They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and I cannot deny that I love great food.
The question often times is where one can find great food and perhaps is there a place where many great restaurants and eateries are under one roof.
I found such a place at the Providence Place Mall in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, a mall whose identity goes beyond that of having the typical anchor department stores and chain clothing stores includes a uniqueness that lends itself to excellent food and entertainment choices.
The food court located in the middle of level three of this large shopping mecca features Cathay Cathay, Gourmet India, Japan Café, Johnny Rocket’s, Le Petit Bistro, Pizzera Regina, Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits, Surf and Turf, Taco Bell, Subway, and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.
Cathay Cathay has great Chinese food while your craving for savory chicken can be met by visiting Popeye’s.
Johnny Rocket’s has a limited number of stools near its counter with occasional singing and dancing by its employees.
Known for its burgers, fries, and shakes, Johnny Rocket’s will not disappoint and is usually one of the busiest eateries in the food court.
For dessert, head over to Ben and Jerry’s and treat yourself with a cup or cone or splurge with a banana split.
In short, the food court has something for everyone with a bigger variety of food that I have seen in most malls.
There is direct access to the food court from Francis Street through a staircase and elevator located in a corridor near the hallway going to the food court restrooms.
The large windows in the food court offer plenty of light and a sweeping view of downtown Providence as well as the river and railroad tracks which are underneath parts of the mall.
Above the food court is a Dave and Busters, and a Chatters Bar and Grill in the Cinema 16 which features large screens, stadium seating, armrest cup holders, and surround sound.
Dave and Busters features formal and informal seating in the restaurant with great lunch and dinner entrees and features three unique bars, a large arcade area, a billiards room, and a banquet facility.
Chatters Bar and Grill offers mostly lunch entrees and is open to the public, no movie ticket is required to dine there.
Other eateries throughout the mall include a Pretzel Time, Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk, TCBY Treats, Dairy Queen/Orange Julius, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Godiva Chocolatier, Candy Crossing, and GNC.
A Dale and Thomas Popcorn will soon be opening.
In the Nordstrom Department Store, there are two eateries: a Nordstrom Café featuring a coffee bar and pastry area on level 3 near the mall entrance, and a Nordstrom Restaurant on level 3 featuring sandwich specials, salads, pizza, and Italian food as well as views of Providence through its windows.
The Borders store features a Seattle’s Best Coffee with beverages and pastries in the store which has from level C of the mall and Francis Street.
An Uno Chicago Grill, which has outside seating and a bar, is located off a small corridor on level C cityside and also has access to the southern side of Francis Street.
Other restaurants on the southern side of Francis Street include a unique buffet setup at Fire and Ice and juicy barbeque ribs and a bar at Smokey Bones BBQ (with access to level 1 via the elevator and stairs).
Restaurants on the northern side of Francis Street include The Cheesecake Factory (with direct access to Stateside Garage), Joe’s American Bar and Grill, and Napa Valley Grille.
The Cheesecake Factory has a wide variety of dishes for lunch and dinner and their appetizers and its selection of mouthwatering cheesecake are quite large and could make a meal in and of itself for someone who wants a quick bite.
The mall is anchored by a three-story large Macy’s (a former Filenes’s), a somewhat-smaller three-story Nordstrom, and an even smaller three-story J.C. Penney (a former Lord and Taylor) with sub-anchors Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Borders Books, Music, and Café, Old Navy, a large Gap Store divided on two different levels, National Amusements Providence Place Cinema 16, a Feinstein IMAX Cinema, Providence Skills Center, and Dave and Buster’s.
All of the anchor stores have access from the parking garage and the mall while all of the sub-anchor stores except the last four have access from the garage as well.
Most of the mall is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hours of department stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, and Crate and Barrel may vary.
I believe that Dave and Busters is open late most nights with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
The movie theater has movies playing at a variety of times, some as late as 12:30 a.m.
To increase safety after-hours, security is positioned throughout the mall when most of the mall closes for the evening and can help shoppers find their way to their destination or back to their car.
The garage and mall corridors are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to allow access between the garage and the skybridge.
The skybridge leads shoppers from the mall to the Westin Hotel.
The hotel features the Agora Restaurant and Bar and a Citiperk Coffee Shop and has a direct connection to the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Walking through the lobby leads shoppers to the downtown areas where within walking distance one can walk to the Providence Performing Arts Center, Trinity Repertory Theatre, Waterplace Park and Riverwalk, Rhode Island School of Design, City Hall, Johnson and Wales University, a number of office buildings, hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, dance clubs, a skating rink, and art galleries are all within walking distance of the mall.
Downtown Providence seems to be improving with new businesses moving in, especially in buildings within the four blocks of the mall.
The mall is located off Exit 22C of Interstate 95 and highway ramps are close to both mall garages.
If you are coming from Connecticut, might I suggest using Route 6 East to access the interstate, it will save you a lot of grief from Interstate 95.
If you drive Route 6 East be on the lookout for signage and take the Route 6 East Bypass, which will bypass around a town and save you between 5 and 10 minutes.
The biggest disadvantage of the mall is parking is not free like most malls I have been to.
Providence Place Mall parking rates are $1 for 0-3 hours, $5 for 3-4 hours, $6 for 4-5 hours, $7 for 5-6 hours, $8 for 6-7 hours, $13 for 7-8 hours, $15 for 8-10 hours, $17 for 10-12 hours.
This means if you plan on staying all day or checking out downtown Providence, you will need to air out your wallet.
While during Christmas and on weekends, the mall is busy, usually parking is available in the garages if you keep driving between each and every floor.
Sometimes those leaving the mall have to wait in lines of twenty to sixty cars to leave the garage on either end.
While there are multiple parking fee booths open during busy times, it is akin to highway tolls where a two lanes turns into several lanes then back to two lanes.
While going to the mall might not be too difficult, leaving can pose a challenge depending on what garage you parked in and how you leave.
There is no validated parking, however, the garages are the safest place in Providence to park your vehicle since security cameras and roving patrols constantly monitor all levels and section of the garages.
$160 is the cost for a monthly parking pass which can be obtained from the main parking garage office located on Level D stateside near the garage exit.