Cheesecake Factory, Zingerman's, Union Woodshop: Rochester Wants You!

When a Rochester Patch reader shares the restaurants he wants to see in his town, more than 100 of his neighbors chime in with their opinions. From White Castle to Red Coat Tavern, here's what's on Rochester's Restaurant Wish List.

"If I could bring any restaurants to Rochester, it would be the Fleetwood Diner, Zingerman's and Big 10 Burrito, all in Ann Arbor."

So stated Rochester Patch blogger David Gifford in a post on our Facebook page earlier this week. 

Our Facebook fans were quick to offer up THEIR wish list for restaurants they want to see in Rochester and Rochester Hills; more than 100 people responded.

Zingerman's, the Ann Arbor bakery and deli institution, took the top number of votes; the Cheesecake Factory, which locations in 36 states — but none in Michigan — came in a close second. 

A Curt Catallo restaurant (like Clarkston Union, Union Woodshop or Vinsetta Garage) also ranked high on the wish list.

Other notables: The French Laundry in Fenton, Red Coat Tavern, Potbelly, Cracker Barrel, Sagebrush and Pizza Bob's. 

Two people voted for a German restaurant, and one said we have too many restaurants in town as it is. 

Here's a look at all of the restaurants that made the list; what's your vote? Add it to the comments below.

