A (not too serious) guide to the infamous Rochester dish
The “Garbage Plate” is a thing of legend. This notorious local street food has been documented in many articles and news stories around the nation. Here at Visit Rochester, it is often one of the first things visitors ask about—especially food adventurers. So here is our guide to tell you what you need to know, dispel some myths, and dare you to visit Rochester and taste it for yourself.
What You Need To Know
The name “Garbage Plate” is trademarked by Nick Tahou Hots, home of the original Garbage Plate. Visitors will also find other versions of this dish (and variations on it) on menus all over the Rochester area. From small hamburger joints, to fine dining restaurants and everything in-between. Each restaurant puts their own spin on it—there are some who have created healthy versions, upscale versions and yes, there is even a sushi version. Names also vary, on some menus it is called the “Rochester Plate,” a “Trash Plate,” or a “Trasher Plate." Other clever names include the “Compost Plate," “the Sticky Icky Plate,” and the “Junkyard Plate."
What Is A Plate?
A traditional plate is your choice of cheeseburger, hamburger, Italian sausages, steak, chicken, white or red hots*, served on top of any combination of home fries, french fries, baked beans, and/or macaroni salad. The plate is usually topped with “hot sauce”. Rochester hot sauce is a spicy meat sauce. Optional mustard and onions may be added on top (as a heartburn garnish). It is usually served with a side of buttered bread. But don't let the description or name deter you, it is not unlike other dishes where food of a similar genre are all piled on top of each other (we're looking at you Taco Bell Border Bowl).
Nick Tahou’s And The Legend
Legend has it that Nick Tahou invented the plate late one night when some college students came in to the restaurant and requested a plate with “all the garbage on it”. The owner then made his new variation of the combination plate. Over time it grew into a local favorite. Today, Nick Tahou’s (celebrating 100 years in business in 2017) stands in the same location in downtown Rochester serving up this heaping meal every day. It is located along (although not part of) the Rochester Heritage trail. Which makes it a convenient stop for visitors on their way to or from the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House.
Rochester And The “Garbage Plate"
For locals, the “Garbage Plate” can be a unique source of pride. For those who love it, it is a local treasure and they have strong opinions on where to get the best plate. The Garbage Plate's fame and notoriety has earned it attention from all over the U.S. Visiting performers like comedians often make it part of the show (John Stewart, Second City, Jim Gaffigan). It has also been featured in many magazine articles, blogs and other news media including: Huffington Post | New York Times | Food and Wine Magazine | Saveur
Okay, Great...Now Where Do I Get One?
Visitors to Rochester will discover different variations of "Plates" on restaurant menus around town (note: the only spot to eat an original "Garbage Plate" is Nick Tahou's Hots - the restaurant has a trademark on the name!). The full list of restaurants where you can enjoy a version of a Rochester Plate is long, but some of the top local spots for a "Trash Plate" include: Nick Tahou Hots (home of the Original Garbage Plate), Bill Gray’s (various locations), Dog Town Hots, Jeremiah’s Tavern, Genesee Brew House, the Gate House, Marshall Street Bar & Grill, Stingray Fusion (Sushi plate), Red Fern (Compost Plate/vegan), Effortlessly Healthy (Paleo plate), and the Rochester Red Wings concession stand at Innovative Field (the Trash Can). Also, look for “hots'' places in local towns and villages, including Henrietta Hots, Jimmy Z’s Plates and Shakes, Mark’s Texas Hots, Fairport Hots, Schaller’s, and Westridge Hots along with many other options.
From Garbage Plate to Gourmet
Th Flour City may be famous for the Garbage Plate, but the plate just scratches the surface of the local food scene. The Rochester region is rich in culinary delights that rival larger cities and create memorable experiences for foodies all over the world. Find your next great meal in Rochester by checking out some of the best Rochester restaurants and our Foodie Bucket List.
*hots are a Rochester version of hot dogs. These meaty sausages come in two varieties "red" and "white". The most popular hots are made by Zweigles, a local company.