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From Sweet to Savory: 5 Ways to Experience the City of Rochester Public Market

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 9:00 AM by Visit Rochester Staff

Although open all year round, summertime brings out the best in the City of Rochester Public Market. A welcomed treat for all your senses, the city-run market is bursting with incredible homegrown seasonal flavors, buzzing with excitement between the 300 vendors and shoppers and offers a unique opportunity to discover products that you may not have seen before. Operating at its current site (280 Union St N) since 1905, it’s one of the few locations across the country that remains an “authentic market,” where locals visit as part of their regular shopping routine. 

As you walk along the indoor and outdoor sheds, expect to be tempted with a vivid kaleidoscope of seasonal fruits and vegetables piled neatly in little display baskets, along with sugary treats, sweet honey, fragrant herbs, and so much more. Local farmers make up 60% of the products, which also include meats, fish, prepared foods and general merchandise. Count on storytelling and passion coming from the devoted vendors, and entertainment from local musicians, balloon artists and sometimes even a sword swallower! 

With so much to see (and try!), here’s five ways to experience the City of Rochester Public Market - plus specific stops you will want to seek out:

Sip’ While You Shop
During Saturdays, grab a cup of joe at Java’s Café, or pay a visit to the Chai Guy, who passionately slow-brews hot and iced chai flavors that range from classic and ginger to vanilla coconut or mocha. Bonus, you can even purchase a brewing kit to take home. If you’re looking to drink your fruits and veggies, Market Squeeze stocks cold-pressed juices in rainbow colors of beet, blood orange with kumquat, carrot, green machine and beyond.

Breakfast Bites
Fried up fresh before your eyes, Duke’s Donuts cranks out batches of traditional fry cakes (apple cider cinnamon donuts) and a glazed donut they call the raised donut. Take our advice and try one of each. Artisan-baked goods line the shelves at Flour City Bread, complete with buttermilk biscuits, cruffins (a marriage between the croissant and muffin), sticky buns and more, or order up one of their savory tarts or breakfast sandwiches.

Ethnic Delicacies
Get ready to taste your way around the globe by stopping at some of the ethnic cuisine offerings. There’s authentic Caribbean Rum Cakes, healthy African-themed specialties and for more than 20 years, Juan and Maria’s Empanada Stop has been creating Chilean-style empanadas. V M Giordano European Cheese Shop not only presses and makes their own olive oil, but they carry more than 150 different types of cheeses, as well as fresh meats and an extensive selection of olives. 

Food Truck and Music Events
The market also features exciting themed special events throughout summer and fall evenings. The grounds will be set up for Food Truck Rodeos on June 30, July 28, September 25 and September 29 from 5–9 pm. Attendees can select bites from between 15 and 30 mobile food trucks – Macarollin’Tuscan Wood-Fired Pizza and The Dainty Donut Factory, to name a few. Bands and local beer offerings round out these popular events.

National-act and local live concerts are the focus of Bands on the Bricks.  Concerts are scheduled for July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6 and August 13 from 6-10PM.

For more than 25 years, the Flour City Brewers Fest has been the largest beer tasting event in Upstate New York with up to 75 breweries set up from across the state – all on-site at the market. This year, the event, renamed a “tour” will be held over one afternoon and one evening session on Friday, August 20. Attendees will have the tasty opportunity to explore themed stations – light & lagered, malty & mild, farm & table beers, funky & sour, hop heads and the dark side, all offered with food pairings.

Sit-Down Dining & Specialty Shops
Just steps away on Railroad Street is the Market District, where shoppers can take a break from the main market excitement and explore a row of sit-down eateries and specialty shops.

Black Button Distilling is Rochester's first Grain to Glass distillery, where their whiskey, gin, vodka, moonshine and liqueur are distilled from local NY grains that are bottled and aged in Rochester. Try out their offerings in the tasting room – from a Maple Chai Latte made with Bourbon cream to a Bloody Mary or Sunrise Mimosa – or purchase products ahead of time to tap during a virtual tour or craft cocktail class.

Have you ever tasted a maple bacon blueberry pizza? It’s on the Saturday brunch menu at Rochester’s first brewing company, Rohrbach Brewing Co. Pair it with a beermosa or choose from one of 14 beers on tap. 

Not your ordinary fry cake shop, Boxcar Donuts kicks up the creativity with rotating flavors such as Apple Peach Fritter, Maple Bacon, Lemon Lavender, S’mores and even Abby Wambach, a donut that pays tribute to the area’s hometown soccer star! The location is also known for its specialty coffee and cocktails. 

Across the street from the eateries, it’s West Coast Casualness and Big City Chic at Warehouse127. The converted century old space is outfitted with one-of-a-kind home and lifestyle décor of exquisite furniture, artwork, home fragrance and provisions.  

Outside of shopping hours, we recommend dining at the market’s three full-service restaurants – casual Italian fare at Restaurant Fiorella, a French menu at Cure (dinner in the evening and with Java’s Coffee during the day), and coastal cuisine is now available with the latest addition of Velvet Belly.

Regular market shopping days are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the largest vendor section on Saturdays from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Author: Visit Rochester Staff

Visit Rochester staff share the inside scoop on Rochester and the Finger Lakes region.