  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Slows
  • Seva
  • Manuels Taco Hut (Allen Park)
  • Zumba
  • Fazoli's
  • The Root (White Lake)
  • Cork
  • Amantea (Garden City)
  • A Polish restaurant
  • Moe's
  • Tap (Atlanta)
  • Carmines Italian
  • Rudy's Real Texas BBQ
  • Sonic
  • Chick Fil-a
  • Primanti's
  • Apovini's
  • Carinos
  • Prickly Pear
  • Old German
  • Mexican Fiesta and Antonio's
  • El Azteco
  • Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids
  • Grand Lux Cafe
  • Ashley's
  • Casa Nueva Restaurant and Cantina in Athens, Ohio
  • Melting Pot (Troy)
  • Cafeteria-style restaurant
  • Herbert's BBQ (Franklin, Tenn.)
  • White Castle
  • The Big Salad
  • Bubba's (Traverse City)
  • Food Dance (Kalamazoo)
  • Crispelli's (Berkley)
  • A breakfast place like Yolk (Chicago); Toast (Lincoln Park); Fido (Nashville); Broken Egg (Florida)
  • Frontera Grille
  • Gordon Biersch (Arizona)
  • Foodcraft (Hampton, Va.)
  • Halo Burger
  • Angelo's Coney Island (Flint)
  • Hickory Park (Ames, Iowa)
  • Jersey Giant
  • Pizza House  (East Lansing and Ann Arbor)
  • Harvey's (Saginaw)
  • Skyline Chili
  • Fuzzy Taco (Texas)
  • Sweet Tomatoes (salad restaurant)
  • On the Border
  • Harvey's (Canada)
  • Pancheros
  • Smash Burger
  • Lelli's
  • Blue Nile (Ferndale)
Amanda Wilson November 30, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Then let's make it a good one, like Rally's! White Castle only ends in diarrhea and treadmarks in your underwear.
Amanda Wilson November 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM
We have a Taco Bell, at Auburn & Rochester Road...and another one is coming soon at Walton and Livernois.
Amanda Wilson November 30, 2012 at 11:10 PM
What downtown Rochester lacks is an assortment of restaurants that more budget-conscious people can afford to eat at. I can only imagine what it would cost my family to dine out at any one of those restaurants. Sheesh!
Amanda Wilson November 30, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Nah...Michigan has been BEGGING for a Waffle House for like...forever. Putting one in Rochester would draw a lot of business. I'm tired of only getting my buttered, covered, and smothered hash browns when I go to visit family down south.
Amanda Wilson November 30, 2012 at 11:13 PM
I thought we had one downtown...or is that three sisters? My God, that would get confusing!
Diane Sayles December 01, 2012 at 05:33 AM
We could use a Taco Bell at Adams Road Marketplace. It's too far to go to Rochester Rd or Livernois from the Adams/Auburn area. There is a lot of open land in that area and no fast food around here. :-( With a new hotel coming to the area, it would be a great addition!
Dano December 01, 2012 at 02:43 PM
My vote would be for a Zingerman's deli / bakery. There deli sandwiches are "off the charts" GREAT. No deli with in 10 miles can compare with Zingermans IMO.
Karen December 01, 2012 at 05:30 PM
How about the Bronx Deli on Telegraph, south of M-59 in Pontiac? I'll take it over Zingerman's any day. Go and lunchtime and be surrounded by Oakland County's finest police, judges, and waitresses!
Sarah December 02, 2012 at 03:28 AM
I really would LOVE a Cheesecake Factory! I love their food and of course the cheesecake is awesome.
Don Wolanchuk December 03, 2012 at 01:42 AM
who needs a waffle house or cheecake factory......we have for the budget minded......the crazy greek........and the best collection of pastry treats there is.....The Give Thanks Bakery....which by the way supplies its fantastic goods to the areas finest restaurants and hotels.......and there are other high quality pastry shops on main.....The Royal Park serves the best breakfasts in town. There is a fine little restaurant next door to hungry howies that is top notch.....and for Pizza??? besides HH....there are other hi quallity pizza places.....If you think downtown rochester is missing something.....well.....I for one think those that feel rochester is short on food emporiums are missing something......As a director of the Hermitage Gallery I hear no complaints about eating places and nothing but kudos for the selection of eating venues on main. The 3 flagships of downtown....The Chop House....(they should change the name to Vinces Place....:>)).....Kruse and Muires....and RoJo.s are soon to be joined by 2 more flagships......The Meeting Place and the New French Restaurant in the Chapman house....I hope both meet the challenges of the restaurant business. The Souchi place has brought to town a hibachi type grill and the efforts put out by the owners is a testament to their loyalty to downtown rochester........I could go on and on....as there are so many great places to eat.....
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I am budget-minded individual, a college student, and the mother of two boys and a girl. Are you saying that I should be limited to either eating at Krazy Greek, or risking taking my family into Pontiac? Not everyone in Rochester Hills has a white-collar, and not all of us make six figures a year. My fiancee is a disabled Army vet who was injured while serving in Iraq. He's been unemployed since April. It's rare that we can afford to eat out...been a few months actually...but we always find ourselves limited to McDonald's (kids love it, us grown-ups, not so much). For each of us to get a cheeseburger, value french fry, and value drink we're looking at $15.90, approximately. We used to go to Waffle House when we'd visit my brother down south, and there we could all eat a breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes for $1.99 each. You have to understand that not all of us can afford to eat at the "flagship" restaurants you mentioned. We'd like more options as well. Denny's was a great alternative, back before it was torn down to make way for more affluent retail space. I guess I'm just surprised that the majority of the Rochester Patch community is so well-to-do that no one is concerned about limiting the high cost of dining out. We have enough expensive restaurants here, how about something for the rest of us?
