"Once, we were at Nick's and..."So begins more stories than you can possibly imagine. In the course of our travels, on the internet and across the real world, no matter where we end up, we always seem to run into someone who knows about Nick Tahou's, and everyone's got a story. It's really amazing. How about you? If you're located nowhere near here (Rochester NY), or if you have a good Tahou's story to tell, drop me a line. Whether you liked it or hated it, tell us all about it. Be sure to tell us where you are now! Here's what people have told us so far:
Hello! I randomly Googled Nick Tahou's and found your website so I want to share my Nick's story. I went to the UofR (Class of 98) and heard about Nick's when I got all my registration info the summer before my Freshman year...can you believe that....info on Nick's in official University literature.
So I didn't take my first trip to Nick's until 2nd semester of my Freshman year. A friend was a bouncer at was then The Crow Bar on Alexander Ave...near the Old Toad and we got very very drunk off 1$ pitchers of Coors Light..(hey I was a poor freshman). We were hungry so I begged the guys to take me to Nick's....they were a little apprehensive because most girls at the U of R are a bit prissy when it comes to garbage plates. So we get to Nick's and there is Jimmy behind the counter and I had heard that he was Greek so I walk and jump on the counter and tell him that I know how to say 3 things in Greek....I was very very very drunk. He of course was delighted to have a cute, drunk, freshman girl sprawled on his counter....so he asks me what I know and I yell out ....you may want to edit this to make it family friendly [ed: Do you come from a family of Greek sailors or something? Criminey!]...."********!, *******!, and I wanna ********************" in Greek. He thought it was the funniest thing ever and we all got to eat for free.
This was only one of dozens of visits to Nick's..the one Main St. by the way..over my four years in good old Rachacha. On my last night in Rochester, the night of my graduation, I got Jimmy to sign my plate...after I had eaten every singel morsel and wiped up the juices with a nice piece of buttered bread....I also got a nice big hug.
So there is my Nick's story....God, I wish I could have one now....Bless me Father for I have sinned...it's been 7 years since my last Nick's plate!!
Who can't remember Nick Tahous? I was a student at RIT's old downtown campus. Not much left of it any more. The remains of the campus that didn't fall prey to Interstate 490 or urban renewal are now called Corn Hill. Nick's was well past the edge of campus and not everyone felt OK about walking down there. But nobody drove, even when we had cars. That would ruin the experience. The time to visit was about 2-4 AM. Usually, it was because we were up all night working on some sadistic assignment. Or else it was because we were drinking late to celebrate finishing said assignment. The fluorescent lights were brutal, but enough meat sauce and you didn't notice. We went for the hot dogs, I don't think they'd invented garbage plates yet.
Later, during the 80s, I came to visit from Atlanta. Stopped at Nick's for a white hot or two. Out back, in the parking lot, some guy tried to sell me a huge TV out of his trunk. I realized that there was an entire shadow economy operating out of Nick's parking lot. Somehow, it just seemed to fit. Every night an adventure.
