This is our final blog post of the year. Please see the editor’s note at the end of the post!
by Reese Imhof
My wife, Nicole, and I made the move from New York to Rochester last spring. She was fortunate and landed a job in her field at Mayo Clinic right away, which gave us a reason to move sooner rather than later. We were both born and raised in the New York metropolitan area and felt a strong connection with our roots. While it was a difficult decision to leave New York, we have absolutely loved this past year at Mayo and living life in Rochester! Here are my top reasons why I love Rochester, MN and how moving from New York to Rochester has been for me.
Food: As Rochester continues to grow with the Destination Medical Center (DMC) economic development initiative underway (this includes private investments of $5.6 billion over 20 years to fuel the growth of Rochester), there seems to be almost a monthly batch of new restaurants popping up. Rochester’s restaurant scene is more about quality versus quantity. When my wife first visited Rochester with me to house hunt, we celebrated finding “the one” with a dinner at Forager (foragerbrewery.com). Their restaurant boasts an eclectic mix of locally sourced farm-to-table dishes from cast iron mac and cheese, amazing burgers, and handmade pizzas, to their “Forager skillet” fit for any foodie. Forager is also one of our favorite spots for Sunday brunch. Connected to Forager, there’s also a great coffee shop called Kutzky Market, but I’ll talk about that a little later.
Here are 10 of our favorite restaurants in Rochester:
Forager Brewery – locally sourced, farm-to-table, American dishes
Terza – upscale Italian with a rooftop bar (La Vetta)
The Redwood Room – upmarket new American with an Italian influence
Ootori Sushi – a favorite for Japanese cuisine
Pescara – fresh from scratch Seafood restaurant
Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria – New York-style pizza, Italian pastries, calzones, and garlic knots. This is the real deal!
Bleu Duck Kitchen – new American with a menu that changes once a week
Pho Chau – very popular Vietnamese restaurant
Porch and Cellar – Southern, Urban Farm Fare
Mango Thai – modern Thai cuisine
Kutzky Market (photo courtesy of Alexandra Wootla)
Drinks: Bars and restaurants go hand-in-hand and many of the above mentioned restaurants boast extensive wine lists and cocktail selections, but Rochester is also home to various breweries, coffee shops and cafes. One very popular new spot is The Doggery. This place rivals many of the speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounges found throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. They offer food and non-alcoholic beverages as well.
The Doggery – speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge with prohibition-era style cocktails and a moody atmosphere; they also offer hand crafted food pairings.
Grand Rounds – brewing company and pub right in the heart of downtown, the name says it all. In addition to craft beer, they offer fresh, local food and desserts (the cast iron cookie is a favorite).
Kutzky Market – connected to Forager Brewery, offers handcrafted espresso drinks and a delicious assortment of fresh baked pastries.
Café Steam – a favorite of many Mayo med students, boasting delicious coffee and loose leaf teas with plenty of workspace to study.
Old Abe Coffee Co. – during the warmer months, you’ll spot Old Abe’s coffee cargo bike outside the Mayo building and across from the medical school. His cold brew is, in my opinion, the best in town. He’ll be opening a brick and mortar shop in the Cooke Park Design District this year.
535 Gallery (photo courtesy of Alexandra Wootla)
Arts & Culture: Rochester has a lot to offer for a smaller city in terms of arts and culture. Our recently expanded Civic Center area downtown has a theater and arts center while the Cooke Park Design District continues to expand to include galleries and shops where you can purchase local DIY art and crafts.
The Rochester Civic Theater Company – professional community theater, dance, and musical performances
Rochester Art Center – contemporary art and cultural center
Dwell Local – locally sourced and owned design and art business specializing in handmade, re-purposed, and up-cycled items. Located in the Cooke Park Design District.
Fox Fern Floral – a boutique-style floral design studio. This is where I get my wife flowers! Also located in the Cooke Park Design District.
535 Gallery – new art gallery located in the Cooke Park Design District
The Great Outdoors: Something we have really enjoyed is getting outside more often now that we have access to miles of bike trails and beautiful parks.
Rochester has so much to offer in this arena and it has been a welcome change for us. The city of Rochester has 3,500 acres of park land, 85 miles of paved trails, and over 100 individual park areas to visit.
Bike path (courtesy of Alexandra Wootla)
Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center
Silver Lake Park
Extensive bike trail system – Cascade Lake, Bear Creek, Mayowood, and White Oaks/Douglas Trail are some of my favorite trail loops.
Cost of Living: Did I mention that my wife and I bought a house? This is something that would have been impossible for us as a young couple starting out in the New York metropolitan area while I’m in med school. We were able to find the perfect home close to Mayo in a neighborhood we love. As a married student with a working spouse, this made sense for us. However, if you’re looking for a more modern apartment building, there are multiple new developments popping up all over town close to Mayo Clinic. Many of my classmates live in the heart of downtown Rochester, within walking distance of the med school. Coming from New York, the cost of living in the Midwest has been a huge relief for me as a medical student and I’m glad to be able to get more for my money in a city that is undergoing so many new and exciting developments.
Social Ice (photo courtesy of Alexandra Wootla)
Community: The Rochester community has been so welcoming. The “Minnesota Nice” culture is a real thing and it’s wonderful. As a small city, there are plenty of things to do while there is also a true sense of community and solidarity with your neighbors.
Thursdays on First & 3rd – weekly street fair with food vendors, local artists and live music held throughout the summer months.
Social Ice – held in February, this event features local restaurants, professional ice sculptures, and live music.
Rochester Public Library – beautiful public library with many events and educational opportunities for residents young and old.
What the Future Holds: Rochester is evolving rapidly. In the first year of living here we’ve already seen many changes, from new housing developments, restaurants, shops, and more. It’s exciting to live in a place that is growing and changing and we are definitely happy to have made the move from the East Coast to Midwest!
All photographs featured in this blog post are used with permission from Alexandra Wootla, courtesy of the Rochester_MN instagram account (@Rochester_MN). Please visit https://www.instagram.com/rochester_mn to view more beautiful photographs of Rochester.
Reese is a first year medical student and a member of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine Social Media Committee. He is a native New Yorker who worked as a graphic designer and entrepreneur before coming to medical school. He loves living in Rochester with his wife, Nicole, and their dog and two cats. His hobbies include biking, running, hiking, photography, and writing.
Editor’s note (Tyler Brobst): With just a few short days left until graduation, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the last four years and all the incredible opportunities I’ve had at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine (or as I knew it until this past year, Mayo Medical School!) and in Rochester and Minnesota in general. I’ve come to know and love this area in a way I never thought possible. I think this post by Reese exemplifies Rochester’s greatest qualities, and how truly up-and-coming of a city it is. Being in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic has been an amazing place to study medicine. I’ve met an incredible group of faculty, residents, and of course, fellow classmates who share a tangible passion for learning and patient care. I’ve been incredibly inspired by these people. I am especially grateful to every student who has contributed to this blog and shared their stories. After its inception three years ago, Meet Mayo Med has been a place to share blog posts on everything from cooking to clinical rotations to life in Rochester, and I hope that this story sharing continues. Although I’ll be leaving Rochester and heading to San Diego for my pediatrics residency next month, I will always be grateful for the relationships that I’ve formed here at Mayo.