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Sep 16, 2006 06:51 PM

Best Bets in Rochester, MN

Chicago hound looking for best eats in Rochester - husband will be spending a week there...

Never been to the area and have NO clue what's around! Any help would be wonderful.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Think Daube restaurant or for lighter fare try Daube bakery /cafe.

    Can't remember the name of the good Chinese restaurant but worth trying to find. East of Mayo clinic to first light.(right)South 2-3 blocks on West side of that street. Looks like was pizza joint in earlier days. Big fish tank decor. Carved veg as decoration on plates. Not authentic but good Americanized asian.

    12 Replies
    1. re: stevieBcanyon

      You're thinking of Wong's I bet. Not great, but for Rochester you can't ask for too much.

      My two favorite Rochester spots are Cheap Charlie's and John Hardy's BBQ.

      Charlie's is on North Broadway downtown, and you'll find some of the best diner fare around. And the "Cheap" thing is no lie. This stuff is practically free. Here's a picture I took of the menu when I was there in June:
      And here's a picture of the place. Don't write it off as dingy either. It oozes character.

      John Hardy's has been billed by some as the best BBQ in the state. I'm not good at quantifying like that, but I'll tell you that it's really damn good. The ribs were some of the smokiest I've ever had, and there's an abundance of sauces from which you can choose. I got the rib & pork combo, which was fantastic. Hit up the original location on Hwy 52 & Hwy 14 for a true bbq experience. Here's a picture of my plate:

      Other than that, you've got your choice of other fine dining establishments such as Olive Garden, TGIFridays, Applebee's and Pizza Hut. :)

      1. re: ike.

        Nope. Not Wongs. Had to call a friend... China Dynasty. 701 S Broadway, Rochester, MN 55904 ยท 507-289-2333

        Been there? Unless it's changed, it was quite good. Used to got to the Mayo quite frequently but luckily I don't have to anymore. I live 90 miles north or Rochester.

        1. re: stevieBcanyon

          I'v been to China Dynasty. It's ok - but nothing compared to Phnom Penh - 1647 South Broadway Rochester 55902 - (507)287-6336.

          They have the *best* selection and variety of all Asian dishes in Rochester. No one can compare to their least 8 pages with dishes ranging from tradional Chinese to Cambodian and Thai. They offer soups, noodle dishes, fish and seafood. My wife and I visit here at least once a month to get our fix.

          1. re: chefschmitty

            That must be south of the canning factory? Never have seen it. Sounds like a manditory stop on my next trip south of the TC. Is this a relatively new restaurant because it sure doesn't ring a bell?

            Is China Dynasty still the same good quality as it was... considering it's nitch as an Americanized Chinese food restaurant? Or, has it gone down in quality? Your comment suggests you weren't completely happy with it. Or is it just that Phnom Penh is overwhelmingly better in it's multi ethnicity menu?

            Thanks for the heads up.

            1. re: stevieBcanyon

              China Dynasty still has good quality Americanized Chinese food and I was quite happy with it. But it's like you said, the multi ethnicity menu and selection at Phnom Penh puts it #1 on my list.

              btw - Phnom Penh is in the old Perkins Restuarant location right next to The Ranch restaurant.

              1. re: chefschmitty

                haven't been to china dynasty. been to phnom penh once and was quite happy with it - had a coconut curry dish with fish and it tasted pretty good (you get to choose what fish you want... i forgot what i had, and it came with bones, which is fine with me since i'm chinese so i'm used to that :) definitely more authentic than wong's. haven't tried other chinese restaurants in town as i assume they're probably americanized...

                i went to whistle binkies (the new one in south) once and ordered the egg rolls - and they taste quite close to the egg rolls (or what we call 'spring rolls') in hong kong, and that was a surprise!

        2. re: ike.

          I will second the John Hardy's recommendation. If you are looking for more ethnic ideas, I spotted a West African/East African(?) place in the downtown area the last time I was down there. Didn't have a chance to stop in as I had already eaten at that point, but it looked like it was pretty highly patronized by "natives" (for lack of better way of phrasing it at the moment).

          1. re: ike.


            Gosh dangit, why did you have to post the photo of your plate of barbecue?? Now I have John Hardy's on the brain and I am in Minneapolis. Hey, maybe I'll visit my mother this weekend...

            John Hardy's received a great review from Dara Moskowitz a few years back:

            1. re: ike.

              I'll second John Hardy's. If you like KC style (vinegary) BBQ you'll love this place. If you like hot BBQ sauce, you'll really love this place - they've got several mild, several medium, and several hots, including one that, especially for Minnesota, is freakin' HOT.

              It's not the best BBQ in the state - that honor falls to American Pasttime BBQ in Raymond, MN (no one's ever heard of it but it's got some of the best brisket I've ever eaten), and it's not even the best in southern minnesota (That would be Piggy Blues in Austin) but it's certainly very good and well worth a visit.

            2. re: stevieBcanyon

              If the Chinese place is called Wong's, run (don't walk) to the nearest exit. This is a third level chop suey joint if there ever was one. Rice and bean sprouts and some grisley diced and steam cooked "stuff" floating around some viscious cloudy looking semi-liquid.

              Victorio's on Broad street is pretty good. The grill at the Kaehler Hotel is not bad. Micheals is the best known place in town and probably overrated, but for a good martini and a piece of meat, it's not bad. There is a greek place on the north side of town whose name I can't remember (something catchy like "Zorba's"). The Broad Street Cafe is very good and the saloon below it is kind of funky.

              1. re: bkastner

                Wong's closed. A tapa place will open later this year i believe.

                1. re: Ummm

                  Finally.... There is a God!

                  Thanks for the info

            3. There are a number of threads found at --

              Rochester has a lot to offer what's your favorite style?

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefschmitty

                I wrote a little review of the Rochester restaurants a little while ago, here is the link

                1. Rosco's ribs are the best in Rochester.

                  I like the skyway and subway conecting the mayo to the galleria. there's a smoothie place across from teh caribou coffee, called Robeks, it has awesome acai berry meals (healthy).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hidetherum

                    Roscoe's is good, but nowhere near John Hardy's.

                  2. Roscoes won the prestigious Great American Rib Cook Off a few years ago all the way out in Cleveland, Ohio. Make no mistake about it - this place is good. That huge trophy is showcased in their all-season location. I've tried all the Rochester BBQ joints - Roscoes comes in first in my book and most of the locals that I've spoken to. Roscoes has really good specials depending the day.

                    Witht that being said, I do think John Hardy's is good, but not as good as Roscoes. I know lots of folks also frequent John Hardy's as well.