Center City: the Best Places to Check Out Around the Liberty Pole

Landmark Society |  Website

Landmark Society | Website

Rochester's Downtown scene is in a period of rebirth. With new developments (Tower280), renovations (Legacy Tower, The Metropolitan, & The Sibley Building), and existing residential areas (The Temple Building Lofts), you can't deny it's changing - and growing - for the better.

With the Liberty Pole being an iconic landmark of our city, and at what some would argue to be our city's true center, we want you to know what is available. Whether you are a visitor at one of our city's best hotels (Radisson, the Hyatt, and the Hilton Garden Inn), you are a long-time church goer at Grace Road Church located in the Temple Building, a student at the Eastman School of Music, or if you are a newly minted resident in one of the cool lofts, here are the best places to check out when you are around the Pole.

Abilene Bar & Lounge

Reconnect Rochester |  Website

Reconnect Rochester | Website

Map It: 153 Liberty Pole Way

A quaint little neighborhood bar/live music venue serving up great drinks from a friendly staff. On warmer days enjoy the patio and definitely check it out during Jazz Fest!

Connect with Abilene: website, facebook, twitter

Bar Bantam


Map It: 1 South Clinton Ave

Located on the first floor of The Metropolitan, Bar Bantam is open for Breakfast and Lunch (Monday-Friday) as well as Dinner and Drinks (Wednesday-Saturday). Menus change seasonally and you’ll find plenty of gluten-free and vegan options.

Connect with Bar Bantam: website, facebook, instagram

Branca Midtown

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the Rochesteriat

Map It: 280 E. Broad Street

This new restaurant located at Tower280 not only offers authentic Italian Cuisine, but a full Italian Coffee Bar. Pop in for lunch, dinner, cocktails, or even just an espresso.

Connect with Branca: website, facebook, instagram

Center City Terrace + Lounge

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the Rochesteriat

Map It: 125 E. Main Street

If you're looking for your new favorite summer night spot, check out the Center City Terrace + Lounge on the 4th floor of the Hyatt Regency Rochester. Grab a drink, order off their Pub Plates menu and enjoy a beautiful and unique space in downtown Rochester.

Connect with CCT+L: website, facebook, instagram

Drifters L.B.

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the Rochesteriat

Map It: 155 E. Main Street

Steps inside the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown you'll find Drifters Lounge & Bar. Yes, it might be a restaurant in a hotel, but that doesn't matter. For a peek inside check out our post from September, Drifters LB: not your Average Hotel Kitchen.

Connect with Drifters: website, facebook, instagram, twitter

Java's Cafe

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the Rochesteriat

Map It: 16 Gibbs St.

A long time Rochester favorite, this cafe serves up your favorite lattes and drinks but also great sandwiches, baked goods, granola and more. It's always busy, it's always good.

And while you're at it, check out the calendar for the Eastman School of Music - you never know what free concert might be happening just next door. Or in the warmer weather pop over to Yogen Fruz just across the street.

Connect with Java's: website, facebook, instagram

RIT City Art Space


Map It: 280 E. Main Street

New to the City Center neighborhood is the RIT City Art Space that opened on the ground floor of Sibley Square. The gallery is open Thursday-Sunday from 1-5pm and will feature new exhibitions monthly!

Connect with RIT City Art Space: website, facebook, instagram, twitter

Stromboli's Restaurant

Stromboli's |  Facebook

Stromboli's | Facebook

Map It: 130 East Ave

From their Breakfast Stromboli, to pizza, salad, pasta and more, Stromboli's on East Ave has so many options you won't be able to decide, they even have vegan options.

Connect with Stromboli's: website, facebook

Unter Biergarten

Map It: 120 East Ave

In the former home of Victoire, you'll now find Unter Biergarten. Having just opened in February and serving up their Bavarican Cuisine (that is Bavarian/New American), Unter Biergarten has already become a Rochester favorite. Check them out for lunch or dinner and don't miss their selection of Wurst from Swan Market, the Loaded Bavarian Tots, and well, everything else on the menu.

Connect with Unter Biergarten: website, facebook, instagram

Other Areas to Explore

Rochester Parks |  Website

Rochester Parks | Website

St. Joseph's Park

Just North West of the Pole you'll stumble upon some Rochester History at St. Joseph's Park. This former Catholic Church almost burnt down entirely in 1974 and thankfully the Landmark Society along with the City of Rochester and some other groups and organizations worked hard to restore and preserve what remains. This is perfect for a picnic or an afternoon of exploring.

Map It: Pleasant St & N. Clinton

the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

Grove Place Neighborhood

Tucked behind the YMCA on E. Main and Press Coffee you'll find Grove Place. If you're looking to "step out" of the city and wander, this is the perfect place. This neighborhood is said to be "the oldest continually occupied residential neighborhood in Downtown Rochester" and we think you'll love it's charm, art, and architecture.

P.S. all of the places listed are around a quarter mile or less from the Liberty Pole - that is definitely walking distance!

Post was originally written in 2017 and has been updated since!

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5 Classics to Warm You Up

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the Rochesteriat

Rochester has a lot of great restaurants, it's definitely a good problem to have. Whether it's sunny or snowy, we have no lack of choices around here. In no particular order, here are just 5 of the classics in ROC to get you to forget the snow and enjoy the city, whether it's lunch, dinner, or something in between.

