Garbo’s Grill – Every Journey Has a Start

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I don’t know how much I knew about Triple D at the time – I’d been watching Food Network since I was 12 (Friday and Saturday nights up with Iron Chef marathons and Diablo 2 til 4 AM), maybe Good Eats, Ming Le, Emeril Lagase, and those two painfully white hosts traveling around eating food all over the world.  I vaguely remembered that Guy was spending some time traveling the US, hitting up places much less frou frou than his Food Network predecessors (like even Bobby Flay as well), diving head first into legit Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  If you recall, a lot of the places in the first several seasons were pretty rough, so no one can really questions why the scale of food has notched up gradually over time.

The setting was Key West, and the timing was Chase’s bachelor party.  After a couple days of disjointed boozing and few hours of sleep, the weekend was somewhat devolving into heavy lounging and begrudged parties of two or three forcing binges at bars closer and closer to the AirBNB.  I also can’t recall any sort of impetus, and the food in Key West has always been quite good, but I was reminded about DDD having a couple locations that seemed to be especially raved about, and I know we were close to a few.  I also knew that after having a night of breaking into a building, climbing a roof access and passing out on that said roof for several hours after a night of drinking, I could use something much more tame and family-friendly that night.

Garbo’s is Triple D #1 that I proactively went to, and I know that if it wasn’t as good as it was, it may have been possibly the last I conscientiously went to, at least for a while.  Sure enough it wasn’t too far from where we were staying, situated in some sort of Christmas light illuminated courtyard.  Out of all those bros on that Bachelor Party, it was just me and my very good bud Victor, whom does have the appreciation in food I’m personally looking for.  I’d imagine the rest were either grounded by hangovers, in the midst of seeking another hangover at a bar, or turned off by the prospect of going somewhere for food that wouldn’t aid in yet another hangover.

The two showcased foods are their Fish Tacos and Umami Burger – these remain in my memory.  Vic and I ordered each, two Fish Tacos for of course an easy split, and enjoying that Umami Burger split down the middle.  I believe that Bulgogi Tacos were also an option, but we opted out of that experience.  What I also recalled from the show is that the Fish Tacos were caught fresh every morning and filleted for these tacos, and that fact certainly held true.


I mean holy hell who doesn’t want a full filet of fish taco?  Most fish tacos today are chopped up, thrown around, almost like they have to follow suit with generic chicken and beef.  But I assure you, THEY DO NOT!  Certainly one of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had between freshness, a keen appreciation for its wholeness, and all that other great stuff you see there (ya know, slaw, limes, cilantro, some sort of mayo-based chipotle something or other?)


I don’t remember this burger to be honest – I’m sure being “Umami” it was going to have Worcestershire or Fish Sauce in it (both of which have fermented fish/anchovy in it, full of inosinate, which is a good binder with other chemicals to really enhance flavor, hence umami in most cases).  Looking at the picture, it looks pretty good.  I’d imagine having it now would almost be like having it the first time.

I remember the tacos though, and definitely talking about it for several days, definitely talking about it to the guys in the party, which probably responded with “It’s Key West – there are fish tacos everywhere”.

Yes, that’s true my constructed-from-memory smart ass remark from nondescript friend.  There may be fish tacos everywhere, but I believe Garbo’s more than likely did it best.


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