known for. We did order the jumbo shrimp, which was very good-- meaty and cooked perfectly.


I was also excited to try something new to me: A stuffie. Stuffies are a seafood tradition in Rhode Island and in the 16 years that my family has been there I had never tried one until now. Spoiler alert: They are really delicious! A stuffie is a quahog shell baked with a seasoned clam, bread, and chouri├žo (a Portuguese sausage, which is a popular ingredient on menus in RI) stuffing.


The menu here is predominantly seafood dishes, of course. My husband got his lobster roll (and a cup of New England clam chowder) and my mom and sister Emma both ordered the seared sea scallops and raved about them. Even my non-seafood eating younger sisters managed to find suitable entrees to order for themselves. I opted for one of the evening's specials and would highly recommend it if you see it on the menu on a future visit: Blackened tuna served with roasted peppers, smashed potatoes, and microgreens in a creole mustard sauce. So. good.
Matunuck Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon


We ended our visit to Rhode Island at one of our family's old favorites (and another new-to-Alex spot): the Brick Alley Pub in Newport. This restaurant is a great place for a laidback lunch or dinner when you're visiting Newport or even for just a cocktail and a snack after a day at the beach. It's a huge place right in the center of the bustling brick market shopping district in the heart of the island. The menu is extensive (there is something for everyone here) and the food is consistently good.


Of everything on the menu at this New England pub, one of our favorite things to order here are the nachos. I don't know why they are so good here, but they just are-- cheesy, but still crunchy. We ordered ours with Machaca pulled beef on them this time and the plate emptied very quickly.


I am partial to their salads and sandwiches here. The bruschetta sandwich is one of my favorite items on the menu, but after everything we ate above and at home all weekend and also after a few too many nachos, I figured my body was begging for a salad. One of my other old menu standbys at the Brick Alley Pub is the Harvest Salad: field greens with apples, dried cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese.
Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


And that's what we ate and where you should eat on your next visit to the Ocean State. Where have you eaten lately?

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