Red curry, green curry, mango curry?at Pakarang Restaurant, who's celebrating their 20th anniversary this year? the kitchen crafts nine different fragrant curries in varying levels of heat, in which chicken, beef, or seafood simmer. Specialty dishes include the bangkok beef and crispy duck. All the cuisine is artfully made, matching the casual yet modern, underwater-themed decor that includes dark-stained wood floors and mottled walls.
Luxe Burger Bar dishes out extra-thick milkshakes, inventive grilled-cheese sandwiches, and customizable burgers made with all-natural, USDA-certified beef. Stack coleslaw and veggies atop a foundation of grilled-to-order beef ($7.99), ahi tuna ($10.99), or four other types of protein. Fried mozzarella ($2) and sharp provolone (gratis) blanket meat before the chef tucks in the burger with Bruce Springsteen’s oral history of spice rubs from VH1's Storytellers. Give burgers zing with complimentary sauces, such as tzatziki and garlic aioli, or jazz up sweet-potato fries ($0.69 with build-your-own burgers) with chili and sour cream ($0.59 each). Diners can also slather burgerless burgers, a.k.a. a D'Luxe grilled cheese, with aged cheddar, havarti, swiss, and a hint of arugula ($7.99). The Frankenstein—four beef patties, four strips of bacon, four slices of american cheese, and two jumbo hot dogs slathered in chili, relish, and slaw ($19.99)—tempts the bravest eaters with a free T-shirt, if they can scarf down the entire monster after it spends a day learning table manners.
Providence Pizza Company's dough czars concoct specialty and traditional pizzas, in addition to an array of sandwiches, calzones, pasta, and salads. Snag a bubbling slice of Bianca, a cheesy mix of ricotta, feta, mozzarella, and fresh garlic, or the Dorito pizza, a ranch-sauce-slathered pie topped with tomato, hot peppers, onions, olives, and Doritos. All specialty pizzas are available in 12-inch or 18-inch rounds ($9.99, $16.99), and pizza DIYers can amalgamate up to three of Providence's 20 toppings atop either size of dough disk (12" $7.50, 18" 12.75; additional toppings $1 each).
Unknowing passersby often overlook the inconspicuous entrance to Vanity due to its clever—albeit anachronistic—disguise as a telephone booth. A tribute to the profusion of speakeasy clubs that popped up in the Prohibition era, Vanity decorates its posh interior with black-and-white photos, vintage-inspired décor, and coat racks that look suspiciously like undercover cops.
However backwards-looking the décor, the menu reflects ultra-contemporary tastes with its mix of New American and Italian flavors. A selection of starters—aptly named "temptations"—include Italian eggrolls stuffed with shaved cold cuts, and "Vanity plates" include such colorful dishes as the Double Cross Delmonico rib-eye steak. Like any respectable speakeasy, Vanity features a lengthy drink menu with elderflower-flavored cocktails, sugar-rimmed martinis, and gin and tonics garnished with fresh eviction notices.
In skilled hands, veggies can pass for or even outdo cuts of meat. At Veggie Fun, the chefs drape firm tofu in sauces, paralleling chicken dishes. The eatery’s Peking-style soy duck recreates the Chinese standard with wheat-based faux meat and bowls of dark hoisin sauce. The same wheat chicken can soak up the biting earthiness of black pepper or take on a citric bite from orange sauce. From beneath rich waves of umami, pan-Asian influences shine with a palette of ingredients that includes oyster mushrooms, lemongrass, sweet potato, and seaweed. Unlike brake pads, drinks are better when crafted by hand, so the chefs create housemade beverages such as ginger ale and lemonade to accompany meals.
Sullivan's Rhode boasts an Irish lilt and a vibrant, sporting atmosphere where cold brews are savored and traditional pub fare warms bellies. Among the murmur of sporting debates, affable servers float plates amid the glow of nine 50-inch plasma TVs that display basketball, hockey, and full-contact tic-tac-toe. Providence College basketball games precede Thursday-night karaoke, and locals shake a leg during Wednesday's DJ dance party. Minutiae masters host Monday-evening trivia, where guests must flex brain muscles and refrain from taking advantage of Sullivan's free WiFi to look up the answers.: