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Annual Guide to Dining on Thayer Street

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Thursday, September 4, 2008


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Andreas: Owned by a very nice gentleman and his lovely family, Andreas has Greek fare ranging from moussaka to souvlakis. Homesick European students can take comfort in the menu, which inexplicably lists prices in Euros as well as U.S. dollars. Homesick Greek students might be disappointed by the lack of big fat weddings.

Antonio’s/Gordito Burrito: Despite competition from reggae-spinning Nice Slice down the street, Antonio’s remains a late-night pizza fixture for hungry, drunk and alt-rock loving Brunonians. Eggplant and tortellini grace Antonio’s reasonably priced slices, and Gordito Burrito is a nice place to eat. Antonio’s needs to stop raising its prices, though.

Au Bon Pain: It may be a chain, but if you pronounce it right it’ll sound high-brow. The create-your-own salads surpass the copycats at Jo’s and the chicken tarragon sandwiches keep us going all year long. If you come late at night, you can sometimes get super cheap pastries. Arrive after 10 p.m. and you can dumpster dive for a cinnamon bun – not that we would know.

Bagel Gourmet Ole: The stepchild of the original Brook Street bagel shop offers the same combination of bagels and questionable, but tasty, Mexican fare.

Ben & Jerry’s: You get free scoops on your birthday, and with a few Fish Co IDs that could be several times a year. The buzz around Free Cone Day in April can sometimes rival Spring Weekend.

Blaze: An offshoot of the Hope Street eatery with the same name, Blaze offers standard American fusion fare – whatever that means.

Blue State Coffee: Liberal drinking is encouraged at this coffee shop that gives a portion of its earnings to progressive charities. Chief rival is Ralph Nader’s fledgling Green State Coffee, which is rumored to steal about 3% of Blue State’s business.

Byblos: The home of “Mama’s Falafel,” Byblos wraps french fries into its chicken shawarma and houses Thayer’s only hookah bar upstairs. The Lebanese-owned joint faces stiff but peaceful competition from longtime falafel powerhouse, Syrian-owned East Side Pockets (see below).

Cold Stone Creamery: Students are divided over whether they like it or love it, but either way you gotta have some of this droolworthy ice cream at least once. This place is not for the indecisive, though. Be prepared to make 14 decisions before being served a cup of vanilla ice cream.

Creperie: Tucked away behind ABP, this French spin-off serves fresh crepes, wraps, smoothies and death metal. And it’s easier to pronounce than its Fones Alley cousin.

Chinese Food Truck: A cheap, popular stop for iffy Chinese food, this is exactly what it sounds like — a van parked outside the SciLi.

East Side Perks: It’s hard to say if this coffee joint on Waterman can ever best its predecessor, Ocean’s Coffee Roasters. But friendly service and a decent breakfast menu mean that it and partner restaurant Spice remain popular study haunts.

East Side Pockets: East Side’s falafel is legendary for late-night munchies and lineups out the door. Friendly service, Arabic music videos and dairy products where they don’t seem to belong – but do.

Geoff’s on Thayer: Geoff’s, which was home to an unbelievable two-for-one deal on Tuesday, closed its doors over the summer. But fear not, sandwich fiends – the restaurant’s flagship site on Benefit Street remains open.

Haruki Express: Sushi place on Waterman Street and little brother of the Haruki at Wayland Square. Also sells Japanese gummy things, to the delight of Hello Kitty fans everywhere.

J&J’s Candy Bar: One-stop shop for a good old-fashioned sugar-high-slash-study-aid. Fudge and homemade candies share space with an impressive, colorful array of gourmet jelly beans, chocolate confections and M&Ms. Show your Brown ID for a discount.

Johnny Rockets: Grow out your beehive and read some Archie comics at the popular wannabe-1950s burger joint on the corner of Meeting and Thayer streets. They sing, they may even dance. And the music that blares outside will forever (Techni)color your memory of Thayer.

Juniper: Toss your Pinkberry before you enter this new, brightly-lit frozen yogurt place with all the Mangosteen you’ll ever need. Be prepared for its decor; if you think you are in an operating room, you’re in the right place.

Kabob and Curry: If you haven’t sampled their selections by the end of the month then you clearly haven’t followed The Herald’s advice to join a plethora of student groups, because this spicy stuff is a mainstay at info sessions and open houses everywhere. If venturing into this Thayer Street establishment, be sure to bring cologne and Binaca.

