Dog Eat Dog World

An ode to the Junkyard Dog Plate and the lovable weirdness of Dogtown
Justin Michau
Just add mustard

All this talk about garbage plates is making me sentimental. You see, there’s only one place that makes the best plate (in my opinion), and that’s Dogtown on Monroe Avenue. Hands down. Don’t even argue with me about it because I won’t be swayed.

To begin, a good Junkyard Dog Plate is one of the “cleanest” around. My two chosen sides are home fries (cooked to a perfect crisp) and mac salad, topped with a zesty meat hot sauce. No excess grease or runny mayo liquid dirtying up the goods—just two happy dogs “lounging on two sides,” as the menu reads. (I have heard others say the veggie plate is also amazing, but I won’t pretend to have tried it.)

Perhaps Dogtown’s greatest charm is its adherence to its theme.You can order a Boston Terrier (a frank smothered in baked beans and bacon) and take a seat near the window where family photos of dogs, complete with pet names, cover the wall. That’s what makes Dogtown loveable: it’s as weirdly reassuring as knowing your bone is buried safely in the backyard.

I started going to this mecca of decked-out doggies during my teenage years. It seemed like the place to be, especially if you were a college kid who didn’t want to spend more than ten bucks on dinner. It’s great for dates, and was, admittedly, the very parking lot where my now husband and I had our first kiss back in 2008.You don’t have to come to Dogtown with an entourage, because you know that you are walking into a welcoming and unpretentious environment filled with unconditional love (aka food). And after a long day at work, who doesn’t want to be greeted by a comforting canine?

You would be hard pressed to find business dragging at this fine establishment.

Most recently, I was sitting there, outside, on a Saturday afternoon just as an entire rugby team went inside. I pictured the ensuing frenzy at the grill. Word is spreading, too. One week after the rugby incident, I met a drummer from Buffalo who was in town to play a show at the Bug Jar. He was wearing a Dogtown T-shirt and told me about his first meal ever in Rochester at you-know-where.“I had to check it out while we were here,” he said. Maybe it’s just the proximity to the bar, but I like to think this is proof that the legend of Dogtown has begun a takeover of hearts, minds, and stomachs across New York and beyond. Man’s best friend, indeed.

Bethany Bushen is a freelance writer who lives in Rochester and enjoys eating mashed potatoes regularly. Follow her on Twitter at @brbushen

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