I Heart Chowdah: A Weekend Gastronomy Tour of Southern New England

New England is one of my favorite parts of this country. I love the cool fall weather, the great beaches, the people, and the food. It’s where I spent my college years and where I have many great memories. Recently, James and I decided to take a weekend trip up to New England to visit some friends, see some sites, and sample some vegan food. We started in Rhode Island and stayed in Providence, where I went to school many years ago. The city itself has changed from gritty to pretty since I lived there, and summer is such a great time to explore it.

One of my favorite parts of the city is the College Hill neighborhood near the Brown University campus. I love the diversity up there, and the little shops and eateries that populate Thayer Street. We arrived at lunchtime, famished from the 5 hour drive, and headed for Gordito Burrito. It’s a small shop on one end of the street and has some nice vegetarian food options. I had the veggie salad with beans and tofu, which was a huge bowl of salad. Their salsa was flavorful but not too spicy and a nice addition to the salad. I was stuffed when we left.

For dinner, we met up with one of my college roommates at Veggie Fun, a new Pan-Asian Vegan restaurant downtown on Dorrance Street. I had the stir-fried soba noodles with shredded vegetables and tofu. It was a generous portion that James finished a few days later when we got back home. The food they offer is standard fare, but it was nice to see a completely vegetarian restaurant downtown.

A finback whale in the waters of Stellwagen Bank off the coast of Massachusetts.

The following day we went whale watching. Cape Cod is a great summer spot for whale watching as the animals are coming back from their summer homes in the south and looking for food in Stellwagen Bank, a national marine life sanctuary off the tip of the Cape near Boston. If you are interested in going on a whale watch, make sure to choose a company that complies with NOAA’s whale watching guidelines and participates in Whale SENSE, which encourages participants to be educated stewards of the ocean. We were fortunate to be able to see a lot of whales on our trip including a finback identified as Skeg, several minke whales, and a female humpback identified as Nile. This was my third whale watch trip, and I’m always humbled and overwhelmed by the beautiful creatures we find in the water.

After our successful whale watch, we drove into Hyannis, MA to eat lunch at the Green Lotus Café. We were excited to try their gluten-free, vegan New England chowder and it didn’t disappoint! It was creamy with mushrooms and potatoes and just scrumptious. If you like “chowdah” you don’t want to miss this one! They also have tasty sandwiches which we ate with our chowder. It was the perfect lunch.

After more visits with friends, we headed to The Grange up on Federal Hill in Providence. The Grange is a vegetarian restaurant with a bunch of vegan options. They have small, medium, and larger plates of food to order depending on your hunger level. I ordered the grilled seitan, James ordered the Korean barbecued tacos, and our daughter had the quinoa salad and pommes frites (their vegan aioli was terrific!) Overall, with the great service, this was my favorite venue of the weekend. All of the food was satisfying and I enjoyed the quiet ambiance of the restaurant.

Grilled seitan with chimichurri sauce at The Grange in Providence, RI.

The next day, we travelled into Newport to do some sightseeing and then drove to Narragansett, RI to sample some food at Crazy Burger. When they sat us at a table beneath the poster of Guy Fieri (who had come there for his tv series, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), I was afraid they wouldn’t have any vegan food available. I was pleasantly overwhelmed with options. They have breakfast foods like a vegan breakfast sandwich, vegan sausage hash, and roasted veggie hash. You can also substitute tofu for any egg dish. They have corn and sweet potato chowder (which James sampled), west coast vegan enchiladas, and a huge variety of vegan shakes (the chocolate one was perfectly rich and creamy). We all decided to try the vegan burgers since there were 5 different choices on the menu. We had the Just Plain Nuts burger on naan with sun-dried tomato-artichoke pesto; the Poco Loco burger with roasted tempeh and wild black rice meld with peppers, onions, black beans, olives, and vegan sour cream; and the Birdie Mae burger which had grilled tempeh, purple sticky rice, sweet potato, roasted sunflower seeds, and rosemary-pumpkin pesto. I don’t think I’ve ever had such amazing burgers! There were so many flavors and textures. I want to go back and try everything I missed the first time!

Not only were we able to visit with our friends and see some sites, but we had some outstanding vegan food as well. I was so happy that this place that I hold so close to my heart has progressed with the times. I can’t wait for our next trip and the next heavenly bowl of “chowdah”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *