Welcome to Instagrammable America, where we scour the states for the best places to eat and drink, because if you didn’t ‘gram it, did you even try it?
Newport, Rhode Island: home of storied sailing regattas, the
Cliff Walk, Fort Adams State Park, International Tennis Hall of Fame and some of the world’s largest summer homes (the Newport Mansions) lining historic Bellevue Avenue.
The “City by the Sea” is also the epicenter of one of New England’s most thriving culinary hubs, with a plethora of award-winning eateries ranging from waterfront lobster roll stands and seafood shacks, to fine dining restaurants outfitted in Gilded Age decor.
There are the old standbys—the places everyone loves and will tell you to visit upon arrival—the newbies and of course, the locals-loved hidden gems. We’ve included a mix of all below, with the help of food and travel writer (plus Newport history buff),
Andrea E. McHugh.
Behold our list of 18
best restaurants in Newport, Rhode Island.
Related: 20 Best Providence, Rhode Island Restaurants
Best Restaurants in Newport, RI
Clarke Cooke House
There are few places more synonymous with Newport than the
Clarke Cooke House, but to be fair, the structure itself has been around since 1780 (even still, it’s hardly the oldest restaurant location on this list!). The ultimate see-and-be-seen eatery in the City by the Sea, the “Cooke House,” as it’s called by locals, offers multiple dining spaces, each with its own vibe—plus a subterranean discotheque that’s likely to reopen come the warmer months. This Colonial era home of a wealthy sea captain offers fine dining on the “Summer Porch” perched majestically on the top floor complete with fine tablecloths, white jacket-clad wait staff and a strict dress code. Things are decidedly less formal at “The Bistro” and “Candy Store” levels, where the energy is spirited year-round. This season, cozy up by the Bistro’s hearth, a coveted nook surrounded by the owner’s personal collection of America’s Cup wooden half-hull models, artwork and sailing memorabilia. Once warmer temperatures return, so does a barrage of sushi chefs from St. Barths who will have you clamoring for a bar seat closest to bustling Bannister’s Wharf and the schooners bobbing in the marina. And while any meal is an experience here, make a resy for the less-hurried Sunday jazz brunch, where you can experience authentic Rhode Island jonnycakes—thin cornmeal pancakes—served with poached eggs, smoked salmon, dill crème fraîche and chive beurre blanc.
The Dining Room at The Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt Hotel, which is now part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, is home to a myriad of impressive dining experiences ranging from cocktails and New England nibbles on The Roof Deck, to elevated pub-inspired dishes in their newly refurbished Dining Room. And for nightcaps (Newport style), there’s a secret tucked-away bar in the Doris Duke-inspired parlor that’s not to be missed. They’ve even enlisted top chef April Bloomfield as culinary advisor at the Vanderbilt, so you can expect top notch fare with a nod to gastropub favorites. There’s Vandy Rhode Island Clam Chowder, RI Mushroom Pate and a Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with green mango, smoked chickpeas and sautéed spinach that has us returning for more each visit. Considering the mansion was once owned by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, this might be the most stylish setting for a memorable meal when in Newport.
What happens when an Ocean State born-and-bred chef spends years in Italy perfecting his culinary chops?
Giusto has become Newport’s most in-demand waterfront eatery since opening in Hammetts Hotel back in 2020, and with one bite, you’ll know why. Having cooked at Michelin-starred Del Posto in the Big Apple and helming James Beard Award-nominated SRV in Boston, chef-owner Kevin O’Donnell returned to his Rhode Island roots when he unveiled his “freestyle Italian” restaurant on Hammetts Wharf in the heart of downtown. Think: simple, traditional Old Country dishes with a Rhode Island mashup. It’s the culinary collab you’ve been waiting for. Among the shared plates, you’ll find classic New England steamed littlenecks served in a creamy bed of guanciale and mascarpone. It’s a nod to New England clam chowder, topped with a fluffy garlic doughboy that’s put to good use when soaking up every last drop. Also noteworthy: the ricotta gnudi—pillowy ricotta glazed in truffle butter with Brussels sprout petals, fresh Perigord truffles and shaved 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano. But the most ‘grammable dish might just be Giusto’s unique twist on Rhode Island’s official state appetizer: calamari. O’Donnell takes fresh squid, adds squid ink to the tempura batter giving it the color of the night sky, and serves it with a sauce made from capers, cherry peppers, lemon juice, orange zest, white wine, butter, tomato paste, parsley and fennel fronds for a crispy, umami, lemony experience you won’t soon forget.
White Horse Tavern
The question is, how do you not NOT ‘gram the oldest restaurant in America? With its creaky wide-plank wood floors, exposed original beams, glowing sconces and multiple hearths, you get the distinct feeling not much has changed since this place opened in 1673. Dinner unfolds nightly in the main dining room as well on the second floor, where the views are worth navigating the narrow, centuries-old staircase (the upstairs is also when Jacqueline Kennedy would lunch), but the most cozy space to dine is in the bar. With just three tables, eight seats at the bar and a continually-stoked wood-burning fireplace, it has an aura all its own. The restaurant’s most classic dish, the beef Wellington, is modernized with foie gras mousse, while the crispy pork belly is prepared with a sticky chili glaze balanced by soy-caramel Brussels sprouts. Don’t be surprised if your pics show an unexplained orb in them as the White Horse Tavern has been noted as one of the most haunted spots in America.
Stoneacre Garden’s bright orange exterior is anything but subtle with oversized illuminated marquee letters spelling out F-U-N and an arrow pointing to the entry. The coastal carnival vibe at the considerably more playful cousin to Stoneacre’s flagship Brasserie restaurant permeates multiple dining spaces including a breezy rooftop terrace overlooking Newport Harbor, a striped canopied back patio with “bocce & bubbles” (a bocce court with a libation hut), and a cavernous dining room anchored by a center bar where greenery spills over the sides of suspended trellises. The menu takes its cue from Asian flavor, but infuses a modern flair throughout dinner, lunch and brunch. General Tso’s cauliflower, Bang Bang crispy shrimp and the salmon poke wonton tacos are popular starters while vegetarians will appreciate myriad meatless dishes, including the chickpea vegetable burger with curry aioli and yuzu pickles served on grilled naan. A thoughtful cocktail selection celebrates each season and this time of year, let your libation be the Snowbird made with light rum, passion fruit, Aperol, Coco Lopez and lime. And there are plenty of concoctions for teetotalers, including the “G & T” (no, not that G & T), a “Garden & Tonic” made with Seedlip Garden 108, an herbal non-alcoholic spirit.
Sitting pretty at the head of Bellevue Ave is the Grand Dame of Newport,
Hotel Viking, and their on-site restaurant, One Bellevue. With a nod to the Gilded Age, fine dining is alive and well at One Bellevue where white linen table clothes and napkins are just as commonplace as attentive, old-school servers, afternoon tea service and mixology class. With dishes spanning both land and sea, it’s ideal for date-night dinners, wedding receptions—and breakfast. Perhaps one of the best in the area, we might add. Also worth checking out while at the Viking: Top of Newport Bar + Kitchen—the OG Newport rooftop with stunning sunsets, overhead views of renowned Bellevue Avenue, live music and a menu filled with light bites and signature cocktails that are just the answer to “where should we go now” after a lazy beach day.
