TAD’S STEAKS, West 34th Street

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I’ve never been desperate enough to eat at Tad’s, and believe me, I’m no snob when it comes to fast food. To me, Tad’s has always been associated with the worst of Times Square sleeze, which I avoided like the yellow-livered coward I am through its worst (or at its peak, as some of my associates would have it) in the 1980s. It always impressed me as the kind of joint you had to hold your nostrils shut from the scent of ammonia (I have walked out of diners after getting the merest whiff of the cleaning fluid).

However, I always liked its neon signs that decorated its many outlets in Midtown beginnning in 1974(? some remember Tad’s in the 1960s) when the chain was founded. I’m still searching for background information on Tad’s but as the now-defunct sign on West 34th near 7th says, it also operated in Philly, Chicago and San Fran, though I never spotted a Tad’s in any of those towns (maybe there was a Tad’s in the Tenderloin?)

Fashion Herald has a few views of Tad’s with the neon signs lit up, and Midtown Lunch has an actual review:

Whether it’s the already poured glasses of wine, stacked on the counter, covered in saran wrap; or the interior that hasn’t been changed (or probably cleaned) since 1974, Tad’s is not very welcoming.  Even the $7 steak lunch special, which should be selling point enough (for its cheapness), ends up doing the opposite. Why is this so cheap? How can they make a steak so cheap?  You know what?  Scratch that. I don’t want to know.

There were two additional locations uptown in the Times Square area on 7th, last I knew.

What’s taking Tad’s place on 34th Street? Apparently, a huge store selling Crocs, the world’s ugliest shoes. Anyone who wears or sells those things should be prosecuted by the esthetics police. So, Crocs will replace saran-wrapped cocktails at Penn Station.

In 2006, I explored the last gasps of The Deuce.

5/16/13

 





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35 Responses to TAD’S STEAKS, West 34th Street

  1. Eliot says:

    I started going to Tad’s around 1962 or 63. The price had just gone up to $1.19 (from $1.09). For that price, you got a steak (with a lot of bone in it), baked potato, garlic bread and a salad. The interior was done up in red wallpaper with velvet on it. The Tad’s I remember from that time was on 42nd Street, someplace between Madison and 3rd Avenues. That was just short distance from the Automatic on the corner of 42nd and 3rd.

  2. Neil F. says:

    In San Francisco, Tad’s is located at 120 Powell Street. I’ve got a photo of it all lit up at night. I’ll put it on photobucket tonight and send you the link.

  3. Glen Norman says:

    The San Francisco Tad’s is still in operation at 120 Powell Street, near Union Square. The signage is in good repair, and there’s a nice view of the place on Google Street View. The Yelp reviews are pretty mixed.

    I’ve never eaten at Tad’s, but there used to be a competing steak joint (steak house being too lofty of a term) almost directly across Powell. That one I ate at a couple of times–the steaks were lousy, but they did put together a fairly decent breakfast. That joint vanished decades ago.

  4. Dan says:

    The Tad’s chain has been around since the 1960s at the very least.

    My family never visited restaurants when I was a kid (big family, so my parents couldn’t afford it). But once I hit high school and scored my first after-school job? I decided it was time to introduce myself to the World of Fine Dining. At the Tad’s on East 14th Street, east of Union Square, to be precise.

    I’d never eaten in a restaurant before. As I recall, the steak was virtually unchewable. The baked potato was shriveled and dry. But the flocked, faux-velvet 1890s wallpaper was definitely spectacular. Especially since — along with my intrepid dining companions — I’d smoked a joint and dropped mescaline about 45 minutes before wandering in and sitting down.

  5. Ed Sacjs says:

    Tad’s is older than that. You must be off by at least10 years. I can remember Tad’s in the 1960s (I moved from New York to Chicago, and it was in New York when I lived there). I also remember seeing a Tad’s in San Francisco around 1963 or 1964.

    • Mark Wilner says:

      I grew up on the Lower East Side and Tads was around in the late 1950′s, if not earlier. The steak cost .99 cents. Oh yes the food sucked.

