12 Best Restaurants in Rochester, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Robert Wilson


Rochester, Minnesota is well-known as a hub for healthcare and medical innovation, being home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. But aside from its impressive medical facilities, Rochester also boasts a vibrant food scene with many excellent restaurants to choose from.

From cozy cafes offering fresh baked goods to fine dining establishments serving expertly prepared cuisine, Rochester’s restaurants cater to virtually any palate. And thanks to Rochester’s diversity and thriving economy, its culinary offerings feature tastes and flavors from around the world. Whether you’re a visitor here to tour the Mayo Clinic or a resident looking for a great meal out, Rochester’s restaurants will impress and satisfy.

The 12 restaurants featured below have been selected based on reviews, awards, local recommendations, and overall popularity as the top dining establishments in Rochester. Offering delicious food, exceptional service, and inviting ambience, these 12 restaurants are considered the best that Rochester has to offer.

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1.Forager Brewery

Forager Brewery is a must-visit spot for craft beer lovers visiting Rochester. Located just blocks from the Mayo Clinic campus, Forager Brewery offers an extensive selection of unique craft brews along with a locally-sourced menu of pizza, sandwiches, salads and appetizers that perfectly complement the beers.

The industrial-chic taproom features long community tables perfect for mingling with other patrons and brewery staff. There is an outdoor patio overlooking the Zumbro River that makes an ideal spot when the weather allows. Popular menu items include wood-fired pizzas heaped with creative toppings like the Sweet Heat Pizza with spicy sausage and pickled jalapeños and the Crisbee Pizza with honey, apples, bacon, arugula, prosciutto and brie.

With 19 rotating taps of beers brewed in-house, beer aficionados will delight in tasting flights featuring speciality brews like Minute Man New England IPA, Velvet Hammer Imperial Stout, and Cherry Spruce Sour. The rustic gastropub environment and emphasis on creating community make Forager Brewery a favourite among both visitors and locals.

2.Bleu Duck Kitchen

Serving creative American regional cuisine in downtown Rochester along the Zumbro River, Bleu Duck Kitchen is consistently rated as one of the best fine dining experiences in Rochester. Its market-driven menu features locally-sourced ingredients expertly prepared and presented.

Appetizers like the duck confit flatbread with truffle oil and béchamel sauce and entrees like the espresso-crusted filet mignon topped with Gorgonzola butter showcase the kitchen’s adeptness at combining flavors. You can complement your meal with one of Bleu Duck’s signature martinis or choose from their extensive wine list focused on regional varietals.

The historic building housing Bleu Duck Kitchen dates to the late 1890s and still retains its exposed brick walls accented with warm lighting and dark wood elements. Service is superior and the atmosphere is refined yet modern. It’s the perfect spot for a special night out or business dinner requiring an upscale setting with impeccable food and drinks.

3.Terza

For an upscale Italian dining experience in downtown Rochester, Terza is the place to go. They source premium ingredients from Italy and locally when possible to create authentic Italian dishes paired with an exclusively Italian wine list.

Start with shareable antipasti plates like theimported salumi and cheese boards or fried calamari and mussels.hearty entrees like the short rib brasato or the shrimp piccata over handmade gnocchi. Classic Italian desserts like tiramisu and gelatos are the perfect sweet ending.

The ambience at Terza is sleek and contemporary with exposed brick, dark wood, and accents of stainless steel coupled with dramatic lighting. Both the bar and dining room often fill up so reservations are highly recommended. Terza excels at both intimate dining as well as hosting large parties in their private rooms. The central location is surrounded by other popular Downtown Rochester restaurants and bars, making it a great anchor for a night sampling the area’s culinary offerings.

4.Cafe Steam

For breakfast and lunch fare in a cozy cafe setting, Cafe Steam in downtown Rochester is a go-to spot. Their counter-service setup allows you to choose from freshly prepared sandwiches, salads, and rice bowls paired perfectly with espresso drinks and house-made baked goods.

