My Top 5 Places and Activities in Rochester, NY

Winter in Rochester, New York

I lived and worked in Rochester, NY for 3 years and had a great time. Living downtown and walking to some of my favorite bars, restaurants, and breweries was awesome.

Riding my electric skateboard along the canal, browsing the shelves at Wegmans, tramping around the public market…I don’t regret my 3 years in Rochester one bit.

So I decided to put together my 5 favorite things in Rochester to see, eat and do.

Glen Edith, Coffee Roaster

I had the pleasure of meeting up with friends and colleagues for many a working session at the Glen Edith NOTA location.

The NOTA location is below the street level with an open, friendly interior. The staff behind the bar was always friendly and I could use one of their cold brews right now.

They also have a meeting room that you can book ahead of time, or if there is no one occupying it, get a chance to sit a bit away from the main area of the shop and enjoy the background noise and inviting atmosphere.

Joe Bean is another great local coffee roaster, but sadly for me, moved their main operation farther away from my home and I didn’t make the trek out too often.

Three Heads, Brewery

The Kind is heralded as Rochester’s IPA, at least according to the billboards and trucks around town. Personally, I’m more of a fan of Too Kind, but they’re both great west coast style IPAs. Probably my singular favorite style of beer.

I lived in relative proximity to Three Heads and visited every few weeks for a pint and a growler fill. I think Three Heads represents great consistent beer and tasty experimentation.

Sours are my second favorite style of beer and Three Heads almost always had one or two new sours on the tap list every few months. Along with an ever-changing list of IPAs, Three Heads catered to my taste in beer the most out of the many local breweries in the Rochester area.

That being said, Fifth Frame is also a fantastic brewery that opened in the last few years. If you’re a big fan of NEIPAs and heavy stouts you need to pay them a visit.

Old Pueblo Grill, Restaurant

Located just across the street from Three Heads and next door to Glen Edith’s NOTAlocation, I’m starting to see a trend emerge…

Old Pueblo Grill is a small, friendly Tex-Mex style gastropub. Their cauliflower burrito is amazing and was the first vegetarian dish that I think I actually prefer over its non-vegetarian counterpart.

The staff is very friendly and the food was always prepared quickly, even during the lunch rush. However, if you plan on eating in and they haven’t opened up the patio yet, I recommend avoiding the lunch rush as the tiny space is packed with people quickly and is often standing room only.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was a really tough choice between OPG and Good Luck as my favorite restaurant in Rochester.

The restaurants occupy two different categories of dining experience but with one main thing in common — the awesome service. Both places have well-trained, outgoing staff that make it fun to be their patron.

Good Luck is a special treat but OPG is my ride or die and that’s why it made the list.

Tap & Mallet, Bar

I’m a big fan of craft beer, which is why Tap & Mallet makes the top of my list for my favorite bar. They have a rotating, amazing selection of craft beer and try to have something on the tap list for fans of any beer style.

Joe McBane, one of the co-owners, is from England and managed the local British-style pub The Old Toad. Knowing this and having lived in England for almost a year now, I can see the traditional pub influences on the temporary but familiar decor.

The bartenders are knowledgable and happy to help you narrow down your choice of beer, so do yourself a favor and strike up a conversation.

Their poutine is also a great follow-up to a few pints and will leave you fat and happy.

The biggest downside of Tap & Mallet, like many a great bar, is the parking. So scope that out before you have a few, or better yet, take an Uber.

Riding the River and Canal, Activity

One of the distinctive engineering feats in Western New York is the Erie Canal. This centuries-old canal cuts through Rochester and meets with the Genesee River.

Paved paths have been added along many parts of the canal and the Genesee River and make for a great place to run, cycle, or skateboard.

Several mornings I woke up early and rode my electric skateboard along the river path to the office. It was so beautiful and fun, I can’t wait to go back and do it again.

My second favorite activity was kicking friends butts in a game of pucket over a beer in The Playhouse in the South Wedge.