The Rules: RI Restaurant Madness

March Restaurant Madness

The Rules: RI Restaurant Madness


What is this thing? Is it a sports thing?

Oh goodness no. 64 restaurants in the state of Rhode Island are currently competing for the title of Restaurant of the Year. Restaurants were split into two categories – for lack of a better term, more ethnic and less ethnic. The 32 restaurants in each category were then ranked by overall popularity, using as reference the total number of reviews on a certain popular website whose name implies yelling and/or help. From there, restaurants were split into groups of eight. Each of the eight divisions contains three or four restaurants from Providence, and four or five restaurants from other cities. There are other details – last year’s Final Four each got bumped up a division from last year – but probably you don’t actually care about that.

This list seems very all over the place. I just like fancy bistros and the occasional burger.

Maybe you feel that way! This list was also partly inspired by this long-winded but reasonable article in the Washingtonian, in which a food critic says that you can eat better and save money by focusing your attention on little mom and pops and splurging on something special once every two weeks or so.

If all these restaurants are so great, why have I never heard of half of them?

Good question! But it really comes down to how adventurous you’re feeling. And also to the fact that we’re in Rhode Island. We might not have the best sitdown Middle Eastern restaurants or Ethiopian food, but we do have Portuguese and Cambodian and Dominican and Liberian restaurants that you won’t find in too many other cities. (Also Italian. In fact, we have so many Italian restaurants that they’re all competing in the Less Ethnic divisions.)

Where is The Provender? Or Kay’s? I do love a good sandwich!

It’s maybe a technicality since bread is bread, but burger places (Mission, The Beef Barn) qualified while sandwich places (Kay’s, The Provender) were left off the list. So were pizza places and diners.

What about Tacos Don Nacho? I love it there!

And taco stands. And clam shacks. The list is mainly for places where you can sit down, where sitting down isn’t weather dependent, and where you aren’t served on Styrofoam plates.

Yes, but my favorite restaurant of all isn’t represented here. Is this just a personal list of favorites?

No! This list was compiled over the course of weeks by reading reviews (real ones as well as internet reviews). Plus I asked regular people for their opinions, and tried to get a range of locales and price points. Restaurants that lost in Round 1 last year weren’t included either – well, except for O Dinis – but that’s why you don’t see The Mooring, The Grange, Cook and Brown or Apsara (for instance).

Tell me more about the voting.

Surveys will change daily at 7 am. Check back daily or follow Law And Order Party on Twitter and Instagram for reminders. If there is a tie, the match will go into overtime: that is, the poll will be extended until noon of the same day. If there’s still a tie, either I will cast the deciding vote or, if I don’t feel personally qualified to have an opinion, I’ll extend the voting until there is a clear winner.

Why do I keep having to enter my email address?

Just a formality to ensure that you’re a human and not a robot! Also, it will sign you up for the weekly Law & Order Party newsletter, if you don’t get it already.

Who are the favorites?

Well, last year Oberlin won. north was the runner-up, while Chilangos and Noodle Revolution rounded out the Final Four. They’re all competing again, but nicks on broadway and Rasoi are the top seeds in the two most popular divisions. Also there’s a whole slew of new restaurants competing.

I find this uninteresting. 
That is fine. Eating out isn’t for everyone. But I’m happy to hear feedback!

image: I didn’t want to single any one restaurant so I searched a free stock image website for “chef”