BY DEB SCHLEEDE
Once the semester gets going you'll likely find that college life keeps you up well into the early hours of the morning. But many times campus food facilities aren't staffed with kind of night owls you'll become. Whether you're out bar hopping or studying your ass off until 2 a.m., there's always somewhere to go to grab a bite to eat in Rochester. Here are some favorite local options open until 1 a.m. or later. If you're looking for more local restaurants, check the Restaurant Guide at rochestercitynewspaper.com, with listings for more than 1200 area eateries searchable by name, cuisine type, neighborhood, and more.
Near RIT, UR, and MCC in Henrietta is Jay's Diner (2612 W. Henrietta Rd, 424-3710), and it's a great place to start. The old-fashioned 50's-style diner is a good late night choice since it never closes. The food can be a touch greasy, although sometimes that's just what you and your hungover system may require. For the studying set, Jay's also has free wireless internet, and RIT students get a 10 percent discount.
Monroe Avenue in the city is home to many bars and restaurants. With all of the snazzy places open during the day there just has to be somewhere open late at night, right? Of course! GitsisTexasHots (600 Monroe Ave, 271-8260) and Mark's Texas Hots (487 Monroe Ave, 473-1563) are both open 24 hours a day. Gitsis and Mark's are both traditional diners that would do New Jersey proud. Gitsis specializes in delicious gravy fries and turkey, though you may want to avoid these sleep inducers if you need to stay awake late at night. Mark's does have a pretty slamming garbage plate, Mark's Sloppy Plate Special, in addition to its menu of delicious breakfast items and sandwiches.
Last but not least, one more 24-hour diner stop closer to the northern side of things, and only about 10 minutes from Nazareth and St. John Fisher, is the East Ridge Family Restaurant (1925 E Ridge Rd, 338-7900). Food here can be a hit or miss, but if you stick to the basics you'll walk away with a cheap bill and a full, satisfied stomach.
Some like it hots
In Rochester, hot dogs are called "hots," and there's a whole subsection of restaurants devoted to serving hots, burgers, and the like. Right around the corner from RIT and just minutes from MCC and UR is Henrietta Hots (3553 W Henrietta Rd, 424-4687), right across from Henrietta's Marketplace Mall. This is one of the calmer and safer homes of the infamous garbage plate. Henrietta Hots is open until 3 a.m. every day, and is very clean and efficient. There's no questioning why business booms here on Friday and Saturday nights.
Another late-night hots joint, Empire Hots (2209 Empire Blvd, Webster, 787-2110) serves up another good plate, and it's a short drive if you attend Nazareth or Fisher. Here the garbage plates are titled "trash" plates, and can be a little sloppier than most. If you like a lot of macaroni salad and a nice sloppy sauce, Empire Hots is the plate place for you. Open until 1 a.m. on weeknights and 4 a.m. on weekends, there is plenty of time for you to grab some grub here.
It's grilled items galore at Hungry's Grill (10 State St, Pittsford, 385-4031). At this newer addition to the scene you'll find a friendly joint for your garbage plate fix. If you're not into digesting a pile of food at 1 a.m.Hungry's is also known for its burgers and hot dogs. Hungry's is open until 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but closes at 10 p.m. or midnight during the week. You can pretty much walk the .7 miles or so if you go to Nazareth, and it's about three minutes from Fisher.
Nick Tahou is generally regarded as the man who invented the garbage place at his eponymous restaurant. His nephew now owns Steve T's Hots and Potatoes (2260 Lyell Ave, 429-6388), which serves up a plate that lives up to the Tahou name. In fact, the restaurant used to be called Nick Tahou's II, but changed ownership and has been serving happy college students from all over for a few years now. This is one of the fewer garbage plate joints to be open 24 hours a day.
Other late-night fare
If you're gagging at the thought of so many grilled items, greasy diner food, or garbage plates, maybe Pita Pit is the place for you. We have two, one in the city's East End (311 Alexander St, 454-2510) and one in Henrietta (1100 Jefferson Rd, 475-1040). While the Henrietta location closes at midnight, the one on Alexander is open until 3 a.m. Thursdays though Saturdays. The chain offers pitas filled with healthy goodness, from vegetables to hummus to meats and sauces. This is definitely two-hand food. Your stomach will thank you for picking the veggies over a pile of grease, too.
Closer to the west side is Wimpy's Burger Basket (2160 Buffalo Rd, 247-3160), one of our many local burger places, but better. Wimpy's is open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends, and has a hefty menu of delicious grilled items. Look for lots of wraps, salads, and sandwiches. If you want to wake yourself up with something hot and spicy, check the Buffalo menu; from boneless wings to chicken fingers drenched in fiery goodness, these dishes do the job.
Launched in Syracuse, but embraced as one of Rochester's own, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court St, 325-7090) is one of this town's biggest barbecue destinations. Dinosaur serves up some mean ribs and delicious sandwiches for a late-night meal, and the homemade sides will make you drool for more. The kitchen is open until 1 a.m. on weekends and midnight during the week, and is a great hangout for small groups late at night. An added bonus: live music every Monday through Saturday.
If you're looking for a place to grab a meal and to sit and chat a while, The Distillery may be for you. There are two locations for this local chain (1142 Mt. Hope Ave, 271-4105; 300 Paddy Creek Circle, Greece, 621-1620). While the eateries check ID after 9 p.m., the kitchen is open until 1 a.m. every night except Sundays. The menu consists of lots of burgers, pastas, and other common items that you would expect to see at some larger chains, but with a Rochester twist. In addition to the food there is a snazzy bar and lots of televisions, so it's a good place to go to watch the game with your friends.
The nice slice
Of course many pizzerias are open late, and they are scattered all over the Rochester area. Here's a short list of local chains and smaller joints that are open until midnight or later, especially on the weekends: Big Daddy's Pizza (1157 Culver Rd, 654-5051), Big Deal Pizzeria and Pasta (475 Monroe Ave, 697-0241), Cordello's (many locations), Mark's Pizzeria (many locations, check markspizzeria.com), Meneze's (445 Chili Ave, 328-3010), Nino's Pizzeria (1330 Culver Rd, 482-2264), Piatza's Pizza (four locations, check piatzaspizza.com), Pontillo's Pizzeria (many locations, check pontillospizza.com), and Rookies Express Pizza and Pasta (649 Monroe Ave, 271-7000).