A Garbage Retrospective
>> Every city eventually stumbles upon a great food that becomes its trademark. Just as Buffalo has the Buffalo wings and Chicago has the deep dish pizza, Rochester is home to the Garbage Plate. Nick Tahou’s Hots is where the food’s creation can be traced back to. It was originally opened in an old railway terminal on West Main street in downtown Rochester. The name, ‘Garbage Plate,’ was then trademarked in 1992. Though, that didn’t keep other restaurants from creating their own.
A garbage plate traditionally consists of a hamburger or cheeseburger, with home fries and macaroni salad. This combination is then smothered in meat sauce and topped with onions and mustard. A bread roll is often served on the side. Variations have rose to replace the burgers with hot dogs, grilled cheese, pulled pork, italian sausage and other interesting selections. Other side options have sprung up such as baked beans and French fries. Despite all of this, these plates still stays true to their roots.
The Garbage Plate has spread all throughout Rochester since its inception. It’s gone on to gain fame through Man vs. Food and Food Network’s, Unwrapped. Imitation Plates have even sprouted up as far away as Richmond, Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Each establishment has a unique name and sometimes an interesting spin to go along with the Plate. Mark’s Texas Hots on Monroe Avenue keeps it traditional with ‘The Sloppy Plate.’ For vegans, the Red Fern offers ‘The Compost Plate’. Horizons Lounge at the Woodcliff Hotel has a fancier plate that consists of wild game and housemade sides dubbed, ‘Plate De Refuse.’ Many restaurants and diners throughout the Flower City have a Plate for purchase. It’s become such a staple to the city and everyone that lives in it.
In terms of eating a Garbage Plate, every component can be eaten separately as sort of a traditional meal. While doable, this way is less fun. The preferred method that most locals follow is by stirring every piece together. Once all of the food is eaten there will still be meat sauce and other remains on the plate. This is then cleaned up by using the bread to wipe away and absorb the leftover food.
Whether you’re a native or simply passing through Rochester, you should take the opportunity to try it’s native dish. No other food can capture the taste or experience that comes with eating a Garbage Plate. Any of the establishments named above are highly recommend as well as plenty of other locations throughout the Flower City. <<