If you’re heading to Rochester, New York, make sure you bring your appetite and stretchy pants. Impressed by the variety of food and drink options, The Flower City stands out as a bona fide foodie town in upstate New York. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of chilled Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes region or grabbing spaghetti in a to-go container at the food hall, there are so many incredible places to eat in Rochester, NY. Feel free to add some or all of these Rochester restaurants to your itinerary.
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6 Places To Eat In Rochester NY (and Drink)
Before I share the Rochester restaurants you absolutely cannot miss, let’s begin with satisfying your sweet tooth first. First up, Boxcar Donuts!
Attention all donut lovers, you’ll love this small shop that serves colorful artisanal donuts and fried chicken.
Frequently offering different flavors and fun artsy designs, pick from marble bacon, cannoli, fruity pebbles, peanut butter cocoa puffs, glazed cider, and more. Expect seasonally-inspired handcrafted donuts, a full coffee bar, and you can even order a cocktail or beer. There are vegan options too.
Good for breakfast or a mid-day snack, savor every bite.
Absolutely no judgment if you lick your fingers after. I know I did!
Boxcar Donuts Address
127 Railroad Street
Rochester, NY, 14609
Abbott’s Frozen Custard
Recommend by locals and almost everyone I’ve met who has visited Rochester, Abbott’s Frozen Custard is a must for frozen treats.
Abbot’s offers smooth and creamy handmade ice cream made with fresh ingredients and real fruits. While there are traditional flavors like vanilla (my favorite) and chocolate almond, try one of their speciality flavors, homemade waffle cones, sundaes, flurries, and floats.
We stopped by Abbot’s right after kayaking and before checking into our hotel. What a tasty introduction to Rochester!
Coffee shops in Rochester are plentiful, but Java’s is my favorite so far.
Pop in for a foamy latte, hot cocoa, buttery croissant, sandwiches, or gluten-free baked goods. While waiting for your order, take a look around at the local artwork and framed photos. You can’t miss them – you’ll see what I mean when you get here.
16 Gibbs Street
Rochester, NY 14604
Lunch in Rochester
Mercantile on Main
Considered one of the largest food falls in upstate New York, Mercantile on Main is Rochester’s first food hall. Since opening in 2021, it’s already a downtown hotspot among Rochesterians and visitors. With inexpensive eats ready in less than ten minutes, stop by for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour. If you’re looking for places to eat in Rochester and you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, there’s something for everyone here.
Wander around this bright, open-concept 10,000 square foot urban eatery and pick from seven food stalls, including Indian cuisine, handcrafted sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, gourmet coffee, pastries, local craft beer, and wine. I enjoyed a yummy bowl of spaghetti prepared perfectly with garlic, chili, parsley, and toasted breadcrumbs.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, have a seat at a sidewalk window table, and people watch while you chow down. Notice the large murals painted by local artists that say cheerful things like “This is a Wonderful Day.”
Mercantile on Main Address
240 East Main Street
Rochester, NY 14604
Dinner in Rochester
Craving Mexican food while in Rochester?
Dine at the lively Bitter Honey for creative tacos and Mexican bar snacks.
Bitter Honey is a vibe. There’s outdoor seating in the warmer months, neon lights, and bumping music. It’s the perfect spot to have dinner, meet up with friends, or enjoy a Friday or Saturday night date.
Choose from nachos, sizzling open-faced tacos, and enchiladas, or sip on mezcal-based cocktails and margaritas.
The chili-glazed shrimp tacos served with cucumber salsa and the avocado ranch were irresistible. And you might want to order another round of chips and guacamole.
Bitter Honey Address
127 Railroad Street #110
Rochester, NY 14609
Drinks in Rochester
Living Roots Wine & Co
Bringing together wines from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and South Australia, visit the Living Roots, Rochester’s first urban winery, to experience unique flavors from different corners of the globe.
Greeted by friendly and knowledgeable staff, take in the trendy but relaxed ambiance while sampling a curated flight of four wines. Charcuterie, Aussie meat pies, and cheese platters are also on the menu.
Know exactly what you’d like to drink? Order a glass from the extensive wine list and take a bottle home with you.
As first-time visitors, we choose the curated flights. FLX Whites featured a Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris from upstate New York. Bit of This, Bit of That combined Finger Lakes whites with Adelaide Hills sparkling reds. From vibrant red fruits with tastes of spicy peppers to notes of raspberry and chocolate, expect lush wines that go down smooth.
Listen to this episode of The Thought Card Podcast, where I chat with Living Roots founders Colleen and Sebastian — 5 Reasons To Visit Rochester. Press play to tune in on this page or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Living Roots Address
1255 University Ave
Rochester, NY 14607
If you have more time to explore Rochester and the greater Finger Lakes region, spend a day tasting wine on the many wine trails spanning south and east Rochester, the Lake Ontario shoreline, and beyond. There are over 100 wineries, distilleries, and breweries to choose from.
Speaking of breweries, popular breweries in or around Rochester include the historic Genesee Brewing Company, ROC Brewing Company, and CB Craft Brewers, but there are also dozens of breweries nearby.
From quick bites to upscale dining, Rochester’s food and drink scene was an important and memorable part of my trip. Now I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite Rochester restaurants? What food and drink spots would you like to see added to this list?
For more places to eat in Rochester, watch this video by The Dining Traveler. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Rochester, Traveling Mitch summarizes Rochester’s top attractions so you can build the perfect Rochester travel itinerary.
A sincere thank you to Visit Rochester for the warm welcome and for hosting me as media.
All opinions are my own.
Danielle Desir is a financially savvy traveler, 4x author, and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast here which has over 80,000 podcast downloads.