I was born and bred in Rochester , I am 50 years old now.I moved to Arizona about 25 years ago, and will be moving back to Rochester soon, so I did a search to see if by "some chance" Nick's was still there.... I was elated to see that it still exists ... it may be different now ( two locations ??? ).... but from what I see on the net, the tradition of Nick's hasn't changed much ......aaaahhhhhh the memories !!!! Nick's was ( and hopefully still is ) a true slice of life of the American public, especially after midnight. Weak souls, and judgemental people never were welcome at Nick's, and the regulars would chase them away, but for the rest of us the un-precidented honesty of the place will never be equaled. At 2 AM you could regularly find everything from the George Eastman's decendents, to drunk or stoned street people, all there for one common thing ( at least most ), and that was the Garbage Plate !! Back in the 70's the plate was about a buck and change, and if you ate the whole thing, you were good to go for the next 24 hours...... and I don't just mean a fully tummie either ! The Garbage Plate back then was the best deal in Rochester, hands down , but the entertainment of the place was what made it worth while to go into the "bad" section of Rochester. Nick didn't have live bands, or even decent songs on the juke box, but he had Americana in all it glory as customers. After a few visits of "watching" those people, you soon realized that you were also one of them, and became part of the entertainment yourself. It was truly magical. The only rule that really existed at Nick's, that I could figgure out, and it was an un-written rule from the people who ate and hung out there, was to never sit down in the Mens room...... Just the thought of that was scary !!!..... but that was 25 years ago. Hopefully they have used a mop and some disinfectent since then..... but the rest rooms and the stuff that was going on inside as well as out back of the "resturant" were all part of (and maybe still are) the legend ( not to mention the Garbage Plate ). I read on the net Nick died a few years back.... Rest in Peace Nick..... you touched so many people's lifes , you will probably never know now how much you meant to us. You served up your Hot's and Tot's to anyone who could afford them, and many times you gave them a plate for free if they couldn't. You allowed America in it's rawest persona to come into your establishment, no matter how well, or how bad they were dressed, or smelled, or if they were black or white or in-between, and you served each and everyone of them with the dignaty and respecet all people deserve. There is no question you will be remembered in Rochester for generations to come. God Bless America, and if you want to see America in all her glory, I sure hope that Nick's hasn't changed much in the last 25 years, I know what I'm going to do as soon as I set foot on Rochester soil again.....I'm gonna go down there at 2 AM and get me a Garbage Plate, and hang out till dawn and then order me some eggs over-easy that hopefully will be fried on the same grease from my burger four hours ago ( like a real resturant's should do ) I'm coming home Nick.... and I'm hungry !! Rick Youngman
Arizona Resident ( for now )
Stumbled upon your site while actually looking for a DiBella's website (there isn't one apparently... too bad!) and was pleased to find some decent reading about my old stomping grounds. Feel free to add this to your site if you're still maintaining it...
Back in the days at RIT ('93 - '98) my old intramural basketball team (the X-Men) would hit Tahou's at least once a week, sometimes 3 or 4 times including lunches! It was a blissful time of drinking, partying and being able to eat whatever the hell you wanted without consequences.
My first visit to Tahou's pitted me directly across the man they called "Mac Daddy." This was a giant of a man that stood 6'5", about 375. He took his cheeseburger plate, smothered in ketchup and Tobasco, folded a crease in it and let all the crap slide into his mouth as he chewed. Took him no more than two minutes to finish. I couldn't believe what I just saw! I finished my first plate (if for no other reason than everyone I was with telling me that I would be a pussy if I didn't finish my FIRST plate!) and fell in love...
Another great memory was with Nuke, our pint-sized shooting guard who frequented Tahou's often enough to earn first-name basis with Jimmy, the "plate-nazi" himself. We all walked in and Jimmy said hi to Nuke, and our friend Pete hollered out "Hey Jimmy! How's it goin'!?" To which Jimmy quickly replied in his foreign (greek?) accent "Him, I know... [pointing to Nuke] You? Who the fuck are you!?" Ahhh... the unmatched service you've come to love and expect from Tahou's!
On a recent return to Rochester for Brandi's wedding, a group of us made the pilgrimage to Tahou's downtown only to find they were closed! I knew they started closing the downtown shop early because of violence etc. but this was dinner time! We had to settle for Lyell Ave, and even though I prefer Red Hot to Tobasco, it just wasn't the same!
I've had a dozen imitations, but absolutely nothing compares. My best luck was a hole in the wall up in Ontario, NY (on 104E) on the way to Brandi's... they were very cordial, even sautéed my onions for me! I think it was the lack of that "I'm gonna get shot at" atmosphere that caused their close replica to fall short.
