The Public Market is a Rochester institution, going strong now for over 100 years. It's open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with the big day being Saturday, and all year—although in the winter, there are fewer vendors. (Particularly in the open-sided stalls; however, not all the vendors are located in these.) In addition to being a place where you can get pretty much anything you want, it's also a place representing a true cross-section of America: many ethnicities, many languages, many income levels. It's REAL in the best sense of the word.
Vendors sell fresh produce, meat, cheese, honey, maple syrup, baked goods, clothing, flowers, plants, and more. There are at least three bakeries that I can think of, with our favorite being the Flour City Bakery in the row of warehouses at one side, next to what (at night) becomes Cure Restaurant. Their breads are wonderfully crusty and flavorful. This row of warehouses contains a lot of shops that are a gourmand's delight. You have the Italian shop, which carries an incredible variety of cheeses (they always have samples available, too), olives, sausages and hams, specialty canned goods, olive oils, and more. You have various coffee roasters. You have a shop selling various olive oils. You have Fare Game, which carries (as you might guess) game and other meats—if you want an elk steak and some foie gras to top it with, or a prime steak, you can buy it here.
In the warehouses on the other side, you have two fish markets with a much wider range of offerings than you'll ever find at local supermarkets, and with better prices, too. There's a place to buy gorgeous fresh pasta in all sorts of colors, flavors, and shapes. There are a couple of other meat vendors, selling everything from hamburger for the family picnic to goat meat if you've got a hankering for a Caribbean stew. There are more produce vendors.
At the market, you'll occasionally find oddball produce in season. This spring, we got some fiddlehead ferns that were delicious. We've bought squash blossoms for stuffing. Last year, we got some apples of a variety we'd never seen elsewhere because they are rarely grown. If you are a foodie, you'll love going to the market and taking in all the eye candy.
One of the most entertaining parts of a visit to the market is hearing its announcer. Check this link out to see why:
We often stop at the Rohrbach brewery on our way to or from the market, sample the beers on tap, and pick up a growler to take home with all our market bounty. Opening soon in the same building will be a craft distillery.
There are several free parking lots available near the market, although spaces are hard to come by at the busiest times. If you get lucky, you might find a space on the street, or there are several lots where you can pay a couple dollars and not have to wait.
Allow at least an hour to "do" the whole market; you can also make a morning of it by eating breakfast and/or lunch at the many cafes and food stands in and around the booths. Yes, public restrooms are available at a brick building near the market offices, in the center of the area.
If you live in Rochester and have never been to the market, shame on you! If you're visiting Rochester, check it out and you just might want to move here!
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