ralph’s rockstar diner

ralph’s is a major institution, known not only to the woostah locals, but as a hidden new england gem to many in…well, rhode island. that’s about it. so they’ve got central MA and lil’ rhody, which could be worse. however, as the providence natives know, there are few, and ever dwindling, live music venues left in pvd compared to just 5 years ago. well, ralph’s chadwick square diner (which isn’t in chadwick square, make sure you mention  that to your gps) is still here! and i would argue that you need to at least make one trip and experience it’s awesomeness. built out of an old dining car, attached to an ancient firehouse, it’s the perfect eclectic mix of awesome food, great atmosphere and some really good bands. as you enter (beware the mob of cynical hipster smokers out front; don’t get any cynical on you…or hipster for that matter), turning left will bring you into the dining car. behind the counter, running the length of the car, some dude is grilling burgers and the slight smokey char of tasty meat wafts all throughout. my first visit, i plunked down on a counter seat and asked for a menu. i think the jukebox actually stopped. there are no menus! this is ralph’s! i was informed that they serve: burgers, veggie burgers, chili. there’s no special cheese selection, you can’t add applewood smoked slab bacon for $2, and there are definitely no crostini for the chili. you will get your cheeseburger and bag of chips and you will like it! so, stfu, sit, and get a burger. they are one of the best i’ve had since moving here. there is something to be said for doing just a few things and doing them really well. oh, and at the counter, full bar service. it’s like you don’t even need to move! however, you might miss out on all the other stuff going on at ralph’s.  if you were to turn right upon entering, you would head into a more typical bar area. rough wood, vintage signs, more hipsters, etc. a year or so ago, i actually went on a first date to ralphs, way before i actually knew very much about the place. it was an internet thing, and the girl was just getting back from an early wedding reception on a saturday evening. she had texted me, “hey, let’s meet up at ralph’s for a bit”. then she texted immediately after, “wait, i might be too drunk to go out – call me first so i know you’re not some psycho”. this, of course should have set off all kinds of alarm bells on my end. however, for those of you who actually know me, you know that we were at ralph’s within the next 30 minutes. and we were. we proceeded into the bar section and i quickly realized that it was karaoke night. she apparently knew and had actually intended on going to sing karaoke, because she made a beeline for the sign up table. we stood, awkwardly sipping beers till it was her turn. when they called her name, she rushed up to the mic and sang, “buffalo stance“. yes, that one. then she calmly replaced the mic, stepped off the stage, and came back and grabbed her beer. we never spoke about what had just happened. needless to say, i’m sure it goes without saying that nothing ever came of that first date travesty. continuing on, if you venture upstairs, that’s where all of the live music takes place. it’s a pretty much open floor plan with a good sized stage at the end and another full bar. motorcycles hang from the ceiling, your little brother’s highschool band sticker is on the wall and the hipsters have somehow figured out how to navigate the stairs. of course it depends who’s playing, but the atmosphere is really good and you could end up spending your saturday night at much worse places

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