Experiential living during COVID
Delicious food and drinks you can find along the Erie Canal, paired with a walk
Rochester and our surrounding suburbs are made up of many neighborhoods full of hidden surprises. With a thriving food scene, amazing breweries, many parks, and a waterfall running through the center of our city, there is a lot to enjoy and explore.
I know good food and where to have a good time. Rochester is full of plenty of options for both. That’s why I created Rochester A-List. With thirteen years working with the best places for food, drinks, and fun, under my belt I want to share some of my favorites. I gravitate toward farm-to-table, outdoor spaces, and places with ambiance run by passionate owners because that passion shows in their business.
I’d like to help you discover some of the best food and drinks in our city. This series will pair walks with great local flavors. So, lace up your sneakers (or boots; it’s March and this is Upstate New York), call a friend, or grab your quarantine mates. Get your workout in, breathe in fresh air, up those endorphins, and enjoy time outside with fun, COVID-safe social plans.
[Be sure to check with any business before you visit. Hours and offerings are subject to change.]—Ed.
Self-Guided Walking Food Tour #1- Pittsford, NY
My first tour in the series is through Pittsford, which has been a favorite area of mine since I organized the first Pittsford Canal Crawl. The town of Pittsford is walkable to many businesses with great outdoor spaces, plus the Erie Canal can lead you to even more. Whether you are up for a long or short walk, the Erie Canal is a beautiful route leading to fantastic eating and drinking spots. You can walk, then eat; grab takeout, eat, and then walk; or eat and drink along the way. I like options, and you can do this differently each time for several unique adventures. There are too many good options here to do this once and only one way.
This walking tour is a 6.2-mile walk (two hours of walking with added time for eating and drinking). You can look to the final paragraphs for options to make this a shorter walk. This tour is a simple out-and-back walk on the canal from Pittsford to Bushnell’s Basin, where you’ll explore both sides of the canal.
Are you ready?
Here’s what my friend and I did on a recent walk and one of my favorite ways to enjoy the area and outdoor social plans. Park in the public lot on Schoen Place in Pittsford, then walk over to the community outdoor space near Lock 32 Brewing Company and grab a table by one of the outdoor heaters.
There are three restaurants a couple steps away to grab takeout from, and the brewery will deliver to your table at this canal-side gathering space. If you are drinking beer from the brewery, you can also order/bring-in food from any restaurant. We ordered hot beverages to go from Simply Crepes.
Start walking on the canal path toward Bushnell’s Basin (the canal will be on your right).
Enjoy the views and time outside. In three miles, you’ll see Seven Story Brewing on the other side of the canal. Keep walking; you’re almost there. After you pass under the Marsh Road Bridge, you’ll see a path that veers to the left leading to Marsh Road. Follow that and cross the bridge to the other side of the canal. The sidewalk turns into the canal path again, and in a matter of steps, you’ll arrive at a beautiful brewery with a gorgeous outdoor space overlooking the water. The inside and deck feel like a tree fort, and the outside is lined with hanging lights, fire pits, and Adirondack chairs.
Seven Story Brewing has an outdoor tent with heaters and several areas with fire pits.
If you aren’t a beer fan or you’re hungry at this point, I highly recommend Richardson’s Canal House. It’s a short walk from this side of the canal in the opposite direction from the brewery. It has a beautiful outdoor patio and lawn overlooking the water.
At this juncture you have a decision to make. If you went to the brewery, now might be a good time to look at some menus to decide where you want to eat when you arrive back in Pittsford. If you’re short on time, you can order food from your phone to have your takeout ready when you arrive.
Here is a list of some of my favorite Pittsford restaurants:
- Jo Jo Bistro & Wine Bar—wood fired pizza and pasta restaurantjojo.com
- Label 7 Napa Eatery & Bar—locally sourced new-age American fare labelseven.com
- Pittsford Farms Dairy—homemade ice cream and bakery pittsfordfarmsdairy.com
- Aladdin’s Natural Eatery—reasonably priced Lebanese American food aladdins.com
- Olives Greek Taverna—reasonably priced Greek food olivespittsford.com
- Simply Crepes—savory and sweet crepes simplycrepes.com
- Coal Tower—diner-style breakfast and comfort food coaltowerrestaurant.com
After my companion and I finished our delicious stouts, we retraced our steps to get back to the other side of the canal and started the walk back to Pittsford. Once we arrived at our original starting place, we again grabbed a table at the community outdoor space and ordered two après-walk beers.
We decided to get takeout from Label 7. We ordered its chicken-and-waffles signature dish—the L.A. chicken—and the short rib ragu with plantain gnocchi as well as the butternut squash flatbread. The chicken was crisp and perfectly seasoned on top of sweet buttermilk waffles drizzled with real maple syrup. The short rib dish was our favorite: perfectly cooked in a mouth-watering sauce with gluten-free plantain gnocchi, which were sweet and tasted like pasta. The dish was finished with a dollop of herbed ricotta. The flatbread was topped with squash and apple, goat cheese, garlic sage spread, and red onion jam. Both dishes and the flatbread were a fantastic way to end a wonderful day.
Short on time or not up for such a long walk?
You can shorten the walk by just turning around at any point. You’ll miss going to Seven Stories Brewing, but you can always drive there. Another option is to use some car parking trickery to make this a 3.1-mile walk (about an hour of walking). You’ll need two cars. Park one on Schoen Place and the other in Bushnell’s Basin at the Erie Canal lot near Seven Stories Brewing. This lot is called the Crescent Trail lot. If you are driving toward Seven Stories Brewing on Route 96 from Pittsford, the canal and brewery will be on your left. The lot is about one tenth of a mile before the brewery.
If you have any questions or want to tell me about your tour, DM me on Instagram at @rochesteralist or email email@example.com. Tag @585mag and me in your walking food tour photos. We’d love to see you having fun on your adventure!
Amy Riposo is the founder of Rochester A-List, a hub for connecting people to recommended food, drinks, entertainment and wellness in Upstate New York. She organizes food-centric events bringing like-minded people together to share and explore local food and drinks.