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CHOW HOUND: Where food is worth eating 

Much has changed in Webster since I left the suburb (back when there was only one Webster high school, kids). I currently live in the city, and usually proximity and convenience determine where I satisfy my culinary cravings. But a recent excursion through my hometown prompted several reactions — "That wasn't there before!" "Where did Shoecraft Road go?" "I'm old!" — as well as some surprising foodie discoveries. What impressed me most about Webster 2.0 is the town's now-thriving Main Street scene. My memories of Main Street in Webster were limited to the Burger King parking lot and Friendly's. Now it is home to a variety of interesting, locally owned restaurants, bars, and shops. These are just some of the culinary offerings of the place "where life is worth living." Do you have favorite Webster restaurants we neglected to mention? Add them to the comments section of this article at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

When I walked into Barry's Old School Irish Pub (2 W. Main St., 545-4258, barrysoldschoolirish.com) for the first time, I did not think that I would walk away having had the best lobster macaroni and cheese of my life ($17). But that is exactly what happened. Wooden-barrel tables with a combination of folding chairs and bar stools occupy the small bar and café areas. Patrons order from the café counter and can enjoy a pint (Guinness, duh) while they wait for their food to arrive. When the steaming crock of cheesy, lobstery goodness was placed in the middle of our table, jaws dropped to the floor. Large chunks of fresh lobster studded a combination of perfectly cooked macaroni and a cheese sauce that inspired thoughts of bowl licking. Owner Danny Barry informed us that this heavenly concoction is served most Friday nights. Also of note: Barry's offers a Sunday breakfast buffet ($12 for adults, $6 for children) with homemade corned beef hash, fresh-baked Irish soda bread, and other breakfast fare that will definitely bring me back.

If you haven't been to the new(ish) AMC Theatre in Webster — the one with the giant, reclining seats — then you haven't truly lived. Directly across the street from the theater you will find Maa's Diner (2215 Empire Blvd., 671-9090) in the space formerly occupied by Fujiya Japanese Restaurant. Maa's is a family-owned, vintage-styled restaurant offering standard diner fare. The menu features giant burgers and something called The Hog Plate, its take on the infamous Rochester combination of mac salad, potatoes, meat, and hot sauce ($13.59). The twist here is that the thing is gigantic — it's served on a tray because it won't fit on a plate. If you have eaten a Hog Plate and survived to tell the tale, I have two questions. First, are you OK? Second, when you were getting toward the end, did you see a light? Please leave your tale in the comments section.

The Old Church Mall in Webster was a popular hangout during my high-school days, primarily because of Village Mall Video, Heavy Metal Records, and Maria's Mexican Restaurant (75 W. Main St., 872-1237, mariasmexican.com). Maria's has been serving authentic and delicious Mexican fare for more than 30 years. When I turned 21 I was able to enjoy Maria's even more because of the heavenly margaritas. The menu includes standouts like the Hole Mole, a generous portion of fresh tortilla chips covered in gooey melted cheese with a bowl of house-made guacamole ($9.95), and desserts like the tres leches cake, a combination of moist sponge cake topped with sweet milk and fresh fruit ($4.95), or traditional flan ($3.95).

I'm a sucker for a good gyro. In the past, the Lilac Festival used to be an opportunity for me to appreciate the beauty of the lilacs and leisurely browse the arts and crafts booths, but it has now become solely about going directly to the food tent and purchasing a sloppy, glorious gyro. I inevitably drop most of it all over myself and then maybe stay and look at a lilac. The menu at Gyromania (1205 Bay Road, 671-1080, rochestergyros.com) features a wide assortment of pitas, including three variations on the classic gyro, as well as classic Greek mainstays like pastitsio ($10) and moussaka ($10). The restaurant describes its rice pudding as "heaven in a cup."

You may very well have mixed feelings about ordering something called a "feed pan" when you go to BC's Chicken Coop (9 South Ave., 265-1185, https://sites.google.com/site/bcschickencoop), especially when you're on a date. What the "feed pan" refers to at BC's Chicken Coop are its sides. These include green beans ($3.25 for small, $4.25 for large) that are sautéed with garlic, tomatoes, and bacon; homemade macaroni and cheese; and mashed potatoes with homemade gravy — but those are only half of the options available. The main attraction, however, is the fried chicken, available in both family size (The Hen House, $29.50) and individual meal portions. Chicken and waffles are also on the menu ($12.50), along with ribs and the "highly ranked famous jumbo wings" ($10.80 per dozen).

Brimont Bistro (24 W. Main St., 872-3170, brimontcateringcorporation.com) started off as a catering company, but now has a 50-seat restaurant location serving lunch and dinner. The lunch menu offers an assortment of sandwiches and salads, and all the options cost less than $10. The French bistro dinner menu is where Brimont Bistro really shines. The appetizer options include a duck confit ($10) and a goat-cheese Napoleon (phyllo dough, caramelized pear, and apple cider granite). The root vegetable beef bourguignon ($19) sounds like a warm haven from the bitter cold we experienced over the past few months. It features carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onions, and celery in a stew made with braised beef and red wine. Most of the dinner-menu offerings stay under the $20 mark.

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