rochesta represent!
April 16, 2006 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Rochester, NY: I am making a welcome kit for a good friend moving there soon. What are the best comic book stores, indie film associations, great theatres, fun markets, cheap eats, coffee joints, weird local nights, etc.?

He's a film buff, into alterna and mainstream comics, avid local indie/rock/noise scene supporter, filmmaker, professor, and awesome all around. He's sad about leaving our little enclave and I'd like to give him a jumpstart on the local scene there, maybe including a local guidebook or gift certificate for something cool -- so if you know about anything along these lines, I'd love to hear about it!
posted by barnone to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Please Note: The author of this post bears something of a grudge against Rochester, and would advise anyone moving there to reconsider.

For comics he'll want Comics Etc., located in the Village Gate. It smells and looks like a fan boy joint, but the owner stocks a good variety of "non-mainstream" titles (Oni Press, the "indie" imprints of DC and marvel, AVATAR, etc.), and doesn't balk at ordering anything out of the Diamond catalog.

He'll do OK in the film department. The Little Theatre is one of the few things I miss about Rochester. There's also the Dryden Theatre, a revival house that pulls it's prints from the archives at the George Eastman house.

Local indie/rock/noise means The Bug Jar.

The Rochester Public Market is highly regarded, but I never found the time to get there. Abundance is the local food co-op.

For a pretentious elitist (and I say that in the good way) coffee shop he'll want Javas, which is the unofficial coffee shop for students at the Eastman School of Music.

Wish your friend good luck for me. There are far worse places to end up than Rochester, but there are also far far better places. There's just enough to keep you1 there, but not enough to make you1 happy.

Putting it another way, Rochester's kind of like Portland, OR, except that every urban planning and renewal idea failed instead of succeeded.

1. Where "you" means "alan".

posted by alana at 1:16 PM on April 16, 2006

Get him a DVD of Bugs Bunny cartoons to help him learn the local accent.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 1:28 PM on April 16, 2006

Parkleigh for unbelievable store full of amazing housewares stuff. and godiva chocolates.

I recommend Java's as well. Used to be Java Joes. And the Bug Jar and Little's.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:57 PM on April 16, 2006

You might want to try out the RocWiki. Pretty much all you would ever want to know about our city is there.

I second the votes for the Little and the Dryden.
Java's is also great.
Make sure he gets a garbage plate at Nick Tahoe's.
The Rochester Subway ruins can be fun to go exploring in.
We're close to the Finger Lakes Wine Route.
There's really a lot to the area... Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Susan B. Anthony House, George Eastman House, Erie Canal, The Lilac Festival, Corn Hill, Park Avenue, The High Falls District, The Strong Museum, The Rochester Museum and Science Center / Strasenburgh Planetarium, Memorial Art Gallery, The list goes on and on and on.... too bad Kodak is pulling out of the area; they're really the reason why the area got to be so good.
posted by fvox13 at 1:59 PM on April 16, 2006

Check out RocWiki. It's pretty good.

More fun stuff:
  • I recommend Lux for fun hipstery theme nights.
  • The Old Toad is a fairly authentic English Pub.
  • In the summer there's free movies on the beach at Charlotte.
  • Seneca Park Zoo.
  • Tons of parks and beaches.

posted by joegester at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2006

I'm a RocWiki contributor, and I'm glad it's already been recommended. It's a good resource, with a little editorializing but mostly fact-based.

The Rochester accent is definitely NOT best learned from Bugs Bunny cartoons. It's way more Midwestern than Brooklyn, thank you very much.

My favorite festivals for live entertainment are the East End Festivals. They don't start until the warmer months but that's not too far off now.
posted by tommasz at 2:24 PM on April 16, 2006

Some good edibles in Rochester: Aladdin's, India House, the Raj Mahal, and the Olive Tree.

There's a very nice Equity regional theater, GeVa.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:49 PM on April 16, 2006

High Falls is an interesting place - waterfalls run through the city itself. Every little town has a festival at one time or another. Fairport has Canal Days coming up the first weekend of June - it's a lot of fun. They do fireworks on the Erie Canal. Park Ave. has a lot of shops & restaurants.

Genesee Country Village & Museum is in the vein of Greenfield Village/Williamsburg, but it's a bit more primitive and a LOT of fun. To the east, there's Watkins Glen - to the west, Letchworth Gorge. They're both day trips, and worth seeing.

Rochester is called "Smugtown." The city isn't wonderful, but it'll do. The little towns and villages around it, however, are cool.

Depending on where he's coming from - go in as a group & get him a pair of snowshoes. He'll need them.
posted by clarkstonian at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2006

Oh - and he should check out House of Guitars
posted by clarkstonian at 4:05 PM on April 16, 2006

And isn't there somewhere in town that makes something called "A Garbage Plate" or something?

posted by rileyray3000 at 5:45 PM on April 16, 2006

A lot of places make them, but Nick Tahou's is the original (reallly disgusting). Also, you're looking for red hots & white hots, not hot dogs or coneys. Abbott's custard is the local standard. Bill Gray's is a hamburger place that makes hometown originals. Very much NOT McDonalds. Stevers makes the (good) local chocolate - they make excellent sponge candy.

