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10 must-have lunch items at Rochester's best restaurants

10 must-have lunch items at Rochester's best restaurants

After perusing through The Med City Beat’s first-ever Best Places Rochester list, I was instantly drawn to the restaurant categories.

Being fortunate enough to have enjoyed numerous meals at each of the five finalists in the Best Overall Restaurant category, I decided to compile a list of must-have lunch items at each location.

Clearly this is a bias list, so I’ve listed two menu items at each restaurant in an attempt cater to a larger number of culinary tastes.

Chester’s (voted best overall restaurant)

Turkey Avocado Melt ($12)
This is by far my favorite sandwich at my favorite restaurant in the Med City. The wood-fired rotisserie turkey breast comes topped with basil mayonnaise, Monterey Jack cheese, and sliced avocados, and served on multi-grain bread. Not a bad option for the health conscious diner as well.

Photo: Chester's Kitchen & Bar

Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese ($18)
This dish combines two of my favorites: Mac and cheese and seafood. Dubbed by Chester’s as the “ultimate in comfort food”, the Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese is dished up with caramelized shallots and a light bread crust.

Pescara (finalist)

Fish Tacos ($12)
Whether you’re dining in or enjoying the outdoors at Thursday’s on First and 3rd, Pescara’s fish tacos rarely disappoint. A pair of tacos is served up with Asian slaw, avocado cream, charred corn salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, and lime vinaigrette. A side of rice is the perfect pair to this Rochester favorite.

Photo: Pescara

Walleye a La Milanese ($16)
Did you know walleye is eaten in Minnesota more than any other state in the United States? I definitely contribute to this stat, and Pescara’s lightly breaded walleye served with roasted fingerling potatoes, Parmesan, and lemon is part of the reason why.

Victoria’s (finalist)

Mechi’s Chicken ($12.95)
With hundreds of menu items to choose from, there’s something for everyone at Victoria’s Ristorante and Wine Bar. However, my favorite is the award-winning (Rochester Magazine, Taste of Rochester) Mechi’s Chicken. Also available in pork, this dish is sautéed in butter with mushrooms, fresh garlic, green peas, marinara sauce with cream sauce, and is topped with grated mozzarella.

Frutta Del Mare ($13.95)
Frutta Del Mare literally means “Fruit of the Sea”, which is why I love this dish. A popular dish along the coast of Italy, Victoria’s Frutta Del Mare combines baby shrimp and chopped clams sautéed in virgin olive oil, garlic, fresh tomatoes, capers and fresh herbs.

ZZest (finalist)

Pot Roast Sandwich ($13)
What initially attracted me to this dish was the simple ingredients compared to many of ZZest’s other trendy and clever menu items. I knew what I was getting, and it was great: Beef pot roast, truffle aioli, peppers, caramelized onions, and potato salad.

Bahn ZZi ($11)
Speaking of clever, I can’t tell you much about the ingredients in the Bahn ZZi sandwich other than the roasted pork. I’m not pretending to be a food connoisseur, but the combination of the roasted pork, mortadella, pickled veg, kimchi aioli, baquette, chilled soba salad, and cilantro make this menu item a delicious choice. 

Photo: ZZest Cafe & Bar

The Loop (finalist)

Grilled Flank Steak Salad ($15)
Although I’m not an avid salad eater, The Loop’s Grilled Flank Steak Salad definitely has won me over. Dished with Yukon Golds, arugula, grilled red onion, Parmesan, and balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is not only tasty, it will also fill you up.

Jalapeño Mac Burger ($13)
The only burger on the list comes from The Loop. Topped with fried mac and cheese, jalapeño cheese sauce and bacon, the Jalapeño Mac Burger’s flavor is right on point and pairs perfect with a side of seasoned sweet potato fries.


About Brian Olson: Born and raised in Rochester, Brian enjoys spending time with his wife, Emily, and their two children, Henry (1) and Finleigh (4), and their golden doodle rescue dog Duke (age unknown). When not playing Dad, Brian works as a marketer, enjoys traveling, and can’t seem to get off the roller coaster that comes with being an avid Minnesota sports fan. Twitter.


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