My Standby Restaurants

Fellow Rochester-area blogger, Rottenchester, recently said in a comment, “If you know of some mid-priced, interesting, locally-owned restaurants, I'd love to hear about it.” I’ve been mulling this over for a few days. In all honesty, it seems like the locally owned restaurants are at the two extremes. The middle range seems to be owned by chains like Olive Garden and the like. At any rate, I thought I’d come up with a list of the locally owned restaurants that are my standbys, though I don't know that they'd qualify as mid-priced or even interesting.

Because I need to pack and practice for my trip to Charleston for the Southern Living Contest, this will be my last post for several days. I’ll try to post from Charleston to keep friends and family posted on how I did.

Back to the restaurant list...

Casual/bar food/carry-out:

Timothy Patricks – This Penfield restaurant has been around forever and always seems to be busy. It has a great atmosphere – high-backed booths, lots of wood, stone fireplace, and colorful Irish coats of arms hanging from the rafters. It claims to be an authentic Irish pub. Well, I visited quite a number of pubs in Ireland and never saw one that was anything like it. No matter – the food is excellent. I almost always order the O’Reuben – a reuben that has coleslaw instead of sauerkraut – as well as their waffle cut fries. By the way, you’ve got to respect an Irish pub that closes on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Distillery – Talk about a place that’s been around forever. Now that they’ve reached the limit as to how many additions (up) they can add, I hear they have a new place in Greece. Anyway, the city location is a great sports bar, although my Marquette alumni group’s attempts to make this our home base were regretfully unsuccessful. Apparently they are too successful to deal with a fledgling group such as ours. Anyway, they are my husband’s and my favorite wings in Rochester (one of the few things related to food that we agree on). We especially love the cajun wings – although they changed their recipe so now we have to ask for them the “old way.”

Wegmans – I gripe that much of the prepared foods at Wegmans are expensive – particularly the Chinese and salad bars, which are priced by the pound – but I end up eating there all the time. I take the kids there – one will get pizza, the other Chinese, and I get whatever I’m in the mood for. The Chicken Pesto Panini is delicious. Their specials change frequently, and they are almost always very good. Today, for example, I got a piece of four-cheese quiche, with a side salad that contained pears, dried cranberries, and goat cheese, for $4.99 – which really wasn’t a bad price for lunch.

Nathan’s Soups & Salads
– This Park Avenue institution is carry-out only. Lots of great soups to choose from and the cheese bread is to die for. More on Nathan’s here.


Great Northern Pizza Kitchen – My husband and I like to meet at their Pittsford Village location for lunch – it’s quick, cheap, and the food is delicious. These are gourmet pizzas with crust that’s just the way I like it – thin and crisp. And the best part is that they serve it by the slice, with about a dozen to choose from every day. (One slice is plenty for my lunch.) I’ve enjoyed every kind I’ve tried, including the Barbecue Chicken Gourmet, Mediterranean, Grilled Veggie Pesto, and Gourmet Veggie Pesto. Plus, there’s plain old cheese and pepperoni for the rest of the family. Their Nutty Goat Salad is so good that I’ve had to recreate it in my own kitchen (although it’s always tastier when someone else cooks it for you).

Ethnic Food:

Aladdin’s Natural Eatery
. The food at Aladdin’s has Greek influences, but it’s not really Greek food. (For Greek food, I used to love Mykonos when it was in Village Gate. I haven’t been to the new location, though.) I usually go to the Aladdin's location in Pittsford. It sits right on the canal, so it has a great atmosphere. My usual orders are the chicken pita (chicken, tomatoes, onions and tahini-yogurt sauce), the fruit and nut salad, or the vegetarian chili.

Joy Luck Garden (Panorama Plaza) and Royal Dynasty (Baytown Plaza, which, by the way is actually in Penfield). These are my two favorite Chinese restaurants in the Rochester area. Unfortunately I don’t go out for Chinese all that often as my husband isn’t wild about it.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. I’ve only gone to the restaurant once, but the place was a blast and I plan to go back. I’ve also had their food at a catered event and at the New York State Fair. I’ve liked their messy, fall-off-the-bone ribs so much I haven’t tried anything else. Live music, too!


James Browns Place. A friendly, slightly divey kind of place on Culver Road with great breakfast fare.

Highland Park Diner. An authentic 1940s diner, this is where I usually take out-of-town visitors for breakfast.

A little more upscale:

Phillips European Restaurant. This place is most famous for their desserts, because huge cases of them beckon as you walk in the door. Because I love desserts, I appreciate that there are several light menu items to choose from. I usually order a petite portion of the vegetable paella, which is loaded with veggies and is served on saffron rice. I’m not sure I could name a favorite dessert. If I want something that’s not too heavy, I get Lemon or Raspberry Mousse Torte. If I’m in the mood for something more decadent, I usually go for one of their cheesecakes. Don’t judge the food by the photos on the Web site – theirs are even more hideous than mine.

Legends Grill. This is a homey little restaurant on Route 441 in Penfield. Don't blink as you're driving 55 past it (even though you should be going 35) -- you may miss it. I like the Vegetable Wellington, which is one of the more reasonable entrees at $12. I’ve also gone there for a drink and the raspberry brie appetizer on the outdoor patio. (Note added in October 2007: Legends Grill closed for a few months in the summer, and reopened in the fall. I'm not sure whether or not it's the same restaurant it used to be.)

Agree? Disagree? Have a suggestion of a place for me to try? Leave a comment.


Rottenchester said...

You might want to try Monte Alban in Irondequoit if you like Mexican.

I'll have to try James Brown, Nathan's and Legends. Thanks.

Tracy said...

I do like Mexican and will definitely put Monte Alban on my list. Please let me know how you like those three.

Anonymous said...

I love Great Northern's lobster bisque which I believe is served daily. It really hits the spot on a cold, rainy day in Rochester. Good luck in Charleston, Tracy. Love your blog!
Joan Kaiser

Tracy said...

Thanks for reading! I'll definitely have to try the lobster bisque at Great Northern. Sounds delicious.

Carol Moon said...

Our family standby is Salena's Mexican in the Village Gate. Even my young kids love to eat there (this mostly has to do with the hot, house-made tortilla chips they set on the table soon after you are seated) Another great Chinese place to try is Golden Dynasty in Loehmann's plaza (or whatever the Tops plaza on S. Clinton in Brighton is known as these days). We will try your Chinese recommendations, though, as they are more convenient locations. We are fellow Penfield residents (and Cobbles parents). I really enjoyed reading your blog!

Carol Moon

Tracy said...

Another Mexican restaurant to try! Who knew there would be two decent ones in Rochester? About a hundred years ago, I used to go to Maria's in Village Gate. I wonder if Salena's is in the same spot. I'll have to check it out.

I don't think I've been to Golden Dynasty. My doctors' offices are all near there, though, so maybe I'll get some takeout next time I pay one of them a visit. Hope you enjoy one of the two I suggested -- and hope to meet you in person at a Cobbles event!

Carol Moon said...

Yes, Salena's IS in essence Maria's... the owner of Maria's sold all the recipes etc. when he sold the place. Good stuff!

Karen Buck said...

We LOVE Golden Port Dim Sum on East Ave. It's the best Chinese food I've ever had. We usually split an entree and order a variety of dim sum and it's really pretty inexpensive for the quality. The dim sum are brought out hot as they are prepared, so everything tastes really fresh.

Here's their website:

gerry said...

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