Rhode Island Red Food Tours – Spotlights Mission and Tom’s Bao Bao
We love our restaurant partners – we seriously could not run the food tours without them! Each restaurant is unique and delicious. They all embody the best of Rhode Island food. That’s why we are so excited to share these food experiences with you on the Downcity Providence and Newport Neighborhood Food Tours!
We share traditional street foods from the American and Chinese Culture in our tours.
Newport Neighborhood Food Tour
Mission in Newport is a casual burger and hot dog joint. Their menu couldn’t be simpler – there are six hot dog and five burger options. Their belief is always quality over quantity. All ingredients are sourced locally and they put a real effort into using the freshest ingredients. Their dogs are made from locally raised pork shoulder and beef chuck, which are ground in-house, stuffed in a lamb casing, then poached and seared for the best house-made dogs around!
Their all-beef burgers couldn’t possibly be juicier, topped with aged cheddar and their in-house maple brown sugar cured bacon, smoked in cherry wood and their made-from-scratch “mission sauce” and greens – it’s no wonder this is the #1 Burger in Newport!
Mission was opened in November 2013 by Newport natives. Sisters Ali, Julia, and Anna opened Mission along with their husbands Pat, Chad, and Tyler. Recently, they opened a second, family-friendly restaurant on Thames Street called Winner, Winner. And guess what they serve – chicken dinners!
There is a great story behind Mission’s name. The name Mission goes all the way back to the Prohibition era. The original Mission was a speakeasy, sailor’s bar, and watering hole for blue-collar workers. A local character named Billy Goode owned the joint.
In 1924, Billy Goode was the first Rhode Islander arrested under The Prohibition Act. It took officials four years after the start of Prohibition to catch and arrest Goode! He was released after two days and told his patrons that he’d spent his time in prison playing cards and smoking cigars with the guards. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Goode closed Mission, obtained a liquor license (the first-ever liquor license in Newport) and opened a new bar, Billy Goode’s, down the street. Later Billy Goode’s moved to the current location where it was both local dive bar and landmark where music could be found seven days a week.
When the Newport natives opened Mission, they wanted to honor its namesake and keep the spirit alive. Like its namesake, Mission is all about “good grub, good beer, and good vibes.”
Mission is located at 29 Marlborough Street in Newport, RI. They are open Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 10 pm and Sunday 11 am – 9 pm. They are closed on Mondays.
Experience Mission, Tom’s Bao Bao, and our other restaurant partners on a Newport Neighborhood or Downcity Providence Food Tour. Both Food Tours are a cumulation of the best Newport and Providence have to offer. And it’s not just a food experience – it’s a cultural experience. A professional guide leads guests through the historic streets of Newport and Providence while sharing their history and architecture.
Tom’s Bao Bao
Downcity Providence Food Tour
The Downcity Providence Food Tour is our big addition to the 2017 Tour Season. We wanted to make sure that the experience accurately reflected all that Providence has to offer as a Foodie City. Tom’s Bao Bao (pronounced “bowbow”) was a great addition. The Providence location is their United States training facility for future locations and only the second international location with the first being in nearby Boston. It’s a traditional Chinese street food that’s new to America. But Tom’s Bao Bao is also inspired by the seasonal regional food influences, making it a destination unique to Providence.
Bao (also called baozi, baobao, or steamed buns) are a traditional Chinese dish. Making bao is also an art. Bao should be smooth and translucent. The bao’s sheen means that it’s super fresh and has the most desirable texture. So unlike bread, bao gives right in melts right into your mouth and is surprisingly light.
The best part of the bao is the edges. The juices from the ingredients inside have soaked into the bao, delivering the perfect balance of taste and texture. Tom’s Bao Bao creates fillings inspired by local cuisine. They have offered lobster filling in Providence and are currently offering a sausage and peppers filling at their Boston location.
Because making bao is an art, employees go through rigorous bao-making training. They have to master the art of steaming and folding (16-22 folds) the delicate bread and preparing the filling. Steam is the key to great bao. If it’s cooked even a few seconds over or under, the bao is ruined. Each Baoist undergoes at least three months of apprenticeship before they can serve bao.
Tom’s Bao Bao was founded by Tom Tong, who is still very involved in the day-to-day. He personally sources the restaurants’ handmade bamboo steamers. The bamboo steamers are from a village in the high mountains of the Fu Jian province in China. Binata woven mats line the steamers and are made by a single family in the An Hui province. The binata mats make the dough softer and help it retain its natural juices. Tom’s Bao Bao is proud to make the most traditional bao.
Stay tuned because we think that Tom’s Bao Bao might just be the next big surge of Chinese Food influence in the US since the Chinese Culinary Renaissance in 1949 when Chinese immigrants were resettling in America. We can’t wait to see what is in store for the future!
The design at Tom’s Bao Bao in Providence is unique. The street-facing glass facade, as well as the interior viewing counter, allows for a very visual experience where you can watch future ‘baoists” in training.
Tom’s Bao Bao is committed to the local community. Not only is Tom’s Ba0 Bao using fresh, local purveyors in their food, but this same philosophy was passed on in their interior design. They utilized the talents of the Rhode Island star furniture design team, O&G Studios in Warren. All of their modern interpretations of traditional furniture fit in perfectly with the bright, open interior space with pops of persimmon color. The fabulous lobster on the wall was done by O&G’s in-house artist, Andrew Mau. Tom’s Bao Bao is wholeheartedly embracing American and Chinese cultures.
Tom’s Bao Bao is located at 326 Westminster Street in Providence. They are open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 10 pm and Sunday 10 am – 9 pm.
Experience Newport and Providence in an entirely new way. Rhode Island Red Food Tours shed new light on Rhode Island’s food scene, history, architecture, and culture. Sip and sample offerings from some of the best restaurants in the state. A professional guide will keep you entertained along the way with colorful stories about the local history and architecture. It’s a must-have cultural experience.
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