320 West Main Street, Downtown Rochester
Visited June 2, 2011
Written by Greg
Last Thursday, after catching a game at Frontier Field, we decided to eat at the Main Street Nick Tahou’s – the original building and place where the culinary Holy Grail known as the Garbage Plate was born.
The place looks pretty run down from the outside. Pulling up, there were only two cars in the parking lot behind the building, and it wasn’t obvious that the place was open. But it was, and upon entering we were somewhat surprised that there were only two other people dining there.
There wasn’t any food on the grill, so they must not do a whole lot of business on weekday evenings. That, or people just don’t go there anymore because of the negative gossip surrounding this particular location.
Nevertheless, our group of 10 or so ordered, and the kid running the grill quickly slapped burgers and red hots on for us. It took longer than usual (compared to Steve T.’s, that is) for our food to be prepared, but it looked delicious when we finally got it.
We should note that the ingredients used to construct the Garbage Plate are by no means impressive. They’re very basic burgers and red hots, very basic home fries, and very basic macaroni salad and beans. The burgers are typical quarter-pounders; the home fries are thoroughly cooked to a good balance – not too soft, nor uniformly brown and crispy. The mac salad is fairly creamy, but doesn’t have a whole lot going on besides the basic macaroni plus a few other diced ingredients. There’s very little, if any, seasoning on the individual ingredients (other than salt and pepper, maybe) but that’s not really the identity the Plate chooses to take on.
However, it’s the combination of these elements, and the addition of condiments such as onions, mustard, ketchup and the world-famous meaty hot sauce that makes the Garbage Plate the irresistible mound of greasy oral pleasure that it is. The plates we had there were very comparable to those found at Steve T.’s, however I was a little put off by the fact there was no Frank’s Red Hot dispenser (only ketchup and mustard), as there is at its Lyell Avenue cousin.
The inside was surprisingly clean, compared to the outside of the building and what I was expecting. There is plenty of seating, and the booths and table tops were very clean, and the whole place very orderly.
The menu there is actually decently extensive I’d say – and Tyler says a basic Tahou’s cheeseburger is actually quite tasty – but you pretty much only go there for a Garbage Plate. Ordering something else would be like asking da Vinci to do the calligraphy for your wedding invitations. Yeah he can do it, but so can the old lady across the street. It’d be a waste of his talent.
Burgers or hots are the most commonly ordered varieties, but Tahou’s also offers Italian sausage, chicken, fish, veggie burger and grilled cheese plates, as well as a few breakfast options. Of course, Tyler ordered a chicken plate, which only includes one (frozen/breaded) piece.
As noted, Tahou’s is somewhat related to Steve T.’s in Gates, and there is a second Tahou’s location – with Chad says he’s very impressed with – on West Henrietta Road.
Anywho, we were generally pleased with our experience at the original location. It was a lot cleaner and quieter than we were expecting (and safer, with the exception of Joe being swindled out of $0.50 by a well-dressed gentlemen who stuck his head in the door looking for bus money), and the food was on par with our expectations.
If we hadn’t already been downtown we probably wouldn’t have gone there, as it’s not in the greatest of neighborhoods, but now we can all check it off our respective bucket lists or whatever.
Service/Atmosphere: The service wasn’t very fast, but, to be fair, we had a big group. The location is sketchy, to say the least.
Food: Not the best quality, but the finished product is incredible.
Value: Plates range from $6.50-8.50. You get what you pay for. It’s a large meal.
Overall: What it lacks in aesthetic pleasure, it makes up for in taste and novelty. Eating a Garbage Plate is essentially a rite of passage for Rochesterians. Just don’t eat one every day.