  6. Deirdre says:

    When I worked at Macy’s in the late 70′s and then again in 2006 I could never bring myself to eat there either and was always mystified by those who did. Of course cheap as it was I still couldn’t really afford to eat there on my Macy’s/Federated wage. I almost wet myself reading that hysterical Midtown Lunch review.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      I worked at Macy’s as acopywriter from 2000-2004. I liked the idea of working at the World’s Biggest Store, but my supervisor despised me and she made sure I was uncomfortable every day I was there.

  7. Scott says:

    All’s I can say is that when I was a preteen, I felt like a king because I had enough coin in my pocket to get myself a $1.29 steak dinner at Tad’s. And, I love my Mario Battali orange crocs. And yet, despite our differing tastes, I read and enjoy every word of Forgotten NY.

  8. larry prusak says:

    They were there way before 1976..I ate there, to my shame, when a student at NYU in the late 1960′s and I dont think they were new then…$1.17 for a papaya enzyme injected steak with potato and bread and some pass at a salad…
    Ah wilderness…

  9. Kilroy says:

    Here’s the photo of Tad’s in San Francisco:

  10. bernie says:

    I may be wrong, but I believe I actually ate at one back in 1965.

  11. John Brandt says:

    I am thinking Tad’s was around before ’74. I remember taking a trip to experience “the slease” when I was about 15 (which would have been 1968) along with my cronies and eating at one of the Tad’s on 42nd St. That location had obviously been there for a while when we “visited.” There was also the Beef and Brew (we called “bark and scarf”) chair that started in the early 70′s and I visited a few of those while in college (’70-’75).

  12. Tal Barzilai says:

    You can always go to the on in Times Square assuming it’s still there if you really want to try Tad’s Steaks, and I have been there one time.

  13. antfaber says:

    There was at least 1 Tad’s Steaks and perhaps 2 when I arrived here in 1998. One was at 120 Powell Street. It closed around 10 years ago, I think.
    http://www.tadssteaks-sf.com/

  14. chris says:

    I read that the founder of Tad’s,whoever he was,died recently and his business motto was-
    “Sell the sizzle,not the steak”
    Evertime I passed the place in times sq. they always seemed to be making a show of their flaming steaks in the window.Did it so passerby would see.
    Gross

  15. David Alvarez says:

    Ate once at a Tad’s on 42nd Street, the steak special was $2.99. The steak was gross and all gristle. I got exactly what I paid for. Would never eat there again and now cannot.

  16. Kevin Dougherty says:

    I actually remember eating at a Tads on 14 Street just East of Union Square in the mid to late 60′s. (Not the one that was recently there) They cooked the steaks on a grill in the window and you got a baked potato and garlic bread that was not bad. Remember this as the mid 60s and everything seemed better back then. They had a red and black felt type wall covering and the the water and glasses were at water fountain on the main floor it looked like the one at Katzs… KD

  17. Jenny Islander says:

    Is this one of those places that serve assorted pieces of meat stuck together with food-grade glue to make a steak-shaped object?

  18. Elwood says:

    Wow I never thought of Tad’s this way. My Dad made a big deal of what a treat it was to go to Tad’s on our summer day excursions in the city. What does this say about my dad then? Go figure – read an article on a chain steakhouse, come away with a family meditation and the meaning of growing up. Thanks a lot pal.

    I took a friend visiting from out of town once because he also was very excited at the sight of Tad’s because he remembered the one in San Francisco.

    One man’s fine dining is another man’s stink pot…or something.

    • Lilly B. says:

      I too fondly remember family outings into the city and my father taking us to Tad’s. It was a big deal for us back then.

  19. NY2AZ says:

    http://www.goldencorral.com/menu/

    Click this link to see a 21st century alternative to Tad’s. Even in The Era Of BO there has been progress, but you people in NYC will have to travel to Freehold, NJ to experience what Tad’s should be. All you can eat for about $12 per person & shorter waiting lines than Shake Shack. “Life can be sweet..Sh’boom”.

  20. Dr A. J. Lepere says:

    I have to confess, that having passed the Tad’s on 42nd street many times in the late 1960′s, I succumbed once and ate there. My main fascination was with the baked potatoes which were prominently featured, if I remember correctly, in the window, sitting in rock salt on a grill.

    Needless to say, I remember the steak being very tough and the baked potato very dry. But for the price, an almost acceptable meal.

