As a lover of all things spooky, I couldn’t let the month of October pass without one last harrowing hurrah. And since I took a more comedic route for my article in the Halloween Campus Times issue a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take this opportunity to explore a more traditionally spooky joint.
The Spirit Room is a craft cocktail bar in downtown Rochester. Wearing many hats, the Spirit Room is also a miniature restaurant and literary lounge — serving up sips, snacks, and stories for all to enjoy.
Being the mom that I am, I love to do a little research before I go to restaurants. And it steered me in the right direction this time, so I won’t apologize. Reading through reviews on Facebook, I saw quite a few posts raving about The Spirit Room’s pork tacos, so I knew I had to give them a shot. I haven’t always had great luck with tacos, but I am elated to announce that these broke that disappointing streak. I have to mention that I had to request some adjustments to the dish when I ordered, so I did not experience them in their natural, intended form. Though The Spirit Room’s tacos are gluten-free, this one came with a queso and a jalapeño cream which left off to eliminate dairy.
Even without these two components, I still thought everything tasted great. There was a nice medium-level heat to the filling, which was perfect for getting a little bit of spice without masking the flavor of the pork. I also loved the bright flavors of the raw onion and pickled vegetables, which added the perfect, punchy acidity to balance and cut through all of the hearty, meaty pork. The pork was tender, and served in a generous quantity. And even though the tacos were packed full, the tortilla shells still held together and did not crack under pressure. And the texture of the tortillas was wonderful — they were a delightful combination of being a bit chewy and slightly crispy. Three of these hearty tacos made for a very filling and scrumptious dinner.
Served on the side of my tacos were some frijoles, which I could have done without. They were creamy and had a nice subtle smokiness, but no flavor at all beyond that. They did not do justice to the tacos.
My friend, Shagun, decided to go with the “Hell’s Chicken” sandwich. She said that the dish lived up to its name. The chicken on the sandwich can be prepared either mild or spicy. She wanted really spicy — and judging by the priceless struggling expression on her face throughout the whole meal, she certainly got it
Though the heat was intense, she said that she could still taste the chicken and the other components through it. The chicken was juicy with a lovely light crunchy coating, and she mentioned that the acidic pickles also helped to cut through the heat of the chicken. To quote Shagun, this was an “instantly-clears-your-sinuses” kind of meal.
In addition to serving up some great food, The Spirit Room has a great atmosphere and is a cool, fun place to hang out. The interior is dark, sultry, colorful, cozy, and eclectic with a lot of spooky spiritual decors. The fun music is turned up high, there are tons of board games available, and there are some big, comfy chairs to sit in, fostering some all-around chill vibes. Though the menu is pretty small, it offers some great options. I would like to head back with some friends to grab some good food and check out one of The Spirit Room’s events, which include “live music shows, dynamic poetry readings, book releases, burlesque, variety shows & micro-theater,” as detailed on the joint’s Facebook page.