Special Sections » Best of Rochester

Best Place to Go Dancing: ROAR

The dance floor at ROAR nightclub. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • The dance floor at ROAR nightclub.

On the bar scene, a mighty ROAR

621 Culver Road | 585-434-1248

There’s a neon sign over the door at ROAR: “A DJ and a Drag Queen Walk Into a Bar.”

But this isn’t the set up for a joke. It’s the premise for Rochester’s reigning gay-owned nightclub, which scooped up five “Best of Rochester” awards.

Since opening in November 2019, ROAR has filled a gap in the LGBTQ+ community left by the closings of Tilt Nightclub, Muther’s, and Club GQ. It was while working in those venues that ROAR owners David Chappius (aka drag queen DeeDee DuBois) and Michael Ruger (aka DJ Mighty Mic) first met. (Chappius and Ruger are also “Best of Rochester” winners.)

After Tilt closed in 2018, the duo started a pop-up act called “DeeDee’s Night Out” which traveled to different regional locations.

“We weren’t ready to stop doing what we do,” Chappius said.

With the encouragement of their husbands, Ruger and Chappius found a space at 621 Culver Road, next to the former Sticky Lips BBQ, and opened a club while keeping their full-time day jobs. They managed to stay in business — and retained most of the original staff intact — through the pandemic lockdown.

Now, they’re back to full operation every Wednesday through Saturday.

“We like to have fun, and that’s what this place is,” Chappius said. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re community oriented, and everything we host or benefit fits the model of our business.”

Before ROAR, Chappius spent more than 20 years performing as a drag queen. By day, he works in finance for a construction company. His and Ruger’s past gigs at LGBTQ+ clubs factor heavily into the ROAR experience.

“Drag is a part of everything we do at ROAR, which really sets us apart from other nightclubs in the area right now,” Chappius said.

Wednesday is trivia night hosted by drag queen Samantha Vega, and Thursday is karaoke night hosted by drag queen Chaka. On the weekends, the chairs and tables are removed to make way for elaborate drag shows and late night dancing (a floor-to-ceiling dance pole is a go-to photo opp for many guests). Select Sundays feature a drag brunch, and there’s a monthly Bingo night. No matter the day, the crowd is always filled with familiar faces.

“So many of our guests have become regulars and extended family,” Chappius said. “People may also be surprised at our age range. We are 18-plus because we want transgender youth to have a safe place to be their authentic selves, but our average age is in the mid-30s.”

ROAR has a few plans for 2023, including booking national DJs, porn stars, drag queens, and go-go dancers for events as well as continuing to spotlight local talent.
“We’re here to be creative and have a good time,” Chappius said. “Not to do the same things that are already being done.” — LEAH STACY

Finalists: JuiceBox | Lux Lounge | Vertex

In This Guide...

  • Best Place to Take a First Date: Swillburger

    If your date doesn’t like this place, then find a new date, because there is no helping that person.

  • Best Outdoor Ice Skating: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park

    There were once several outdoor rinks in the area, but of those that remain, the kidney-shaped ice surface at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park is a gem.

  • Best Bowling: Radio Social

    This pristine playground-for-adults is fit with 34 lanes of bowling alongside astro-turfed space for corn hole and giant Jenga.

  • Best of Rochester: Shopping and Services

    Whether you're looking for flowers, a haircut, or that special gift for a four-legged friend, CITY readers recommend . . .

  • Best of Rochester: Recreation

    From first dates to dancing and shooting hoops, CITY readers have the scoop . . .

  • Best Camp for Kids: Rochester Museum and Science Center

    Do your curious youngsters love building robots? Engineering forts? Learning wilderness skills? Rochester Museum and Science Center is for them.

  • Best Antique Shop/Dealer: The Shops on West Ridge

    The Shops on West Ridge is actually a collection of some 200 smaller “shops'' that sell all kinds of goodies from the distant and near past.