Meredith McCutcheon December 03, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Amanda, I completely understand your concern, but I don't think that the previous comment was intended to insult anyone. We are also a budget-conscious family. We love Lipuma's downtown. And, although this is obviously not downtown, the new Noodles in the Village is very reasonable. You can get a large mac and cheese for about $5 (easily enough for two kids to split), and my husband and I can usually split a more substantial entree, too. And salads are only $1 when you order an entree. We actually just ate there tonight for a very reasonable price! Maybe other people have ideas on how to stretch the budget when dining out in Downtown Rochester!
Don Wolanchuk December 03, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Chomp is a great value imo....unfortunately because of the limited availability of store space in a small downtown like rochester high rents prevent a lot of places that you can find in bigger downtowns like royal oak and birmingham.......theres no doubt that dire economic circumstances that changes the lives of individuals will affect what and where they can eat......stretching a budget means eat at home and not feeding growing kids that unhealthy fast food crap.....any educated college person would be expected to know that.
Don Wolanchuk December 03, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Stretching a budget when dining out in Downtown Rochester. Decisions decisions. First weigh yourself and check your BMI.....blood pressure....cholesterol........then ask yourself if you would be healthier not eating anything after 6pm.......we all know the answer to than one dont we......my cardiologist who is a vegan said it best......"walk more, eat less"......and of course its not possible is it. sigh
Don Wolanchuk December 03, 2012 at 04:13 AM
You want cheap and imo fairly healthy stuff.....is why you see long lines at the TACO BELL on Rochester road south of town eh?
Meredith McCutcheon December 03, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Don, I'm not sure that anyone was talking about "dire economic circumstances." I think we were just talking about ways to enjoy the restaurants in our wonderful city in a budget-friendly way. I've held my tongue for weeks, but I really do have to say my piece now. We are all neighbors, yet we are treating each other like trash. Over and over again, in the "comments section" of various blogs and articles, people are being insensitive and downright rude to each other. We are PEOPLE, for goodness sake. We are parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, college students, and small business owners. We all have people who we love and who love us in return. We are PEOPLE with FEELINGS. Perhaps I am just an idealist, but I simply cannot comprehend the disdain and blatant disregard for other people's feelings that is being continuously spewed in these comments. As neighbors, we should be supporting each other and caring for each other. And as neighbors and human beings, we can disagree without being hateful and insulting. This is an amazing city to live in. Let's do it justice and live up to the meaning of the words "neighbor" and "citizen".
Don Wolanchuk December 03, 2012 at 04:39 AM
We lost what probably served the best food for the buck.....2 sisters.........for the budget minded I learned something important that has stuck with me from when I was in the Air Force....you could not believe how healthy you can eat on a budget.....eggs ....very cheap.....chipped beef on toast....very cheep....pork and beans mixed with cooked ground beef....cheep.....pasta of any kind (fattening tho)......dinty moore beef stew in a can ....finding food is not a problem in this country is it......there but for the grace of God we dont live in those countries who have vast populations of the starving...sorry for straying off topic......i gained 5 pounds just talking about food....i just love to eat......and its all Vince's fault.....LMAO
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 05:06 AM
You wanna play Don, I'll play. "stretching a budget means eat at home and not feeding growing kids that unhealthy fast food crap". Could you be any more condescending? You don't know me, I get that...but if you'd actually read what I wrote in my previous comment you'd see that we go months at a time without eating that "unhealthy fast-food crap". I think a trip to a fast food restaurant once every few months is more than acceptable for the health-conscious person, and if you don't agree perhaps you should move to France or some other country that shares your inclination to look down on others for their eating habits. "any educated college person would be expected to know that"...seriously? Of course I know that fast food isn't the healthiest option for anyone, let alone growing children. We'd love to occasionally be able to eat out somewhere that serves healthy fare. Unfortunately for us we can't, because of people such as yourself who presume to know what restaurants are "a good value". $15-$30 per person would be well and good if my family didn't consist of five people...if my fiancee had decided not to serve our country and subsequently find himself in an unemployable situation because he came back from war injured, only to find his job had been "eliminated". Then perhaps we would find ourselves in the blessed situation that you enjoy, deciding which dining establishment has the most pleasing atmosphere.
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 05:10 AM
What in the heck does this have to do with the topic of restaurants that would add distinction/value to downtown Rochester? What business is it of yours, Don, to question someone else's BMI or the time of day they choose to eat? I am utterly floored and I have to believe that you're merely trolling for attention.
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Taco Bell is "fairly healthy stuff"? Are you being serious? Sure, you can order some lower calories things there, but low calorie doesn't always equate to healthy. Perhaps a nutrition 101 class is in order. I thought they taught you AF guys how to eat healthy while you're busy flying a desk.
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 05:18 AM
The topic is dining out in restaurants...not how to eat low cal from a can. EVERYONE likes to eat out now and then...enjoy a break from cooking multiple meals for a growing family. It's nice to hear about how those of us on a shoe string budget should instead eat pork and beans from a can. Seriously, how do you come on here touting the wonders of the many deliciously expensive restaurants available in downtown, and then go into suggesting that budget-minded people should stick to eating at home...and then remark on how we should check our bmi...and then give healthy eating from a can lectures? You sound like such an elitist.
