At 11pm on Saturday night, I found myself in the most unexpected of places: South Providence. It’s an area of Rhode Island where most people wouldn’t be caught dead… or, rather, they might literally catch themselves dead. Me being in South Providence is the equivalent of a kid from Westchester walking through the streets of Canarsie or the South Bronx.
Anyone who said that Rhode Island is lacking in Latino cuisine has never been to South Providence at 11pm on a Saturday night. But in a neighborhood where as a child, my parents insisted on locking the doors of our car as we drove through – during the day, even – that’s not exactly surprising. Lining Broad Street, the main drag through South Providence, were literally ten trucks selling food native to Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Want a real taco, with meat braised in a spicy tomatillo sauce with a real corn tortilla? They’ve got it, and it puts Chipotle to shame. Want a chimichanga? Oh, they’ve got that, too, and you’ll never taste one better. They’ve even got papiajos, a Dominican rarity, made with fried plantains and a meat filling. Despite the over-abundance of food available, every single truck had a line at least three deep.
Having lived in New York for a while now, I’ve been uptown and seen quite a few trucks scattered through Washington Heights and Inwood, but South Providence was like a three-ring circus of Latino food. I can take a three-week trip through Latin America, or I can just cruise up Broad Street in South Providence. That’s better for my wallet, and much better considering my elementary grasp of the Spanish language. And you’re probably slightly less likely to be shot or kidnapped in South Providence.