Rochester’s favorite food stops deserve all their love

Photo courtesy of Tori D'Amico.

When I travel, one of the things I look forward to most is the food. Though many choose warmer destinations for their spring break, I spent the week in Rochester, New York with friends. They made sure I hit all the best spots to eat.

Being a caffeine addict with plenty of school work to do over break, I was shown around to some of the best coffee shops in downtown Rochester. Our first stop was Java’s Cafe, an eccentrically decorated space full of chatting friends and working students. 

I ordered a hot coffee, in the local “Jamaican me crazy” roast. I found this roast at more than one shop, clearly a regional favorite coming from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters. The medium roast had a nutty flavor with hints of cinnamon, which I especially enjoyed. 

Usually one for a dark roast, I still liked the warmth of this coffee while I sat at a small antique table to write. The only downside of this cafe was the minimal number of outlets, so we headed across town for another space to work.

Boulder Coffee was just as interesting in its decor, and I took up shop in a large stuffed chair across from an old box TV turned side table. One of many unique qualities of this shop was their menu, which had cocktails in addition to coffee and sandwiches. If I have the opportunity to go back on a night they have live music, I most definitely would.

Ever the New Jerseyans, we made sure to have time for the Highland Diner, a classic lunch wagon space hailed as an “architectural gem” of the area. The menu had everything a good diner should, and I was eager to be the judge of the hashbrowns and coffee. 

Most diners I know have only one coffee brewing, but I got my choice for another cup of the local Jamaican roast. We got prime seats at the counter, lucky given how busy the place was on a Saturday morning, and the service was quick and upbeat. I’m a fan of the classic two eggs, hashbrowns and toast combo, and this did not disappoint.

The country style hash browns rivaled my New Jersey favorites, and I know now why my friends feel a home away from home here. After breakfast, our waitress offered us milkshakes from their varied menu, which many other patrons seemed to be taking up before noon.

It would have been a waste to go to Rochester without getting poutine, a dish that originated in Quebec, which is easiest to describe as a better version of Jersey disco fries. We ordered out from the new location of Petite Poutinerie, and it was even better than I remembered from my last trip.

Their menu is more than the name suggests: they’ve got 10 different poutines and homemade sodas, among the rest of their dishes. I ordered the traditional beef gravy, over “House cut fries- twice-fried, topped with fresh cheddar cheese curds.” If you ask me, all foods should try to be more like poutine – indulgent and delicious.

While no Florida beach, Rochester treated us to warm spring weather my whole time there. Between good friends and good food, this is a travel spot I look forward to returning to and most definitely trying more local restaurants.