Han Noodle

the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

Han Noodle is a favorite and we know many others who share our sentiments. They've got the classic Chinese-American dishes, but so many more traditional dishes from various regions of China that it's hard not to want to try something new every time you're there.

"No fusion. No Gimmick. We cook the way we want to eat", Han Noodle.

John's Tex Mex

the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

Start with the house fried tortilla chips and salsa, or chips and guacamole, or get salsa and guac, or try the Mexican Mush! Point being? Their chips are delicious. Then move on to tacos, taco salads, burritos, quesodillas and everything else, because... it's all good. John's Tex Mex may be on the smaller size, but their flavors and food options are not. And don’t miss their Monday night vegan dinner specials and vegan queso!


the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

This Pan Asian eatery is best known for its ramen, and ramen they have. With 5 different ramen bowls on the menu and one soba noodle bowl, you have choices. And even your options have options. Add veggies? You got it. Add chicken or pork belly? No problem. Want your ramen formed into buns and served as a burger? Yes, Furoshiki can even make that dream happen.


the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

Upscale but casual, TRATA is known not only for not only its unique interior (exposed brick, concrete touches, industrial yet cozy feel), but also its extensive food and beverage menus. From healthy to hearty, there's definitely something for everyone - and don't skip dessert!



Can't decide between an enchilada or taco? Get a combo! Looking for something a bit "healthier", try the stuffed avocado. Literally want one of everything? Go a la carte, because you can have what you want. Don't forget the margaritas at Salena's either, you'll want one of those too.

Note: this post was originally written in February 2015 when Victoire was open!

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A Day in the Life: Downtown Rochester


Downtown Rochester We understand that living downtown is not a feasible option for everyone, but for those curious about life downtown and IF it offers enough to make a life downtown - we would like to share... a day in the life: Downtown Rochester.

First, a Place to Live:

Warner Lofts, Downtown Rochester

First, you'll need a place to call home. You'll be surprised by the number of lofts and apartments downtown, with more on the way in Sibley's and Midtown. There's the Temple Building, 44 Exchange, Warner Lofts, and lots of other apartments around, here's the full list.

It's true, downtown has very few options for owner-occupied living spaces and we hope to see this change very soon. Currently there's the Capron Lofts and North Plymouth Terrace.

Good morning:

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The way you start your day may be unique to you, but downtown will have an option for everyone. Whether it's working out, grabbing breakfast, or maybe just a quick coffee on the way to work. Downtown has options.

Stop at Chestnut Cafe, Spot, Java's, Craft Cafe, Fina's, Founders Cafe, or one of the dozen other options you have to grab a bite and your caffeine fix on your way to work or on a break.

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Maybe you jump start your day differently, try Empire Fitness (formerly Downtown Fitness Club), Harro East Athletic Club, the Elite Training Studio or the Fitness Center at Clinton Court.

Time to Eat:


Maybe you're worried you won't have many options for lunch or dinner out. Fear not, there are enough places to eat that you could try a new place every day for a few months.

He's Chinese, Downtown Rochester

There's Tournedos, Victoire, City Grill, Aunt Rosie's, Byblos Cafe, He's Chinese & Japanese, Hot Rosita's, Vive, Veneto, and Tapas 177, just to name a few and we haven't even mentioned the street carts and food trucks!

Oh no, we're out of...cheese!

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Don't worry, realizing on the way home you need milk, butter, pasta, eggs, cheese or anything else to make a delicious meal, you no longer have to leave downtown to get what you need, Hart's Local Grocers has you covered.

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And if you want to have it waiting at your door for you when you get home, they deliver!

A little Entertainment:

Geva Theatre

The culture downtown is thriving and there is no void of things to do. Love theatre? Head to Geva Theatre or the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre.

Eastman School, Downtown Rochester

Live music? You're covered. From the RPO to FREE student concerts, the Eastman School concert halls are always booked. There's also Flour City Station, Water Street Music Hall, Abilene, and a number of restaurants that have live music different nights of the week. Maybe just a good ol' movie night, we've got The Little Theatre (oh wait, they also have life music AND a cafe #score).

Quick, I Need a Bank!


Did you know there are 14 bank locations downtown? So if you bank with Chase, ESL, First Niagara, Bank of America, or a handful of others - you're all set.

Enjoy Urban Life:

High Falls

And for all the others reasons to live downtown...

Rundel Library, Downtown Rochester

We have incredible park's (Washington Square Park and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park just to name two... their names are quite long after all), High Falls, a library, churches and more.

Jazz Fest

Did we mention the Red Wings, Museum of Play, the Jazz Fest, Fringe Fest, or art galleries like RoCo?

Downtown Rochester

This is not, in any way, an all inclusive list. And we hope that over the days and weeks to come, life downtown will continue to improve. To find out more Downtown Rochester happenings, check out RDDC's (Rochester Downtown Development Corporation) website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Stefanie is co-Founder and Editor of the Rochesteriat. She happens to think life downtown is the bomb diggity and loves walking as many places as she can, at least when it's above freezing. Find her with a camera & phone in hand, taking photos for @theRochesteriat on Instagram. Follow her on Twitter.