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Rochester, MN - Where to EAT

b
Bill J Mar 4, 2002 10:40 PM

Looking for GREAT places to eat in Rochester, MN Area. Thanks

  1. s
    soodan Apr 11, 2011 02:33 PM

    I know this is an old post, but I wonder why no one has recommended El Carambas,
    1503 Highway 14 E, Rochester, MN 55904 (507) 281-3104. It has some of the best Mexican food at the best prices.

    -----
    El Carambas
    1503 Highway 14 E, Rochester, MN 55904

    7 Replies
    1. re: soodan
      s
      sherry f Sep 5, 2011 04:27 PM

      I will be in Rochester, Minn for two nights and will be staying at the Hilton on Broadway. Will not have a car, but can take cabs. I would really appreciate recs for two dinners (anything but Indian food) and one lunch. I read this post, and it can't be all bad!

      Thanks in advance.

      1. re: sherry f
        s
        Stan Sep 5, 2011 07:37 PM

        It's not all bad. In fact there is some really nice places now. 2 dinners and lunch is easy. I'd appreciate knowing more about your tastes and if you're dinning alone or having tests that require fasting etc. I've eaten out at least 100 times in Rochester in the past three years so I know several of the emotions.

        To help figure out you're palate, Why do you dislike Indian?

        Very Romantic walking distance from your hotel for dinner is:

        Jaspers Alsatian Bistro

        Chesters for lunch and dinner is nice (1/2 mile away)

        ZZest is a fun place. Very Foodie.

        Rochester also has great BBQ, but Q is usually guy food.

        1. re: Stan
          s
          sherry f Sep 6, 2011 09:22 AM

          Thanks for the quick response Stan. Re: Indian, I had a very bad experience with Indian food and it is still with me. Maybe therapy could help....!

          I will be with my twenty-one year old son for the dinners, solo for the lunch. It will be a Sunday and Monday night and a Monday lunch. My son does not eat red meat, but loves fish, chicken etc. He is not a foodie per se, but appreciates good chow and exposure is always a positive thing. We are not going to be patients at the Mayo, thank goodness, but that is so smart to bring up the testing/fasting issue.

          Do not mind spending $$$ for great food. Thx!

          1. re: sherry f
            u
            Ummm Sep 6, 2011 02:45 PM

            Pescara (within Double Tree hotel in downtown) is supposed to have really good seafood, but I had only had lunch there so can't confirm.

            Other fine dining restaurants include Prescott and The Restaurant. Prescott may not be open on Sunday... not sure if either one is open on Sunday, should prob check their website. If the weather is nice, The Restaurant is within walking distance from downtown (between downtown and St Mary's on 2nd). Prescott is further down south so you'd prob need a cab.

          2. re: Stan
            s
            Stan Sep 7, 2011 09:17 AM

            Zzest is closed Sun/Mon so it's out. Jaspers is open Monday night and right around the corner. Chesters and Pescara may be good other choices.

            If the weather is nice just walk around the Mayo area Monday at lunch time and people watch. Sometimes a sandwich while listening to music on the ground floor of the Gonda building is a treat.

            1. re: Stan
              s
              sherry f Sep 7, 2011 03:11 PM

              Thanks for the info. Our trip was now moved from October to November and we only have one dinner (Sunday) and I have one lunch (Monday). Should I grab lunch in the Gonda building?

              1. re: sherry f
                s
                Stan Sep 9, 2011 01:09 PM

                Maybe grab a nice coffee in the Gonda building. There is a grand piano in the center of the place and usually someone/small group is performing during the lunch break. The atmosphere is quite amazing. It's a nice place to give some gratitude to everything you have.

                If it's cold you'll want to walk on that level anyway.

                Don't miss the Dale Chihuly sculpture. It's the large hanging glass sculpture on the route to the parking structures.

