Rochester, New York City Guide
Rochester, NY City Guide

© 1996-2015 Max Lent Communications




Overview of Dining Out In Rochester, NY

Rochester is not known for its great dining experiences, but there is a lot of good food widely available. (I once spent a week in Green Bay, WI. I can now safely say that there are towns with worse food than Rochester.) The emphasis in Rochester is on volume. Portions served in Rochester restaurants are generally large to immense compared to other U.S. cities. Pizza is a widely loved food in Rochester and nearly every restaurant that advertises pizza is a safe bet, with the exception of national chain pizza parlors. Rochester has few if any unique regional foods. One that come close is White Hots. Hots are hot dogs. White Hots are white hot dogs that are slightly more spicy than Texas Hots and resemble German sausage. Texas Hots are what you probably recognize as a regular hot dog or wiener. Another somewhat unique dish that has received undeserved national acclaim, through the writings of Jan & Michael Stern, is the Nick Tahou "Garbage Plate." What you will find on the garbage plate is a little of everything: hot dog, cheese burger, home fries, macaroni salad, and baked beans, in various combinations if you wish. The problem is that none of the parts of the garbage plate are very good. However, that's not the point. Young men who like to have contests to see how much beer or food they can consume love the "Garbage Plate" as more of a ritual of rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. Others enjoy it simply as a form of culinary masochism or as a means of molesting culinary snobs. If you move to Rochester, go Nick Tahou's and order a "Garbage Plate." This will help you assimilate and prepare you to answer questions about it from out-of-towners. If you enjoy Texas or southwestern barbecued meats, be very cautious about ordering barbecued meats in Rochester. Rochester's idea of barbecue sauce is a runny vinegary substance that is barely edible to southwesterners.  The exception is Dinosaur BBQ which prepares excellent southwestern style ribs.

Beware of Rochester's expensive restaurants. They often charge New York City prices while not coming close to New York City quality.  Expect pretentious mediocre service.  The only reason Rochester's expensive restaurants survice is that business people need places to entertain other business people.  If they had to compete on solely on quality of food and service none would survive.

The only widely practiced eating habit, that I am aware of, in Rochester is going out for Friday night for a fish fry. Like Rochester's pizza, its fish fries are generally very good to excellent almost anywhere, with the exception of the national restaurant chains.


We have known many people in Rochester who would not drive more than a few miles to eat. Some friends will not cross the Genesee River to look for good food. Having moved to Rochester from Los Angeles, where we often drove more than a hundred miles to eat, these travel restrictions seemed provincial. Even now, we often drive to Buffalo or Canada for Greek, Pakistani, Polish, and other ethnic foods.

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