Meredith McCutcheon December 03, 2012 at 11:32 AM
I posted a comment earlier in this thread about trying to remember that we are all people with feelings and lives and families. But there are (obviously) always going to be some people who disregard this fact. Amanda, you seem like you meant well. Some people can just not be reasoned with. My advice (if it means anything) is to carry on and ignore these hurtful comments. Please know that they do not represent the majority.
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Thank you Meredith. I'm not trying to be rude, or at least that wasn't my original intention. Some people just really irk me. I know that my family and I are poor, and that makes us a minoroty here in Rochester, amd it seems like that really makes people feel like they have the right to tell us how to live, or behave financially...as if we are in the financial situation we are due to some personal fault or lack of foresight. Probably think we're outsiders who moved here by opportunity. However, I have lived in Rochester since I was 14 (I'm 32 now).
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 01:57 PM
And frankly, it surprises me that a man with such an overtly public presence would have the gusto to run off at the mouth like that. Usually trolls that go on public forums don't use their real names. Everyone with the internet can find out where this guy works, where he lives, the names of his children, his ex-wife's name, etc. People should really learn to better conceal their information before they go flaming strangers on the internet.
Don Wolanchuk December 03, 2012 at 02:13 PM
accept my humblest apologies if what is said insulted anyone.....it was not my intention at all....its just that i found it irritating that somebody would come on this thread to complain about things in Rochester and advertising their sad circumstances to support their complaints.....as if that person was the only one with personal problems....if you want suffering just ask the business owners and landlords about the misery they went through this past summer and the years it will take to recoup.....yup some people really irk me to.
Amanda Wilson December 03, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Don, I was not on this thread to complain about Rochester, merely to suggest that there are those of us here who would enjoy cheaper fare. Nor did I assert that I was the only one with personal problems, ffs I have NO idea what part of your sphincter you pulled that one out of. I was speaking on behalf of all of us in Rochester who aren't the "director of the Hermitage Gallery", and don't have an ivory tower from which we speak down to those beneath us. And seriously, you're going to put aside the problems of those in Rochester who are barely getting by in favor of the woes of business owners and landlords? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm as hardcore conservative far-right leaning, Rush Limbaugh loving as they get...but when families are going through tough financial times (which will likely only get worse, thanks to the sheep that re-elected the Stalin look-alike sitting in the White House), it's hard for us to push past that and focus our concern upon the small business owners that don't cater to us anyway. I think I irk you because you have assumptions about me that simply aren't true. Whereas you irk me because you are insufferable. Touting your job title and pridefully displaying the fact that you are on a first-name basis with certain restaurant owners? I'm guessing that everywhere you post on the internet, the first thing that you do is make sure everyone is fully aware of your standing in the community, career, and connections. Not getting enough affirmation at home?
David Gifford December 03, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Amanda, that one closed downtown.
David Gifford December 03, 2012 at 03:39 PM
If you are on a budget, I would recommend Georgio's Calzones! The large one is huge and very filling. It is their best kept secret!
Kristin Bull (Editor) December 03, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Thanks, everyone, for your comments - I agree there are so many great restaurants in Rochester, and I love that this started out as a fun discussion about "what could/might be," from fast food or upscale dining options. We'll see if any of the restaurant owners out there are listening to potential Rochester patrons! Thanks, also, to those of you who have tried to keep this discussion on track; remember, it's not about personal attacks.
David Gifford December 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Despite the fact that one can fix meals cheaper and healthier at home, we all have a desire to dine out and have our meals prepared for us. One of the unfortunate truths about dining out though is that most times value does not equal healthy and healthier food made from fresh ingredients often costs a lot more. Even fast food is expensive now! Through investigation out of necessity (budgeting while paying off school and credit card debt) my wife and I have found that you can eat at many of the restaurants in the area on a budget. Many places offer specials on different nights and some even have free kid days. You just have to know where to look. To name a few: Penny Black-kids eat free on Sunday with the purchase of an adult meal, Bravo-$3.95 happy hour appetizers (big enough for a meal) between 5-7 and 9 to close (bar area only), Rojo- $1 taco Tuesdays (chicken or beef), King's Pizza for best value (online specials). You may never see a Waffle House or a Rally's in Rochester due to the high rent and the crowd the area is trying to cater to, leaving those who make less out in the cold or stuck with less desirable options.. Some of my favorite restaurants you would never see in Rochester like Allidin's and The Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck (good and cheap) and The Bucharest in Detroit (good and cheap) and they are in some not so nice areas compared to Rochester.


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