• October 1, 2014 | ,

    thayer by mouth

    favorite foods on our favorite street

    article by , illustrated by

    Hey first-years! Hate your meal plan yet? If not, it won’t be long until you do. But, fear not! I’m here to help.

    My name’s Kevin. I’m a senior, and I spend more time talking about food than I do eating it. I’ve had bad meals in Providence, I’ve had good cheap eats here, and I’ve had slap-ya-mama, cry-at-the-table, religious-experience-quality food in this town. And I am here to share my secrets. In my fourth year at Brown, I present to you the four best dishes that our dear Thayer Street has to offer. There is, of course, good food to be had outside of this list, but these are my staples.

    1. Breakfast Burrito at Bagel Gourmet Ole

    Like most great bagel shops, Bagel Gourmet Ole (like its Brook Street cousin) is a small store. There’s not a lot of room to sit and eat, but I believe there is something satisfying about eating a bagel on the go. It fits right in your hand, fills you up, and feels distinctly New York, in a frenetic, always moving kind of way.

    I humbly believe that Bagel Gourmet Ole’s doughy offerings could withstand New York scrutiny. But bagels aren’t my favorite thing on the menu at BGO. No, I reserve that position, and the first place in my top four dishes on Thayer Street, for Bagel Gourmet Ole’s breakfast burrito.

    The makeup is simple: beans, scrambled egg, pico de gallo, peppers, onions, and cheese, all wrapped in a hot tortilla and plopped in a brown paper bag alongside some napkins and a little plastic ramekin of damned good hot sauce. The beans and eggs are savory and filling, the pico is fresh, the peppers and onions are crunchy, and the hot sauce is rich and peppery.

    BGO’s breakfast burrito, coming in at only $5.50, is a tasty and substantial meal. Liberally splash on some hot sauce, take a bite, repeat, and find happiness.

    2. Pork Burrito at Baja’s

    Baja’s is situated across the street in another grab-and-go kind of storefront. The menu is long, and I am enamored with a few dishes in addition to the aforementioned. But Baja’s is for burritos, and a burrito is what you should order.

    Some of my friends like the shrimp, some the steak, some the chicken, but I think that if you order anything but pork at Baja’s, you are fucking crazy (unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, in which case I admire your resolve and respect your minimal carbon footprint). Like any slow-cooked meat worth its salt, Bajas’ pork carnitas is a tender, savory, rich master work of low and slow cooking. It’s the star act. So, next time you find yourself in a long line at Baja’s, don’t agonize over your decision while you wait. Get a pork burrito, customize it as you wish, and thank me later. Oh, by the way—if you want to improve your burrito, ask the cook to crumble up some chips into your tortilla. The textural difference is noticeable and awesome.

    3. Spicy Pork Bibimbap at Soban

    I don’t love everything at Soban, and this item can be a little expensive. But I think it’s worth it, and I encourage you to check it out.

    Soban is a basement joint underneath the recently closed Irish pub on Thayer, tucked between East Side Pockets and Shanghai. It’s decorated like a boring cafeteria, a fact that’s made up for by its exciting food and the free sides (called banchan) and miso soup that you get if you eat in.

    Bibimbap is a Korean dish made up of sticky rice, a base protein, a bunch of different vegetables, a fried egg, and chili paste or sauce. I prefer the spicy pork at Soban, but the dish is good in all its variations. The veggies are crisp, flavorful, and unique—I hadn’t had about half of them before I found Soban. The rice passes the critical stickiness test—you can eat it with chopsticks alone. They toss the pork in a tangy chili sauce, and it’s tender, to boot. And the fried egg on top makes for an appetizing addition: its rich creaminess compliments the spice and zest of the chili. The end result is a dynamic, multi-flavored dish.

    If you’ve got the time, eat in, take full advantage of the free soup and banchan, and order your bibimbap in a hot stone pot. It’s a nice preparation, and it makes the rice crunchy and crispy around the edges. But if you’ve got to get going, order to go and bring some banchan with you. It’s my favorite full meal on Thayer. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

    4. Nutella Milkshake at BBC

    The last position on my four-spot list of Thayer Street’s greatest goes to a really simple dish—the Nutella milkshake at BBC. Personally, I like to buy myself one if I need a little pick-me-up during a long night at the Scili. It sports just the right amount of nutella, so it’s not too chocolatey. It’s creamy and thick, but still able to fit up a straw. It makes me happy when I need a little something extra, and I trust that you’ll feel the same

    So, that’s it, folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed my first week of dining recommendations. In the coming weeks, I’ll tackle coffee shops better than Starbucks and Blue State, bars that offer a change of scenery from the GCB, bakeries that put the Blue Room to shame, and brunches that go beyond Louis and Brickway. Until then, I’ll see you on Thayer!