Though it boasts a lofty Bellevue Avenue address,
Pasta Beach is thoroughly modern throughout. Intriguing light fixtures suspended by rope, colorful French bistro chairs and banana leaf wallpaper à la the Beverly Hills Hotel blend together in stylish harmony. The restaurant’s inspiration all came from one dish—a simple, fresh Spaghetti al Pomodoro e Basilico (spaghetti with tomato sauce and fresh basil) from Gianni Ropolo’s native Torino. The Ropolo family now oversees two other Pasta Beach locations as well, but the Newport flagship continues to lure those with a penchant for uncomplicated, traditional Italian cuisine. Meaty Champignon mushrooms tossed in garlic and cream crown long, flat ribbons of pasta dusted with fresh parsley to make the restaurant’s iconic Tagliatelle ai Funghi, while their Spaghetti alle Vongole, made with a hearty helping of the small Italian clams sautéed in garlic and olive oil with red pepper flakes to add some heat may fool you into thinking you’re dining on the Amafi Coast. While the front of the restaurant is anchored by the animated chef working the floor-to-ceiling brick oven, and the center of the restaurant overlooks the kitchen (the diner-style swiveling stools are a fine perch for solo dining), arguably the most photogenic spot in the joint is the back bar, where Negronis flow like a mountainside waterfall.
The Mooring is a Newport, RI institution. They opened their doors in 1981 and have been serving lobsters every which way, grand shellfish platters, clam chowder and their ‘top-of-the catch’ seafood specialties ever since. Plus The Mooring’s legendary fish and chips are not to be missed! Fried, flaky Atlantic haddock with a Guinness beer batter crust, fries, red pepper slaw and Mooring tartar sauce…what’s not to love? Their waterfront, indoor-outdoor dining rooms are tops for leisurely weekend brunches gazing out at the harbor and their half-price raw bar deal on Wednesdays is one of the best in town. Wherever your Newport adventures take you, one thing’s for certain: at some point everyone ends up at The Mooring.
Bar & Board
Bar & Board easily juxtaposes historic charm with contemporary design, which should come as no surprise since this Thames Street restaurant is owned by Alex and Ani founder and Rhode Island native, Carolyn Rafaelian. On the ground floor, a wall-sized bank vault with a five-spoke handle reveals the building’s not-too-distant past; an unorthodox decor feature for diners cozied up to the white marble bar or the Thames Street facing tables dotting its perimeter. An adjacent pergola straddles the line between indoor and outdoor dining while the Leopard Lounge on the second floor is undeniably chic with panoramic views of America’s Cup Avenue and Newport’s hopping downtown. The “board” part of Bar & Board doesn’t disappoint as a spectrum of charcuterie and cheese boards offered here are ideal for pairs or a plethora of friends—and are especially ‘gram worthy. Two consummate entrée favorites have been the crispy chicken; an uber-thin cutlet served with sage white beans atop pasta al pomodoro, and the pan roasted salmon, served with mushroom risotto, dill crème fraîche and haricots verts. To quench your thirst, the cocktail program here is next level, purposely designed to bring you back to the Newport of the America’s Cup era. The très cool Kombuchanist cocktail is actually served on tap. This unique pink sparkling drink consists of kombucha, gin, pomegranate, raspberry, lemon and Crémant, a champagne-adjacent sparkling wine. Bottoms up!
Chef Basil Yu’s handmade ramen noodles, made from locally sourced stone-milled wheat, have created a cult-like following in Rhode Island and beyond. A departure from his French-influenced and contemporary fine dining past, Yu’s constantly evolving menu at
Yagi Noodles is inspired by his Chinese heritage and his ramen-hunting expeditions throughout the Far East, manifested in each bowl of aromatic brothy goodness. Smell, slurp and savor ramen bowls of roasted pork, spicy chicken, locally-raised beef, or Rhode Island mushrooms. Start with the duck confit bao buns elevated by the perfect amount of mango-apricot duck sauce and locally plucked gooseberries finished with crispy onions that add a solid crunch. If you’re not snapping pics of the exquisite dishes or sake-infused cocktail creations, you’re likely posing in front of the astro-turf covered wall where a neon yellow message commands, “Get Your Nood On.” The best seats in the house though are at the bar, where you’ll get a front row view of the kitchen action.
