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ROC Foodie Bucket List: A Guide To Everything & Everywhere A Food Lover Must Eat In Rochester, NY

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 12:00 PM by Visit Rochester Staff

Rochester has been recognized as one of the top cities for food in the country, and our local restaurant scene is filled with scores of creative culinary hotspots. Known as "The Young Lion of the West," Rochester drew settlers from around the world, and they brought their recipes with them. More than 200 years later, the region is a smorgasbord of traditional and contemporary cuisines, and diverse ethnic flavors.

From gourmet to the Garbage Plate, we're breaking down all the restaurants food lovers are going to want to eat at when they visit Rochester, NY.

This list was created as a guide just for you, foodie! Be sure to add the restaurants listed below to your food bucket list for the next time you visit Rochester.

Only In Rochester

Abbott's Frozen Custard 
For nearly 100 years, an Abbott’s Frozen Custard stand has been the perfect destination for a sweet treat in Rochester, NY. Visit the original Rochester stand along the shores of Lake Ontario across from Ontario Beach Park, for classic vanilla or chocolate in a cone or signature Turtle (made with layers of Abbott’s frozen custard, Spanish peanuts, and fudge, frozen on a stick and dipped in dark chocolate). 

Donuts Delite
Since 1958, Donuts Delite on the corner of Empire Blvd and Culver Road has been an iconic spot for donuts and treats in Rochester. While a new family owns Donuts Delite, the original donut recipes are still used! In 2020, Donuts Delite received national attention for creating a popular pandemic comfort food - a donut that featured the face of Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert. 

Genesee Brew House
Once a century-old packaging center, The Genesee Brew House has transformed the 9,200 square-foot space into a beer destination, featuring interactive exhibits, multimedia content, gift shop, pilot brewery and pub-style restaurant. The Brew House was created to capture and share with you the long history of The Genesee Brewery - one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in America.

It doesn't get more Rochester than enjoying a Genesee beer while overlooking High Falls - Rochester's 96-foot tall waterfall located in the center of the city. 

The Mercantile on Main 
The newest addition to Rochester’s renowned food scene features a flavor for every palate. The Mercantile on Main is Rochester's first food hall and one of the largest food halls in upstate New York. The Mercantile on Main is a curated collection of some of the best food and drink this town has to offer with the help of its seven kitchen vendors

Nick Tahou Hots - The Home of the Garbage Plate
The Garbage Plate is the thing of legends and Rochester's most infamous dish! The name “Garbage Plate” is trademarked by Nick Tahou Hots, home of the original Garbage Plate. A traditional plate is your choice of a protein (cheeseburger, hamburger, Italian sausages, steak, chicken, white or red hots) that is served on top of any combination of home fries, french fries, baked beans, and/or macaroni salad. The plate is usually topped with “hot sauce”, which is a spicy meat sauce, with the option to add mustard and onion on top.

Watch to learn more about Rochester's original Garbage Plate or check out Visit Rochester's Guide to the Garbage Plate.

Rochester Public Market
Rochester's City-run Public Market is one of the oldest public markets in the United States. The market has served the community at its 280 North Union Street site since 1905, and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, year-round. Vendors offer local produce, meats and seafood, eggs and dairy products, ethnic delicacies, prepared and packaged foods, specialty items, general merchandise, and more in three covered outdoor vendor sheds and also a fully indoor shed.

In addition, an array of independent local businesses - cafes, food stands, coffee shops, specialty food purveyors, breweries, retail shops, and more - can be found on market grounds and in the surrounding market district. 

Zweigle's
For more than 140 years, Zweigle's has been a Rochester staple with its flagship Pop Open red and white hot dogs that are bursting with flavor. A regional favorite and Zweigle's most iconic hot dog, the "white hot" is a unique combination of pork, beef, and veal that is uncured and unsmoked to give the hot dog its white color. You can eat a Zweigle's hot dog when you order from the Genesee Brew House, Nick Tahou Hots, or Bill Gray's among many other local spots! 