There's a Greek festival, and good Greek food is available at a number of restaurants. There are lots of wine festivals round about. Casa Larga is the hometown wine - in Fairport. Almaden wine (cheaper by the gallon) comes from there - actuallly, Constellation Brands is huge, now.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman comes from Fairport.

The city has a great little minor league baseball team with a beautiful, recently built stadium. Not a bad (or expensive) seat in the house.

There are also lighthouses in the area - worth a look.

Oh - and one more thing of interest - Palmyra (in the next county over) is the home of Joseph Smith - founder of the Mormons. Every summer, they have a huge, free, outdoor pageant with a cast of (literally) thousands that is spectacular in a strange way.
posted by clarkstonian at 5:59 PM on April 16, 2006

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Dinosaur Barbque. Yummy ribs, and if it's at all like the one in Syracuse, genuine weather-worn, tattoed bikers all over the place. Their NYC location is also nice, though more hipster and less genuine biker.
posted by lorrer at 7:22 PM on April 16, 2006

The Open Face Sandwich Eatery is a REALLY great little place for lunch. It shouldn't even be in Rochester... it should be in some much hipper bigger city - but here it is, and I for one am grateful. The Spot coffee shop is near the Eastman School, downtown, and is built in a beautiful old Art Deco car dealership. I have never in my life seen a larger coffee shop - and it's very pleasant.

We've lost several good record stores in the past couple years (what city hasn't?) - but in that field, in order of usefullness (to me, granted), we have: Lakeshore Records (the hip new stuff), The Record Archive(something for everyone), The Bop Shop (quite famous for jazz/vinyl), The House of Guitars (chaotic, world famous).

We're short on independent new bookstores, but we've got some great used ones - my favorite being The Brownbag on Monroe Ave.

We have a grocery store chain (Wegmans) that amazes many visitors, although I often shop at my area's Tops to avoid the traffic (unless I need something 'fancy' or organic.)

And then there's Artisan Works - hard to summarize, but it's a HUGE privately owned art museum, set up in a series of interconnected old warehouses, with everything jumbled together - sculpture, photos, paintings, wacky, straight, plus artists studios, a great rooftop patio... it just has to be experienced.

The winters can be pretty grey, but they go a little easier if you go feed the chickadees out of your hand in Mendon Ponds Park.

Rochester is somewhat lacking in concentrated shopping districts, but you can actually wander the length of Park Ave within the city of Rochester for almost a full day of shopping, cafes, and museums (1, 2, 3 - all one block over).

One final warning, public transportation is limited, and the malls are all pretty far out from the center of the City, except for the fading glory of Midtown Plaza - which is not half as dead as some people think.

Oh yeah - and all the other comments on this page are pretty spot-on - except that I refuse to deal with the crowds and the long wait at Dinosaur Barbecue, and now we go to Sticky Lips.
posted by chr1sb0y at 3:47 AM on April 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone! I'm going to make a little package with all this info, a nice glossy fold-out map, and a gift certificate to something that I can buy online. They are all right up his alley and will make the move a little easier in the first few months. Many thanks again!
posted by barnone at 7:42 AM on April 17, 2006

He should only go to House of Guitars if he wants to see overpriced, severely abused instruments.
posted by jdfan at 12:36 PM on April 17, 2006

record archive, the cinema, the little, eastman house and the evening showings at the dryden, the film festivals, day trips to naples and rural outskirt areas--beautiful!, hartmann's on clinton avenue, lombardi's in fairport, the lake beaches of course, wegman's of course, nick tahou's for garbage plates, all of those rochester style burger joints (and tom's off the highway has the best plain archetypal crunchy delicious french fries i have ever had. seriously.), the village gate, strong museum though it's gotten really...kid-oriented, more than it used to be, the bug jar yes, lilac festival and the various parks (letchwork, highland, etc), the zoo, the old toad (favorite pub! you can play scrabble and drink oatmeal stout). the downtown library. lollipop farm. that one farm out where kids go during halloween season to pick pumpkins and go into the big cornstalk teepee. the seedy diners that serve grease and have had shootings--gitsi's, mark's texas hots, etc.

world wide news used to be the best thing ever, but it's sad now.

wber, last i checked...

best thing in the entire city right now: the public market downtown on sunday morning. get some sweet potato pie from the sweet church ladies, some pierogi, heirloom tomatoes when in season (not for a while...), brazilian garlic to DIE FOR, purple peppers, sweet corn.
posted by ifjuly at 2:16 PM on April 25, 2006

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