  • Best Cross-country Skiing: Mendon Ponds Park

    Mendon Ponds Park is gorgeous year-round, but the 2,500-acre park is downright magical when it’s covered in a fresh coat of snow.

  • Best Day Hike: Letchworth State Park

    The views of the "Grand Canyon of the East" from the high points of the Gorge Trail are truly awe-inspiring and humbling.

  • Best Bike Shop: Full Moon Vista and Towpath

    Great bike shops don’t just sell bikes. They’re run by a knowledgeable staff of cycling enthusiasts who build community with classes and host events to get people rolling.

  • Best Bridal Shop: Heart to Heart Bride

    This bridal boutique in the heart of Webster prides itself on stocking the largest inventory from the wedding gown industry’s top designers and its own private collection.

  • Best Car Detailing: Warren Buff-It

    Warren Mapes details everything from McLarens and Porsches to minivans and SUVs and everything in between.

  • Best Day Trip with Kids: Seabreeze

    Not so big that you can’t see and ride everything in a single visit, and not so small that you feel like you’re at the local fireman’s carnival.

  • Best Dog Park: Ellison Park Dog Park

    Like their humans, dogs need exercise, mental stimulation, and to socialize, all of which a romp at this dog park provides.

  • Best Family-Friendly Attraction: The Strong National Museum of Play

    Consistently ranked atop the list of Rochester’s tourist attractions, The Strong, as the museum wants to be known, is a wonderland for kids and kids-at-heart.

  • Best Fishing Hole: Irondequoit Bay

    Irondequoit Bay is home to varying aqueous environments where you can nab everything from channel catfish to walleye, perch, and bass.

  • Best Foot Race: Lilac Run

    This 5k and 10k run kicks off the warm-weather running season.

  • Best Guided Tour: Mount Hope Cemetery

    At Mount Hope Cemetery, the dead have a lot of tales to tell. Hearing them is best done with the aid of people who know the history the cemetery holds.

  • Best Local Sports Team: Rochester Red Wings

    The oldest continuously-run minor-league team in professional sports, the Red Wings have been a major source of hometown pride since 1899.

  • Best Outdoor Swimming: Hamlin Beach State Park

    Day trips to Hamlin Beach have been a summertime staple for generations of local families.

  • Best CBD Shop: Mad Hatter’s Hideaway

    Mad Hatter’s in Irondequoit offers an impressive array of hemp, CBD, and cannabis products, a mind-boggling selection of pipes, bongs, bubblers, and bowls, as well as boutique cigars and loose-leaf tobacco.

  • Best Corner Store: Bodega

    Despite what its minimalist name might imply, Bodega aims to be more than a generic corner store.

  • Best Place to People Watch: Rochester Public Market

    Consistently voted one of the best public markets in the country, the Rochester Public Market draws people from all walks of life.

  • Best Place to Play Pool: Dicky's Corner Pub

    \What makes playing pool at Dicky’s Corner Pub is the all-around laidback vibe around the well-worn table.

  • Best Fitness Service: YMCA of Greater Rochester

    From personal training programs to childcare, camps, and classes for all ages and myriad interests, the 12 local Y branches probably have something for you.

  • Best Florist: Kittelberger

    Everyone needs a florist at some point or another and Kittelberger in Webster has been a go-to for more than 90 years.

  • Best Garden Center: Garden Factory

    No nursery in the Rochester area comes even close to rivaling The Garden Factory in terms of size and scope.

  • Best Public Golf Course: Durand Eastman

    Durand Eastman Park Golf Course's undulating landscapes, tree-lined fairways, and creeks and ponds are no walk in the park (although playing the course literally is).

  • Best Haircut: Gallery Salon

    Founded and owned by stylist Erika Sorbello, Gallery Salon has more than a dozen stylists, nail artists, and makeup artists offering a dizzying array of beauty services.

  • Best Hotel: The Strathallan

    The Strathallan, a DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton, has the bona fides to back up its self-proclaimed title of “Rochester’s premier boutique hotel.”

  • Best Housewares Store: Mayer Paint and Hardware

    Mayer’s is about 5,000 square feet of hardware, power tools, paint, snowblowers, grills, and just about anything else anyone might need to get the job done.

  • Best Independent Bookseller: Lift Bridge Bookshop

    Lift Bridge Bookshop in Brockport has two floors of current bestsellers, novels, books by local authors, magazines, and reference books to keep curious browsers busy for a while.

  • Best Public Park: Highland Park

    When readers selected Highland Park to win this category, they handed the victory to Rochester’s first public park.

  • Best Local Radio Personality: Evan Dawson

    Evan Dawson elevated the “Connections” brand at WXXI News when he took over as host of the afternoon radio talk show in 2014

  • Best Weekend Getaway: Finger Lakes Region

    With 11 pristine lakes nestled between breathtaking bucolic hillsides, waterfront hotels, world-class wineries and breweries at every turn, and dining options that range from fine to farm-to-table low-key, there’s plenty to love about the region.

  • Best Mechanic: Browncroft Garage

    One of the oldest auto mechanic shops in Rochester, Browncroft Garage has been in the same spot on Atlantic Avenue since before most American households had cars.

  • Best Local Television Personality: WHAM 13's Scott Hetsko

    Meteorologist Scott Hetsko is an affable guy who has endeared himself to viewers across the region with his upbeat and trustworthy delivery of all things weather.

  • Best Music Teacher: Ben & Katie Morey, The Submarine School of Music

    Husband-and-wife team Ben and Katie Morey created the music ed hub in 2018, and it has quickly expanded .

  • Best Musical Instrument Store: House of Guitars

    House of Guitars isn’t just a Rochester institution. It’s a national landmark of sorts for touring musicians.

  • Best Pick-up Basketball: Cobbs Hill Park

    The Tony Boler Basketball Courts at Cobbs Hill Park draw some of the best street ballers in the city year-round.

  • Best Tobogganing: Cobbs Hill Park

    Trudging down the slope of Cobbs Hill Park by foot is one way to get back to civilization. But in the winter, when snow blankets the ground, the hill is ideal for tobogganing.

  • Best Neighborhood Garden: 490 Farmers

    Started in 2017 as a community garden with 10 plots and a shed, 490 Farmers' space at Broadway and Meigs now has 55 plots for rent and more.

  • Best Stargazing Spot: Cobbs Hill Park

    When the sun sets and the lights of the city are twinkling far below, there is nothing but darkness between the water and the heavens, making the elevated hilltop at Cobbs Hill Park the perfect spot to take in the night sky.

  • Best Public Tennis Courts: Cobbs Hill Park

    The six tennis courts, which were renovated with upgraded lighting in 2013, are some of the most used among the three dozen or so in the city. Getting on a court, especially early on a pleasant summer morning, often requires a wait time.

  • Best Biking Trail: Erie Canalway Trail

    The Erie Canal has been called “the nation’s first superhighway.” It is only apropos that CITY readers recognize its namesake recreation trail as the best place to hop and bike and move.

  • Best of Rochester: Drink

    From Bloody Marys to teas, CITY readers know what places please . . .

  • Best Nonprofit Organization: Lollypop Farm

    Lollypop Farm is best known for connecting adoptable creatures with loving caregivers.

  • Best Bar to Drink Alone: Lux Lounge

    Drinking solo? There’s plenty to keep you entertained at this South Wedge watering hole.

  • Best Pet-related Business: Bones Dog Bakery

    Bones owner Dani Fischer wants her bakery to be a place where people and their pups can spend time together and the focus is on the dogs.

  • Best Place to Buy Kitsch: Parkleigh

    Parkleigh began as a pharmacy at the corner of Park Avenue and Goodman Street in 1960 but became the castle of kitsch it is today in 1986.

