10 Best Historic Restaurants in Rhode Island

Founded in 1636 and home to some of the oldest cities in America, Rhode Island boasts all kinds of historic restaurants throughout the state. Whether they've been in business for decades or the building they're housed in is nearly a century old, the character of these places is palpable. From 1920s ocean-side seafood shacks to esteemed and elegant dining spots, here are 10 of the most amazing historic restaurants in Rhode Island.  

White Horse Tavern, Newport, RI

Established in 1673, The White Horse Tavern is self-proclaimed as America’s oldest tavern. However, the food is fresh and contemporary, and you can find refreshing house-made cocktails and rum-based drinks on the menu. Plus, this long-running bay-side eatery offers fresh fish, clams, lobster, prime beef cuts, artisanal cheese, local produce, and more. 

Joe Marzilli's Old Canteen Italian Restaurant, Providence, RI

The fact that Joe’s was established in 1956 by Joseph Marzilli in Providence’s historic Federal Hill District isn’t the only old thing about this authentic Italian eatery. Located in the same spot it has always been for more than 60 years, Joe’s offers a menu in the spirit of Italy, based on what is fresh and in season.

Mill’s Tavern, Providence, RI

Located in the century-old Pilgrim Mill’s Building, Mill’s Tavern is cozy yet sophisticated and features polished dark word, rustic brick walls, and a vaulted casement ceiling. You will also find linen tablecloths and a wait staff that is both warm and energetic. Plus, you will love the wood-burning oven and the open kitchen design. 

Capriccio, Providence, RI

Established in 1977 from a historic downtown Providence building footprint, Capriccio has an old world feel to it that is supplemented by its classic Euro-Italian menu. Fixed-price dinner options, grand fireplaces, white linen dining, and an extensive wine list also lend to the traditional ambiance. Plus, you will find a mouthwatering menu that has won over 40 awards for fine dining.

The Charlestown Rathskeller, Charlestown, RI

Almost a century old, the Charlestown Rathskeller brings with it all of the allure and intrigue of the past. This traditional speakeasy features recently restored 80-year-old murals and a period-accurate reconstructed mahogany bar, as well as cold brews, classic cocktails, burgers, and more. Plus, you will find fresh seafood, steaks, appetizers, daily specials, and their famous fries.

Ye Olde English Fish & Chips, Woonsocket, RI

Established in 1922, Ye Olde English Fish and Chips was the dream of two Yorkshire, England natives, Harry and Ethel Sowden. Although this esteemed eatery moved from its original location in 1932, the original black and white tile floor still exists. And, though the potatoes are no longer peeled by hand, the business is still family-owned and operated and still prepares fresh fried seafood with the same batter recipe. 

New Rivers, Providence, RI

The name says new, but the location—the Congdon and Carpenter Mill—is a historic one. Located on the banks of the Moshassuck River, New Rivers features locally sourced ingredients prepared in new and exciting ways. Essentially, we are talking about upscale bistro fares with an unexpected twist, like fresh local oysters, Duck Ham, Thick Belly Bacon, and fresh local ingredients.

Aunt Carrie's, Narragansett, RI

This Narragansett fry shack has been dishing up fresh seafood and homemade dessert since the 1920s. Situated on Pointe Judith, Aunt Carrie’s is smack dab in the middle of prime fishing territory, and this family-owned-and-operated spot has built their menu accordingly.  

Olneyville New York System Restaurant, Cranston and Providence, RI

You won’t find any fine dining at Olneyville, but you will find delicious New York style, award-winning steamed hotdogs. The dream of Greek immigrants, Anthony and Nicholas Stevens, Olneyville was established in the 1930s and has been featured by Food Network, who recommends this family owned business who haven’t lost their momentum yet!

The Dorrance, Providence, RI

Located in the “majestic and historical space at 60 Dorrance Street," the Dorrance features elegant dining, hand-crafted cocktails, and European-influenced dishes. Plus, this award-winning restaurant has also been featured in many local magazines, as well as in Bon Appetit’s Top 50 New Restaurants list. Once you walk in and get a glance of the high ornate ceilings, luxurious bar area, and gorgeous dining room, you’re sure to take a step back in time.

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