When it comes to things to eat, drink, do and see in southeast Michigan, Detroit often gets all the love — but the excitement extends beyond city limits. Each month, SEEN will be introducing you to a different suburb and all that it offers. First up: Rochester
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EAT + DRINK
304 S. Main St.
Red Knapp’s Dairy Bar has been around since 1950 for a reason: It serves to-die-for burgers and milkshakes. The restaurant’s vintage décor only adds to the charm, with red countertop stools, a black-and-white-tiled floor and walls plastered with retro signs that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
306 S. Main St
Craving a phenomenal steak? The Rochester Chop House has you covered. With its elegant ambiance — dark wood, chandeliers and busts of wild game — and high-end menu, this Kruse & Muer restaurant is a local date-night go-to. Insider tip: If you can’t snag a table, Kabin Kruser’s, which is connected to the Chop House, serves the restaurant’s menu.
606 N. Main St.
if you like brunch, Downtown Cafe is a must, especially on a sunny day when you can grab a seat on the patio. The restaurant churns out homemade quiches daily, plus a wide-ranging selection of made-from-scratch omelets, salads and sandwiches. If you have a sweet tooth, go for the baked crème brulee French toast or the wild berry pancakes topped with raspberry and vanilla sauce.
6830 N. Rochester Rd.
Since opening in 2019, La Collina has built a reputation as one of Rochester’s best Italian restaurants. With its upscale vibe, extensive wine list, and menu packed with authentic classics, including fresh pastas, fish, and steak, it’s an ideal spot to celebrate a special occasion.
621 N. Main St.
Lafayette and American Coney Island, step aside — Rochester residents know that Lipuma’s Coney is home to the best coney dogs around. Owned and operated by the Lipuma family since 1969, this spot typically has a line out the door with diners eager to sample its offerings, which includes the classic Coney Island, a Chicago-style version, a BBQ-slathered Texas Dog and more.
918 S. Rochester Rd.
Just outside of downtown Rochester, Antoniou’s Towne Square Pizza has been dishing out delicious pies since 1996. Started by two brothers and their father, this pizzeria has grown from a takeout destination to full-service restaurant known for its walls covered with Detroit sports memorabilia — and, of course, its brick-oven-cooked pizza. Pick from deep dish or thin crust; either way, the crust is always cooked to perfection.
111 W. Second St.
As Ernest Hemingway once said, “Drinking is a way of ending the day” — so it’s only appropriate that The Hemmingway Room (no, that’s not a typo) serves up perfect pours of everything from craft cocktails to an impressive collection of scotch, bourbon, vodka and gin. And thanks to the menu of small plates (including a delicious-looking charcuterie spread), there’s no need to drink on an empty stomach. We think Hemingway would approve.
324 S. Main St.
Lots of Irish pubs claim to be authentic, but O’connor’s Public House is the real deal. Designed offsite by a company that constructs Irish pubs and then shipped to Rochester, O’Connor’s has 36 craft beers on tap and a big selection of Irish whiskey. Food offerings include traditional dishes from Shepherd’s Pie to corned beef & cabbage. Prefer your Guinness with a side of tunes? On Sunday nights there’s live Irish music.
307 Main St.
Set in a historic building that was once home to Rochester’s first printing press, Talulah Belle is known for artful home décor, delicious-smelling candles, coffee-table books, jewelry and goodies for babies and kids. In other words, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
203 E. University
Catching Fireflies is packed with whimsical gifts, from fun stationery and jewelry to Michigan-themed trinkets like Faygo-scented candles. They also offer “Happy Boxes” full of themed goodies — the “Love You, Mom” box, for example, contains a bud vase, a pretty pen, and scratch-made cookies.
316 S. Main St.
Leconte Men’s Clothiers has been dressing Rochester’s most stylish men since 1986, with everything from suits and sportscoats to casual wear and accessories. But what really sets this store apart is the personalized shopping experience and on-site tailoring.
410 S. Main St.
If you’re a skater (or just wish you were), South Street is a must-visit. The store caters to shoppers who “embody the unconventional,” with skateboarding necessities — decks, trucks, wheels, etc. — in addition to cool apparel, Vans and Adidas shoes, beanies and more. Looking to spice up your sock game? There’s a vast selection of fun socks for men, women and kids.
315 S. Main St.
Live out your Old West fantasies at Arizona Saddlery of Rochester, where you’ll find more than 1,000 styles of cowboy and cowgirl boots, plus hats, belt buckles and lots of turquoise jewelry. There’s also equestrian gear and a large selection of Minnetonka moccasins.
314 S. Main St.
The Urban Merchant is home to a wide collection of beautiful European and vintage-inspired pieces — think sideboards, apothecary chests, tables and bar carts — that will make you feel like you walked into a chateau in the French countryside. If you’re looking for a smaller token, charming glassware, floral arrangements and vases to complete your bookshelves or tablescape are also on hand.
THINGS TO DO
600 E. University Dr.
Traveling abroad may be off the table for now, but you can get a taste of English culture at the Royal Park Hotel, which offers traditional high tea every Thursday through Saturday. Delicate sandwiches, fresh-baked scones and pastries, and of course, tea, are served in the gallery, which has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook beautiful Paint Creek.
Hit the great outdoors
Rochester boasts hundreds of acres of parks and miles of trails to hike, bike and explore. If you’re a runner, check out the 8.9-mile Paint Creek Trail, which winds through downtown, wooded parks, and neighborhoods. There’s also fishing at Yates Park (the Main Branch of the Clinton River below Yates Dam is home to walleye, bass, and pike); swimming and boating on the 38-acre lake at Spencer Park; and, in the winter, sledding at Borden Park. If you have little ones, hit the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve for classes about everything from maple sugaring to lighting a campfire.
Every September the Paint Creek Center for the Arts turns Rochester Municipal park into an artist’s haven — and one of the best fine-arts fairs in the U.S. Hun-dreds of artists showcase their work alongside live music performances, food trucks, and activity stations for kids. This year’s event runs Sept.10-12. pccart.org/festival
350 Estate Dr.
The former home of Matilda Dodge Wilson (widow of auto titan John Dodge) is a National Historic Landmark that spans 88,000 square feet and 110 rooms. See its well-preserved opulence on a guided tour, where you can marvel at the nearly 100-year-old estate’s Tiffany glass, gargoyles and hidden staircases as well as Knole Cottage, a playhouse in the woods that was built for Matilda and John’s daughter Frances in 1926. It’s also worth checking out the new Great Estate & Gardens Tour, which debuted in April.
202 E. Third St.
Running on Saturdays through October, the Downtown Rochester Farmer’s Market is a feast for your senses. Now in its 22nd season, the market is a great place to sample all sorts of Michigan-made goodies, from honey and cheese to salsa and coffee. You can also pick up produce from nearby farms, and fresh Great Lakes fish. Pro tip: Visit the Summer Dreams Farms stand in August to find the most gorgeous dahlias: the colors will blow your mind.