African & Ethiopian
Made with love is what is often said by those that visit one of Rochester's African or Ethiopian restaurants. Rochester's African and Ethiopian restaurants are also a great spot for those looking for a healthy, vegetarian or vegan meal. 

Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant | Ethiopian 

Kamara's African Restaurant  | West African 

Philomina's | Nigerian 

Zemeta Ethiopian Restaurant | Ethiopian 

Asian
Rochester's Asian population, while small, has explosively grown due to refugee resettlement and our two large research universities -the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. With this growth, we have also seen an increase in authentic Asian cuisine available across Monroe County with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai restaurants.  

Chen Garden | Chinese 

Han Noodle Bar | Chinese 

Roc City Ramen | Japanse 

Sodam Korean Restaurant | Korean 

Szechuan Opera | Chinese 

Thai Mi Up | Laotian/Thai 

The King & I | Thai 

Barbecue & Cajun
You might not think of New York when you think of great barbecue or cajun food, but the following spots are SMOKIN' and won't disappoint any BBQ lovers! 

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que | Barbecue 

Marty's Meats | Barbecue 

Sticky Lips Pit BBQ Juke Joint | Barbecue 

Sticky Soul & BBQ | Soul Food, Barbecue 

Texas Bar-B-Que Joint | Barbecue 

The French Quarter Cafe | Cajun 

Uncle Moe's Bar-B-Que | Barbecue 

Burgers & Hots
Rochester's food scene has a strong history that ties back to ground rounds (burgers) and hots (hot dogs) and that date back to the 1940s with restaurants along the shores of Lake Ontario. With a nod to our gastro roots, many modern restaurateurs have elevated the standard burger or hot dog with gourmet options. 

Bill Gray's | Classic Burgers & Hots

Dogtown | Gourmet Hots

Don's Original | Classic Burgers & Hots 

F.L.X Wienery @ Roc Brewing | Gourmet Hot Dogs 

Tom Wahl's | Classic Burgers & Hots 

The Good Luck Burger at Restaurant Good Luck | Gourmet Burger 

Playhouse // Swillburger | Gourmet Burgers 

Schaller's | Classic Burgers & Hots 

Caribbean
Warm up with classic Caribbean dishes including pepperpot, jerk chicken, plantains, and more. 

D'Mangu | Dominican 

Livie's Jamaican Restaurant | Jamaican 

PeppaPot | Jamaican 

Taste of the Bahamas | Bahamian 

Three Little Birds Jamaican Food | Jamaican 

Dining With A View 
Catch the best views around Rochester at one of these Rochester hot spots. 

Center City Terrace + Lounge | City Skyline 

Erie Grill | Erie Canal 

Genesee Brew House | High Falls 

Hattie's | City Skyline 

Horizons | Highest Elevation In Monroe County 

Label 7 Napa Eatery & Bar | Erie Canal 

Marge's Lakeside Inn | Lake Ontario 

Max of Eastman Place | Eastman Theatre 

Pane Vino on the River | Genesee River 

The Penthouse at One East Avenue | City Skyline 

Fried Chicken & Wings
Crispy and juicy fried chicken or wings slathered in hot or sweet sauce. Check out one of Rochester's chicken-only restaurants or enjoy wings that are a menu staple at any local sports bar or pub. Be sure to taste the legendary Country Sweet Sauce that started out as a simple sweet & tangy recipe in Rochester more than 40 years ago. 

BoBo's Chicken Shack | Fried Chicken 

Chick'N Out | Hot Fried Chicken

Country Sweet Chicken & Ribs | Fried Chicken 

Jeremiah's Tavern | Wings 

Just Chik'n | Fried Chicken 

MacGregor's Grill & Tap | Wings 

Marty's Meats | Fried Chicken

Murph's Irondequoit Pub | Wings 

Hispanic & Puerto Rican
Monroe County and the City of Rochester is home to the second largest Hispanic population outside of New York City. The Puerto Rican Festival of Rochester is the longest running cultural festival in the County of Monroe. The annual festival started in 1969 to celebrate and recognize the culture of Puerto Ricans. Enjoy the flavors of hispanic and Puerto Rican food all year round at one of these restaurants. 