Related: 25 Best Restaurants in Boston
For 15 years, the “salty dog,” as it’s translated, has delighted diners with its modern Mexican fare which is the only thing “modern” about this home-turned-restaurant dating back more than three centuries. Just steps from historic Washington Square and nestled amongst the highest concentrations of colonial homes in the country,
Perro Salado’s cozy dining rooms offer an aura unto themselves. The heart of restaurant is the back bar, a moody space punctuated by a vibrant Diego Rivera-esque calla lily mural. Both figuratively and literally warm thanks to the lit fireplace this time of year, grab a seat and waste no time ordering the from scratch guacamole served with warm tostones and toasted pipians. Heartier dishes include Perro’s legendary sticky pork ribs that seamlessly marry sweet and spicy, served with a presentation that will have you grab your phone instantaneously. Fish tacos here are served three ways: beer battered and fried, pan-seared or blackened, and the taqueria menu will tempt you to mix and match your favorite traditional Mexican dishes. Margaritas here are serious business with a host of stocked tequilas (including house-made spirits). You can’t go wrong with the blood orange margarita or the watermelon margarita, but the cilantro-jalapeno margarita—now that one hits like none other.
For a narrow railroad-style corner restaurant,
Bar ‘Cino (pronounced “chee-no”) packs a big punch. Tables are close together and on busy nights, the volume can rise steadily, but it all just adds to the lively atmosphere of this trattoria. If dining with a few pals, reserve the table that owns the best real estate in the house: the front window. It comfortably sits eight and invites your party to share dishes—if you’re feeling generous. Start with the arugula salad that may not sound exciting, but exceeds expectations with the addition of marinated cannellini beans, chicories and parmesan lightly tossed in a fresh lemon vinaigrette. The Tuscan kale salad is a worthy rival with it’s crunchy leaves, bits of avocado, generous pine nuts and parmesan capped with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. While the baked clams pomodoro bills itself as a “shared plate,” it’s hard to part with these little meaty mollusks cooked in white wine with chili flakes (do yourself a favor and just ask for more grilled bread in advance—you’ll thank us later). The grilled pizzas here are a great sharable as they’re so pencil thin, they are served with scissors. If looking for something a little more creative than the margherita, dive into the version with prosciutto, fig, arugula, fontina and gorgonzola as the combination of sweet and savory flavors dance on your palate.
Castle Hill Inn
Practically synonymous with Newport itself,
Castle Hill Inn is a 40-acre peninsula perched majestically where the Atlantic Ocean meets Narragansett Bay, marked by an iconic stubby lighthouse screaming for an impromptu photo shoot. The inn is housed in a 19th century mansion, plus there are the charming cottages on site (including the one where Grace Kelly stayed while filing High Society with Frank Sinatra), but it’s the dining program here draws locals and visitors alike. In the summer months, nibbling mini lobster rolls and sipping cocktails on The Lawn is idyllic, but this time of year, insiders flock to the cozy Mansion Bar that begs for a Manhattan straight up. The Dining Room is a bit more upscale; as it should be if you’re indulging in one of the chef’s six-course menu experiences (with an elegant wine list to match). Your best bet though might just be Sunday brunch, where the Maine Lobster Hash alone is worth the trip.
One of the most heated debates you’ll find yourself in—in Newport—is over who has the best lobster roll. Some will wax poetic over dockside eatery
Belle’s Cafe for their hidden shipyard setting and A+ roll, while others are loyal to The Lobster Bar in Bowens Wharf for “lobster, shells, frosty drinks and sunsets.” Then there’s Flo’s Clam Shack just outside of Newport in Middletown, with no-frills, damn good rolls being sold out of a counter service window. We have big love for all these spots, but the one issue is: they’re not open year-round. So you’ll have to hit them up during peak season to be the judge of the best roll yourself. In the meantime, when you’re on the hunt for an always consistent lob star roll any time of year, you can count on Knot Norm’s. The Norwalk, CT fast-casual gem opened their 2nd outpost in Newport and we’re so glad they did. In addition to their superior lobster roll piled high with fresh chunks of meat in a house-made lobster butter coating, they’re known for crazy good crab salad rolls, Copps Island roasted oysters and fried chicken wings with togarashi hot oil, garlic, cilantro and lime.
