Providence and the surrounding area doesn’t have many exclusively vegetarian, let alone vegan, establishments, but a number of restaurants provide good meat-free options. NecronomiCon is a little different than the average convention, taking place in the hometown of the writer it celebrates. Convention events are spread out a little wider than they would be otherwise, and there are a number of areas of interest to those seeking to follow in Lovecraft’s steps. Therefore, I’ve broken this page into three key sections: Downtown, where the base of the convention is; College Hill, where the art show, the John Hay library collection, and various other points of interest are; and Swan Point Cemetery, where Lovecraft’s remains rest with his family. (Swan Point Cemetery does not have food options, of course; technically, the area I’m describing is Pawtucket, just north of Providence.)
AS220, at 115 Empire St., is an artist-run space, incorporating gallery, workspace, theater, and more. Most importantly for this page, it includes a restaurant with a number of vegetarian and vegan options. AS220 is about six minutes from the Providence Biltmore and a block from the public library. And the AS220 Black Box is one of the film screening locations. I like the atmosphere and mission of AS220, and the one-page menu is remarkably stocked with suitable options. FOO(D) is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Grange is a vegetarian restaurant just down the road from the Providence Biltmore (about a fifteen-minute walk) at 166 Broadway. It opened up sometime between my first trip in 2012 and the 2013 NecronomiCon. The menu doesn’t do a great job of pinpointing what the vegan options are, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. There are three service, the café, the bar, and the restaurant, each with their own menus (with overlap). I ended up trying each out, stopping by the café to get a morning snack first, and then on the advice of dashing Call of Cthulhu writer Mark Morrison, I came for dinner (fried green tomatoes!). And on my last night, I had soup at the bar. Chicory, the attached café, opens first, from 8 a.m. to noon. The main restaurant opens at 11 a.m. on weekdays and serves brunch on weekends starting at 9 a.m. The restaurant shuts down from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and the bar is open during that interval. Then the main restaurant reopens until 10 p.m. most nights and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The bar closes at midnight most nights and 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
This brewpub, at 318 Broadway, is a little farther out from the main convention events than the previous two restaurants, but its gallery is showing some of the artwork for the convention, so there’s one more excuse to stop by. It’s a great vegan breakfast option, including creative pancake and french toast recipes, and the St. Jamez “Benedict” (which I will be having at least once). Be sure to check out the specials. It also has a couple of vegan options for dinner (they make their own seitan). Brunch hours are from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. Dinner hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. most nights, closing at 9 pm. on Sundays.
Nice Slice is a pizza and sandwich shop that used to be next to Brown University. Sadly, it’s now on the west side, about a fifteen-minute walk from the convention. There are closer options, but it’s pizza. It has an extensive array of vegan options. I’m partial to the Earth Crisis in sandwich form. Nice Slice sells pizza by the slice as well, so that’s worth checking out to see what vegan options are available. The hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday.
I finally tried this restaurant in 2015. It operated as a vegetarian restaurant for about four years, and it became completely vegan last year. Even in 2015, the spacious upstairs restaurant offered a great variety of vegan East Asian cuisine. The menu’s heavy on the mock meat, but there’s plenty without that. At 123 Dorrance Street (a couple of blocks from the Red Fez), a five-minute walk from the Biltmore, it’s one of the closest options. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday noon to 10 pm.
Kabob and Curry
[Update 2017] All the members of the Indian RI family of restaurants seem to have busted websites. Kabob and Curry has recent Yelp reviews, and the Eat24 menu still seems to be functional, so it appears to still be open.
Kabob and Curry, at 261 Thayer Street, is adjacent to Brown University, about a ten minute walk from the John Hay Library or HP Lovecraft Square. It offers dishes from various regions of India and has a number of starters and entrees clearly marked as vegetarian and vegan. Other categories aren’t marked, so ask if unsure. For the dosas (one of my favorite foods in the world), just get one of the two without chicken (they’re on the smaller side for dosas, so you’ll probably want an entree or at least a side). Monday through Thursday hours are 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
SWAN POINT CEMETERY
All three of the places listed here are in the same shopping center, at 727 East Avenue, Pawtucket, a little north and west of Swan Point Cemetery.
This bakery, juice bar, and coffee shop is completely vegan (though I believe it offers real milk for those who want it). It has morning pastries, cakes, breads, cookies, and raw options–just a ton of sweet and savory options. There’s also a lunch-to-go case. This is definitely a great choice if you’re in the area and need a little pick-me-up or want to get a selection of treats for later. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
This vegetarian restaurant, in one form or another, has been serving the area’s needs for decades. It has an extensive and varied menu. Some vegan items have “vegan” in the name, but there are other options available with a little investigation. I ate there on my first trip to Providence and didn’t get a chance to get up there during the 2013 NecronomiCon. I don’t, unfortunately, remember what I had, but whatever it was, I enjoyed it. Unless you’re going up to the area to visit the cemetery or taking a tour of Slater’s Mill, I don’t know that it’s worth a special trip, unless you have exhausted Providence’s offerings. It’s hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Sunday brunch and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for Sunday dinner.
[Update 2017] All the members of the Indian RI family of restaurants seem to have busted websites. Rasoi has recent Yelp reviews, and the Eat24 menu still seems to be functional, so it appears to still be open.
This restaurant is operated by the same head chef as Kabob and Curry and seems even more dedicated to highlighting cuisine from across India. The menu marks vegan options and there is a vegan buffet on Saturdays. The dosas here are more substantial than at Kabob and Curry, and when I went a few years ago, my dosa came out “unwrapped,” allowing me to fill it as I liked. The hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.