El Pilon Criollo | Hispanic 

Juan and Maria's Empanada Stop | Spanish 

La Olla Criolla | Puetro Rican

Sobrino's Restaurant | Spanish

Indian
The many Indian restaurants across our community make fresh, authentic Indian cuisine accessible for all to enjoy. 

Indian House | Indian 

Naan-Tastic | Counter-Serve Indian 

Tandoor of India | Indian 

Thali of India | Indian

Italian | Pizza & Pasta
Rochester has one of the largest Italian American populations in the country, behind major cities including New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and our local food scene shows it! Local Italian restaurants are a mix of these classic Italian-American restaurants that feature "Red Sunday Sauce" made from family recipes, red and white checkered table cloth topped by a fresh basket of bread, as well as fine dining options like Fiorella, Fiamma Centro, and Rocco's. 

Agatina's Restaurant | Italian 

Branca Midtown | Italian 

Fiamma Centro | Neapolitan​

Fiorella | Farm-To-Table Italian 

Proietti's Italian Restaurant | Italian 

Red Fedele's Brook House | Italian 

Ristorante Lucano | Italian 

Rocco's | Italian 

The Northside Inn | Italian 

Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta | Italian 

Mexican
From traditional family-style Mexican restaurants to elevated authentic Mexican cuisine, enjoy the taste of Mexico food and drinks in Rochester. 

Bitter Honey | Mexican 

La Casa | Mexican 

Maria's Mexican Restaurant | Mexican 

Neno's Gourmet Mexican Street Food | Mexican 

Salena's Mexican Restaurant | Mexican 

The Silver Iguana | Mexican 

Middle Eastern & Mediterranean
Hot off the stone pita bread, homemade hummus, and spinning shawarma are just a few of the sights and smells you will experience in Rochester's Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants. 

Aladdin's Natural Eatery | Greek 

Cedar Mediterranean | Lebanese 

Chortke House of Kabob | Persian 

Jine's Restaurant | Greek

Radio Social | Middle Eastern 

Sandwiches
From "The Obama" special at Magnolia's to a classic deli sub, Rochester has a sandwich for everyone. 

Dibella's Old Fashioned Submarines | Sandwiches 

Lovin' Cup | Sandwiches 

Magnolia's Deli & Cafe | Sandwiches 

McCann's Local Meat | Sandwiches 

Rubino's Italian Food | Sandwiches 

Steak & Seafood
Rochester has a growing fine dining scene with many restaurants serving next-level steak dishes and seafood flown in daily. We recently welcomed Richard Reddington, Michelin-star-winning chef, restauranteur, and Rochester native back to the region, as he opened REDD Rochester. 

Black & Blue Steak & Crab | Steak & Shellfish

Char Steakhouse & Lounge | Steakhouse 

Max Rochester | Steakhouse  

REDD Rochester | New American 

Rella | Seafood 

Tournedos Steakhouse | Steakhouse 

Trending With Locals
Check out the following restaurants to enjoy the trendy hot spots that have quickly become local favorites! 

Avvino | Contemporary American 

Bar Bantam | Clever Bistro Fare 

Lento | Farm-To-Table 

Native Eatery & Bar | New American 

Nosh | New American 

Park Avenue Pub | American

Restaurant Good Luck | New American 

Rohrbach Railroad Street Beer Hall | Brewpub 

The Cub Room | Seasonal American Fare 

The Revelry | American 

Vegetarian & Vegan & Allergy-Friendly
Omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans all come together at the following Rochester restaurants--which are also allergy-friendly spots. 

Original Grain | Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian 

Owl House | Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian 

Philomina's | Vegan 

Red Fern | Gluten-Free, Vegan 

Author: Visit Rochester Staff

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