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Jun 27, 2008 08:17 PM

Chowhounder visiting Rochester, NY

Any suggestions for some good chow?

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  1. What kind of stuff do you like? If you give some info on your preferences and any dietary restrictions I would be happy to recommend some places.

    1. Hello,

      Here is a little report of my April visit to Rochester, where I ate very well! These are just a few ideas based on my experience...happy to offer some other suggestions if you're looking for something in particular.

      My first stop was for lunch at Open Face Sandwich Eatery on South Avenue. I’ve been keeping an eye on their website for months, wishing I could pop in and get one of their unusual sounding sandwiches. So it makes sense that 5 minutes after pulling into the driveway in Rochester and unloading my bags, I was headed out again to get some lunch!

      I ordered the Sandwich Tasting – which is 2 sandwich halves. I chose the Corn Mash (roasted corn seasoned, mashed, and mixed with red bell pepper, served hot and open with melted cheddar, apricot bbq glaze and french fried onions) and the Soft Brie (brie spread with a sweet apricot preserve, topped with sliced pear, on baguette). Both sandwiches were a successful melding of flavors (although I would have preferred the brie melted). The sandwiches came with a side of ginger carrots, with a potent spicy kick. Open Face has put a lot of care into the details in the design of their restaurant (it is a small place - just a few indoor and outdoor tables); for instance, the ice tea came in tin mugs and a small ginger candy is wrapped up with the silverware. It is a pleasant and interesting atmosphere.

      The next day we went to the Wegman’s restaurant, Tastings, for lunch. Well, first we browsed the Pittsford store, checking out what is new and looking for free samples. At Tastings, the portions are small, and it is definitely pricey, but the food was fresh and flavorful. We had one serving of salmon and one of scallops, and a cheese plate for dessert. The bread served with the meal was very good, and we enjoyed the dried fruit / sweet almond mix that accompanied the cheese (3 American soft cheeses). Of course, we knew right where we could go to buy all of these items!

      Afterwards, we went to Swan German Sausage and Meat Market on Parsells Avenue. It is a lone German outpost with wood paneled walls and communal tables. I had a fun time hoisting about the 10 lb. rye bread that was for sale. We only had room for the sausage sampler plate ($1.50); 3 varieties of sausage served with spicy mustard. We’d like to return for their schnitzel.

      Saturday morning I went to the Public Market, which is one of my all time favorite places. I started off with a breakfast taco with green salsa from Monterray Mexican Tacos next to Java Joes, and then did my shopping…olives and Midnight Moon cheese (goat cheese with a sweet complex flavor that I love!) from the European cheese shop, yellow bell peppers, Empire apples, ramps, new potatoes, strawberries. I finished off with a vegetable empanada from the Empanada Stop. It was a beautiful spring day, and the market was packed! I’m so happy to see that it is thriving. *The market is open on Saturday (their big day, and it does get crowded) and Tuesday and Thursday (a smaller number of vendors).

      I live in a bigger city, but I always enjoy coming back to Rochester for some memorable food!

      Also, some other chow-worthy places:

      Abbot’s Custard at Charlotte / Lake Ontario…nothing beats a summer evening stroll on the pier!

      Malek’s bakery on Monroe Avenue in Brighton for pastries (it is a kosher bakery and they are closed on Saturdays).

      Dinosaur BBQ downtown, good food and plenty of character.

      4 Replies
      1. re: refinnej

        This is a great report - thank you. Monteray Taco is our FAVORITE market spot, and their breakfast taco is soooo good. Too bad there isn't someplace a little nicer to sit though, huh?

        I've never even heard of the Open Face Sandwich plae! Sometimes it takes an out of towner to spot good stuff.

        1. re: CindyK

          I'm a local and I love Open Face. I also eat at Swan weekly, sometimes twice weekly! :-o

          I would honestly steer any chowhounder away from Dinosaur BBQ if they come to town here. Never had a good meal there, always overcooked dry meat and one time I had a side dish of corn that was burned. Burnt corn!

          1. re: kimeats

            Hi CindyK...I always enjoy your Rochester recommendations...and I know you're a fellow Public Market aficionado! If you like sweet and savory sandwich combinations, definitely check out Open Face.

   did you find out about Swan's? We read about it in from a City Paper review. My friend did go back for a second visit and enjoyed the schnitzel very much. A few years ago, City Paper did a piece on South Avenue, which is how I know about Open Face.

            A recent review is for a new Cajun place called The French Quarter. I plan to go there on my next visit. Has anyone been there yet?

            One of my brothers used to hang out at Nick Tahou's with his friends. The other brother is loyal to Country Sweet for "Rochester style" chicken wings.

            For a sit down dinner, I would suggest Edibles or Hogan's Hideaway.

            1. re: refinnej

              I'm not originally from here, but I grew up in an area that had alot of German foods. When I moved here, I heard about the Swan Market and their meat products. I have been going there ever since.
              I love Open Face too.
              However, when people come to town, I don't recommend Tahou's for a garbage plate. Original owner is dead, family fought over recipes etc.
              Better plates in town at Irondequoit Hots (right next to House of Guitars), Dogtown Hots (great hot dogs too) and Bay Hots in Webster.

              Forgot say I also can't agree with Edibles or Hogan's as a suggestion. Had nothing but bad meals at both. Only thing I have found to be edible at Hogan's is the Hoganstrone soup. For a sit down dinner I would suggest Lento in Village Gate.

      2. Nick Tahoe's for a Garbage Plate, Zweigles Hots on Park Ave. for a white hot if their still there, Abbot's for frozen custard.
        Take a ride to Avon to Tom Wahl's for a frozen mug of root beer and a Wahlburger.
        Enjoy your trip.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefstu

          I second all of chefstu's recs! All those places were tasty college memories for my friends and me! (And ya can't bypass Rochester without trying a garbage plate!)