  • Best Record Store: Record Archive

    The Record Archive was founded in 1975 by one of the city’s unique characters, Richard Storms.

  • Best Secondhand/Thrift Store: Greenovation

    You can find anything at Greenovation, from vintage clothing to cookware, furniture, and knick-knacks.

  • Best Shoe Store: Fleet Feet

    The Fleet Feet stores in Rochester and in Victor have become the hub of the running community and a go-to for casual athletes looking to comfort their soles.

  • Best Barista: Rory Van Grol (Ugly Duck)

    A hardcore punk vocalist-turned caffeine purveyor, Rory Van Grol is one of those seminal Rochester characters that makes the city special, and is as much a conversationalist as he is a barista.

  • Best Social Media Account: The InnerLoop Blog

    The Innerloop Blog bills itself as “Rochester's #1 source for fake news.” Our readers agree.

  • Best Bartender: Tony Hayward (Lux Lounge)

    In the 15 years that Tony Hayward has tended bar at Lux, he has become an essential and beloved part of the community there, providing not only great service but also fostering a safe space to unwind.

  • Best Beer Selection (Bar or Restaurant): Rochester Beer Park

    Rochester Beer Park features over 60 beers on tap, about half of them held under the craft umbrella.

  • Best Spa: The Spa at the Del Monte

    This upscale spa located within the DelMonte Lodge offers a full menu of treatments from massages and manicures to body scrubs, as well as haircuts and color, of course.

  • Best Beer Selection (Store): Beers of the World

    Beers of the World is a shop whose name speaks for itself. Whether your tastes lie in the Costa Rican mainstay Pilsen or a Russian Imperial Stout from Saint Petersburg’s Baltika Brewing, there’s a little something for everyone here.

  • Best Bloody Mary: The Revelry

    The Bloody Mary at The Revelry stands out as a sleek, simple cocktail crafted with careful attention to freshness and flavor.

  • Best Cidery: Schutt's Apple Mill

    Schutt’s Apple Mill has been making its crystal-clear and sweet apple cider the same way since Paul “Great Grandpa” Schutt opened the place in 1918.

  • Best Cocktails: Restaurant Good Luck

    Good Luck is known for its inventive and flavorful cocktails as much as its food.

  • Best Tattoo Parlor: Love Hate Tattoo

    Love Hate Tattoo has been a fixture of the local body art industry for more that 20 years.

  • Best Coffee: Ugly Duck Coffee

    Ugly Duck began in 2015 as a pop-up espresso bar but has since grown into a popular brick-and-mortar coffee shop where you can get everything from an excellent cup of plain black coffee to The Snug.

  • Best Craft Brewery: Three Heads Brewing

    The brainchild of three of the most distinctively Rochester characters you can find, Three Heads broke into the Rochester craft beer scene in the early 2010’s with its flagship The Kind.

  • Best Toy Store: Millennium Games

    Millennium Games has been a cornerstone of hobby gaming in the region for 35 years

  • Best Distillery: Black Button Distilling

    Founded in 2012, Black Button Distilling is the first grain-to-grass craft distillery to open in Rochester since the end of Prohibition, and it uses only locally-sourced ingredients.

  • Best Vintage Clothing Store: Little Shop of Hoarders

    Little Shop of Hoarders is a well-curated shop that is packed with vintage finds, from blazers to shorts, shoes, and lingerie.

  • Best Smoothies/Juices: Just Juice 4 Life

    Health-minded customers order power tonics, smoothies, and juice flights at the counter, or choose from the juices and fermented items in the grab-and-go coolers. A set of juices ideal for a cleanse can be custom ordered.

  • Best Wedding Venue: Pomona at Blue Barn

    Jill and Jeremy Wolf built the wedding and private events venue in Hilton when they wanted to get married in a barn but couldn’t find one that checked all their boxes.

