The Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) in Rochester, New York, has long had creative bona fides—the Memorial Art Gallery opened in 1913 and the George Eastman Museum has drawn photography enthusiasts since 1949—but that didn’t stop the area from descending into urban blight. Over the last two decades, though, it has revived, becoming an energetic hub of eateries, shops, and more.
Carnegie Cellars Wine Bar & Kitchen
Co-owners Mike Clarcq and John Albert opened this bar-restaurant in the Carnegie Building in December 2021. “There’s a good mix of residential and commercial businesses that have done well down here, and we wanted to be part of it,” Clarcq says. The wine bar is stocked with bottles from around the globe, including from the nearby Finger Lakes region.
Melo Coffee & Kitchen
The husband-and-wife team of Tony and Renee Colon has run this coffee shop, named for Tony’s mom, Melody, in NOTA’s historic Flatiron Building since 2021. The space features works from local artists, while the menu includes drinks such as the Uncle Marble, an iced latte with agave and cinnamon. As Tony explains, the idea is to “come for coffee, stay for community.”
Scents by Design
Here, a scent stylist will help you choose from more than 100 fragrances to create pour-your-own candles and custom aromatic sprays, diffusers, and more. While candles take 90 minutes to finish, there are lots of places to kill time in the area. “That was a big draw for me,” says owner Christina Julian. “There’s a lot of really positive momentum in the Neighborhood of the Arts.”
Three Heads Brewing
This award-winning brewery and taproom boasts a large outdoor patio, live music performances, and trippy wall murals. There’s no kitchen, but customers are welcome to bring in food. “There are so many great restaurants around here that we didn’t want to compete with them,” says brewery president Dan Nothnagle. “We wanted everybody to get beer and music from us.”
Ronnie McClive and Lizzie Clapp began Petit Poutinerie as a food truck in 2011, then opened a brick-and-mortar NOTA location last year. “We wanted to create a comforting atmosphere where you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I want to stay here for a while,’” McClive says. Traditional poutine is the top seller, but other versions take inspiration from bacon cheeseburgers, vegan sloppy joes, and more.
Located at the University Business Center, this café puts health and wellness at the forefront. Owner Jenna Miles focuses on holistic living, and she says she saw an “opportunity to really explore that interest and to build a community around that” in NOTA. Enjoy fair-trade organic coffee, tea, smoothies, soups, and grain salads, and even get in a sweat at the on-site infrared sauna.