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good cheap eats near U of Rochester and RIT

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My son and I are visiting University of Rochester and RIT next week and would love to know where the kids eat nearby. I've seen lots of threads for Rochester in general but am looking for college hangouts, cheap good eats for the kids. Need recs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thanks

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  1. I'm not really up to date on what current U of R students eat, but I'll try to give a general idea of what you will find. The River Campus is strange, in that it is surrounded by a river, a very large cemetery, and a large medical center. The students who lived on campus usually didn't walk to any nearby eateries and the Wilson Commons pub/cafe was about it. Grad students sometimes ate and drank at the Elmwood Inn or the Distillery on Mt. Hope Ave., with neither place anything to get excited about. There were various sub/pizza and hot chicken delivery options.

    On the latter: there was Sal's and Smitty's hot birds. Both a kind of BBQ chicken with a hot sweet/sour sauce - each had their adherents, while I would rather have ordinary Buffalo wings (Elmwood/Distillery did good ones). Most of these birds were consumed late at night after partying.

    Now, things got better if you lived off-campus: the university ran free shuttle buses between River Campus and the Eastman School, downtown, and students would often locate along these routes to take advantage of a free ride. Popular areas were the South Wedge (between South Ave and Mt. Hope, south of downtown), and the Alexander/Park/Monroe area, which has a wide variety of eateries.

    RIT: very suburban campus, need a car to do anything but some decent cheap places to eat (e.g. Indian) along Jefferson Rd. or W. Henrietta. Rd. Maybe some recent students could chime in with the current scene.

    1. Your qualifier of " ... good eats ..." makes the relevance of this reply questionable, but the Rochester experience is incomplete without a Nick Tahou Garbage Plate. In its classic form, it is home fries, macaroni salad (or baked beans), topped with two hot dogs (white or red, another Rochester peculiarity ...), a scoop of raws onions, a big smear of yellow mustard, and a big splash of a Greek meat sauce (called "hot sauce" but not really spicy). Comes with a few slices of Italian bread and pats of butter. The original Nick's is in a questionable part of downtown, but they have opened a branch on West Henrietta Road, not far at all from either campus (but not in walking distance). Original or new, Nick's is a greasy spoon joint, but, as I said, you really have not been in Rochester if you have not sampled a Plate. (NB: Lots of other local places offer their versions - "Messy Plates," "Dumpster Plates," etc. Nick's will also substitute lots of stuff for the two hot dogs, too, but do the classic thing, get it at Nick's and get the dogs.)

      4 Replies
      1. re: budgetrick

        Oh boy. My 17 y.o. May just want this.

        1. re: budgetrick

          Ah, but the "questionable" part of downtown was an essential component to a 3 a.m. visit to Nick's. Can't imagine eating this in a suburban strip mall or dorm lounge.....

          1. re: jmoryl

            Nick's is no longer a 24-hour or, I believe, even a late night place. Does it help that the Henrietta location is a stand-alone place and not in a strip mall? Maybe not .... However, eating enough Garbage Plates is as life-threatening, in its own way, as visiting the original location.

            1. re: budgetrick

              I don't know. This may have to wait until he's enrolled and Mom's not around.

        2. I second the Garbage plate. Only point of contention is the hot dogs...go with the cheeseburgers (and skip the baked beans).

          Another lunch option that's both cheap and fantastic is Antonetta's on Jay Street. It's a beautifully decorated restaurant (it's a dump), and in a lovely part of town (bring a gun). But great old school Italian for under $10. Get some type of pasta. Do NOT get the chicken parm - it's a chicken patty - never could figure that one out.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gags22

            All of the (slightly exaggerated) text in the preceding post by gags22 also applies to Rocky's, another very authentic "red gravy" place. I've never ventured from the pasta, so I can't comment on their chicken parm. Or even verify that they serve it.

            You'd think that a guy who has extensive familiarity with something called a Garbage Plate would know about the tripe, but in this case, you'd be mistaken ...People who like the stuff say the tripe at Rocky's is good, but I'll have to take that on faith.