Meet the Garbage Plate

I moved to Buffalo, NY some six odd years ago and I’ve yet to leave. I do like it here but no matter how much I adore Buffalo, a big piece of my heart will always belong to my hometown of Rochester (as suggested by my blatant refusal to change my cell phone number to one bearing the “716” Buffalo area code).

Just an hour away by car, Rochester is home to Eastman Kodak, Genesee beer, Wegmans (the world’s best grocery store) and the Garbage Plate (the world’s best drunk food). Although I do not particularly love Genny, Genny Light or even the esteemed Genny Cream Ale, I am a huge fan of Rochester’s other signature successes. During a recent KegWorks lunch outing, I explained the culinary genius behind the Garbage Plate to some of my colleagues and Dave suggested that I share my enthusiasm with all of you and write a blog about this world famous post-bar cuisine. I thought that was a fabulous idea.

The Garbage Plate originated at Nick Tahou Hots in 1918 and the popular downtown restaurant is now revered as a true Rochester landmark. Tahou’s is holder of the trademark and the only restaurant able to use the name “Garbage Plate” but you’ll find tons of alternatively named imitations (think Trash Plate, Rubbish Plate, etc) on menus all over Upstate NY.

You’re probably wondering why anyone in his or her right mind would invent or more importantly order and pay for something with the word “garbage” in its name. All I can tell you is that to really understand, you absolutely must try one but I’ll do my best to do it written justice here anyways.

Basically, the Garbage Plate is an incredibly delicious pile of seemingly simple food selections all slopped together on a paper plate with no regard for component separation.

Two “base foods” are placed on the plate first. You choose your favorite combination of home fries, french fries, baked beans or macaroni salad. I like to go with home fries and mac salad for mine.

Your next selection is the “meat” of your garbage plate; cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots (another Rochester favorite), Italian sausages, chicken tenders, fish (Haddock), fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs. I’m a cheeseburger girl myself. Keep in mind, there are no buns involved here – just two grilled cheeseburger patties piled right on top of my home fries and macaroni salad.

Garbage Plate at Nick TahousNext, diced raw onions are generously sprinkled on top, along with a schmear of spicy mustard for good measure. Finally, the whole shebang is drizzled with a greasy hot sauce made from ground beef and spices and it’s all served with two pieces of bread. A garbage plate made to my liking looks a little something like this:

To top it all off, it is imperative that one adds ketchup and Frank’s Red Hot to taste.

After a good night of drinking, I swear there isn’t anything better in the world.

What’s your favorite post-bar drunk food?



  • Ed September 26, 2008 @ 10:43am

    After bar food is soooo fun! Unless you’ve over-indulged. Then it’s just messy.

    Anyhoo… I’m probably going to hang in Rochester this weekend, so I’ll be sure to check out the Garbage Plate at some point.

    While I’ve cut back eating after 6:30pm, I can attest to Bertha’s Diner on Hertel here in Buffalo. The food is a fantasic guilty pleasure of mine, especially after a night of drinking.

    I’ve also thought that Edrito’s Burritos would be awesome post-bar food – esp. the soft shell tacos, but alas, they’re not open that late. (SIGH)

    I’m curious to know if anyone’s been to Lake Effect Diner on Main – and how their food compares. Let me know?


  • Liz September 26, 2008 @ 11:06am

    Lake Effect is good- I went a few times in college – they have fantastic milkshakes and darn good chicken fingers. Then again, it’s pretty hard to screw up Chicken Fingers.

    You should totally try a garbage plate. I’m planning on one when I’m home for my cousin’s wedding in October and I can’t friggen wait.

  • Hannah September 26, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Ed – I hear that Lake Effect has great breakfast – not sure abt the other meals though… for those, you’re on your own!

  • Pete September 26, 2008 @ 11:42am

    I too will be in Rochester this weekend and plan to grab a plate. Double cheese burger plate with mac salad and fries is the way to go. I drooled on my keyboard a bit just looking at the pic in your post.

  • Deron September 26, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Liz, you’re a modern day Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’ve been waiting for a blog post about this culinary masterpiece. Check out this site when you get the chance – a bunch of dudes review the local places that provide these. It’s outdated, but an accurate guide to the best of the best.

  • Deron September 26, 2008 @ 11:57am

    BTW, I have the master recipe for one of these. Unfortunately, one of the requirements is to drink a case of Genny Cream.

  • Ed September 26, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    TANGENT, I know, but… OMG. Why do I suddenly have a craving for Keystone and a Western Omelet smothered in Frank’s Hot Sauce?! WTH?! LOL

  • Liz September 26, 2008 @ 1:04pm

    Thanks Deron! That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received. It may be slightly exaggerated due to excessive bouts of craving induced delirium but hey, I’ll take it!

    As for your master recipe, I would love nothing more than to try it but I’m not really sure I’d live to see the other side of a case of Genny Cream Ale. If I did, I seriously doubt I’d be in any condition to eat a cracker nevermind a garbage plate. I’ll work on my tolerance and get back to you though. Perhaps by next year’s labor day party?

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