Friday, January 9, 2015


691 Monroe Ave., Rochester
Visited Dec. 18, 2014
Written by Drew

I stumbled upon this greasy spoon location back in the summer, when my older brother Mike and his fiancée Isabella came up to visit from Charlottesville, Virginia. Dogtown has been a frequent stop for him – almost every time he comes north.

For whatever reason, I have had a negative connotation about this place until I went with him this summer. Now, every time he comes up to visit, I try to squeeze in sometime to grab a bite at Dogtown.

Located on Monroe Avenue, just seconds off Interstate 490, Dogtown occupies a small building, with a unique décor, tucked between two larger city houses. With enough room to sit about a dozen or so inside, and just as large of an outdoor patio space for those fair-weathered Rochester days, Dogtown is definitely quaint.

Upon walking in, a large menu will greet anyone who is unsure what exactly to get. After debating what to get in my inaugural trip, I ordered a Junkyard Plate (their version of the garbage plate). I have found that in my tenure with RWG, getting a garbage plate is a great way to sample the quality of the different items at each establishment.

When I order a garbage plate, I usually pick two burgers as my meat. My first Junkyard Plate, I deviated from the norm. I chose to get the split plate – a bed of home fries and French fries, topped with a cheeseburger patty (not a flat patty like many other local restaurants) and a popopen-style hot dog, covered in Dogtown’s unique (to the area) Cincinnati-style hot sauce. After taking the first few bites, I could say I had one of the best plates I had ever eaten.

This was my first experience with Cincinnati-style hot sauce, and if I had to describe it, I would compare it to chili, just without any of the beans. The sauce had an even heat to it, and I would
consider it to be hotter in spice than the typical run-of-the-mill Rochester hot sauce.

On my return trip, I decided to get another split plate. With a place that is called Dogtown, you have to at least have a hot dog in your meal. This split plate was as good as I remembered it.

The home fries Dogtown has are some of the best deep-fried home fries I have had. My only regret is not getting only home fries as the base of my plate. Dogtown's French fries were battered and deep fried. Isabella calls these type of fries "country club fries," a term that RWG will use to describe this style of potato from here on out.

An area which Dogtown falters is its lack of fountain drinks. Dogtown has a small (4-foot) beverage cooler where Pepsi products and a variety of other soft drinks. Not a big deal, but it does hinder the experience a little.

Mike's friend Kyle ordered a split plate as well, with a double order of home fries at the base  and the typical toppings of hot sauce, mustard and chopped onion.

Kyle poked fun at my inability to finish my meal. I typically don't eat a complete garbage plate, as the bottom layer happens to lack texture and become unappealing to me.

Matt, another one of Mike's friends, ordered one of Dogtown’s signature hot dogs, the Golden Retriever – a hot dog sitting between two slices of bacon, covered in melted cheddar cheese, along a side of country club fries. When I asked Matt how it was, he responded that the melted cheese was just as good as the hot sauce. It looked like his meal had the potential of becoming quite messy, but definitely something I think I would try someday.

The menu has an area just for specialty hot dogs, with more than two dozen different hot dogs all topped and served differently. Along with this is a large menu for vegetarian hot dogs.

Perhaps this is where my initial hostility came from. I am a red meat eater, while I am assuming many of the people who go here do not partake in that same luxury.

Mike ordered his regular at Dogtown, a veggie burger plate – two veggie burgers on a pile of home fries, covered in mustard, onions and a meatless chili sauce (which did have some beans mixed in). Mike exclaimed the meal was great and the veggie burger patties are different – better than a typical veggie burger. I will take his word on the quality of his meal.

Isabella ordered a veggie dog. Visually, it looked like a "real" hotdog and perhaps something I could have mistaken for the real thing. Her veggie dog sat aside an order of onion rings. I did not taste one, although she did offer. They looked like one of the best house-made onion rings I have seen. They had a large diameter to them, as well as being cut quite thick. This may be something I try on my next return visit.


Atmosphere: Unique décor, not a whole lot of seating inside, but roomy enough during the spring and summer months to sit out on the front patio. Not too far off 490, located practically  5 minutes away from anything downtown.

Service: Great service, very knowledgeable about the menu, quick turnaround for ordering to receiving your order. Everything can be made to order.

Food: High quality, a fair amount of quantity. Many differnt options for even the pickiest eaters. No soft drink fountain.

Value: Cheap, every meal is ordered separately from the sides (fries, onion rings, etc.), allowing for a low tab when it's all said and done.

Overall: A little far out of my way, but a great place to meet up with some buddies before a Red Wings game or any other type of downtown event. A great alternative to the Rochester-style hot sauce.

Grade: A-