Explore Rochester: Where to Eat, What to Do


A visit to the Rochester Public Market is a popular Saturday tradition for students and the community alike.

By Rebecca Block ’18

Rochester is surely a thriving city, and there is always something to do—whether it’s going out for a nice meal, seeing a concert or movie, attending a festival, looking at local art, or shopping. You won’t have any trouble keeping busy while you visit for commencement. With limited time to experience all of Rochester, here are some ideas for spending a few days here.

Thursday

Midday

The Lilac Festival in May marks the unoffical start to Rochester’s festival season.

The Lilac Festival in May marks the unofficial start to Rochester’s festival season.

After all your travels, give your legs a nice break and take a stroll in Highland Park and smell some lilacs—and more flowers at the Lamberton Conservatory within the park. If you’re lucky and are here May 6–15, you can go to the Lilac Festival, celebrating the bloom of the lilac trees. Sit in the grass to listen to live music, treat yourself to a candy apple or freshly popped kettle corn, stop by one of many local food trucks, and purchase local art and crafts for your home.

Dinner
Rochester has many wood-fired pizzerias that will make you wonder why you have been buying those cheap slices on street corners. Enjoy the nice weather and sit outside on the deck at Napa Wood Fired Pizza. Can’t decide which pizza to get? The Cuban and the Tasty pizzas are raved about.
Price: $$

If you’d like a more upscale experience, try out Lento Restaurant. Treat yourself to local, delicious foods served in the hub of the Village Gate. After dinner, take a walk around and check out some of the local businesses while you’re at it.
Price: $$$

Friday

Breakfast
Have breakfast at Village Bakery & Cafe in the Culver Road Armory, a new establishment with shops such as Arhaus, Fleet Feet, Alex & Ani, TRATA, and Benrus. Their brunch delights any customer, as they have an array of options including open-face sandwiches on their homemade bread, french toast, croque monsieur, pastries (french macarons), and much more.
Price: $$

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Lunch
Have lunch at Magnolia’s Cafe. You have to get the grilled cheese and tomato soup—Obama ate it!
Price: $$

Midday
If you’re into photography, are a history lover, or you just want to learn more about George Eastman and the first Kodak camera, a visit to George Eastman Museum is a must. Step into the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography and even go into Eastman’s old home to see where it all began.

Dinner
Date night with drinks, a burger, and some fun old-school games at The Playhouse // Swillburger
Price: $$

Or if you want to treat yourself, have dinner at West Edge Restaurant in Corn Hill Landing, sitting alongside the Genesee River where you can get a great view of the Frederick Douglass–Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge.
Price: $$$

Saturday

Breakfast
If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday, spend the morning at the Rochester Public Market, a century-old outdoor and indoor bazaar. Stock up on local produce, baked goods, spices, oils, and spirits. The public market has many eateries that are well known to market regulars. Have breakfast at Scott’s II or Flour City Bread and get a breakfast sandwich that will hit the spot.
Price: $

Midday
Enjoy an independent film playing at The Little Theatre, a hidden gem in Rochester.

Stop by Java’s Cafe for a “cookie-the-size-of-your-face” for only $2. No regrets. Chocolate chip, ginger, oatmeal raisin, the health cookie, you name it. They even have a mix if you’re indecisive, called the Capri: chocolate chips, walnuts, and raisins. Also, a trip to Java’s isn’t complete until you have some java. Try their terrapin, a hot chocolate drink with a shot of espresso dolloped with a heap of whipped cream. Vegan options also available.

Dinner
Look over the High Falls on your walk to Genesee Brew House. Get a real taste of Rochester with local beer paired with delicious food. Some hits include the porterhouse steak, gruyere mac & cheese, buffalo chicken pierogies, bavarian pretzels, and the brewhouse burger.
Price: $$

Evening
Dessert at Spot Coffee. They have every dessert you can think of: cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, cupcakes, biscotti, croissants, muffins, and more. All are delectable.
Price: $$

Sunday

Brunch
Have brunch at Jim’s on Main for a cheap, satisfying brunch. They are famous for their 2-2-2: two pancakes, two eggs any style, and two pieces of bacon, sausage, or ham. They only take cash.
Price: $

If you’re looking to explore another area of Rochester, make a visit to Steve’s Diner in Penfield, a great hole-in-the-wall that you will not want to miss. Their pancakes, which they call “lovecakes,” live up to their name. If you’re not so much of a pancake fan, their cannoli french toast is a hit.
Price: $

Midday
If you ate at Steve’s Diner, drive a few minutes back toward Rochester and hike in Corbett’s Glen. With more than two miles of trails, waterfalls, a boardwalk, and deck viewing area, you can surely let out some energy before the ride back and cool off from the warm weather.

Rebecca Block is social media manager for the online food publication Spoon University.

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Partly Cloudy
Tuesday 09/26 20%
Partly Cloudy
Considerable clouds this morning. Some decrease in clouds later in the day. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 88F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Wednesday 09/27 50%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Partly cloudy with afternoon showers or thunderstorms. High 86F. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Clear
Thursday 09/28 10%
Clear
Sunshine along with some cloudy intervals. High near 65F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.