I've moved on from Rochester, working as a component design engineer for a bike company near Madison, WI. If you're ever in town, be sure to hit Parthenon's for some incredible Gyro's. (best I've ever had) It pales in comparison to a cheeseburger plate, extra sauce, but it's great drunk food after a great night of drinking on State St!
Keep up the good work and have a plate for me!
Guys - Great site. It's about time someone paid homage to the great restaurant that is Nick Tahou's. I went to St. John Fisher from 83-87 and Friday and Saturday nights parties weren't complete without going downtown for a plate. During our last few days in school we vowed to eat a plate a day and on our last day had a plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have to tell you that it was a fight for a space in the bathroom after that! We were in there so much we played trivia pursuit to pass the time! (No Immodium AD back in those days!) Keep up the good work!
Craig, San Francisco, CA
hey! my name is John Legrand, and i am a student at U. of Rochester. oh man! one night, i was so totally bombed! i had 18 beers man!!! like, i was supposed to be meeting 5 of my friends at nick's one night, and i had 3 whole garbage plates! well, i was waiting in the parking lot, but my friends never showed up, but these 5 guys in ninja suits showed up, and they, like, kicked my ass, but i was so drunk i didnt even feel it, but they were like "we're gonna kick your ass john!" and "john's a drunk dork!" and then i passed out and they took the rest of my beer...oh man, i didnt hurt, but i had the most upset stomach from the 3 garbage plates and the ass-whoopin!!! i yacked right there in my car...but hey, i had enough money left to get another garbage plate...oh yeah, great memories from nicks! you can always drown out your sorrows in garbage plates!
John Legrand, U. of rochester
On a snowy December night a bunch of us were partying pretty hard in our apartment on Monroe St (the good side). The gang was all there. Peter and Paul Perrault, Franzie Welgdon, a guy named Todd that looks alot like the Todd on your site and Kevin Miller. We all had an on-going agreement: if anyone one of us said the word "Nick's" at any time we had to go. Well, around 3:00am someone said it. That beautiful word. Needless to say we all piled into my truck and treked through the snow to get that heavenly dish. As we approached the counter we could see the usual faces. The short angry man with his stomach overlapping his belt and showing through under the T-shirt. His apron was hanging down to his knees was stained with what seemed a months worth of plates. The cook was a skinny blond haired fellow with a cigarette hanging from his mouth and a bullet hole in his left cheek. As he turned to get a look at us smoke poured out the hole in his cheek and he somewhat smiled. We stepped up to the counter and at that moment a roach ran to the center of the counter and stopped. The man with the belly looked at it and with a swift downward blow smashes it with his hand. And with his hand still on the crushed roach he looks at us and say's "WHATEL YA HAVE!"
We ate our plates and and laughed at the whole scene.That was the night Kevin ate two plates, bread and all.
Love the Web page! When I was at RIT, Nick's was part of our basic food group. Downtown was the only way to go! Who can forget the atmosphere - Grease, knife fights, grease, prostitutes, grease, Nick and grease. What a combination! Thanks for the memories.
Marc Miller, Greensboro NC
I knew before I even finished the article that you had to be from Rochester. Spent many early Sunday mornings there!! Left in '91 to live in Florida & have not been able to find a place like it!!!
We were discussing the garbage plate at a rehearsal dinner for a wedding we just attended. Everyone was looking forward to a good trash [sic] plate the following Saturday.
After an indepth description by John, our tahou tour guide, of the trash [sic] plate, his wife got up and left the table and puked.
Needless to say we were not disappointed.
I went to ur from 82-86, before Nick's was REALLY cool.
No self-promotion back then... no indication from outside that they even served g-plates... their clientele in 82 really was just cops and hookers. but enough of my baby boomer reminiscing. The story is that they once had a tuna (salad) plate. I saw it on the menu once, but did not order it. Next time in, it was gone, and they insisted they were not putting it back on the menu. Rumors of botulism were rampant but unconfirmed.