  • Best Winery: Living Roots

    Living Roots makes a variety of wines from sparkling pet nats to a shiraz made from Australian grapes. The establishment is as popular for its wines as it is for its classes and tastings.

  • Best Yoga Studio: Breathe Yoga & Juice Bar

    Breathe Yoga offers guided yoga and meditation classes for beginners through advanced practitioners, both in person and online.

  • Best of Rochester: Food

    These are the places CITY readers head when they have a hankering for burgers, baked goods, and food of all kinds.

  • Best Plate: Dogtown

    Dogtown, the beloved hot dog shack in the heart of Monroe Avenue, has become a local institution since its opening in 2006.

  • Best Sports Bar: Jeremiah's Tavern

    What goes great with Jeremiah's award-winning wings? Watching football, of course. And baseball, and hockey, and soccer, and basketball, and anything that involves athletes running, jumping, and throwing things in ways impossible for us mere mortals.

  • Best Tea House: Tai Chi Bubble Tea

    Founded in Henrietta, Tai-Chi is now a national chain. It first introduced Rochester to the sushi burrito, or sushirrito, a San Francisco-originated treat representing the sheer audacity of American cuisine.

  • Best Comfort Food: Dogtown

    Dogtown, the beloved hot dog shack in the heart of Monroe Avenue, has become a local institution since its opening in 2006.

  • Best Late-night Eats: Dogtown

    Dogtown, the beloved hot dog shack in the heart of Monroe Avenue, has become a local institution since its opening in 2006.

  • Best Wine Selection (Bar or Restaurant): Apogee

    The wine list at Apogee is carefully curated. Patrons won’t find a book of pages and pages listing vintage bottles that sit in a dusty cellar here.

  • Best Bakery: Savoia Pastry Shoppe

    Savoia has been a family-owned and operated neighborhood mainstay in the northeast corner of the city for nearly a century.

  • Best Wine Selection (Store): Marketview Liquor

    The moment you walk into the doors of Marketview Liquor, cases of wine piled chest high stare you down.

  • Best Barbecue: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

    You can’t go wrong with this award-winning menu rooted in the traditions of Southern barbecue and slathered in spices and sauces that give Dinosaur’s dishes their own flair.

  • Best Bread Bakery: Amazing Grains

    Many people know and love Amazing Grains for its “Salty Bread,” which sells out in a hurry at its store and others that carry it.

  • Best Breakfast: The Original Steve’s Diner

    A highlight of the fare at Original Steve's is the variety of the diner’s famous hubcap-sized pancakes.

  • Best Burger: Good Luck

    A rite of passage for any local and visiting foodie, the Good Luck Burger is an achievement in its simplistic perfection.

  • Best Calzone: Stromboli’s

    Stromboli’s calzones are available in mini, 12-inch (small), and 16-inch (large) sizes. How much golden dough and melted cheese you can handle is up to you.

  • Best Candy Shop: Stever’s

    The candy business never goes out of style. Stever’s, purveyors of homemade chocolate and candies, is a testament to that.

  • Best Caterer: The Meatball Truck

    The Meatball Truck is a celebration of this simple, rustic, and elegant ground-meat dish.

  • Best Chef: Margherita Smith aka The Saucey Chef

    Margherita Smith calls her offerings, which include jerk shrimp pasta, adobo wings, and lasagna made with sweet plantain, “elevated street food.”

  • Best Chinese Restaurant: Han Noodle

    Han has been touting its tagline of “No Fusion, No Gimmicks” in Rochester for over a decade.

  • Best Cooking Class: Rochester Brainery

    The Rochester Brainery, a community classroom and event space in the Neighborhood of the Arts, offers a wide variety of culinary courses with local chefs.

  • Best Deli Sandwich or Sub: DiBella’s Old Fashioned Submarines

    Subs are the focus, and the rolls are one reason DiBella’s remains so beloved.

