8 must-have dishes at Newport restaurants

To truly experience the flavor of Newport, you should get to know some of the dishes that locals consider classics.  

By Andrea E. McHugh

Locals and visitors alike rave about Brick Alley Pub’s Ahi Tuna Sliders.

Legendary Nachos at Malt on Broadway

When longtime eatery Tucker’s Bistro closed its doors on Broadway and Malt opened in the same location, the restaurant’s owners felt compelled to continue serving Tucker’s’ legendary Thai Shrimp Nachos. This appetizer is known for its light-as-air wonton crisps drizzled with a creamy coconut sauce boasting hints of red curry. You’ll call dibs on the last few bites.  

Fan Favorites at The Mooring 

For a more traditional starter that’s a twist on a New England favorite, try the Scallop Chowder from The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar. This longtime fan favorite took top honors at Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-Off many times over. The creamy creation pairs beautifully with the restaurant’s Chopped Salad, which is anything but basic, with fingerling potatoes, sunflower seeds, a smattering of feta cheese and house-made ranch dressing. 

Malt’s Thai Shrimp Nacho is known for its light-as-air wonton crisps drizzled with a creamy coconut sauce boasting hints of red curry.

Must-have at Brick Alley Pub

Over at Brick Alley Pub, locals and return visitors alike utter these same three words: Ahi Tuna Sliders. First, this dish gets points for presentation: Pan-seared slices of rare ahi tuna, served chilled and crusted in pepper and herbs, rest side by side on a bed of crispy wontons. Three dots of wasabi grace the rectangular plate, flanked by dainty ramekins of soy sauce and pickled ginger. You can’t go wrong — just make a reservation, because a wait is common at “BAP.”   

Midtown Oyster Bar’s Must-have dish

Down on Lower Thames Street at the towering Midtown Oyster Bar, you’ll find myriad varieties of the meaty mollusks (many from Rhode Island waters). But one of its best small plates is the Char-Grilled Octopus. These tantalizing tentacles (typically there are two) are prepared with a dry spice rub, grilled and served atop a citrusy chickpea salad.

Tots with a twist at Wharf Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar  

Landlubbers looking for a hearty snack should make their way to Wharf Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar on Bowen’s Wharf. Though famous for their fried chicken and waffles, crawfish hushpuppies and other Southern indulgences, it’s their tater tots that pour out of the kitchen on any given night. You can go all out and enjoy them with pork belly and Guinness cheese sauce, or try tots smothered in country gravy and Creole spices. But you’ll be just as satisfied getting the Classic Tots, as they come with a twist on the standard condiments: rosemary ketchup and mustard aioli.

What to order for Dessert in Newport

When it comes to a sweet finale, there are two desserts in town that rise to the top. Diners at The Fifth Element are known to choose their entrées strategically to ensure they’ve left room for the restaurant’s Sticky Toffee Pudding. The dessert, based on the same one Madonna served at her wedding to director Guy Ritchie, is served atop warm toffee sauce and house-made whipped cream. Meanwhile, down at Bouchard Restaurant & Inn, the Grand Marnier Soufflé is about as much of a culinary institution as the restaurant itself. Baked to perfection every time, its taut exterior hides a pillowy interior. Once it’s placed in front of you, your server (say “hi” to Dan!) will dramatically drench the puffy delight in Grand Marnier sauce. Pace yourself accordingly.