        2. Mings noodles on Clinton and Goodman were always a great place for cheap when I used to live there.

          We also liked going to Philips European for desert when we where there. Skip dinner, and go in for some of their cake and homeade ice cream.

          The Golden Dynasty used to have really good Chinese food, back in the day.

          3 Replies
          1. re: adventuresinbaking

            You guys couldn't be more timely - - I am heading to Rochester tomorrow night for a concert at the Main Street Armory. Sushi is my traditional pre concert favorite. Are there any solid places in town that are convenient to the show? Thanks - - If not, the Mexican place sounds great.

            1. re: jcm

              For sushi, California Rollin' in Village Gate would be very convenient.
              ( Village Gate is a complex of restaurants and shops in a converted industrial space on Goodman Street.

              1. re: refinnej

                I'd say avoid California Rollin' for sushi. If you have ever seen their kitchen, you know why. Village Gate does have the Gate House restaurant which is great for burgers and Lento which is great for dinner (locally grown organic food). For sushi I'd say Shiki on clinton is best in town.

          2. Just returned from our first visit to Rochester (and area) this week.
            Highlights...Irondequoit for HOG and lakeside evening at Seabreeze followed up at Don's Originals with ground round steak sandwich with sauce on a hard roll, malted milkshake (thick but tasty), crunchy pickles, fries (frozen beefsteak style but perfectly fried), and really good homemade onion rings. The frozen custard was excellent. Go for the chocolate almond in a waffle cone. Lots of almonds with a hint of chocolate. And not from a machine. (It has spoiled me for anything else!) No tables, just stools at the counter. My son loved the whole atmosphere and the food.

            Rochester Public Market (Thursday) outdoors...Empanadas. Had the Don Francisco (beef and onion with hardboiled egg and olives). Very tasty, not spicy. Rest of the platter was decent too. Very nice staff. And instead of pop I purchased yogurt smoothies from the stall where the man sells the "Cream on top" milk and yogurt, raw milk cheese and butter from his Jersey herd. Creamy yogurt mixed with Red Jacket fruit juice. Also sells free range eggs, organic meat, etc. Also bought cheese curds made from Jersey milk (highest butterfat content). Will make poutine with them.

            Funny things kept happening. Flour City Diner had moved so we went to the market (Wednesday) since it was closed drove around the corner went in to Charlie Brown's, for a late lunch, it had just closed, but someone there sent us up a nearby street; saw Swan's (had heard about it) went it, they were finished serving lunch, continued along the street and ended up at the Golden Fox Family restaurant. Homestyle Greek food (pastisio, souvlaki, moussaka, spanokopita, plus a lot of other selections most around the $9 or $10 range Great service, great prices. 11 year old had the hot roast beef, with mashed potatoes and a puddle/pond of gravy. Husband had the porterhouse, surprisingly tasty with salt potatoes. We're Canadian (with a Greek background) and had never heard of salt potatoes. Seen them sold in stores for $6.00 for 5 lbs. thought they must be some local delicacy. Imagine his surprise when he was served potatoes with their skins on, boiled with some salt in the water. Side salads with dinners were decent with homemade dressing. But where are the vegetables? Meat and potatoes are great but I miss my diner style food without veg. Soup of the day was avogolemeno. Nice consistency, needed a bit more lemon.

            But where are the fish and chip restaurants?

            We're planning another trip before too long and hope to try out some other local favourites. We'd already eaten BBQ earlier that week at Bad to the Bone so didn't try Dinosaur. More to look forward to.

            4 Replies
            1. re: dory

              Bad to the Bone kicks Dinosaur's butt any day of the week. Compared to Bad to the Bone, the dino's ribs taste like something you would get frozen from Stouffers.
              For Fish and Chips in town there are lots of places. The Old Toad on Alexander would be the most authentic place to have fish and chips. The Tap and Mallet on Gregory also has a nice Fish and Chips plate. Almost every Rochester restaurant serves a "fish fry" on fridays but alot of them don't serve malt vinegar with that, so be careful. Only a lemon.

              Sorry you missed out on Swan Market, it's the best lunch in Rochester.

              1. re: kimeats

                Kimeats - Are you talking about Bad to the Bone in Williamson? I've never been there - but I would certainly check that out!

                1. re: CindyK

                  Yep, Bad to the Bone in Williamson. Don't miss his fried okra. I always go for the ribs, but he makes a killer fried chicken too. Have to call ahead for the fried chicken.

                  1. re: CindyK

                    Check out their online menu. Very casual atmosphere. Food is served on plastic plates w. plastic utensils. But don't worry -- you'll be using your fingers for most of it. I ordered the fried catfish. Crispy cornmeal breading. Perfectly done, none of that "earthy" flavour that catfish sometimes has a hint of. Sides are great. Sweet potato fries, green beans with ham hocks, spiced corn, collard greens, etc. The others had pulled pork sandwich platters. Said the pork was good but next time it will be the ribs for sure. They looked amazing. Had a great talk to the owner/cook. Sounds like he's going to be hitting the BBQ circuit this year. Hope he's planning on coming to the Toronto area!

                    Didn't make the 15 minute wait for fried chicken but I may have to next visit. (Actually I had some decent fried chicken for lunch at a little place in Oswego called Ritz's diner. Very thin crispy batter. A slightly sweetish flavour; could it be honey in the chicken marinade? The breast was plump and juicy. And for under $8 it was a half a chicken with mashed potatoes and a side.)