A Guide to the Neighborhoods of Rochester, MN
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Cheap Charlie's

Cheap Charlie's is legendary.

Welcome to Rochester, Minnesota. Home to the world-famous Post Bulletin newspaper, Mayo Clinic, and Cheap Charlie’s greasy spoon eatery (11 5th St NW, Rochester). From shopping to cultural events, Rochester’s nooks and crannies are worth exploring.

While our downtown is chock-full of restaurants, bars, and shops, other neighborhoods are more restrained in their offerings. Some have beautiful parks, others have proximity to unique shops. Almost all of them have easy access to more than 90 miles of bike trails. Check it out. Here's your guide!

Kutzky

This is a neighborhood taking its identity into its own hands. The residents are creating a neighborhood to be proud of, day by day, and every event they pull off, is more inspiration to other neighborhoods to do the same. Porchfest finds residents inviting musicians onto their porches to perform, and the whole neighborhood has access to the fine eats of 2nd Street SW. This area is up and coming, for sure.

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Tonic Fresh Juice

Tonic Fresh Juice is just what the doctor ordered. 

At Tonic Fresh Juice, 1217 2nd St. SW, you can enjoy some of the city’s healthiest and tasiest food options. From smoothies to grass-fed burgers, this is the spot to fuel your body. But if you’re hankering for a barbecued chicken breast, a juicy hamburger, or some of the city’s finest french fries, look no further than Cafe Presto, 1223 2nd St SW, which boasts one of the greatest window counters.

Right down the street sits the iconic Canadian Honker, 1203 2nd St SW, which has been serving Rochesterites and the patients of St. Marys for a long time. Their menu is great, but everyone raves about Bunnie’s Coconut Cake.

People with more than a single slice of cake on the brain should make their way to Daube’s Bakery, 1310 5th Pl NW, where you can nab gorgeous black-and-white cookies, gourmet pies, otherworldly cakes, and even sample items from a savory sandwich menu. They also offer a pretty great brunch menu, for those who enjoy a good weekend brunch.

Kutzky is also home to the Miracle Mile Shopping Center, 122 17th Ave NW, which includes several fabulous establishments. ABC Toy Zone is Santa’s home away from home in the wintertime, and has educational toys all year long. Looking for a manicure? Head over to Miracle Nails, 44 17th Ave NW.

Finally, if you’re in the mood to give back, the folks at United Way, 903 W Center St #100, can point you in the right direction.

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La Vetta

La Vetta's rooftop on 3rd Street SE is a great place for a happy hour cocktail.  

Downtown

Whether you’re looking for world-class cuisine, late-night live music, or a stroll down history lane, you’ll find it in downtown Rochester.

We start our tour at Kathy’s Pub, 307 S Broadway, a historic watering hole with the most robust live music schedule in the city. Markedly unpretentious and featuring one of the best rooftop patios in the city, this is one to check out immediately.

Speaking of rooftop patios, we’d be fools to omit La Vetta, 30 3rd St. SE, from a list like this. The swanky, fire-lit patio is a perfect place to find a corner perch and nurse a drink for a couple hours. With their newly minted wintertime igloos, you can even enjoy the view during coldnights. They’ve got a great happy hour menu and usually hire exceptional DJs who specialize in cutting-edge house and future-trap remixes.

Down on the ground level, there are shops and bars a-plenty. Grand Rounds, 4 3rd St. SW, is a burger joint and brewery, The Loop, 318 1st Ave. SW, is a dancing hotspot and home to great cocktails and chicken tenders, and Dooley’s, 255 1st Ave. SW, reigns supreme as the late-night-it’s-almost-bar-close meet-up spot. They’ve also got world-class sliders and a decent happy hour menu.

As far as restaurants go, downtown is full of options. Pannekoeken, 6 1st Ave. NW, is a longtime Rochester favorite for all-day breakfast, while Tinn’s, 101 N Broadway Ave., serves up the best seasoned fries and Philly cheese-steaks in the city. Mango Thai, 318 S Broadway, is a newer staple on the food scene. Make sure to check out their peanut sauce, Thai jerky, and phenomenal mango cocktails. Newt’s, 216 1st Ave. SW, is a burger paradise known for its “Marvin” burger and unchanging decor. A trek into that establishment is like a step back in time, in a cozy, excellent way.