      2. EmmyMN Feb 11, 2011 06:20 AM

        I don't understand why people keep discussing 'fancy' restaurants. How about the Rochester hole in the wall places? I prefer to sit outside at Mac's during the summer and enjoy University Square. Or grab breakfast at Cheap Charlies. Sushi Nishki is a newer place that's got a nice, sunny atmosphere and great food. Theirs something for everyone. Even if you don't care for sushi. Newts take's the cake for burgers and you can always go to Binks for pub style food and the amazing beer selection. Maybe there's not a lot of 'fancy' places, but then again, were the Midwest and our reaction to the horrible cold is comfort food.

        Happy Eating!

        -----
        Cheap Charlie's
        11 5th St NW, Rochester, MN 55901

        2 Replies
        1. re: EmmyMN
          s
          Stan Feb 11, 2011 08:46 PM

          “I don't understand why people keep discussing 'fancy' restaurants. How about the Rochester hole in the wall places?”

          You bring up a very valid point but, Rochester is somewhat unique. Two million of us spend time at Mayo each year vs. a community of 100K. Not all visitors are indigenous to the Upper Midwest and we find most food kind of bland, but we seem to be a minority.

          We are facing life threatening health issues, we want to go out and have a romantic dinner prior to those butchers getting their hands on your loved one.

          I go to Cheap Charlie’s and really like it, especially after several days of hotel breakfast buffets. My primary concern is feeding a loved one in a healthy way that also get’s her excited. Many patients need to fast for procedures a couple times during the week making that after fast meal really important.

          Through some very tough times and way too many meals out in Rochester, I’ve found what works for me. I’ve spent those really lonely Saturday nights around Mayo. My first Saturday night alone in Rochester was surely influential in my hopes. If you are hanging out alone you probably have a loved one with something serious in the Hospital. I hope to see some restaurants with community tables to help comfort them. They could even put us in the subway so we would not ruin the other parties.

          We went from a survival prognosis of 5% survival to being around a few more decades. I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a few tricks to make things easier. I’m here so share.

          -----
          Cheap Charlie's
          11 5th St NW, Rochester, MN 55901

          1. re: EmmyMN
            s
            sgoodness Apr 12, 2011 03:31 PM

            Sadly, the one time I was at Mac's, I was served a disappointing goopy omelet with Velveeta, and weak coffee. Didn't work for me despite the beautiful scenery. Many of us who live here now are not originally from the Midwest, by the way, but we ARE part of the community. If you want a decent breakfast that actually tastes good, try Daube's brunch on Sunday morning.

          2. s
            seisler80 Nov 3, 2010 03:25 PM

            If you want Bar B Q hands down the place to go is John Hardys followed by Famous Daves then Roscoes (which i believe to be over-rated)
            If you want pizza, the place to go is definitely Pi, or O neils Pub. Pi is a great wood fire pizza place. O neils has exelent crust and sauce and truly is italian. It is located next to broadway and hwy 14 in the crossroads shopping mall SE next to the fairgrounds.
            Zadeos , next to burger king and cub foods SE, is another great place for pizza. They have an execellent whole grain crust.

            other notable restaurants: Chesters, Zorbas, Nupa!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: seisler80
              s
              sgoodness Dec 7, 2010 01:40 PM

              Zzest is the best place for high-end dine-in food in town--excellent flavors, though somewhat casual atmosphere (you place your own order). Their accompanying shop is delightful to browse in.

              Also highly recommend Nupa. And don't forget the Backroom Deli at the Good Food Store.
              Maybe we'll give another try to Prescott's. My in-laws found it very expensive with small portions two years ago.
              Sushitto closed. Try Sushi nishiki instead (frequent coupons in the mailers we get). Although a chain, they have agedashi tofu! (and good sashimi). But no Asahi beer, sadly.

              One other excellent place is Pescara. It's way pricey, but the ahi tuna appetizer as well as wild mushroom side (not the risotto, just the mushrooms) are really addictive.

