To start with, almost everything at Camp Nowhere costs $3. Sliders make up half the menu. You can devour S’mores without having to build a campfire, or you can tackle the Hostess Deep-Fried Twinkie – or, you know, go ahead and order both. As the Camp Nowhere slogan reads: “No parents, no counselors, no rules!” So if you want to add extra bacon and cheese sauce to your Rodeo Sliders, you do you.
Camp Nowhere stands on Smith Street, not far from Rhode Island College. This part of North Providence is packed with colorful restaurants, but Camp Nowhere takes its summer-camp theme as far it will go. The walls are composed of rustic wood planks, and the doors and stools are covered in offbeat bumper stickers. Edison bulbs dangle from the ceiling like wire chandeliers. All through my meal, a mounted boar’s head grimaced at me above a row of Smirnoff bottles. Taking its name from a goofy 1994 comedy film, Camp Nowhere pretends to be a wilderness getaway for adults, a log cabin full of comfort food and mixable liquor.
The sliders come in pairs, and for $1 you can add a third. For an average-sized appetite, I recommend two orders – so, four sliders in all – plus a side. In my case, this amounted to two Beef Short Ribs and two Chix Parms, plus an order of Potato Tots, although it was a toss up between these cafeteria staples and “Brianna’s Fried Cheese Logs.” On a windswept winter night, I couldn’t possibly have found comfort food more comforting. The sliders are surprisingly robust, and unless you eat carefully, your meal will cover your face and drizzle down your forearms.
The Camp Nowhere gimmick is worth a long drive, but it doubles as a neighborhood pub; the small dining room is forever packed with regulars. To even visit, I had to park about two blocks away because the lot and adjacent streets were so dense with cars. I took the very last stool at the bar; by the time I left, every seat at every table was taken. The food is a great draw, since it’s simple and scrumptious, and the check is so easy to tabulate. Meanwhile, Taco Tuesday offers a new flavor every week. But there is also the bar, which serves a range of popular and craft beers. According to the Camp Nowhere website, the $3 cocktails can be combined in 10,000 different ways.
On a personal note, I left the restaurant full and happy, and then, after driving the 30 minutes home, realized I’d forgotten my debit card. The bartender was good-humored about my absentminded error, and I easily picked up the card the next day. Camp Nowhere may not be a real summer camp, but it sure respects the honor system.
1838 Smith Street, North Providence • 349-5223