Kartabar: Not the place for an intimate conversation, unless you’d like to meet some awfully friendly, occasionally leather-clad locals. Quarters are a bit cramped and the acoustics are terrible, but the lobster ravioli and martinis are the best on Thayer.

Liquid Lounge: Dark and kind of sketchy, with a mostly local crowd, buckets of beer, and some good live DJs. The College Hill Neighborhood Association doesn’t like it – we can’t tell if that’s a bad thing.

Metro Mart: This upstart convenience store doesn’t have Store 24’s selection but has the advantages of parking and alliteration. Plus, it’s a block closer to the Main Green.

Meeting Street Cafe: You might feel like Gulliver in this land of prodigious sandwiches and gargantuan cookies, but bring your linebacker friend and you should be fine. These tasty items will dazzle your taste buds and can also serve as stomach-fillers before your trip downstairs to Spiritus (see below). Bring your ID for a discount.

Nice Slice: This tiny joint on Thayer must be doing something right, since it has won over a substantial number of dedicated pizza-eating Brunonians since it opened a few years ago. The indie reading material on their counter matches the lesser-known soda brands you can order with your pie.

Paragon/Viva: Whether you enjoy weekly trips to this dance floor-slash-restaurant or distance yourself from the Eurotrash “Viva crowd,” you’ll probably agree that Paragon’s food is among the tastiest and most consistent in quality that Thayer has to offer. Food best served when parents take the check.

Roba! Dolce: An oddly placed exclamation point in its name complements its imported Italian deserts and surprisingly good breakfast sandwiches (plus a lunch/dinner menu) and cappuccino. Enjoy the creamy gelato or else sleep with the fishes.

Shanghai: A staple of the Thayer Street Food Court, this joint is half classy pseudo-bar, half mall take-out joint, with the same good-enough Chinese food served on both sides. You will probably drink a Scorpion Bowl before leaving Brown. You will definitely not remember it.

Spats: Do you enjoy beer, steak, sports and loitering drunk, whilst smoking cigarettes? Spats may be the place for you. Across the street from The Herald’s offices, so just keep in mind that when you urinate in the alley next door, we can see you.

Spice: Large portions of slightly-pricey Thai food abound in this Waterman joint with a coffee shop (see East Side Perks) tucked in the front. Super convenient if you don’t want to haul down to Wickenden for your Asian food fix.

Spike’s Junkyard Dogs: Park your motorcycle at the door and dig into these dogs, meat or veggie. Try Spike’s Challenge sometime. You get your photo on the wall if you succeed and a bucket if you don’t.

Spiritus Fermenti: The only liquor store on Brown’s campus. Overpriced, but you’re paying for proximity. Go there on your 21st birthday for a discount and a teeny bottle of champagne, or on your tippie-toes for a decent shot at some booze to bring to your freshman dorm. Packed on Friday evenings.

Starbucks: The one place where college students suddenly have deep pockets. Usually crowded, and a good place for Thayer Street people-watching opportunities. There’s a good chance your French class conversation section will meet here.

Store 24: The whiney tween of convenience stores is shut down by local law just shy of 2 a.m. despite later aspirations.. It does have all your weekend needs – limes, Solo cups, Ping-Pong balls and soda. If you’re there around closing time Sunday through Thursday, chances are you’ll run into some Herald editors holding a can of Red Bull and muttering “preciousss.”

Subway: Near Minden Hall, Finlandia and a couple of banks to pay for their footlongs. Home to delicious chain-made sandwiches and cardboard cutouts of now-skinny pseudo-celebrities.

Sushi Express: Don’t feel like walking to Wickenden or even, if you live near Pembroke, Haruki Express? Hole-in-the-wall Sushi Express has passable, quick sushi, made when you order it. So far, no health code violations.

Tealuxe: If you like your tea as eclectic as your course schedule, Tealuxe is the place for you. Please don’t spend an hour looking through their handheld menus – some of us are waiting.

Via Via IV: This restaurant, legendary among students for its late night service, clings to its brick ovens and Meeting Street lot with uncommon ferocity in the face of a University that wants the property. They have a new menu, too.

Xtreme Pizza and Wings: Despite their name, the Phillies are the best thing on the menu. The service is good, and you can get free fries with a Brown ID.