            2. j
              jenniegirl Apr 28, 2008 03:00 PM

              I forgot about John Hardee's BBQ (some people absolutely love it-I think it's OK). I also like a day outside at Roscoe's-the walk-up one. They have good BBQ pork sandwiches, and I like the baked beans

              -----
              Roscoe's Great Barbeque
              4180 18th Ave NW, Rochester, MN

              Roscoe's Great Barbeque
              603 4th St SE, Rochester, MN 55904

              3 Replies
              1. re: jenniegirl
                s
                seisler80 Nov 3, 2010 03:26 PM

                roscoes sucks compared to john hardy's

                1. re: seisler80
                  pitu Nov 3, 2010 07:16 PM

                  John Hardy's is just okay in my opinion - is it part of a chain? Tasted that way.
                  It's a wasteland out there...

                  1. re: pitu
                    s
                    seisler80 Nov 14, 2010 01:50 PM

                    no its original. John hardy moved to roch from the south and opened up a bar b q joint.

              2. l
                lmf22purple Apr 27, 2008 07:11 PM

                I have to admit that my requirements are a little different than most - I require good vegetarian fare, which is harder to come by in this town than a good steak. My husband and I eat out 3-5 times per week so we generally try the new places within a week or so of opening

                My husband and I like India Garden, because it is consistent and we always have great service. Same with Pho Hoa (Vietnamese).

                My husband is a big fan of the new Mongolian Barbecue - HuHot - at Apache Mall.

                We both agree on the new Sushiitto on Broadway and we both like the Redwood Room and City Cafe. He loves the salmon at Avocados but their attitude regarding service was poor (we actually overheard a staff member say that they don't need customers).

                Chardonnay once featured a fabulous tofu dish that was never on the menu again, other than that it's pricey but not as fabulous as you would expect for the price. Prescott's, also pricey, was fine but only the bread was memorable..

                I also recently tried Chester's, which just opened downtown- very noisy, food was good but a bit pricey (a small salad and a side of grilled asparagus added up to $15), service was okay not spectacular.

                You can also get an excellent vegan lunch in the deli at the back of the Good Food store.

                All that being said, our favorite chain of all time (for the food, not necessarily the service), Cheesecake Factory, is in the Twin Cities, so when we have an extra 5 hours for dinner (including the 3 hour roundtrip commute) we head there.

                3 Replies
                1. re: lmf22purple
                  c
                  chrisinroch Apr 28, 2008 12:35 PM

                  I tried avocado's again and I just think that their food is pretty forgettable. The flavors are so muted. I just didn't care for it.

                  I think chesters is relatively inexpensive. I tried their plain cheeseburger recently and was knocked over. Great fresh bun, homemade pickle, superior flavor on the beef. Just perfect. The ketchup bottle stayed closed.

                  Would you like more fresh homemade pasta offerings in town? Particularly vegetarian (tho not vegan) stuffed pastas??

                  What is sushiito?

                  1. re: chrisinroch
                    u
                    Ummm Apr 28, 2008 08:06 PM

                    i am guessing she meant sushi itto instead of sushiito

                    http://postbulletin.typepad.com/kiger...

                    1. re: chrisinroch
                      s
                      seisler80 Nov 3, 2010 03:28 PM

                      chesters is great, they have awesome rotisserie chicken and prime rib. Great place

                  2. c
                    chrisinroch Jan 9, 2008 02:29 PM

                    had a string of decent meals at Paradise Pete's in the Miracle Mile. Nothing spectacular, but pretty solid. Nice locally owned place.

                    1. a
                      Abby B Jul 21, 2007 12:47 PM

                      A bit further afield from Rochester:

                      Nosh has re-opened overlooking the Marina in Lake City. I've not been since it's been in the new location, but I hear from friends who have that the food is every bit as good as it was in the Wabasha location, and that the chef continues to use top notch local ingredients in thoughtful, beautifully excecuted dishes.

                      Harborview is my new favorite place. It's been around a long time, but I've only just discovered it this summer. It's in Pepin, Wisconsin about a 1 hour drive from Rochester. It's open only in the summer, doesn't take reservations, and takes only cash. Local ingredients, skillful preparation, and food that's always excellent but never pretentious. Because the menu space is limited to what fits on a chalkboard, you get the rare pleasure of being pleasantly surprised by what's on your plate. Last time we were there, my husband ordered a beef tenderloin dish that turned out to have chunks of perfectly seared foie gras in the sauce - I thought he was going to explode with happiness. There's usually a wait, but sitting on the front sidewalk looking out over Lake Pepin drinking Spotted Cow on tap isn't a half bad way to work up an appetite.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Abby B
                        k
                        kickpleat Oct 20, 2007 10:33 AM

                        Actually, the Harbor View Cafe is open mid-March through mid-November, not just in the summer.