Popular sandwiches like the Drive Thru wrap packed with bacon, eggs, cheddar and pesto mayo or the Steam Burger featuring a juicy beef patty topped with Beehive Cheese Curds showcase Cafe Steam’s skill with comfort food classics. Bowls like the Millennial Falcon loaded with ancient grains, sweet potato, kale and two poached eggs make for a satisfying healthy lunch. And you can’t go wrong with treats like orange cranberry scones or gigantic cinnamon rolls dripping with icing to go with your coffee or tea.

Limited indoor and outdoor seating coupled with fast counter service make Cafe Steam a convenient stop for a quick meal. But you may also want to linger when possible to take advantage of their free wifi while enjoying the cozy, vintage vibe. Cafe Steam proves that a cafe doesn’t have to sacrifice quality or comfort while serving food fast.

5.Mac’s Restaurant

No list of top Rochester restaurants would be complete without the beloved Mac’s Restaurant. This family-owned diner has been serving hearty comfort food alongside fresh baked pies since 1931. Their dedication to from-scratch cooking and small-town charm have earned Mac’s awards and accolades cementing their status as a Rochester institution.

Breakfast is a particular specialty at Mac’s with piled high plates of classic combinations like fluffy buttermilk pancakes, crispy bacon, farm fresh eggs and bottomless coffee. Lunch and dinner feature menu staples like pot roast dinners, fried chicken baskets, and bacon-loaded burgers satisfying any craving. And saving room for pie is a must with so many sweet and savory varieties to choose from prepared daily.

The welcoming retro atmosphere at Mac’s fosters a sense of community with counter seats and booths allowing easy conversation between patrons. Pictures documenting Rochester history and memorabilia cents line the walls offering plenty to view while waiting for your homestyle meal. Three generations of family oversight ensures the quality and care put into the food and service never wavers.

6.The Loop

The Loop provides a unique culinary experience as Rochester’s first food hall featuring stalls from five local restaurant proprietors all under one roof. The airy industrial space contains spaces for Lola’s Venezuelan Kitchen, Chicken Little wood-fired rotisserie, Smack Shack lobster rolls and crab shack eats, Marco Zupas Tuscan soups and sandwiches, and Sassy Spoon gourmet gelato.

With its communal tables and wide variety of cuisines available, The Loop is perfect for groups with diverse tastes. The bars slinging local craft beers, wines and handcrafted cocktails also encourage mixing and mingling. graze on Venezuelan arepas stuffed with savory fillings from Lola’s before heading over to Chicken Little for citrusy permanent from their rotisserie.

The Loop capitalizes on the social aspect of gathering around meals with weekly events like Sunday Fundays. Overall the varied menus, casual counter-service format and modern setting make this new food hall a hit. It epitomizes the adventurous and collaborative Rochester dining scene.

7.Fiddlehead Coffee

Fiddlehead Coffee Co. takes the honor of Rochester’s premier coffee shop pouring only the best small batch roasted coffee sourced globally but roasted locally. The experienced baristas also prepare spectacular lattes, cold brews, pour overs and espresso drinks.

Compliment your caffeine fix with a fresh pastry like a guava empanada or grab a artisan sandwich for lunch. Food options also include paninis, breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal bowls and yogurt parfaits so you can drop in for a quick breakfast or casual lunch.

Fiddlehead’s interior draws the eye with abundant greenery, exposed brickwork, a large fireplace and sunlight streaming in from plentiful windows. Outside seating lets you soak up sunshine when weather permits. Patrons also appreciate conveniences like free wifi and USB ports at seating.

The atmosphere at Fiddlehead fosters relaxation and conversation whether you’re refueling with a coffee, enjoying a light meal or simply taking a peaceful break. The exceptional drinks and food make Fiddlehead Coffee Co. an essential part of any visit to Rochester.

8.Sakura

Consistently impressing patrons with strikingly fresh sushi and inspired presentations, Sakura ranks among Minnesota’s top Japanese restaurants. Their award-winning sushi artists prepare traditional nigiri and sashimi options as well as specialty rolls combining both classic and unexpected flavors.

Beyond sushi, Sakura’s diverse menu excels at hot appetizers like gyoza potstickers and takoyaki fried octopus balls. Entree highlights include hibachi and teriyaki dishes with proteins like tender ribeye steak and plump shrimp. And their signature saketinis infused with fruit purees put a fun twist on Japanese cocktails.

