Diners on a rooftop patio overlooking downtown Rochester

12 of the Best Restaurants and Bars in Downtown Rochester

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Head to the rooftop of H3 Plaza for downtown dining with a view / AB-Photography.us
Food & Drink // Rochester // List

12 of the Best Restaurants and Bars in Downtown Rochester

By Lisa Havelka

Rochester is home to some of Minnesota's best restaurants and bars. Whether you're seeking a quick bite over lunch or a fabulous night of fine dining, here are 12 that are worth a try the next time you're visiting downtown or the world class Mayo Clinic.  

  1. Benedict's
    An Eggs Benedict special at Benedict's Rochester



    Weekends are made for brunching, and Benedict’s is the best brunch in town. The restaurant's signature dish can be ordered seven different ways including an incredible crab and asparagus option. Seeking something sweeter? Order the decadent Elvis pancakes, which are covered in bacon, bananas and peanut butter like The King's favorite sandwich. And since this is brunch, Benedict's also offers a variety of fresh morning cocktails to pair with your meal.

  2. Chester's Kitchen & Bar
    The al fresco patio at Chester's Kitchen & Bar in Downtown Rochester

    The al fresco patio at Chester's Kitchen & Bar  / TJ Turner

    Chester's Kitchen & Bar

    Right in the heart of downtown, delicious meals and top-tier people watching are both on the menu at Chester’s. Their classic American food pops in a contemporary, casual setting with a seasonal al fresco patio that extends onto the Peace Plaza courtyard — the gem of downtown Rochester. For an extra bit of fun, pair your meal with live jazz performances on Friday and Saturday nights.  

  3. Twigs
    Pan-fried walleye at Twigs Tavern & Grille

    Pan-fried walleye at Twigs Tavern & Grille


    Rather than offer a gluten-free option or two, Twigs builds its entire menu around dishes that can be easily tweaked to accommodate dietary restrictions without dialing back on flavor. Owner Michelle Salz was actually diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, so she understands the importance of maintaining a contaminant-free kitchen and a menu that's memorable. Mains include everything from pan-fried walleye to applewood-smoked meatloaf wrapped in mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. The restaurant also boasts one of Rochester's very best sun-baked patios.

  4. Bitter & Pour
    A bartender prepares a cocktail at Bitter and Pour in Rochester

    A bartender prepares a cocktail at Bitter and Pour / Experience Rochester

    Bitter & Pour

    Several of Rochester's stellar breweries — including Forager and Little Thistle — are a short drive from downtown, but the city's best cocktails can be found right around the corner from Broadway at Bitter & Pour. Order a couple rounds to explore a wide range of palate-expanding drinks, from gin & tonics spiked with blackberry, lemongrass, lime or lavender to a splurge-worthy sipper called The Rich Uncle (Whistle Pig 15 washed down with caramelized demerara sugar, housemade bitters, and an orange twist). 


  5. ThaiPop
    Three colorful non-alcoholic cocktails on a table at Thai Pop

    Mocktails at Thai Pop in Rochester / photo by Paul Vincent


    Housed in a timeless space on the corner of historic Third Street, ThaiPop brings a taste of Thailand to downtown Rochester. Chef/co-owner Annie Balow leans into family recipes that feel like a one-way ticket to Bangkok or Chiang Mai, including a soul-warming Khao Soi Curry soup; spicy papaya salad prepared with pickled crab, small-but-mighty Thai chilis and fermented fish sauce; and flour-coated Yum Yum Wings, a local favorite served with a side of pickled cucumbers. Much like the popular Minneapolis restaurant Hai Hai, ThaiPop is also a welcome escape from Minnesota's long winters, complete with creative tropical cocktails and abundant greenery. 

  6. Newt's
    One of Newt's signature burgers



    One word: burgers. Twelve different burgers, to be exact. The most popular patty is the Works Burger, a whopping 3/4-pound burger that's smothered in cheese, layered with hardwood smoked bacon, crisp lettuce, fresh sliced tomato, red onion and Newt’s famous Bleu Cheese sauce on a special Kaiser bun. If you're looking for delicious and unique burgers, Newt's is your spot.

  7. Nupa

    Family owned and operated since 2009, Nupa serves up fast, fresh and healthy Mediterranean staples like gyro, falafel, kabobs and hummus. Little touches like scratch-made tzatziki sauce and imported Greek olive oil elevate the menu and provide a taste of the Mediterranean with every bite. Visit Nupa’s downtown location in the First Avenue Food Court, or one of their other locations around town. 

  8. Olde Brick House
    Guinness-battered fish and chips at Olde Brick House

    Guinness-battered fish and chips at Olde Brick House

    Olde Brick House

    Everyone’s Irish at the Olde Brick House, an authentic Irish pub in downtown Rochester. Stop by after work for a relaxing "Irish Recess" (happy hour) of poutine and discount drinks, or visit any time for delicious Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and Guinness-battered fish and chips. 

  9. Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria
    Pizzeria worker behind a deli case full of of pizzas

    Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria in downtown Rochester serves authentic, New York-style pizza by the slice or the pie / AB-Photography.us

    Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria

    This downtown eatery and Italian marketplace specializes in authentic, New York-style pizza and Italian classics made with the same time-tested ingredients Italians have been using for centuries. Pizza is available by the slice, as a standard 18-inch pie, or as a massive, 30-inch "BRONXosaurus" that's ready to feed the whole neighborhood! Save room for their signature, custom-filled cannoli’s and decadent New York cheesecakes. 

  10. Bleu Duck Kitchen
    A packed dining room at Bleu Duck Kitchen

    Bleu Duck Kitchen

    Bleu Duck Kitchen

    With a name that's a nod to the Adam Sandler movie "Billy Madison", Bleu Duck Kitchen focuses on playful dishes like Buffalo frog legs, al pastor meatloaf, and shrimp and grits served with mascarpone polenta, tempura nori, fermented black beans and Brussels sprouts. The drinks are just as dynamic; while "Technically" a Martini weaves prickly pear & orange blossom gin into a perfectly balanced pairing of dry vermouth, lemon bitters and soda, Proust's Madeleine emulates the iconic French cookie with brandy, ginger liquor, black tea syrup and lemon juice.

  11. Victoria's Ristorante & Wine Bar
    Victoria's Ristorante and Wine Bar

    Victoria's Ristorante and Wine Bar

    Victoria's Ristorante & Wine Bar

    The large-portion Italian meals at Victoria's are sure to leave you full and satisfied. A personal favorite is their scratch-made Fettuccine Alfredo, which uses fresh parmesan cheese straight from the Eau Galle Cheese Factory just over the border in Wisconsin. Decadent desserts and an extensive wine list round out the menu, making this the perfect spot for a first date, anniversary or other milestone celebration.

  12. Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse
    Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse

    Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse

    Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse

    Next time you have an occasion worth celebrating, get dressed to the nines and head to Rochester's premier steakhouse, Pittsburgh Blue. Located in downtown's chic Hilton Hotel, the restaurant is known for its perfectly aged, Pittsburgh-style steaks. As the legend goes, Pittsburgh steelworkers would flash-cook their meat directly on the blast furnaces for a steak that's charred on the outside but still pink in the middle.

Lisa Havelka

Lisa Havelka is the southern regional coordinator for Explore Minnesota. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Lisa loves antiquing, visiting Minnesota wineries, riding motorcycles, and catching live shows at Minnesota’s many music venues.