                      2. a
                        Abby B Jan 9, 2007 03:59 PM

                        Also, a couple of other categories:

                        Overall best dinner date spot:
                        Jasper's is easily the best overall restaurant in town. The atmosphere is very pleasant - cozy and intimate, and not in a strip mall. The Alsatian food is excellent, and the soups are often fantastic. The service is pretty good for Rochester, and while it may take a little while to get noticed and seated, the service is usually competent and your waiter won't "explain" the bread basket, a significant risk at other restaurants in town. Save room for dessert - there are cakes from Daube's bakery. Call me retro, but I like a nice slice of cake and cup of coffee to end a meal. Try the chocolate carrot cake. It know, it sounds strange, but it's amazing.

                        Outside on a warm evening:
                        Dos Amigos and City Cafe have pleasant spaces for outdoor dining. I don't particularly like the food at either one, but they do have good outdoor tables for summertime. I especially like that I can walk my dogs to city cafe, tie them up, and have a bite to eat. Feels like being in a city again.

                        Coffee and newspaper on Sunday morning:
                        Daube's on Civic Center drive. Good coffee, excellent baked goods with a German bent, and they sell the New York Times. It's a great place to walk to on a weekend moring for a cup of joe, a kolache, and a pleasant hour reading the newspaper.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Abby B
                          s
                          sammi4560 Apr 29, 2007 07:49 PM

                          I'm going to Gold Rush Days in Rochester in May. Looking for a place to eat on a Friday night after antiquing all day. Nice but not too dressy. Is John Barley Corn still there or Henry Wellington's? I know, It's been a long time since in Rochester.

                          1. re: sammi4560
                            c
                            chefschmitty Apr 30, 2007 08:18 PM

                            Nope and nope. Both restaurants closed over 3 years ago. I would recommend Newt's, McGoon's or Metro for something similar.

                            1. re: chefschmitty
                              s
                              sammi4560 May 4, 2007 10:19 AM

                              Thanks for the suggestions. May try McGoon's.

                            2. re: sammi4560
                              c
                              chrisinroch May 12, 2007 06:45 PM

                              john barleycorn is closed, but wellingtons remains with a new name and new menu. The menu is less heavy, more fresh fish, more upscale. I miss the old menu, but the new "city cafe" is very solid. I think they brought back the beef wellington recently fwiw.

                              1. re: chrisinroch
                                s
                                sammi4560 May 13, 2007 09:04 PM

                                I was to Rochester this past weekend. Was to McGoon's for dinner last night. Had the white fish and chips. The food was good but not impressed with the atmosphere. Not nearly as nice as the old John BarleyCorne or Henry Wellington's. Mostly sandwiches on theie menu. Was to Macaroni Grille there on Friday night. Had never been to one before..I had the create your own pasta meal. Mine was whole wheat penne with pesto sauce, sausage and asparagus. I was great and liked the atmosphere.

                          2. a
                            Abby B Jan 9, 2007 03:42 PM

                            I thought I'd add to the discussion comments on the smaller places in town that my husband and I frequent and solicit any other comments.

                            Mexican:
                            Hands down the place by Barlow Hy-Vee. We're from San Antonio Texas, so have pretty high standards for Mexican food, and many of the dishes at this little place (sort of between Mestad's and the military recruiting place) are good enough to compete with some of my favorite little joints in San Antonio. The tamales particularly are excellent, and on weekends they serve posole and menudo that remind me of home. (The posole can be quite salty, but that's part of its appeal.) No liquor license, but they serve horchata and jamaica, as well as Mexican sodas. I have to disagree with the posts praising Dos Amigos. The food is servicable mall-style americanized Tex-Mex, but I wouldn't go so far as to say good. That being said, the 4th St SE location is a wonderful place to sit outside for a margarita on warm evenings in the summertime.

