When I moved to Rhode Island five years ago, I felt like a misplaced transplant from the Land of Diners. During my teenage years in northern New Jersey, my friends and I ended countless late nights at 24-hour diners. College in central Jersey meant more late nights and the occasional diner study session. These weren’t “new retro” chains like Denny’s Diners or Johnny Rockets, but family-owned restaurants, each with their own character.
The first Providence-area diner I discovered was the Modern Diner, which deserves a post of its own, but unfortunately isn’t open past 3pm. I still needed a place to share milkshakes with dates and fries with friends. Imagine my excitement when I found Stanley’s, a short drive away in Central Falls. While it’s not open 24 hours, you can grab dinner there until 9 or 10 (and I’m no longer a teenager, so this will suffice). Stanley’s is the real thing – unlike some of the new “retro” diner chains, it’s actually been around since 1932.
Chili fries and poutine (credit: Jeremy May) and the inside of a bacon burger
I first heard about Stanley’s when lapetiteamericaine told me they served an Americanized version of poutine. I tried these and their chili fries, which are excellent. They serve up the perfect diner-burger: flat, tender and topped with caramelized onions. Add a frothy milkshake and you have the classic diner experience.
If you’re a Stanley’s fan, I have great news – they’re busy constructing a second location in Providence’s Jewelry District. If we’re lucky, maybe it’ll have later hours to keep the area nightlife fed.