    Was surprised the learn they were still in business in the same old places@

    FWIW

  21. Doug Douglass says:

    Tad’s New York, 119 West 42nd was incorporated on June 10, 1957.
    Tad’s Steaks, Inc, 717 Seventh Avenue incorporated November 10, 1960.
    Along with those locations a 1977 phone book lists -
    104 East 14th, 154 West 34th, 18 East 42nd, 228 West 42nd, 200 West 50th, and 607 Lex.

  22. cici says:

    Heavens to Betsy, I’ve eaten at Tad’s several times. In my mind it was the 60′s, and the price was $1.98. I used to meet my Mother in Times Square after work, eat at Tad’s, I always got a good steak My Mother always got the chewy one (we traded), and then we went to the theater with twofers or the movies. I have nothing but good memories of Tad’s, and amazed it is still in existence.

  23. George Cassidy says:

    Tad’s had a food concession at the 1964 World’s Fair, multiple stands. So much fat on the meat, the griddle looked like the Chicago Fire and a loud bubble/sizzle that you could track into the stand from 50 feet away. I don’t know how staff could get close enough to the meat to take it on or off without second-degree burns

  24. jon berger says:

    I worked in the city as a teenager early 70s. I could never summon the courage to eat there. However it seemed they were always busy. TADS was also at the 64-65 NYC Worlds fair too.

  25. tony z. says:

    Ah!, Brings back memories of my youth. In 1966 I was a student at the New York Institute of Photography on 34 th. St.. Ate at Tad’s quite often. Better then the Automat. At the time it was clean and fit a student budget. The steaks were marinated in large tubs.
    I believe the cost was $1.29. Steak, large piece of Garlic bread, and Baked Potato. At 65 years of age I can still remember fondly the smells and tastes. Dark Red wallpaper with a Black design.
    Another memory was the 14 th. St. avenue A bus. There was a driver who sang Opera while driving the bus. Quite good as I remember. Also a Hot Dog storefront on Herald Square, can’t come up with the name. NY in the 60′s, Loved it!!

  26. Beth says:

    When I was a high school & college student doing research at the NYPL ca. 1978 I would sometimes treat myself to lunch at Tad’s. (There was one right across the street from Grand Central.) Even a steak that was mostly gristle & fat was still steak, and since I had pretty much no income to speak of the price was right! Happy memories. Of course, I haven’t been tempted to go back for more in 30+ years.

  27. JIM KELLY says:

    I’m still chewing on a TADS steak from the 1970s. How about that for getting your monies worth

  28. Tal Barzilai says:

    To some, it was a good place to eat, but to others it wasn’t. Not everything will be your cup of tea. I think those who said it was bad probably got a steak that was either overcooked or undercooked that day. I thought it was a good place when I took my brother there last summer and we both liked it, though he had his with mushrooms while I just had mine with nothing on it. Then again, it’s hard to find a place that makes steaks similar to the ones in restaurants at a fast pace and at a good price. For the record, there are plenty of places I don’t like, but you don’t hear me preventing anyone from going there despite how much I hate it.

  29. Theoted says:

    Years ago, I visited Tad’s. I sat down and prepared to dine, but the guy at the next table looked as though he had smoked a joint and dropped mescaline a short time before entering the restaurant and I scooted out the front door before the scene got ugly!

  30. Bill Priester says:

    Tads!!! When I was a teenager in the mid 1960′s my best friend at the time was telling me that he was going to break away from the usual “cheap date meal” of taking a girl friend for Chinese on Mott Street in Chinatown and, instead, take her to Tad’s uptown after a movie.

    I asked him about the experience and he had little to say. I guess it didn’t work out too well! I swear he was the Ralph Kramden of the neighborhood with all sorts of schemes and ideas that never seemed to work out.

    Based on his don’t eat, don’t tell moment I never ventured into Tads but the mere mention of this eatery invokes memories of what apparently was a non-event! All sorts of probable events regarding that date still play in my head on occasion (was there a dead rat outside the restaurant, did his date spy the $1.98 neon sign and figure she was worth a better meal and left him flat, did she choke on the steak and die? Only in New York….ya never know!

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