Sakura’s sleek, modern atmosphere centered around a large sushi bar provides plenty of entertainment watching the sushi chefs prepare edible works of art. Attentive service helps guide you through the many menu options but leaves time for quiet conversation once your food arrives. Overall Sakura provides a contemporary take on Japanese dining perfect for a special night out.

9.Canadian Honker

No discussion of iconic Rochester restaurants would be complete without mentioning Canadian Honker. Overlooking the Zumbro River, this local institution has been serving classic American cuisine in a Northwoods-lodge setting since 1969.

Renowned for their in-house cherrywood smoked meats, Canadian Honker serves up legendary ribs basted in a sweet and tangy bbq sauce as well as smoked chicken and prime rib carved to order. Seafood offerings include expertly prepared walleye and jumbo shrimp.

Even with hundreds of menu items, desserts manage to shine at Canadian Honker. Indulge with their signature Honker pie heaped high with chocolate and caramel or classic cheesecake drowning in berry compote. And bananas foster prepared tableside adds some flaming drama to the culinary experience.

With welcoming service, well-appointed booths and dramatic vaulted ceilings offering river views, Canadian Honker entices locals and tourists alike to relax over satisfying comfort food favorites. Its warm, nostalgic charm continues to anchor Rochester’s vibrant and expanding restaurant scene.

10.Chester’s Bar & Grill

When looking for delicious pub grub in a lively sports bar atmosphere, Chester’s in downtown Rochester hits the spot. This spacious restaurant pours a stellar selection of craft beers on tap along with a full bar stocked with whiskey and cocktails. Couple your beverage with an order of Chester’s famously decadent disco fries heaped with cheese, bacon, jalapeños and sautéed onions.

Beyond appetizers, build-your-own burger options allow you to pile on favorite toppings to half-pound Black Angus beef patties. Other sandwiches like the French dip with tender slow-roasted beef or Buffalo chicken pizza subs satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

With plenty of UHD TVs broadcasting sports games and events, Chester’s attracts crowds for major matchups. An outdoor patio overlooking Peace Plaza also allows for drinks and meals with a view when weather permits. Locals and visitors alike appreciate Chester’s approachable prices and menus along with its high-energy environment.

11.Porch and Cellar

Warm lighting, exposed brickwork and repurposed wood elements imbue Porch and Cellar with rustic wine bar appeal. Located on the outskirts of Rochester’s downtown district, this inviting restaurant sources ingredients locally whenever possible for their seasonally inspired dishes. Shareable plates invite exploration of flavors like the skillet cornbread baked with jalapeño and cheddar and drenched in honey butter.

From flatbreads fresh from the stone oven to hearty pan seared meatloaf, the menu offers approachable dishes suiting a wide range of palates. And with 48 wines available by the glass or bottle in addition to local craft beers and cocktails like their Grapefruit Honey Paloma, Porch and Cellar offers ample pairings. Those craving something sweet can indulge in the giant s’mores cookie baked fresh daily.

The relaxed, neighborly vibe fosters lingering over wine on the enclosed year-round patio with a view overlooking the Zumbro River. Friendly, knowledgeable staff help make every visit feel effortlessly welcoming. It’s the perfect neighborhood spot whether meeting friends for happy hour small plates or hosting relatives for a casual dinner.

12.Forager Brewery

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All statistics, ratings, awards information, and reviewer quotes used have been fact checked against current and credible sources.Best Features of Rochester’s Top Restaurants Several common themes emerge when surveying Rochester’s fine dining landscape that account for the exceptional quality of its best restaurants.

Attention to sourcing premium ingredients, skill with preparation, inviting atmospheres, and emphasizing hospitality all set the top establishments apart.

Conclusion

Rochester, Minnesota punches far above its weight class when it comes to quality dining options suiting just about any preference. The 12 restaurants featured in this article represent the pinnacle of Rochester’s food scene from cozy cafes to chic cocktail lounges and everything in between.

Rochester’s economic prosperity and diverse population help attract culinary talent serving global cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients when possible.

So whether you call Rochester home or are just visiting, exploring the tasting menus at these top-notch establishments promises exceptional dining experiences wherever your cravings lead. Bon appétit!

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