                            Chinese:
                            There's nowhere in town for Chinese that's particuarly authentic or good, but for americanized Chinese food, the least bad place in town is Hunan Garden, located in the shopping center at 7th St and 11th Ave NW. That holds us in between trips to Minneapolis for Mandarin Kitchen or dim sum at Jun Bo.

                            Thai:
                            Phnom Phen can be quite good for Thai food. I haven't had as much luck with their Chinese or Vietnamese dishes, and they can have off nights, but most of the time the Thai dishes are very good.

                            Vietnamese:
                            Pho Hoa, on 37th St NW serves very good Pho. Their range isn't great, and the hot pots are hit-or-miss, but for a big steaming plate of pho and some spring rolls, it's quite good.

                            Indian:
                            Natraj is at Broadway and Hwy 14 (Crossroads area) and is okay. There's another Indian restaurant in town, Indian Garden, on Broadway north of downtown, but I haven't been there recently enough to comment.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Abby B
                              u
                              Ummm Apr 24, 2007 10:27 PM

                              a reader on a PB blog commented that Phnom Phen is going out of business... anyone heard about it?!

                            2. u
                              Ummm Jan 8, 2007 08:31 AM

                              we want to try sonte - any dish you'd recommend?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Ummm
                                c
                                chefschmitty Jan 8, 2007 02:41 PM

                                I'm really intrigued by two dishes. First the Family Paella. It contains bamba rice, rabbit, chorizo, shrimp, mussels and roasted peppers. The second is Grilled Quail containing taro root puree, roasted tomato, grilled annatto corn ragout. They both sound fantastic and I cannot wait to indulge in them both.

                                Did they have any "specials" when you were there?

                                1. re: chefschmitty
                                  c
                                  chrisinroch Jan 10, 2007 11:15 PM

                                  Yup they offered specials both times that I've been there. Seems like they had one special from each menu section.

                                  OFF TOPIC.... I took the plunge and bought a factory second Le Creuset dutch oven while outlet shopping in Orlando, so I'll have to report if it makes a difference in the coq au vin. ;)

                                2. re: Ummm
                                  c
                                  chrisinroch Jan 10, 2007 11:12 PM

                                  and they do a small plate tenderloin that is really really good. There cheese plates are good, but a bit precious with the amounts. The shrimp tapas is ehh. Their bruschettas are good, I liked the smoked trout one especially.

                                3. a
                                  Abby B Nov 26, 2006 06:27 PM

                                  I'm sorry to hear they'll be closing. But, I'll keep my eye out for the new place.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Abby B
                                    pitu Dec 16, 2006 11:05 AM

                                    thank you all for the wealth of info
                                    I'm ready for my trip now!

                                    1. re: pitu
                                      c
                                      chrisinroch Jan 7, 2007 11:58 PM

                                      Ate a couple times at the new Sonte (old wong's cafe location. Thoughtful, well executed tapas, great wine list, very nice decor and design. Prices were high for Rochester; more in line with Chicago or even NYC (well maybe not that bad) but my point is that they may struggle in Rochester after the novelty wears off. Hopefully they succeed, because it is really a novel place for this locale.

                                      1. re: Garris
                                        c
                                        chrisinroch Oct 26, 2007 03:31 AM

                                        Lol agree about wongs. That was all we had in Roch for asian growing up so they survived for a long time. I suppose as more of their customer base died, it was harder to compete.

                                        But they are giving it another shot. Recently reopened at the Hillcrest Mr. D's/ Bon's Buffet location is Wongs!!

                                        1. re: chrisinroch
                                          j
                                          jenniegirl Apr 1, 2008 09:39 PM

                                          Wong's was always vile. That and Bilotti's next door...

                                  2. a
                                    Abby B Nov 22, 2006 09:59 PM

                                    Rochester is NOT a great food town, but there are some things to eat for the intrepid chowhound.

