If there's one thing I've learned from my Italian heritage, it is this: You do not visit someone's home, especially during the holiday season, without an armload of carbohydrates. Sure, you could pop by empty-handed, but everyone will whisper behind your back, and the invitations should dry up quickly once the malocchio really kicks in.
That stately two-story brick building at 289 Alexander Street, the one that most famously housed Lloyd's and most recently Benedettos, has had new life breathed into it by Havana Cabana, which bills itself as a Cuban café and rum bar. The latter is certainly accurate; the gorgeous bar boasts more than 40 different varieties of rum, which find their way into cocktails both modern and traditional, as well as flights for the connoisseur or merely the curious.
UPDATED 11/8/13 to reflect new date for Owl House event. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and its clear-cut identity, one that typically involves perfectly cooked eggs, fluffy pancakes, and crisp bacon, might be the reason it's the only meal with actual, devoted fans.
The dwindling daylight reminds us that the 2013 harvest is drawing to a close, but that doesn't mean locavores can't still find homegrown vittles. Our region is teeming with talented and enterprising individuals who are committed to crafting good things for us to eat, often with ingredients that they too have scored in our big, shared backyard.
25 local restaurants where you can binge for $10 or less
Would you like to get all gussied up and treat yourself to an expensive gastronomic feast, complete with wine pairings and decadent, show-stopping desserts? If so, you can take your top hat and monocle elsewhere.
Andrea Parros moved to Rochester from her native Boston to open The Owl House in 2010, and when she left that restaurant, Parros says that some people asked her whether she'd head back east. Those people can find the answer to that question at the corner of Park and Oxford, where Parros recently debuted her warm, charming new vegan place, The Red Fern.
If you're not already happy when you cross the threshold, walking into a bakery can instantly put a person in a good mood. The atmosphere is typically homey, the smells are always heavenly, and the display cases are packed with vivid nibbles that are almost too pretty to eat — but there ain't no way you're leaving empty-handed.
Finger Lakes wineries
At the risk of channeling Goldilocks, summer in Western New York can be too hot, winter too cold, and spring, while charming, a little too soggy. Autumn, however, is just right, a heady collision of beauty and bounty, especially in the Finger Lakes region.
The Tip Jar here at Chow Hound HQ is currently overflowing with news, and it's my job to serve it up to you in carefully measured portions so you can efficiently digest all this data. First, though, let's grab a bite in Swillburg...
Avvino, Taste of the Town, and more
"It's the unpretentious transmission of genuine excitement that's crucial." Janine Wasley has worked in the restaurant industry since she was 14, and when she came across the above sentence some years ago in a wine magazine, it made an indelible impression.
Atlas Eats and more
I hate to call an entire suburb on to the carpet — especially the beautiful one where I was born and raised — but Irondequoit has had somewhat of a restaurant problem. With a couple of exceptions, there's never really been anything interesting to eat, unless you're only ever in the mood for a pizza, a plate, or chicken freaking french.
The daily grind
UPDATED 7/24/13 to correct Rita's Italian Ice address. "I think Rochester has the potential to be the new Portland or the new Seattle as far as coffee goes," says Tony Colón, who is doing his part to make his prediction a reality.
Kissing the grits
You've no doubt encountered representations of pineapples in seemingly strange places, whether forged in brass for a door knocker or carved in the wood of an old home's staircase. The pineapple has actually long been a symbol of friendship and welcome, with major prevalence in the American South.
"This is so far removed from Flour City Diner cooking," says chef Jerry Manley, who recently put his popular comfort-food repertoire on the back burner in order to try his mano at Mexican cuisine, which involves a bevy of ingredients that Manley hadn't worked with professionally... until now. Lucky for us, the results of this intriguing career shift are now being served up at Wylie Chayote's Fine Mexican Food & Cantina, Manley's new venture with former Chilango's co-owner Donna Heiller.
Bunga Burger Bar, Smugtown Mushrooms, more
Well, a crucial chunk of the Inner Loop is off-limits for the next few months, traffic circles are apparently the new cupcake, and where Mount Hope and Elmwood avenues meet is being hacked to bits so that College Town may rise. But no amount of minor inconvenience is going to keep a true Rochesterian from good food, especially not if there's a burger with fries and a milkshake at the end of that road.
"Every day is Kid's Day!" Mom would no doubt reply when you wondered where your designated holiday was.