It became an obsession. who had tried this tuna plate? What was it like? How could i learn enough about it to impress Nick, and have him make one special for me? By this point, I had tried every other plate on the menu, including the fish plate... my quest to complete the menu would have an asterisk without the tuna plate.
Only one man that I knew had had the tuna, and he wouldn't say much about it. He said it was a chapter in his life that best remain closed. Once when he was really drunk, I got him to admit that it was runny and of a hue that one did not associate with seafood, but then he clammed up.
Perhaps you goons can find out more about this now-mythic menu selection.
[ed: When you say "before it was REALLY cool," I assume that you mean before we started going there. If we can find anything out, we'll be sure to let you know.]
Wow, was I pleased to see a page on the web for Nicks!!! I love that place... One summer when I was partying too hard, I was always found there after hours and sundays, too! I agree it's a much more pleasant experience on sundays (nick is there, and the place is peaceful!) Once, I had 3 plates in one day (ouch!). But, since, I have changed my habits and rarely eat a plate anymore - watchin the girlish figure, y'know? But - I'll never forget the atmoshphere, nick, or the huge bottles of tobassco sauce. I do have some fond memories...mingling with other patrons, meeting drug dealers in the parking lot, friends having wallets lifted. But y'know what? No matter what happened it was always a reassuring and welcoming spot with great food! I hear ya, guys!
My name is Eileen, and I live in Rochester. Nick Tahou is in walking distance from where I live. I love Nick's food. (especially his cheeseburgers and fries. I have one problem though...My system doesn't like his food. It just has to be the grease! I passed him about at 2:30am. The crowd was there and the air was smelling good from his food. But...I had to go to Kathy Pagoda's. I knew what Nick's food is capable of doing to me within a hours time. I just didn't feel like being up all night!
I would like to compliment you on your page. It is very well put together. Keep up the good work!
I went to college at RIT from 1989 to 1994. I fondly remember my visits to Nick Tahou's. You may want to mention Nick Tahou's II, for those less adventurous folks. My favorite was the cheeseburger plate.
I am now a grad student at Eastern College in St.Davids, PA, and live in Philadelphia. If I'm ever in Rochester again, I'd come get a plate.
There was an imitator in Syracuse, NY for awhile. At a place called Valley Dawgs, they had something called the trash plate. My friend and fellow RIT alum went, and were disappointed. They served the cheeseburgers on buns. We both got rid of the buns and placed them on top of the mess, where they belong.
I live in California. Baldwin Park, to be exact. The Garage Sale capitol of the Northern Hemisphere. As such, we have a lot of garage sales, but not one REALLY good hang-out to call our own. Sure, I can go eat at the slew of multi-million dollar fast food junk restaurants around, or hang with the guys down in Glendale, about 35 minutes away, but...there is no place where I can go to on a Sunday morning and get myself a .....garbage plate!
So my theory is, since I can't get to Nick Tahou's I have to bring the essence of Nick's to me.
So the basic, simple question is...
What is in the Garbage Plate. Sure I could try to describe what it LOOKS like from your photo, but I would love to know the ingrediants so that I could make some kind of monstrosity like this in the comforts of my humble abode.
[ed: we've passed on our ideas, but we'd love to hear your suggestions as well].
I attended Nazareth College in Rochester, and we enjoyed the take out version of Nick's plates. You were given much more in the styrofoam containers than on the plates in the restaurant. There was one caveat, however, in that you did not want to eat the plate in your dorm room. It would smell for two to three days with that distinctive but indescribable odor of Nick's.
My buddy drove over one evening to pick up three plates. Upon returning, however, he had only two. He had dropped one in the stairwell. He also failed to clean it up - it had opened and rolled down a flight of stairs. A girl we knew on the floor stopped by the common area about 10 minutes later and asked us if we knew who vomited on the stairs. It became more humorous as other people queried in the same vein. We inspected the stairs, and the appearance (combined with the smell) was convincing as vomit.
That experience still makes me grin.