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The magic of NOTA

In the peak of summer, we all want to be outside as much as possible, including when we’re out on the town at night. This walking tour explores a beautiful area of our city with stops for delicious bites and sips you can enjoy al fresco. There’s no better combination than beautiful weather, sitting somewhere with a view, and being served mouth-watering food and drinks.

Allow me to direct you to the best food and drinks in the Neighborhood of the Arts. There are many restaurants, breweries, and specialty food shops in this area of Rochester; you won’t be short on great options for places to visit. As with all of my walking tours, I suggest you do them more than once for several unique adventures. Although you can do this tour any time of day, I highly recommend this area for a brunch tour or happy hour.

[Be sure to check with any business before you visit. Hours and offerings are subject to change.]


Self-guided walking food tour #3— Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) 

This tour is a short, one-mile loop, but I encourage you to give yourself extra time to enjoy a longer walk by adding detours down any pretty streets you see or adding a walk over to the Public Market area (this would add 1.5 miles there and back).

Are you ready? Your checklist—fellow eating/drinking/walking buddy or buddies, comfortable walking shoes, credit card or cash, charged phone for GPS directions, and a camera.

There are plenty of public parking lots in the area where you can leave your car for a few hours, so drop your car near your first stop, and let’s start exploring.

A great starting/ending point is the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG). The MAG has a few parking lots, and its lawn and grounds provide fantastic picnic spots. There are some nongrass seating areas, including the steps, which is helpful if you don’t want to pack a picnic blanket. Visit the MAG’s website for info about the Poets Walk, the Story Walk, and the sculpture garden.


Lemon cheesecake–stuffed french toast from the Brown Hound Downtown

It’s a beautiful spot. The Brown Hound Downtown, the MAG’s resident restaurant and caterer, is known for its delicious brunch and seasonal farm-to-table menu, and you can order to-go if you’re picnicking. The Brown Hound specializes in micro events for ten people or fewer and it even has family four-pack menu items. Or bring food from elsewhere back to end your walk with a picnic.

Here is what some friends and I did on a recent happy hour walk.

We parked and met at the MAG and walked around a bit, then went over to Village Gate (274 North Goodman Street), which is essentially across the street. Village Gate is a gem in our city, with unique architecture and an urban courtyard filled with the outdoor seating areas of some excellent restaurants. We went to Lento for cocktails and oysters. Lento is gorgeous, with a sunken bar, exposed beams, and a tiny, secret side patio in addition to the courtyard patio.

From Village Gate, we walked down Goodman Street and turned left on Atlantic Avenue to get to the eating and drinking establishments around Elton and Russell Streets. Nosh and Fiamma Centro  are fantastic if you’re in the mood for a restaurant with table service. We were keeping it casual and decided on a flight at Three Heads Brewery and takeout from Old Pueblo Grill.

Opg Sign

Old Pueblo Grill on 55 Russell St, Rochester, NY

Instead of bringing the food back to the MAG, we decided to eat at the brewery and then enjoyed a scenic walk back along University Avenue to our starting point.

Sadly, it was getting dark, so we didn’t continue on, but I highly recommend you add one more leg. Walk over to Railroad Street and the Public Market area for another unique area with destinations to enjoy, including a brewery and distillery. Bitter Honey and Cure both have outdoor patios and delicious offerings.

Noteworthy area recommendations:

• Edibles on University Avenue has delicious craft cocktails that are $7 during their Friday happy hour. Thursday is dollar oyster night.

• Just Juice has cold-pressed juices and smoothies right next door.

• Get Caked in Village Gate will satisfy your sweet tooth with cupcakes, cookies, and more. There are also vegan and gluten-free options. 

• Lento’s tiny side patio is a nice spot for an intimate meal.

If you have any questions or want individualized recommendations, 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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