                                    Fancy:
                                    Prescott's is the best fancy place in town. The food is good, the wine list is intelligent and well edited. For Rochester, the service is actually pretty good, once you realize that this is the rural midwest and your waitress will feel the need to 'explain' their bread basket to you. Avoid Broadstreet. It's okay if someone else is paying, but every sauce is cloyingly sweet. The presentation is pretentious and the food quality inferior for what it costs. Chardonnay is best for dessert. The desserts are excellent and the wine list long. For dinner, it's a bit overpriced and I've found it to be hit-or-miss with even basic dishes like a veal chop. However, I've had a couple good meals too, the atmosphere is lovely, and did I mention the desserts? Jasper's is very good. They serve Alsatian food, the restaurant has atmosphere, and the desserts are from Daube's bakery. This is probably my favorite restaurant in town.

                                    Night out, but not really fancy:
                                    Redwood Room has great atmosphere and okay food. A bit oversalted and heavy on the sweet sauces - the kitchen is shared with Broadstreet - but overall not a bad place for a bite. City Cafe is also pleasant, especially the outdoor patio in the summertime. The food is okay, though not imaginative, and the service is overly familiar. That being said, the seafood is not bad and while it's not worth going out of your way to eat there, it's someplace I go reasonably often.

                                    New and exciting, we'll see how it goes:
                                    Sontes is a new Spanish tapas place right downtown. The lighting is good, the decor trendy, and the bar-lounge pleasant. The food was imaginative and very good. There were several standard Spanish tapas, such as chorizo stuffed dates, as well as worldwide snacky. The wine and beer list was pretty broad but still well edited, as was the cheese menu. Service was a real problem, but I went on the very second night the place was open so I'll give them some time to get their act together.

                                    Mexican:
                                    There is a place in the Barlow Hy Vee shopping center that is brand new. No atmosphere, but all the right stuff - good tamales, menudo and posole on weekends. There's also a place off of Hwy 14 west of Broadway in the Cub foods shopping center that's good.

                                    Hamburgers:
                                    My favorite place is the Breakroom, on Hwy 52 headed south from 19th St. Awesome flat-grilled style burgers in a smoky bar with cheap beer specials. Newts is also very good. Burgers you can order medium rare, a large beer selection, and smoke free.

                                    Surrounding area:
                                    Nosh in Wabasha, Minnesota. Locally grown ingrediants, South American flavors, and French technique. Excellent food worth going out of your way for.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Abby B
                                      MSPD Nov 22, 2006 11:20 PM

                                      Abby,

                                      I was in Rochester for a couple of hours recently and read in the local magazine (this edition had profiles of local singles) a sentence that alluded to Nosh closing next year. It was strange and non-specific but I lost the magazine.

                                      Any buzz?

                                      1. re: Abby B
                                        j
                                        jenniegirl Apr 1, 2008 09:38 PM

                                        My parents live in Rochester, and every time I see them they are "dying" for Chili's to come. When the Olive Garden came to town it was two and half hour waits to get in. Very sad. That being said, I do like Valentino's pizza. They have a cream cheese topping that is really good. ALso, the Dunn's Brother's on Broadway actually has some good desserts-it was another place before it became the Dunn's Brother's, and they kept some of the same recipes. The bread pudding is good.

                                      2. pitu Nov 22, 2006 11:00 AM

                                        how about surrounding towns? anything special leading up to Xmas?
                                        we're going to be in the area for a week in December . . . I'm wondering if fish frys a summer-only thing . . .

                                        and someone told me there's good Ethiopian food there -- but I'm unsure if they were telling me about Rochester or the Twin Cities...

                                        THX for any suggestions

                                        1. c
                                          chefschmitty Nov 20, 2006 03:26 AM

                                          One more addition I have to make is Cafe Presto on 2nd street (directly across the street from St. Mary's Hospital. Their service and menu offer simple yet wonderful! It has diner style feel with natural and healthy food. Their staple foods are the Gyros, breakfast crepes, and award winning chicken with a choice of four glazes (yep, I've had them all and can't decide on the best). Check them out if you're looking for something unique and different from the Rochester "chain" dilemma.