The interior of Newport’s newest luxury waterfront
Brenton Hotel is a toast to the classic New England seaside, and The Living Room, an open concept space that, quite literally, makes you feel as though you’re just relaxing in your rich auntie’s living room, serves up super photogenic shareables and swoon-worthy small plates for breakfast and dinner—and your four legged friend isn’t forgotten (Fido can indulge from the Top Dog menu). The grilled octopus served with eggplant and walnut caviar, heirloom cherry tomatoes and eggplant caponata is a dream while you’ll want to keep the short rib raviolo with black burgundy truffle all to yourself. With Maurice behind the bar, you can’t go wrong with any cocktail but the French Inception, made with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Hotel California Reposado, St. Germain, rosemary simple syrup, guava juice, lime juice and herbs, is a showstopper.
As much as Newport has changed over the past quarter century, little has changed inside the walls of
Bouchard— and for that, be thankful. The city’s only spot for fine French cuisine, Bouchard is housed in a 1785 Georgian-style home; one you’d hardly guess has bustling Thames Street at its doorstep. You’ll find the French classics here— caviar, beef carpaccio, Dover sole with a chive beurre blanc—all served atop crisp white tablecloths in subtly elegant surroundings. But before even considering a main course, pre-order your Grand Marnier soufflé as the kitchen needs adequate time to prepare the light and airy pastry. At your meal’s conclusion, a server will place the high-rise headturner down and dramatically pour the Grand Marnier crème anglaise into the center of the soufflé from soaring heights if you’re lucky. The spectacle is rivaled only by the descendant dessert’s utter perfection.
Caleb & Broad
Broadway has long been the culinary destination of Newporters looking to avoid a busy downtown in the summer months, and
Caleb & Broad is a neighborhood favorite. In the warmer months, the restaurant throws open the glass doors fronting the space so a spot at the bar hardly feels inside at all, and patio tables lure passersby for a bite and a cold one. Unexpected main dishes like the ban [banh] mi bowl with kale and Brussels sprouts, quinoa, avocado, pickled veggies, fried tofu and roasted peanuts tossed in a sweet and sour dressing are a nice juxtaposition to pub food favorites. But the bar snacks and starters are pretty spectacular—most especially the fried green beans with remoulade dipping sauce, the street corn guacamole and the gluten-free short rib tacos with sambal, pesto, fig jam and feta. You’re welcome.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Chef Dezna Bowen perfected her skills in her homeland before heading to New England to strut her culinary stuff at
Humming Bird. Behind the line and impressing at well-known luxury properties like Castle Hill, Bowen thrived in the kitchen, but when a restaurant space became available on Broadway, she knew it was time to open a place of her own. Traditional Jamaican dishes here shine, including the jerk chicken, curry goat and oxtail, but there’s also some outside the box dishes like the creamy “rasta pasta”—penne pasta with shrimp and crabmeat in a creamy sauce with a kick. Plant-based palates should try the Caribbean-style Impossible Burger with vegan mayo and vegan cheese. And perhaps the best lunch bargain in Newport at $2.99 are the easy, scratch-made grab-and-go traditional jerk patties baked to flaky, golden perfection.
Next: The Best Restaurants Across the U.S.
Wed Sep 7 , 2022
Final Oct Alex Lauritzen went from “person who works at restaurants” to Gumby-seem-alike wizard who stacks mushrooms like a fungus-primarily based Jenga tower. His pop-up the Mushroom is his most recent and biggest adventure in cooking after gigs with places to eat such as Cotogna and Verjus. Now he and […]