  • Best Doughnuts: Ridge Donuts

    Family-run for nearly four decades, Ridge Donut is in a class of its own when it comes to the fried pastries with the hole in the middle.

  • Best Farmers Market: Rochester Public Market

    You’d be hard-pressed to not find exactly what you’re looking for, no matter how esoteric, in the Public Market’s wide array of fresh local produce, meats, dairy, eggs, and high-quality fresh seafood and imported goods.

  • Best Fish Fry: Captain Jim’s

    Captain Jim’s is one of those unassuming hole-in-the-walls where you just know the food has to be great.

  • Best Food Truck: Le Petit Poutine

    Known as founders of Rochester’s food truck scene, Le Petit Poutine serves its classic Canadian combination of fries, gravy, and cheese curds with a sprinkling of thyme to thousands of hungry customers every year.

  • Best Global Foods Market: Rubino’s Italian Food Market

    Step into Rubino’s on any given day and you’ll be instantly greeted by the most pleasant ménage of scents this side of the Atlantic.

  • Best Ice Cream: Pittsford Farms Dairy

    The Pittsford Farms Dairy was founded in 1888 and was once best known for its scientific agriculture and prize-winning Jersey cattle. Today, the dairy is best known for its delectable, made-from-scratch ice cream.

  • Best Italian Restaurant: The Pasta Villa

    Pasta Villa sets the bar for classic, Italian-American comfort food.

  • Best Lunch Spot: Magnolia’s Deli & Cafe

    Magnolia’s menu includes a robust selection of sandwiches and salads, with some soups as well pizza.

  • Best Mexican Restaurant: Neno’s

    Tacos are where to start at Neno’s, but you’ll be back for more.

  • Best New Restaurant: Strangebird

    Strangebird made waves in the local beer world upon its opening, but Chef Nate Stahl’s playful menu of innovative pub classics accompanies the brews.

  • Best Outdoor Dining: Genesee Brew House

    From their perch on the patio, diners can soak in a panorama of the historic High Falls District and the Rochester skyline.

  • Best Pizza: Pizza Wizard

    Specializing in Detroit-style pies, Pizza Wizard serves square pies that hit all the notes a native Michigander would look for and that Rochester obviously wants.

  • Best Restaurant: Good Luck

    Good Luck specializes in rustic fusion dishes drawing influence from Italian, French, Japanese, and virtually every other culinary tradition under the sun

  • Best Restaurant for Desserts: Phillip’s European

    No need to save room, just go straight for the desserts at Phillips European.

  • Best Restaurant to Dine Alone: Highland Park Diner

    Housed inside the iconic 1948 dining-car at the corner of South Goodman Street and South Clinton Avenue, the Highland transports diners back in time.

  • Best Ribs: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

    Dinosaur serves its ribs St. Louis style, which means they're flat, fatty, sweet, and juicy.

  • Best Sushi: Plum House

    Plum House has been a Monroe Avenue institution for nearly 20 years, and it has rightfully earned its place as Rochester’s premier sushi stop.

  • Best Sweets Bakery: Savoia Pastry Shoppe

    Savoia has become well-known regionally for its wedding cakes and seasonal Italian tea cookies, but its pastries are the star of the show.

  • Best Thai Restaurant: The King & I

    There’s no shortage of spots offering Thai cuisine in Rochester, but this year the mainstay The King & I wears the crown.

  • Best Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant: The Red Fern

    Andrea Parros opened The Red Fern in September 2013 and the restaurant's menu of vegan comfort food was a quick hit. Its popularity has only grown since.

  • Best Wings: Jeremiah’s Tavern

    Jeremiah's knows what makes a wing a winner.

  • Best Bouncer: Lori Lippa (ROAR)

    She’s an Avon makeup and skincare sales representative (yes, as in “Avon calling”) who moonlights as a bouncer at one of Rochester’s hottest nightclubs.

