Plan a course for all seafood you can swallow plus spicy shrimp rangoons and desserts that will lick your plate.
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Newport may be famous for its Gilded Age mansions, pristine beaches and bustling Thames Street, but there are definitely other reasons to give in to the tidal lure of this Ocean State location. Namely: Cali-Mex cuisine, luxurious French cuisine and raw bar hopping while enjoying the sunset over the sea. Enjoy all of this and more as you peruse this list of eight spots that are making waves in this coastal city.
A breezy, laid-back spot on Bowen’s Wharf, Diego’s takes diners from Newport to the West Coast with Cali-style Mexican fare paired with killer cocktails. Be sure to try the quesadilla with charred mushroom and cauliflower from the mammoth menu of street tacos, appetizers, larger plates, and shareables (that is, if you’re kind enough to split an order of the spicy shrimp rangoons with butternut squash). and the slow-cooked adobo duck empanada, served with a side of the house’s flavorful duck sauce. And the crack fries? As addictive as they sound, it features crispy, hand-sliced potatoes slathered with Oaxaca cheese and garlic aioli. Set your clock to island time with tiki drinks like the dark rum-rich Painkiller with nutmeg, or book a mescal flight.
11 Bowens Wharf, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-619-2640, diegosnewport.com.
The fifth Element
Not all Newport restaurants are nautical-themed fish-and-chip slinging joints. Case in point: the elegant industrial atmosphere of this busy grill, bar and beer garden just off Thames Street. As close as you are to the sea, be sure to enjoy grilled squid with almond sauce and grape salad before enjoying today’s catch. But do yourself a favor and stroll the grass more than the surf, particularly the lamb poutine — a feast of hand-cut fries with chili oil and cilantro that cuts through the roasted garlic cheese curd — and the marinated skirt steak with sizzling chimichurri sauce . If the raspberry ice martini, which delights with both Chambord and freshly squeezed raspberries, doesn’t do the trick for dessert, there’s spring’s famous Sticky Toffee Pudding. You are welcome!
111 Broadway, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-619-2552, thefifthri.com.
You won’t find stuffy white tablecloths at Franklin Spa, the casual and popular spot that offers a respite from the tourist traffic. Like the pit at your Favorite food, the menu is a nosh novel – patty melts with cheese, salads with crab cakes and grilled muffins to name a few. Be sure to bookmark the place for its exceptional breakfast. The wild Texan omelet with homemade chili and cheese, for example, packs a punch, while dishes like the Azorean sandwich, which features grilled chourico, egg, onion, peppers and cheese, served on grilled sweet bread, highlight the area’s Portuguese population. And the raisin bread French toast, first dipped in cinnamon-egg batter, lives up to the “spa” name and offers full-body bliss.
229 Spring Street, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-847-3540.
Though Giusto only opened in September 2021, it’s already nailing bold flavors (see: the rigatoni with rich lamb stew and the whole-wheat casarecce with braised pork). As a “freestyle Italian” restaurant, the ingredients often throw the rule book. Here, kiwi butter strengthens basil and parmesan in the prosciutto agnolotti, and the combination of n’duja (a fatty and spicy pork sausage popular in southern Italy), orange, and Peppadew peppers in the stuffed littlenecks dish is downright rebellious. Pro tip: At $55 each, the tasting menu is a more affordable way to savor all the richness.
4 Commercial Wharf, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-324-7400, giustoneport.com.
Jo’s American Bistro
Much like adding lobster to anything — say, Jo’s homemade pickle burger — the fixed price is a safe bet. Served Sunday through Thursday, the two-course Prix Fixe menu takes the guesswork out of dining by curating the house specialties for you. Pair the rich clam chowder with pan-seared salmon with a bourbon glaze for a savory-sweet kick, or the prawns served with a sea of creamy cheddar grit. At $25.95 per person and a glass of wine or beer, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more affordable place to settle down with a sirloin steak topped with a dollop of homemade herb butter. And since this cinnamon peach bread pudding is calling your name, go ahead and treat yourself to an extra dessert. When you leave Boston, you’re basically on vacation, right?
24 Memorial Blvd. W., Newport, Rhode Island, 401-847-5506, josamericanbistro.com.
Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar
Say hello to this quirky Australian-style café, breakfast spot and smoothie bar, where flavors of Down Under meet down-to-earth comfort food. The milk bar is the Australian cousin of the American diner, and you can see the family resemblance with plates of buttermilk pancakes and breakfast sandwiches. Or keep it simple with a cup of joe and toast with Vegemite foam. (For the record, those who loathe Australia’s divisive and often villainous yeast spread are flat out wrong.) Meanwhile, for lunch, check out the rosemary-filled Australian lamb sandwich, or dig into a hot meat pie, also available cold to go or frozen to ensure you can return to the Outback later.
111 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-619-4811, www.megsaussiemilkbar.com.
The Mooring Seafood and Kitchen Bar
Drop anchor at the mooring for dinner, set rView of the historic waterfront with a wide view of the boats, is as reliable as the tide; You can count on a delicious meal every time. Roll up your sleeves for a feast of 2-pound lobster with warm butter and potatoes, and seafood pasta with seared scallops and shrimp in a fiery arrabiata sauce. Or skip the stove altogether and stroll through the extensive raw food bar, stocked with fresh oysters, chilled white Mexican shrimp, and whole chilled lobster with all the trimmings. Undecided/hungry? Spring for Poseidon’s bounty of large shellfish platter. And forget about dessert; The lobster and shrimp fritters featured in the Bag of Donuts appetizer might have you swearing off the sweet course all together.
One Sayers Wharf, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-846-2260, mooringrestaurant.com.
Have you given in to gluttony at this favorite French haunt and now you don’t feel like driving home? Book one of the Bouchard’s six rooms above the restaurant. Whether you’re having lunch or out, set a course for fine dining prix-fixe style with four-course sit-down from 5pm-6pm and five-course sit-down at 7pm: 30 p.m. The menu changes frequently, but expect an emphasis on luxurious French connections. Think: snails with brown butter sauce, duck breast with a tangy cranberry and green pepper sauce, and sole with a classic Beurre Blanc sauce brightened with chives.
505 Thames St., Newport, Rhode Island, 401-846-0123, bouchardnewport.com.