Nick's Picks: Jazz Fest Food Favs



Photo by Jake Wright

The stars of this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, other than Seal and Jill Scott, will be Marty's Meats, the Meatball Truck Co., and Le Petit Poutine. These well-respected food trucks, along with several others, will feed hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers throughout the next nine days. With quick service and delicious, portable creations, on-site food trucks are the preferred method of dining for most festivals. However, for those looking for a break in the action and a place to recharge, the East End neighborhood has several excellent brick and mortar restaurants to choose from.

1. Unter Biergarten - 120 East Avenue

Operating in the building that used to house Victoire, Unter Biergarten specializes in Bavarian-inspired cuisine and a long draught beer list featuring both German and local brews. Menu items include a variety of wursts sourced from Swan Market as well as a giant soft pretzel accompanied by root beer mustard and beer cheese. Unter's spacious patio, fit with long, wooden, communal tables and a beautiful fireplace, is the perfect place to enjoy the sights and sounds of Jazz Fest.

2. Tavern at Gibbs - 58 University Avenue

Tavern at Gibbs provides a casual atmosphere and upscale American fare. Hearty, nostalgic classics like New York strip steak, grass fed tenderloin filet, and skillet macaroni and cheese highlight the menu. Tavern at Gibbs also doles out fantastic bar food in the form of Maryland crab cakes, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and chicken wings. For drinks, diners can look forward to a selection of local beers and carefully crafted cocktails.

3. Steadfast - 200 East Avenue

With plenty of sandwich-centric selections, this relative newcomer to the East Avenue culinary scene is the perfect place for a quick bite during festival festivities. Diners at Steadfast can expect regional U.S. favorites like the lobster roll, shrimp po’ boy, and Philly cheese steak. Global influences from Italy, Mexico, South Africa, and India also highlight the eclectic, casual offerings. Starting tomorrow, Steadfast will add several new items to its menu including Mexican street corn, caprese salad cups, a curried chicken salad wrap, and a Buffalo chicken sandwich topped with an egg. A fun, unique bar program that utilizes Southern Tier spirits and Fizz soda also makes this one of the best pregame and postgame drinking locations in the East End.

4. Bubble Fusion - 200 East Avenue

Right next door to Steadfast is Bubble Fusion. Since 2015, this cafe has served Rochesterians with bubble tea, smoothies, salads, and sushi. Aside from traditional sushi options, Bubble Fusion also has original inventions like the rock n’ roll—made with smoked salmon, eel, crab, avocado, and seaweed powder; and the fantastic roll, which features tempura shrimp, cucumber, spicy tuna, avocado, tobiko, and soy bean paper.

5. Max of Eastman Place - 25 Gibbs Street

At 25 Gibbs Street, Max’s is right in the heart of Jazz Fest. Its elegant setting caters to festivalgoers looking for a formal dining experience. Max’s serves old-school, European classics like pan-seared duck, tuna tartare, and osso bucco bolognese. An expansive wine list complements any item on Max’s menu.

The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival runs from June 22–June 30.

Follow Nick’s Picks on Twitter at @NicksPicks585.

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