The word “garbage” has a negative connotation everywhere except Rochester, NY where one restaurant changed the face of late night eating by the simple act of throwing everything delicious onto one plate. It’s literally a hot mess. It may initially make you cringe, maybe even gag, but trust the thousands that have travelled near and far for this plate of garbage; it is incredible.
As a Rochester native, I can tell you that this plate is part of our culture. It is THE late night meet up spot.
Proud Inventor of the Garbage Plate
Featured on Man Vs. Food and Chowdown Countdown and written about time and time again by food lovers, this little restaurant, “Nick Tahou’s” changed the late night food game almost 100 years ago. In 1918, Alex Tahou opened up a hot dog stand that later developed into an unsuspecting, small store front. He called his original concoction “Hots and Potats,” but later coined the name “Garbage Plate” after customers would ask the waitresses, “Can I have a plate full of all that garbage?”
What exactly is a Garbage Plate?
The beauty of the Garbage Plate is that the options are pretty endless. Traditionally, you would choose either a hamburger or red hots (hot dog) and top it with home fries, mac salad and meat sauce. However, there are countless options to personalize your own plate.
- Choose your headliner: hamburger, cheeseburger, white hots, red hots, chicken tenders, fish, Italian sausage, fried ham, eggs, or grilled cheese
- Choose your 2 sides: french fries, home fries, macaroni salad, or baked beans
- Choose you toppings: mustard, onions, ketchup, hot meat sauce
It is the hot meat sauce that really pulls the plate together. If it could be replicated, it already would have been. But like in any good business, its a secret.
The only thing we do know is that there are definitely onions, garlic, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and MEAT in there. Until we can figure out the exact recipe, I guess you will just have to come try some in the ROC. Nick Tahou’s is forever the home of the Garbage Plate.
Rochester quickly embraced the trend and restaurants all over the city began creating their own variation. They couldn’t use the name the Garbage Plate, so they had to stray away and give their plates names like the Dumpster Plate or the Trash Plate. Each place has their own spin on the Rochester delicacy, and each one tastes just a little bit different. Regardless, they are only making the Rochester original more famous.
The Compost Plate
Now you might be thinking, “What about the vegetarians or vegans? What about the health nuts?” Okay, you probably weren’t thinking that. But, I’m here to tell you about the Compost Plate. The Red Fern created a totally vegan plate so that some don’t have to miss out on the fun. Made with meat alternative, seitan, healthy mac salad, sweet potato mash, field greens, focaccia bread and a vegetable protein “meat” sauce, The Red Fern killed it (totally figuratively because everything is vegan).
Put it on your bucket list
Try it out. You are probably skeptical, but if you ever meet someone from Rochester, ask them what they think. I can guarantee that they will vouch for it.