                                          http://cfpresto.com/HomePage.asp

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: chefschmitty
                                            u
                                            Ummm Nov 27, 2006 12:34 AM

                                            i've only been there once and really like the ham and cheese crepes!

                                          2. c
                                            chrisinroch Nov 20, 2006 12:05 AM

                                            Second all of Chefschmitty's suggestions.

                                            Second the opinion that Victoria's sucks. They sure pack em in on the weekends tho, so piles of bad pasta drowning in cream must be haute cuisine and I'm missing it.

                                            Not a big John Hardy's fan. It was amazing years ago and I remember john greeting everybody from behind the counter, but now it seems like the meat is consistently really dried out and tough. Roscoes borrowed the Jo Jo Potatoes from Hardy's menu so that was the missing piece to put them over the top.

                                            Phnom Phen has some pretty good Thai food, but I'm a pushover with that cuisine.

                                            I like Fiesta and Azteca for mexican, but Dos Amigos is not gonna get my vote. Eaten there 4 times and done my best goose impression three times (all three at the hwy 52 location)

                                            Some people go the Chardonnay, but for some reason we never think of it when we are going out. Will try it again and report back.

                                            1. i
                                              ike. Oct 11, 2006 09:44 PM

                                              John Hardy's BBQ on Hwy 52 near Hwy 14 is phenomenal. Some like Roscoe's better, but I'm a JH's fan.

                                              Do a search for Rochester threads though, as there are many around here.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ike.
                                                c
                                                chefschmitty Oct 12, 2006 01:19 AM

                                                GREAT Places?!?! Here is my cream of the crop...

                                                Jaspers Alsatian Bistro & Wine Bar
                                                14 Historic 3 St SW
                                                Rochester, MN 55901

                                                City Cafe
                                                216 1st Ave NW
                                                Rochester, MN 55901

                                                Prescott’s
                                                1201 So Broadway,
                                                Rochester, MN 55902

                                                Redwood Room
                                                300 1st Ave NW
                                                Rochester, MN 55901

                                              2. h
                                                hmelcookie Oct 11, 2006 06:24 PM

                                                Dos Amigos has excellent Mexican food. There are two locations, one on 4th street in the old depot (original restaurant) and a newer one on the west side of 52 by 16th street.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hmelcookie
                                                  s
                                                  seisler80 Apr 14, 2011 02:54 PM

                                                  Azteca on 9th st. across from K-Mart has great mexican food!

                                                2. l
                                                  Lisa Jun 21, 2002 07:36 PM

                                                  I can tell where you shouldn't eat--Victoria's. We had the worst dining experience. The service was so terrible that we should have tipped him because we're still laughing. (We had to ask 3 times before our water was refilled and then the waiter decided to interrupt mid-pour to have a conversation with another table--terrific slapstick.)

                                                  The presentation was non-existent. They just dump a ton of pasta on your plate and pour a bunch of sauce. My pasta with artichokes was completely bland. Oh, I bet the staff hasn't even heard of the term pasta!

                                                  If you find anyplace, please post.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Lisa
                                                    a
                                                    a.b. Jul 9, 2002 09:50 PM

                                                    It seems the list of where not to eat is a lot longer than the list of where to eat here!

                                                    So far I've found that the Indian Garden, on Broadway beween downtown and silver lake, is pretty good. Be sure to make it clear you want your food spicy as the default here in Rochester is to make food quite bland -- much of the local population seems to fear spice more than tornados and considers Doritos to be adventurously spicy.

                                                    I hear from a friend who is from El Paso and should know that Fiesta Mexicana, off highway 52 near the second street exit, is pretty good. I haven't tried it yet.

                                                    Chardonnay is an okay gourmet-style place, but if you're going to spend the money for an expensive meal, best to head up the twin cities for something really good. Chardonnay's desserts however were divine - I had a wonderful champagne and rose petal sorbet last time. The atmosphere is pleasant and the decor attractive, so I'd recommend this as a great place for drinks and dessert.

                                                    I also hear Roscoe's BBQ is great.

