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Experiential living during COVID

Another day of COVID? Don’t stay shut up inside. This curated walk will get you outside for a fantastic day or night out. Number two in my series pairing walks with delicious local food and drinks, this time I explore favorite spots in and adjacent to Rochester’s East End neighborhood on foot.

If you aren’t comfortable eating in restaurants yet, you can get everything to go for a customized-by-you meal, with beverages and dessert to enjoy at home or somewhere special. Cobbs Hill is a nearby park and picnic spot with a beautiful view and spectacular sunset.

These walks combine fun social plans and exercise with a delicious meal, appetizer crawl, or beverage tour, depending on your mood and preference. Plus, you’re supporting local restaurants and breathing fresh air, which is really important for overall wellness. If you like this walk you can also enjoy the previous walk in the series here.

(Because this walk is take-out friendly, it’s a great way to stock up on local favorites. Pro tip: bring a bag. Also, be sure to check with any business before you visit. Hours and offerings are subject to change.)

Self-guided walking food tour #2: the East End

This walking tour is three miles (one hour of walking, plus time to eat and drink). Start your tour by parking at the Strasenburg Planetarium. See the final paragraphs for specific directions.

Are you ready? 

Your checklist—fellow eating/drinking/walking buddy(s), a bag for your local purchases, comfortable walking shoes, credit card or cash, charged phone for GPS directions and taking pics of the fun, picnic blanket if picnicking.

Here are some of my favorite local spots and where my friend and I went on our recent walking food and beverage tour in the East End. We wanted to check out the new Strangebird brewery, and we hadn’t yet been to Roc Brewing since the remodel and partnership with F.L.X. Wienery. We timed the walk to start at 3 p.m. on a Saturday since one brewery closed early and the other didn’t open until 4 p.m. If you’re not a beer drinker, that’s ok—this route is dotted with many other options for sweets, cocktails, and food.


Left to right: The Sun Salutation and the Snug from Ugly Duck Coffee

First Stop: Ugly Duck Coffee  

Every good walk starts with a delicious beverage, so if you’re feeling thirsty, I recommend you swing into Ugly Duck Coffee. We wanted to expand our beverage horizons and try something new (to us). I had the Sun Salutation, and my friend ordered the Snug. Both were unusual in the best way. We both ordered the smallest size and immediately wished we had extra-larges because they were so darn delicious. Turmeric is good for inflammation, and I imagined it being a tolerable-at-best drink, which is why it took me so long to try one. It was fantastic, and I highly recommend you try one if you haven’t already. Another recommendation is to buy Gimme Coffee beans to brew at home. Although pricey, Ithaca’s Gimme Coffee is my favorite, and they roast the beans that Ugly Duck brews and sells.


A flight from Roc Brewing

Stop #2: Roc Brewing and F.L.X. Wienery

This brewery has a great vibe, a nice urban patio, and a super fun menu—and the food is fantastic. You order inside, café-line style at the counter, and then the staff delivers to your table. I’ve been in a mood to try new things lately, so I went for a carrot dog. I envisioned it being similar to a veggie burger with carrots in an ingredient mix, but it was a straight up carrot that has been marinated for a long time and has the consistency of a hot dog. Here’s how we dressed it—the Local: goat cheese, lettuce, tomato, miso mayo, and herbs. We chose the Chili Smothered for our Zweigle’s—red hot chili, curds, and corn relish. Both were exceptional, and we pretty much licked our paper boats clean. You can also create your own tasting board with a flight of beer, and if it’s a nice hot day (or even if it isn’t), add a milkshake.

Stop #3: Strangebird Beer 

Put this brewery on your radar. It took over the former space of Abundance Co-op with the added space of another business next door. At the time of our visit, it was only open for curbside pick-up of the beer. The owners plan to open this summer, and we toured the space. The large bar and seating areas have plenty of natural light from windows and high ceilings. There will also be a patio and rooftop bar. We picked up a Bear Fight stout, aged with cherries in rum barrels, and a four pack of Infinite Cosmos—a pear-and-ginger sour. At this point we were starting to realize how nice it is to be walking so we can pop into multiple places when we normally wouldn’t be bothered with running all over town to get food, drinks, and dessert in different places. Did you remember to bring the bag I recommended? You’ll be glad you did.

Stop #4: Sinful Sweets

Whether you want them now, later, or both, visit Sinful Sweets for fantastic cupcakes and more. Each cupcake, even the minis, have a filling and a frosting. I love cupcakes, and these are some of the best I’ve had.

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Clockwise from top left: Strangebird’s curbside pick-up; the egg sandwich, meatball sandwich, and smoked salmon bagel, all from Bodega; and the Ashes of Eden and Nightmare mini cupcakes from Sinful Sweets

Final Stop: Bodega 

This little shop has your cravings covered. Chef Mark Cupolo’s latest is a feast for the all of the senses. While here, pick up any groceries you need, since you’ve been having fun all day not grocery shopping. We ordered three items from the grill. The meatball sandwich had a large, fluffy roll cradling delicious house-made meatballs, sauce, and melted mozzarella. Italian-girl-approved for the sauce, the meatballs, and ratio to roll. The egg sandwich was layered with thick-cut ham and cheddar. We also ordered a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese and pickles for the walk back to the car.

Make it a movie night and catch a film at the Little Theatre. It’s one block from the coffee shop. The Little is open as of April 16 with a wide range of independent and foreign film selections. Not to mention, a film night makes the perfect pairing with a long day’s walk.


Park in the lot behind the Strasenburg Planetarium at 657 East Avenue. Start walking down East Avenue toward the city. After you pass the Little Theatre, turn right on Winthrop Street and cut through the parking lot of REDD to Ugly Duck (it’s behind REDD). When Pitkin Street is no longer under construction, that’s an alternate and more direct route to Ugly Duck. Roc Brewing is next. Retrace your steps back to East and turn left, then right on Union Street. You’ll see the brewery on your left. Continue on Union to get to Strangebird Beer. Right on Monroe Avenue and a quick left on Marshall Street. Before the end of the block is Strangebird on your right. To get to Bodega with a stop at Sinful Sweets, walk back to Monroe and turn right then left on Alexander Street. Sinful Sweets is on the corner of Alexander Street and Park Avenue. Bodega is a little further along Park Avenue on your way to where you parked. To get back to your car, continue up Park Avenue. Turn left through the gate labeled 286 Park Avenue, which leads down a sidewalk to the back parking lot of the planetarium.

If you have any questions or want to tell me about your tour, DM me on Instagram  at @rochesteralist or email [email protected]. Tag @585mag and me in your walking food tour photos. We’d love to see you having fun on your adventure!  

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