Best Summertime Bars + Food
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Few things get us revved up for summer like good waterfront bars and delicious bar food, especially when the temps soar and the sun shines. We thought about some of our favorite oceanside places to relax, and came up with 5 that should suit your mood, whatever that happens to be.
Barking Crab, Newport
Once we wandered into the Barking Crab in Boston and wondered why we didn't have one of these places here in Rhode Island...it's just so Newporty. Then, poof! A few years ago, one appeared in Brick Market Place. The vibe is all seafood shack but the quality of the food by Chef Kevin Ames is just terrific (diners complained about quality in the first few years but we've been astounded by recent improvements). We cannot get enough of the Buffalo scallops or, when we're craving meat, his barbecue ribs. Of course the crab cakes and all of the fresh seafood here is great too -- there's nothing from the sea you're craving that they don't have. The back patio and bar is the perfect place to relax with some drinks and apps, and the inside bar, with a raw bar at your fingertips, is rolicking good fun. Need ocean and boats? Right across the street, Matey. 151 Swinburne Row,846-2722, www.barkingcrab.com
The Beachead, Block Island
Located just steps from the beautiful Crescent Beach on Block Island, the Beachead has been serving Islanders and tourists alike for decades. It's really a shame to let New Yorkers have all the fun out there, so we headed out on a beautiful day with the intention of lunching at the Beachead. This iconic Block Island bar has great views and is steps from the ocean, but it also has some of the best casual bites on the island. The lunch menu literally has something for everyone: burgers, littlenecks, lobster bisque, seafood nachos. We had to try the clam strips as the menu declared them the best in RI and they were very good. Certainly on par with pricier places versions. We moved on to the fish and chips and found them oh-so-tasty and fresh. 585 Cornneck Rd. 466-2249, www.thebeachead.com
The Tap Room at the Stone House, Little Compton
Here's a question: does food get any more "Rhode Island" than butter-poached lobster on a jonnycake with local-blueberry compote? Alright, how about creamy seafood chowder with steamed littlenecks and native blue mussels? Sorry, we're a little obsessed with the menu at this speakeasy-like pub that provides a cool, low-key distraction from all the ocean-y things you did in Little Compton during the day (there's an outdoor patio, too, if you insist). The menu -- and there's a tapas menu, too -- highlights fresh, local, innovation twists on classics with a few surprises here and there (caramelized cauliflower soup). Originally built in 1854 as a private residence, the Stone House is delightful and oh-so-worth the drive to Little Compton if you are a city-dweller.
The Ocean Mist, Matunuck
The tagline at the Ocean Mist is "just a beach bar." It's almost like they're trying to keep it a secret that this place is waaaaay more than a beach bar. The deck at the Mist is literally in the water and is one of our favorite spots to imbibe. Stare out at Block Island with a breakfast burrito and a famous Bloody Mary or a basket of crispy wings with a never ending array of sauces or some of the best tacos around and a margarita. Morning, noon or night, this is a terrific beach restaurant, separate from the drinks and entertainment. You will see businessmen and women rubbing elbows with a crew of bikers that just came down from the city and everyone is happy and enjoying the food and drink. It's one of the states' great melting pots. 895 Matunuck Beach Rd. 782-3740, www.oceanmist.net
The Whiskey Republic, Providence
The waterfront in Providence is one of the iconic sections of the city. Long populated with an odd array of terrific restaurants and pick-up joint bars, we fondly remember our single days hanging at the Fish Company. What the waterfront didn't have was a place to have it all. Enter the Whiskey Republic. Started by the frontman from the Dropkick Murphys, Ken Casey, this spot combines all the fun of a beach bar with the good bar food you would expect of a Providence restaurant. The menu here changes seasonally and that really separates it from other bars. Chef Jonathan Beres has taken the bar food concept to new heights with Old Bay seasoned fried pickles on the same menu as ginger/honey glazed Ahi tuna. The menu also features just about everything in between. We are huge fans of the wings here and they might just unseat one of our previous winners in the wings category. You can enjoy all this food and beverage goodness while sitting on the deck and enjoying the sunset over the power plant. It is a hard to beat location in Providence. 515 South Water St. 588-5158, www.thewhiskeyrepublic.com
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