A busy medical and aviation hub, Rochester is an unusual city, with ‘sights’ ranging from the world-famous Mayo Clinic to arts and crafts markets and the small-yet-ambitious Rochester Art Center. Food is equally mixed, but there are names that stand out from the rest in offering upscale cuisines, new takes on American classics and staple favourites from all over the world. This is our pick of the top ten cultural restaurants in Rochester, Minnesota.
Chester’s Kitchen and Bar
Bar, Market, Restaurant, American, $$$
Chester’s Kitchen and Bar
Situated in downtown Rochester, Chester’s Kitchen and Bar is an all-American delight for guests and diners, wherever they come from. An up-market and modernly decorated establishment, visitors can expect great service in an no-frills environment. The menu features typical fare, including burgers, ribs and steaks, as well as an impressive selection of salads and soups. Options include the classic Caesar salad, alongside more inventive combinations such as melon and kale. Alternatively, if this all sounds a bit too goody-two shoes, there is a deeply rich blue cheese fondue just perfect for a touch of extra special (and naughty) indulgence.
Chester’s Kitchen and Bar, 111 S Broadway #108 Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 424 1211
John Hardy’s Bar-B-Q
Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
John Hardy’s Bar-B-Q
Now, according to Adam Richman of Man vs Food fame, while barbecue in the South is spelt P-O-R-K, barbecue in the northern states is spelled B-E-E-F. However, at John Hardy’s Bar-B-Q, meat enthusiasts (vegetarians, apologies but you should give this a miss) can enjoy all manner of delicious pork and beef barbecue dishes. Slowly cooked, and marinated in rich sauces or spicy dry rubs, the meat falls apart as soon as you start to chew, slowly melting alongside an accompaniment of slaw and sauces. A messy affair, make sure you wash it down with a glass of solid local brew.
John Hardy’s Bar-B-Q, 929 W Frontage Rd, Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 288 3936
Restaurant, American, $$$
300 First is the up-market eatery opened in Rochester by the Creative Cuisine Company. The sophisticated and dark interior may take some getting used to – light is limited. However, the oh-so-cool atmosphere more than makes up for excessive mood lighting. The menu features scaled-up American food, so while burgers feature, they are much more than your regular meat in a bun – even rare breed Kobe beef makes an appearance. Steaks come with a variety of fantastic toppings, which include blue cheese and (or) bacon. Desserts are everything you’d expect and fairly hefty – bear that in mind when ordering, or risk a serious food coma.
300 First, 300 1st Ave NW, Rochester, MN, USA, + 1 507 281 2451
Canadian Honker Restaurant
Located in central Rochester, the Canadian Honker Restaurant has been serving a healthy mix of Canadian and American cuisines for more than 25 years. This restaurant specialises in home-cooked meals, the kind you’d find your mother making on a special weekday night. The menu includes dishes include classics such as apple cinnamon pork chops (where two chops are griddled and coated in a rich sauce), as well as liver fried with bacon and onions. The restaurant also prepares burgers, fish, and vegetarian dishes.
Canadian Honker Restaurant, 1203 2nd St SW, Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 282 6572
Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar
The first Italian on this list, Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar offers great food, a relaxed drinking environment or a mix of the two. A fairly large restaurant, Victoria’s has seating options for both inside and outside, allowing for perfect al fresco dining in the warm summer months. The lunch and dinner menus differ quite substantially as lunch is a much quicker affair than dinner, which is very much an Italian-style meal drawn out over a long period of time. Dishes include chicken and roasted butternut squash ravioli, veal baked in a mariana sauce, and a delicious mix of sautéed seafood.
Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar, 7 1st Ave SW, Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 280 6232
For high-quality fine dining in the city of Rochester, Prescott’s Grill is the place to be. With exquisitely tasting and prepared food – a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach – Prescott’s is a true fine dining venue, minus the pretence. The kitchen is headed by executive chef Christopher Rohe, a man who has spent years honing his culinary talents; his efforts do not go unnoticed, either – he has won Rochester Magazine’s Best Chef award twice. Signature dishes include a tender chicken breast, stuffed with sumptuous crab meat, as well as a dessert known simply as Death by Chocolate – a pudding that even the most ardent chocoholics might struggle with.
Prescott’s, 1201 S Broadway, Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 536 7775
Diner, Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Serving the best in freshly prepared fish and shellfish, Pescara, as the name suggests, is perfect for guests that love their food from the briny deep. Produce is gathered fresh each day to ensure the highest possible quality across the whole range of dishes. There is a large variety of fish available, cooked in any manner that a diner could wish for. This includes steamed – the healthiest option out there – as well as fried, griddled or baked. Sides include pancetta fried with Brussels sprouts, as well as a number of rice dishes. Of course, for those meat eaters who won’t be persuaded, there is also an array of steaks to placate them.
Pescara, 150 S Broadway, Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 280 6900
El Carambas is one of the best – and cheapest – restaurants in town, and is simply perfect for a flying visit or for those in a rush. Despite being closer to the Canadian border than it is to the Mexican border, this restaurant is famous for its authenticity. The menu is limited to staples such as burritos, nachos and tacos, but this is no bad thing; it allows the owners and chefs to get to grips with what they know best and produce fantastic food. As well as food, Mexican-inspired beer and cocktails are also on offer, in case you do happen to have more time on your hands.
El Carambas, 1503 12th St SE, Rochester, MN, USA, +1 507 281 3104