  • Best Bar: ROAR

    There’s a neon sign over the door at ROAR: “A DJ and a Drag Queen Walk Into a Bar.” It’s the premise for Rochester’s reigning gay-owned nightclub, which scooped up six “Best of Rochester” awards.

  • Best Karaoke: ROAR

    There’s a neon sign over the door at ROAR: “A DJ and a Drag Queen Walk Into a Bar.” It’s the premise for Rochester’s reigning gay-owned nightclub, which scooped up six “Best of Rochester” awards.

  • Best Trivia Night: ROAR

    There’s a neon sign over the door at ROAR: “A DJ and a Drag Queen Walk Into a Bar.” It’s the premise for Rochester’s reigning gay-owned nightclub, which scooped up six “Best of Rochester” awards.

  • Best Pickup Bar: ROAR

    There’s a neon sign over the door at ROAR: “A DJ and a Drag Queen Walk Into a Bar.” It’s the premise for Rochester’s reigning gay-owned nightclub, which scooped up six “Best of Rochester” awards.

  • Best LGBTQ+ Bar: ROAR

    There’s a neon sign over the door at ROAR: “A DJ and a Drag Queen Walk Into a Bar.” It’s the premise for Rochester’s reigning gay-owned nightclub, which scooped up six “Best of Rochester” awards.

  • Best Dive Bar: Lux Lounge

    If Lux's "Pabst Smear" — a $3 order of a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a well liquor shot of your choosing — doesn't scream dive bar, we don't know what does.

  • Best of Rochester: Arts & Entertainment

    Nightlife, music, theater, and art, CITY readers know them by heart . . .

  • Best Actor: Penny Sterling

    Penny Sterling burst onto the local performing arts scene in 2016 with “A Spy in the House of Men: A One-Woman Show With Balls,” recounting her decades-long journey of transitioning from a man to a woman.

  • Best Art Gallery: Memorial Art Gallery

    Visiting the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, better known by its nickname “The MAG,” means journeying through 5,000 years of art history.

  • Best Artist: Shawn Dunwoody

    Shawn Dunwoody needs no introduction. The prolific muralist and all-around creative is widely considered the face of the city’s art scene.

  • Best Arts Event: Rochester International Jazz Festival

    For nine days in June, this international event draws an estimated 200,000 people to downtown Rochester. And yes, music is the draw.

  • Best Band (Cover): Something Else

    Sometimes you just want to hear the hits, let your hair down, and let your feet loose. Rock trio Something Else can help you get there.

  • Best Club DJ: Mighty Mic (ROAR)

    With DJ Mighty Mic in charge, expect a fun evening with plenty of energy.

  • Best Comedian/Comedy Troupe: Chris Thompson

    Chris Thompson stomped into stand-up after being goaded by friends who liked his Facebook and Instagram quips.

  • Best Theater Company: Geva Theatre Center

    Rochester has a lot of good theater, and not just “for a city of its size.” But Geva Theatre Center is in a league of its own.

  • Best Drag Performer: Dee Dee Dubois

    After 24 years on Rochester’s stages, DeeDee Dubois has moved from a “Best of Rochester” runner-up in this category to top queen.

  • Best Published Poet: Chen Chen

    It’s fitting that Chen Chen is back, living in Rochester, the place where his career as a successful published poet first began to take off.

  • Best Film Festival: Rochester International Film Festival

    Three days. Dozens of short films. The Rochester International Film Festival is a celebration of movie-making brevity.

  • Best Published Author: Justin Murphy

    Years of pulling thread on the troubled Rochester public school system led to D&C reporter Justin Murphy publishing his first book.

  • Best Place to See Comedy: Comedy @ The Carlson

    Finding a place to see solid standup in Rochester is no joke. Comedy @ The Carlson is an exception.

  • Best Rock Artist or Group: Joywave

    These homegrown rockers won this category by a ridiculously large margin and deservedly-so — even in a city blessed with many great bands.

