New Jersey may be the diner capital of the world, but Rhode Island is the diner’s birthplace. The Naugahyde and Formica restaurants that sizzle with breakfast all
day long, and where the waitresses call you “Hon,” had their start in Providence
more than 130 years ago. Because of Rhode Island’s diner heritage, as
well as its large working-class population, an estimated 75 to 80
diners and lunch counters still dot the tiny state. A dozen of them are
in the “rail car” style, where customers get two choices of seating: if
the line of booths along the windows is full, they can plop themselves
on a stool at the counter. For those obsessed with the history and design of diners, Providence
— with a handful of them in and around the city — and its neighbors are
a dream destination. The city’s riverfront, revitalized downtown and
Colonial-era houses are also significant draws.
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