You’ve reached a Premium article. To continue reading, please login or start a 3-MONTH TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION for just 99 cents/month. You’ll receive unlimited digital access plus a complimentary issue of our award-winning print magazine.
Nate Chinen is a writer with a mind for jazz and an appetite for fine food. From 2005 to 2017 he contributed regular articles on music to The New York Times, and since 2017, he's served as the director of editorial content at WBGO in Newark, New Jersey, where he works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and provides a range of coverage to NPR Music. His book, Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Century, will be out in paperback July 23.A well-seasoned traveler, Nate knows a thing or two about eating his way around the world's best jazz fests, and here he provides us with a guide to his favorite food at the Newport Jazz Festival, which is set to take place August 2-4 in Fort Adams Park in Newport, Rhode Island. Some folks will tell you a trip to the Newport Jazz Festival isn’t complete until you find yourself gratefully tearing into a tangled heap of fried clam strips at a scuffed wooden table, within hailing distance of Easton’s Beach. Those people are referring to Flo’s Clam Shack — a no-frills New England institution established in 1936, the same year Lester Young recorded “Lady, Be Good” — and they know what they’re talking about. If you’re in search of a dissenting opinion, you won’t find it here.What you will find is an array of other excellent options, stitched together out of 20 years’ worth of chow-hounding during the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals. Most of these are places that won’t strain the budget, and don’t require (or even take) reservations. All of them are only-in-Newport experiences that have become staples of my own festival itinerary, whatever else changes from one year to the next.
[caption id="attachment_20677" align="alignleft" width="1024"] The lobster roll at Anthony's Seafood Market & Restaurant (Photo: Courtesy Yelp Reviews)[/caption]
Anthony’s Seafood Market & Restaurant ||963 Aquidneck Ave, MiddletownWhile less iconic than Flo’s — never mind the endorsement of Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — this fishmonger and family restaurant in Middletown has the heart of many a local, for its true-blue lobster rolls and signature chorizo-and-pepper-stuffed quahogs. The décor and the service are so-so, but it’s an absolutely authentic spot, as even some musicians can attest. (One year I glanced at the next booth to find the James Carter Organ Trio, which had set the fest’s Harbor Tent ablaze that afternoon.)https://anthonysseafood.net
[caption id="attachment_20706" align="alignleft" width="960"] Photo: Courtesy Mission/Facebook[/caption]
Mission || 29 Marlborough Street, NewportMission, a bustling counter joint tucked away in Newport’s historic district, makes one of the best burgers in the country. (You heard me.) The beef is locally sourced, ground in-house, and served with “Mission sauce” — a ravishingly good aioli whose ingredients include cornichons, fines herbes and brandy. The hand-cut fries are also, easily, among the tastiest in town. For a vegetarian option, there’s falafel on pita; it looks great, and I’d have tried it by now, if not for the burger’s irresistible pull.http://www.missionnpt.com
[caption id="attachment_20679" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Photo: Courtesy White Horse Tavern[/caption]
The White Horse Tavern || 26 Marlborough Street, NewportCheck the address: The White Horse is just down the street from Mission, and a world apart. This stoical red-clapboard building houses the oldest active restaurant in the country, with service dating back to 1673. The menu is classic New England — lobster bisque, seared scallops, crispy duck breast — and on the high end of the price scale, though not exorbitantly so. And while there’s an old-world slant to the menu, it comes with a nouveau accent, as well as a list of local farms and purveyors that any locavore could admire. If white-tablecloth dining is the experience you seek, why not go whole quahog? (Or do as I’ve done, on occasion: sidle up to one of two bars and settle for something cold in a glass.)https://whitehorsenewport.com
[caption id="attachment_20681" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Photo: Courtesy Fluke Newport[/caption]
Fluke Newport || 41 Bowens Wharf, NewportUpscale but not uptight, this gem above Bowens Wharf has been a New American standard-bearer for over a decade. When I last visited, it was still Fluke Wine Bar & Kitchen; an acclaimed new chef, Eddie Montalvo, took the helm last year. By all accounts he’s revitalized the kitchen, while preserving an elegant focus on super-fresh seafood, craft cocktails and seasonal produce. Reservations are a must.https://www.flukenewport.com
[caption id="attachment_20682" align="alignleft" width="960"] Photo: Courtesy Franklin Spa/Facebook[/caption]
Franklin Spa || 229 Spring Street, NewportThe name is a well-known absurdity, given that this is a greasy spoon slinging pancakes, nary a loofah in sight. But as a guy who will always give it up for a righteous breakfast, I’m awfully fond of the Franklin Spa — and in that, I’m hardly alone. Arrive early or be prepared to wait a while, secure in the knowledge that in Newport, even the most no-frills spot will serve a swoon-worthy Lobster Eggs Benedict.https://www.facebook.com/franklinspanewport/
[caption id="attachment_20693" align="alignleft" width="1024"] (Photo: Courtesy HappyCow.net)[/caption]
Keenwah Super Food Eatery || 181 Bellevue Avenue, NewportThis vegan-friendly fast-casual eatery — a go-to not only for the meat-averse but also for those simply looking to start the day on healthy footing — just moved to a new location, in a friendly merger with A Market Natural Foods. This means more seating and easier parking; it’s probably safe to assume that the acai bowls, tempeh burgers and grilled spelt pizzas will remain on the menu.https://www.facebook.com/pg/KeenwahSuperFoodEateryRI
[caption id="attachment_20694" align="alignleft" width="867"] Photo: Courtesy Matunuck Oyster Bar[/caption]
Matunuck Oyster Bar || 629 Succotash Road, WakefieldA confession: I have never made the trip to Wakefield, south of Kingston, to visit the Matunuck Oyster Bar. This is a real oversight, given that founder and owner Perry Raso is a leading spokesperson for new-breed aquaculture; his oysters are harvested on site. Amazingly, the Matunuck Oyster Bar is a regular vendor at the Newport Jazz Festival, with a tent off to one side of the Fort Stage. (See? I’ve been spoiled.) There you can order raw oysters in multiples of three, along with a truly succulent lobster roll. Somehow this isn’t general knowledge among festivalgoers; I made it so you’d have to get to the end of the post. Now I’m trusting you to be circumspect. For now, at least, there’s enough to go around. https://www.rhodyoysters.com