  • Best Photographer: Jim Montanus

    Photography is in the blood of this perennial “Best of Rochester” winner, who is perhaps best known for his images of area landscapes.

  • Best Music Festival: Rochester International Jazz Festival

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which promises 325 shows spread across nine stages.

  • Best Instrumentalist: Herb Smith

    Trumpeter Herb Smith is as affable as he is stylistically versatile.

  • Best Museum: Strong Museum of Play

    Many people think of museums as stodgy institutions where touching exhibits is off-limits and fun goes to die. The Strong National Museum of Play is the opposite.

  • Best Live Music Venue (Small): The Bug Jar

    Most live music fans in Rochester have a fond memory of the Bug Jar. Part live-music venue, part quasi-punk bar, the Bug Jar is a local gem.

  • Best Movie Theater: The Little

    The Little Theatre is no mere art deco movie house, it's a beloved icon of Rochester's East End that has stood for more than 90 years.

  • Best Live Music Venue (Large): CMAC

    The large outdoor venues are where the most enticing summer shows are found, and CMAC is the best of them.

  • Best Band (Original): Danielle Ponder

    It’s easy to make the case that R&B-soul artist Danielle Ponder won 2022 — and not just because she won five “Best of Rochester” categories.

  • Best Blues Artist or Group: Danielle Ponder

    It’s easy to make the case that R&B-soul artist Danielle Ponder won 2022 — and not just because she won five “Best of Rochester” categories.

  • Best Jazz Artist or Group: Danielle Ponder

    It’s easy to make the case that R&B-soul artist Danielle Ponder won 2022 — and not just because she won five “Best of Rochester” categories.

  • Best Solo Musician: Danielle Ponder

    It’s easy to make the case that R&B-soul artist Danielle Ponder won 2022 — and not just because she won five “Best of Rochester” categories.

  • Best Vocalist: Danielle Ponder

    It’s easy to make the case that R&B-soul artist Danielle Ponder won 2022 — and not just because she won five “Best of Rochester” categories.

  • Best Country Artist or Group: Zac Brown Tribute Band

    Live-music lovers know exactly what they’re getting with this good-vibin’ septet devoted to interpreting the songs of the Zac Brown Band.

  • Best Dance Company: Garth Fagan Dance

    The world-renowned dance company is known for captivating audiences with dazzling choreography.

  • Best Folk Artist or Group: The Honey Smugglers

    You can call The Honey Smugglers an Americana band, or even a jamgrass group. CITY readers call the sextet Rochester’s best folk group.

  • Best Hip-Hop Artist or Group: Moses Rockwell

    Moses Rockwell's songs are observational. If he has an odd conversation or experience, he mines it for comedy and rhymes it in a song.

  • Best Mural or Public Art: Murals at MLK Jr. Memorial Park

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park is a year-round artistic backdrop with the vibrant Roc Paint Division murals

  • Best Media Outlet (Other Than Us, Of Course):13 WHAM

    WHAM-TV (Channel 13) has been the dominant local news affiliate for the better part of 40 years.

  • Best of Rochester: The winners . . .

    This year, some 10,349 discerning CITY readers cast 426,656 votes to determine the Best of Rochester winners across 110 categories. Here, we present the top picks of the people, places, and things that make Rochester home.

  • Best of Rochester: Arts & Entertainment

    Nightlife, music, theater, and art, CITY readers know them by heart . . .

  • Best of Rochester: Food & Drink

    Hankering for burgers, baked goods, or beer? CITY readers come here . . .

  • Best of Rochester: Recreation

    From first dates to dancing and shooting stick to shooting hoops, CITY readers have the scoop . . .

  • Best of Rochester: Goods & Services

    Whether you're looking for flowers, a haircut, or that special gift for a four-legged friend, CITY readers recommend . . .

  • Best of Rochester: Who we are

    They rise above the crowd, they make CITY readers proud . . .