Spice up lunch with something different

Say you’re downtown returning library books, or you have a break in your workday — and a little cash in your pocket. Instead of heading to the same place you always go and ordering the same thing you always do, try hitting up a few downtown(ish) establishments you might not have considered.

Lord Essex at the Kahler

After closing its lunch service last spring to promote Martini’s midday offerings, Lord Essex opened for lunch again on Nov. 1. Their signature selections have a common theme: lots of seafood. "We fly in seafood from all over the world a few times a week," chef Mark Burt says. "It costs about twice as much to get it fresh, but it’s been working out for us."

One popular dish is a nori-wrapped ahi tuna steak that’s breaded, fried medium-rare and served on a bed of greens, as well as a kettle chip–crusted talapia sandwich. Diners can also build their own seafood entree by choosing a preparation and sauce. "We’ve gone away from the heavy sauces, and we feature more relishes and fruit sauces now," Burt says.

Zpizza in University Square


After being open for about a year, Zpizza already enjoys a healthy lunch crowd. But what intrigues me is what seems to be a contradiction in terms: healthy pizza. How can that be? "All our ingredients are fresh, we use organic tomato and pesto sauces and part-skim mozzarella cheese," owner Deb VonWald says. "We’re also moving towards an all-organic crust at the beginning of next year."

Zpizza also features many unique offerings in the realm of pizza, including nine vegetarian pies. Their Napoli pizza has a roasted garlic sauce base, then tomatoes and parmesan cheese topped with fresh basil. Another popular option is the Tuscan mushroom, which features three types of mushrooms, feta cheese, truffle oil and thyme. Yes, on a pizza. Working through lunch? Zpizza offers delivery within a two-mile radius.

Paradise Pete’s at Miracle Mile

Though not exactly downtown, Paradise Pete’s has a tropical/pizza combo theme that might satisfy your need for something different. In addition to the popular pizza buffet, there’s the Quick Six lunch menu. These lunch entrees are designed to be out of the kitchen in 15 minutes or less, including a chicken salad or veggie wrap, a Cuban salad and a couple different pastas.

Pete’s tropical-theme full menu includes a shrimp and crab burger (nicknamed the "Krabby Patty" a la SpongeBob by loyal customers) topped with coconut habanero sauce, a grilled chicken dish sauteed in coconut milk, bananas and walnuts, and other diverse options like oysters, chicken wings and Reubens. "We’ve got something for everyone," owner Mike Barthel says.

Menu remodel coming soon

Speaking of downtown eateries, Mac’s Cafe on Peace Plaza is planning a restaurant remodel in February. And they’ll makeover their menu at the same time. So far the details are top secret, but stay tuned for more after the new year.

Kimberly Van Brunt is a Rochester freelance writer. Quick Bites runs every Friday in Life/After Dark. Send restaurant news and tips to her at

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