This downtown dance club behind City Hall, right by the historic Haven Brothers Diner
, is ostensibly a straight venue, but it's extremely LGBT-friendly and is a very popular place for dancing, comedy shows, small concerts, and other events, some with direct ties to the community (such as the occasional gay speed-dating parties). Dancing and performances take place in the lower-level club space, while there's an airy bar with picnic tables and bar stools upstairs.
Although this hipster dive bar in the ever-changing West End/Olneyville neighborhood isn't a gay bar per se, the Scurvy Dog (1718 Westminster St., no phone) pulls in a good mix of folks of all orientations and styles, with an emphasis on artsy types, tattooed dudes, musicians, and students. Billing itself a source of "beer, booze, and rock & roll", the bar features a nice lineup of beers from craft breweries - Dogfishhead, Berkshire Brewing, Long Trail, Magic Hat, and so on. Inside this no-frills dark hole, you'll also find a Gilligan's Island-theme pinball machine and a pool table. Grab a classic Rhode Island-style hot wiener at nearby Olneyville New York System
(20 Plainfield St., 401-621-9500) while you're in the neighborhood. A few blocks east of Scurvy Dog, toward downtown, Loie Fuller's
(1455 Westminster St., 401-273-4375) is another of this up-and-coming neighborhood's highly inviting and gay-friendly venues, serving exceptionally tasty French-American fare and featuring a terrific wine list.
The Stable (125 Washington St., 401-272-6950) is a welcoming, convivial downtown gay bar that's a perfect option for happy hour, pre-dance-club socializing, late-night hobnobbing, and conversation - although it can get loud and crowded in here on weekends. The crowd is quite mixed male/female and tending toward the younger (20s and 30s) side. This is one of the newer gay bars in Providence, and both the decor and the attitude seem to reflect this - it's a handsomely restored space with clean bathrooms, and the vibe is sophisticated yet friendly, with the staff generally eager-to-please. Drinks are well-priced, too.
Stylish and artful Tazza (250 Westminster St., 401-421-3300) succeeds on many levels. It's an espresso bar and brunch or lunch spot during the day, before morphing into a swanky yet very relaxed bistro and cocktail bar, with a strong following in Providence's LGBT community, after dark. The bartenders here craft some impressive drinks (try the refreshing Melon Cucumber Fizz with muddled honeydew melon and mint, English cucumber vodka, and club soda), and the airy interior with big windows overlooking a lively section of downtown is perfect for a leisurely meal or coffee/drinks break. Other pluses here include a long list of local craft beers, and a great selection of tasty small plates (cured meats, cheeses, tuna poke, rabbit ravioli).
Created by the restaurateurs behind Al Forno
, arguably the first establishment in Providence to seal the city's reputation as a culinary hotspot, Tini (200 Washington St., 401-383-2400) has quickly become a stalwart for dining and drinking in the hip Downcity district. It's open until midnight (serving food until 10), making it popular with patrons of the several gay bars nearby, and this modish restaurant that's been a sponsor of Rhode Island PrideFest turns out creative, Italian-influenced modern American fare (short rib ravioli, wild-mushroom gnocchi, cauliflower soup with sage and prosciutto). As the name suggests, this is a teeny-tiny space, comprising a U-shape marble bar with about 20 seats. And also as the name suggests, the bartenders serve a first-rate martini.
Gay revelers hanging out next door at The Stable also make up part of the regular crowd at Viva Mexico Cantina & Grill (129 Washington St., 401-369-7974), a welcoming and festive Mexican restaurant with a lively bar known for its sangria, margaritas, and a good but small selection of tequila shots. The food here ventures away from the usual Americanized standards, with more authentic fare like sauteed beef tongue and shredded goat meat, but you'll also find all the classics on the lengthy menu.