Meander down Historic Third Street for a taste of Rochester’s past. Start by heading into Kruesel’s Antiques, 22 3rd St. SW. The proprietor is a mythic figure with deep knowledge of this city.

The Doggery, 18 3rd St. SW, is a subterranean cocktail lounge mimicking speakeasies of yore. This place pipes in quality tunes and tasty drinks. Though their mixologists charge a fair rate for their artful creations, they also keep an eye out for the fiscally-responsible folks with at least one inexpensive beer option available on the menu.

Of course, no trip to downtown would be complete without a stop at our Peace Plaza, 1st Ave. All kinds of festivals and gatherings happen here, from the popular weekly summer street fair Thursdays on First to a four-day ice bar festival. This is a locale you’ll be seeing a lot of if you hang around downtown.

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Thursdays on First and Third

Thursdays on First: Summertime in downtown Rochester.

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Folwell Elementary School

Folwell Elementary, at 6th Street and 15th Avenue SW.

Pill Hill

There’s not a lot of shopping or eating going on up here, but in this old neighborhood with charms galore, there are plenty of places to plop down and think about life. The architecture of Harold Crawford, the intermittent brick roads - it all comes together to give you a sense of an old-school Rochester that’s on its way into deep history. Speaking of Harold Crawford, his magnificent building, Folwell Elementary School, 6th St. SW, though diminished by recent renovations, is still worth a gander.

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Plummer House Tower

The tower at Plummer House.

The Plummer House gardens, 1091 Plummer Ln SW, are a beautiful place to hang out. Open to the public, they’re a perennially popular spot to take senior photos or engagement photos equally suited to picnics or an afternoon of reading in shady grass. The Plummer House itself is sometimes open for tours, but it’s more likely that you’ll find its doors open for the occasional second-hand market or something similar.

St. Marys Park, 901 4th St SW, is a sledding hill to be reckoned with during the wintertime, and a wonderful park to lay out a blanket and forget your sorrows in the rest of the year. If you need to stretch your legs, nearby 5th Street SW is a beautiful, hilly street with cool, old houses. If you keep sauntering in the direction of downtown, you’ll pop out at Pasquale’s Pizzeria, 130 5th St. SW. Pasquale’s is a recent addition to the city’s eating landscape, but with a deep affinity for the New York-style of communal living, Pasquale and his family of pizza-makers fit right in.

Around the corner from Pasquale’s is the People’s Food Co-op, 519 1st Ave. SW, a popular grocery location for people concerned with where their food comes from. From their excellent butcher’s counter to the rare candies up front by the registers, this could be your new favorite grocery store. They have Nice Ride bikes to rent outside, giving anyone the opportunity to tour the city’s extensive bike trail system.

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Cooke Park - City Parks

Alicia Belkstrom with her children Hailey and Connor at Cooke Park in Rochester.

Cooke Park

Two years ago, this was a wholly underrated neighborhood. Now home to the Cooke Park Design District, there’s a whole lot of art happening up in here. Dwell Local, 602 7th St. NW, is home to all kinds of artful creations for sale. Owner Paul Bennett is also among the friendliest, best-connected people in town, and can help you find your niche in the city. If he doesn’t, he’ll at least sell you something truly one-of-a-kind.

Looking for some high-octane cold-pressed coffee and vegan snacks? Look no further than Old Abe Coffee Shop, 832 7th St. NW, where owner Abe Sauer can hook you up with both caffeine and cutting political commentary. Seriously, if you’re looking for someone who can school you on the political landscape of the city, this is your guy. He’s also got a bunch of comic books on the wall, if you want to get really intellectual.

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Old Abe Coffee

Old Abe Coffee Shop is the place for caffeine and commentary. 

