This month my mom visited me, which was great. One of my favorite parts of her visit was being able to get off campus and explore the food scene in Rochester. Dining hall food is getting pretty old by now. I gathered recommendations for restaurants to go to and narrowed them down based on the kind of food I like.
My mom arrived in Rochester on Thursday morning and needed to take a nap because she couldn’t sleep on the red-eye flight over, so our only meal that day was dinner. First stop: Han Noodle Bar, which, according to its website, is a “fresh take on the traditional Chinese noodle house.” I got the wonton noodle broth bowl and my mom got beef hofen, which has wide rice noodles, scallions, onions, bean sprouts, and beef. Both dishes were very tasty and were good portion sizes, if a bit large. I would definitely like to go there again and would probably order the same thing.
We got a late start on Friday, so Friday’s meals were just lunch and dinner. For lunch, we went to CoreLife Eatery, which serves salads, soups, grain bowls, and “power plates” that are fresh and healthy. There was a long line, which speaks to its popularity, but it went pretty fast. When we reached the counter to order, I made my own “green bowl” with arugula, spring mix, olives, cranberries, bleu cheese crumbles, carrots, and chicken. My mom got the chicken cobb bowl and broccoli cheddar soup, which she said was very good and tasted fresh. One of my favorite things about this restaurant is its selection of fresh juices. They had eight juice flavors at the location my mom and I went to. After trying all of them, I went with the beet lemonade. Since it was so good and the juice is bottomless, I took a cup to go and drank it that night.
For dinner, we went to the French Quarter Cafe, which a student recommended. As the name implies, they offer a New Orleans cuisine at good prices. It’s in a quaint old house with very New Orleans-y decor inside, both of which I liked. We ordered chicken and sausage jambalaya, fried catfish with sweet potato casserole and brabant potatoes, and shrimp etouffee. Oh. My. Goodness. Everything was incredible! I’ve been to New Orleans and had the real deal, and this meal was great. My mom isn’t even normally a fan of sweet potatoes, but she ate the entire side dish. I think the copious amount of brown sugar and coconut flakes are what made it so good. Even the waiter was amazing. I will undoubtedly go to this restaurant again, and hopefully soon!
Another late start today (I blame my mom’s jetlag), so we just had lunch and dinner again. For lunch, we went to The Red Fern, which has an all-vegan menu, as well as a variety of allergen-free menus. Part of the reason I wanted to go here was because I had a gift certificate, but also because I had heard rave reviews from students. Before even walking in I liked the atmosphere. The entrance is two little red doors, then stairs down to the restaurant. The first thing you see when you walk in is a dessert case full of vegan desserts that look delicious. My mom and I were planning on getting two lemon coconut raspberry cupcakes to eat later after our meal, but somebody bought them while we were eating, unfortunately. The decor at Red Fern is eclectic, which I appreciated. I ordered the mac and cheese nachos and my mom got the cream of broccoli soup. My experience with non-dairy cheese has not been great, but my nachos were delicious. My mom also loved her soup because it tasted so fresh and “broccoli-y”. I look forward to eating here again.
To make up for missing out on the Red Fern cupcakes, we went to Sinful Sweets, “an alternative cakery uniquely inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins.” I had been driven past this place before and the concept piqued my interest, so I was glad to finally get a chance to visit. I got the Ashes of Eden cupcake, which is basically cookies and cream, and my mom got Terrormisu. Although my cupcake was pretty good, I think I should have gotten the Nightmare (chocolate). We ate those at the shop and got a few mini cupcakes (Greed/salted caramel, Gluttony/peanut and caramel, and Nightmare) to go. They all pair well with milk.
Finally, for dinner, we went to Richardson’s Canal House, which is an upscale restaurant on the Erie Canal. One of my professors recommended it when my mom said we were looking for a place to get good steak. Although it’s technically in the neighboring Pittsford, not Rochester, I’m including it in this post because it was truly excellent. My mom and I both ordered the beef tenderloin with bordelaise (wine) sauce. The meat was incredibly tender and it tasted wonderful. Even the Caesar salad my mom got as an appetizer was great.
For brunch, we went to the Boulder Coffee Company Cafe and Lounge, which is an artsy coffee shop in the South Wedge. My dad and sister had raved about this place when they stayed in Rochester during my Orientation, so I thought I should pay it a visit. I got a hummus, guacamole, lettuce, and olive wrap with a nice almond vanilla tea. My mom got a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I think that the atmosphere and decor here is better than the food, but the food is still good.
Dinner was Sticky Lips, a BBQ restaurant. My mom and I split the “Rita Hayworth,” which was a plate with pulled pork and three ribs. It came with cornbread and two sides. I chose the chili and macaroni and cheese. The chili was too spicy for me, but the macaroni and cheese was great. Overall, the food was good old-fashioned BBQ done well.
Although it’s not a place to eat, I’d like to give a shout-out to Abundance Food Co-op for its selection of affordable, healthful, and sustainable products. It has the best organic and/or natural bulk selection in Rochester, which gives shoppers the opportunity to buy whatever amount they need, save money, and reduce waste by avoiding traditional packaging. When I start cooking more of my own food in a few years, I will definitely use Abundance’s bulk section for things like pasta, flour, olive oil, and much more. Until then, I’ll choose from their selection of healthier snacks. On this trip, I got some organic vegan cheddar corn puffs, protein bars, cinnamon applesauce, and satsumas.
When you come to Rochester, be sure to explore the wide variety of restaurants! You’re bound to find something new!