                                                    Haven't found many more places but would love to hear suggestons!

                                                    1. re: Lisa
                                                      l
                                                      laurelcnyn Dec 14, 2007 08:22 PM

                                                      Victoria's was bad but nothing was worse than Sontes. A national NY and SF food critic here, and I have to tell you: at Sontes, the food is overpriced and extremely mediocre at best. Worse, when I hastened to send back the nauseating shitake risotto (and I love shitakes and hate to send anything back), the chef responded by telling us that the food tastes good to him but that he'd do us the favor of taking it off the bill. Nice guy, huh? Nice and stupid, and bad-palette-ed, which is even worse. This city has no idea what good restaurant food is, sadly, and to throw together expensive-seeming ingredients in a faux-sophisticated tapas environment is just quick cash to prey on the Mayo patients with money--or some hope of a nice culinary experience. Avoid this place. As for City Cafe, it's OK, but a bit too Emeril-ized. Best food so far in Rochester? Good sandwiches we made ourselves with premium bread, fresh seasonal veggies, and locally raised meat cooked on someone's home grill. The Zubay deli is Ok, too.

                                                      1. re: laurelcnyn
                                                        c
                                                        chrisinroch Dec 18, 2007 05:16 AM

                                                        Yeah, as a rochester resident who dines out at least 1 dinner a week, I really wanted to like sontes. A non-chain restaurant that was doing something completely different in the city was exciting. But after the novelty wears off and you actually evaluate the food, you realize that it is just not very good. I agree that the chef has an odd palate. Its been weeks since i ate there last, but I remember thinking that the sauces (the area where the chef's palate shines through the most?) seemed like oddly flavored square pegs that didnt compliment the food. I find your experience with your complaint to be consistant with my experience, my sister-law's and a friends. Three separate occasions and each time management was argumentative. The tone is "you clearly don't understand our genius."

                                                        I disagree with you that Sontes is worse than Victorias. Nothing is worse than Victorias. I just find their gloppy, huge Americanized take on Italian cuisine to be really offensive. I love italian cuisine and It actually makes me angry.

                                                        1. re: laurelcnyn
                                                          g
                                                          goodfood1969 Dec 19, 2007 07:36 AM

                                                          Bill started this post nearly 6 years ago by inquiring about "GREAT" places to eat in Rochester. Little has changed as evidenced by the majority of comments. As much as I enjoy the pleasure of dining out, the absolute best advice in Rochester is to avoid the temptation and dine in. Otherwise you will leave dissatisfied. The competition for well created food is so nonexistent that restaurants can survive and linger without consequence for years if not decades. I loathe the times when friends, family or colleagues are visiting and I am obliged to entertain for dinner. I can not count the number of late night drives down dark Hwy 52 after incredibly satisfying dining experiences in Mpls/St Paul just an hour away and am stunned that even a remotely similar experience is not possible in Rochester. It is always worth the drive, but realize not everyone is up to it. laurelcnyn is dead on with the report on Sontes - mediocre (a complement) food, priced unwisely & insultingly, and a sense that it is the bomb. I am thinking that since Sontes occupies the space where Wong's (really, really bad chinese-american restaurant that lasted for way too long in town), perhaps it is a carryover effect. Although not as large as several years ago, drug company expense accounts and unknowing visitors are paying the bills here. It is not the locals & regulars. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of choosing between Victorias & Sontes, recognize that both are highly subpar. It will be a roll of the dice if you even find something on the menu to which you can sincerely provide a true Minnesota-nice compliment of "it's ok". I applaud the independent startup restaurants (Prescott's is probably the best at the moment), but none have done anything noteworthy thus far. I believe that quality dining in a community begins with the little things - a quality bakery (Prescott's or Daube's are as good as it gets in town, not a great start), a delicatessen (none in town), grocers that select products based upon goodness (not margin) (Just Rite market on 6th ave @ 2nd st sw tries), simple ethnic eateries (none of the latino, vietnamese, or east african places are worth mentioning), an ice cream parlor (none in town), etc. Rochester puts out good science, medicine and technology, but quality food is its achilles heel.

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