Haven Brothers Diner – Providence, Rhode Island - Gastro Obscura

Gastro Obscura

Haven Brothers Diner

From horses to stainless-steel trucks, this iconic Providence burger wagon is one of the oldest mobile diners in the country. 

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Late-night vices demand late-night solutions. Looking down the barrel of a roaring hangover, that solution is traditionally fried and smothered in condiments. It’s as true today as it was in the late 1800s, when the progenitor of the now-iconic Haven Brothers Diner wagon first graced the streets of Providence. 

Anne Philomena Haven used her late husband’s life insurance policy to open a horse-drawn lunch wagon with her titular brothers in 1888 (though some accounts say 1893). After two world wars, a few changes of hand, and more than a few wagon upgrades, the Haven Brothers Diner became the 1949 stainless-steel truck-trailer you see today.

Upon decades of selling dignified drunk food until the early morning every day, the diner has become beyond a staple; it’s somewhat untouchable. The truck parks illegally on the city’s Kennedy Plaza, accruing not only daily parking tickets but the ire of Providence’s more rule-adjacent denizens. Authorities have tried shutting it down, but it has always, in shrewd Rhode Island fashion, “had more friends in high places than enemies,” writes one local reporter.

Impervious to shutdown threats, the diner on wheels cushions the mornings-after for the city’s countless barflies, one generation to the next. Customers step up a small staircase into the trailer’s shiny interior, where, nestled against a shallow counter, are several bar stools. Locals know it as the “Aluminum Room,” a decorated, mirrored den of comfort food where you can see your munchies die from every angle.

Beyond your run-of-the-mill hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled cheeses, they also have 35 different milkshakes, root beer floats, and a few specially curated comfort dishes. The Triple Murder Burger is three patties decorated with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and bacon (plus a fried egg after midnight). The Garbage Plate is a mess of chicken tenders, french fries, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks topped with nacho cheese. The Fat Subs is, heroically, the Garbage Plate on a bun.

The company has come to own two more trucks that are available to cater parties, festivals, and weddings. But if you’re looking for the original, look no further than Kennedy Plaza—late night, every night.