At Fox and Fern Floral, 615 6th Ave. NW, you can find some of the most artfully designed bouquets in the area. This place doubles as a sometime music venue: if you’ve never seen a rock show in a flower shop, you’re missing out. Keep your eyes peeled for issues of 507 Magazine to find out when the next show happens.

Forager Brewing Company, 1005 6th St. NW, is one of the city’s landmark breweries. An eclectically decorated interior with a great patio space for live music and an ever-changing roster of craft beers makes this a must-see spot. If beer’s not your thing, check out Fiddlehead Coffee Shop inside. If coffee isn’t your thing, check out the Root Cellar, a small local market by the front door.

Speaking of breweries, Kinney Creek Brewery, 1016 7th St. NW, the city’s first brewery, is just down the street, at. They also feature a roster of impressive craft beers, and host plenty of live music.

Last but certainly not least is Custom Costumes, 603 6th Ave. NW, one of the oldest residents of the Cooke Park District. If you need any kind of costume, for a party, Halloween, or just for kicks, this place will have it. The store stocks her original creations as well as a solid range of vinyl masks, make-up, wigs, and crazy hats.

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Cascade Lake Park

Cascade Lake Park

Uptown

A couple years ago, no one would’ve rated this stretch of road as a hot spot. With the street’s recent renovation, though, more and more people are making themselves familiar with the portion of the city known as Uptown. At the very end of this stretch sits the Rochester Golf and Country Club, 3100 Country Club Rd W. For an annual fee, you can avail yourself of the rolling, “stern, but fair” golf course that’s been entertaining and challenging the upper crust of Rochester since 1915. For non-golf greenery, check out Eagle Ridge Park, 2571 Aspen Pl. SW, or Cascade Lake, 88 23rd Ave. SW, and once winter hits, you can practice your tennis strokes at Rochester Tennis Connection, 2700 Country Club Rd SW.

Speaking of green, local nursery and greenhouse Sargent’s on 2nd, 1811 2nd St. SW, can help you bring the glory of the golf course into your own yard. Or, you could just check out Shades of Green, 2003 2nd St. SW, one of the quirkiest shops in the city. Brimming with tsotchkes, doodads, and other gift ideas, this is a great starting point for any shopping odyssey. Tyrol Ski and Sports, 1923 2nd St. SW, is another favored shopping spot. With scores of winter and summer adventure gear, Tyrol has been outfitting adventurous Rochesterites for generations.

When it’s time to come in from the adventure, Nature’s Best Cleaners, 1430 5th Pl. NW, can make sure you’re clean and proper enough for a round at the country club.

As far as drinking goes, you can do it at Beetles Bar & Grill, 230 20th Ave. SW, among friendly folks who gather there after work, or you could nab a bottle from Joe’s Liquor, 2215 2nd St. SW, and head home to do it by yourself.

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Apache Mall

Apache Mall

Baihly Meadows/Foxcroft

In the Baihly Meadows/Foxcroft region of the city, there are shopping options galore. We’ll start with everyone’s favorite discount retailer, TJ Maxx, 1300 Salem Rd. SW. According to out-of-towners, Rochester’s location seems to get a better selection than branches elsewhere. To celebrate your great deals, head over to Party City, 1300 Salem Rd. SW, where all the event supplies you could ever ask for are waiting to be purchased. There’s also a spot to get quilting supplies, Pine Needles Quilt Shop, 1300 Salem Rd. SW Suite 250, and a spot to crash if it all gets too exhausting: Kahler Apache Hotel and Water Park, 1517 16th St. SW. The Kahler Apache is also a good spot for throwing children’s birthday parties, due to its super-fun water park.

Down the road is Natural Grocers, 1507 Greenview Dr. SW, where you can find healthy options on your way to the Apache Mall, 52 US-14. Maybe you’re in the mood for inexpensive yet critically-acclaimed sliders. For those, walk into Wildwood Sports Bar and Grill, 1517 16th St. SW.

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Special Sections Assistant Editor

Bryan is the Post Bulletin's special sections assistant editor. He's a Rochester native and Mayo HS alumni. Bryan graduated from Knox College in 2009 with bachelor degrees in creative writing and political science.

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