Guide to the Rochester Garbage Plate

Have you heard of the Garbage Plate? This unique mashup of ingredients is widely regarded as Rochester’s signature dish. The Garbage Plate has become a thing of legend, and the notorious local dish has been documented in many articles and news stories around the nation.  

What is a Garbage Plate?

The name “Garbage Plate” is trademarked by Nick Tahou Hots, home of the original Garbage Plate.  You 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 simply a “Plate.”

A traditional Garbage Plate is your choice of cheeseburger, hamburger, white or red hots* (aka hot dogs, especially those made by local company Zweigle’s), Italian sausage, chicken, or grilled cheese, served on top of any combination of home fries, french fries, baked beans, and/or macaroni salad. The plate is usually topped with a Rochester-style meat “hot sauce.”  Optional mustard, onions and ketchup may be added on top.  A Garbage Plate is traditionally served with a side of buttered bread (in case you were still hungry!). 

Nick Tahou Hots and the History of the Garbage Plate 

Legend has it that the name the “Garbage Plate” was created by Nick Tahou Hots late one night when some college students came into 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 stands in the same location in downtown Rochester serving up this heaping meal every day. 

Nick Tahou Hots is located along (although not part of) the Rochester Heritage trail. This makes it a convenient stop for visitors on their way to or from the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House.

Rochester and The “Garbage Plate"

The Garbage Plate is now recognized all over the United States. Visiting performers like comedians often make it part of the show (Jim Gaffigan has taken his love of the Garbage Plate to the next level!). It has also been featured in many magazine articles, blogs and other news media including the New York Times, Food & Wine, the Huffington Post and Saveur.

Where to Get a Garbage Plate 

Different versions of a classic Rochester plate can be found at restaurants around town – everywhere from hole-in-the-wall “hots” restaurants to gourmet establishments. The original Nick Tahou's “Garbage Plate” has inspired different versions on menus across the Rochester area. (Fun fact: Nick Tahou Hots both created and trademarked the name the “Garbage Plate”).   

Find different versions of the famous Rochester plate at local spots including: 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), Effortless Healthy (Paleo plate), and the Rochester Red Wings concession stand at Frontier 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. 

More than the Garbage Plate 

While the “Garbage Plate” is a Rochester original, keep in mind that this region’s culinary offerings extend far beyond. 

Our region is rich in culinary delights that rival larger cities and create memorable experiences for foodies all over the world. Looking for further ideas for foodies in Rochester? See itinerary ideas for foodies, info on local spots for food, wine & beer, and more in the Ultimate Rochester Foodie Bucket List

Rochester has a booming food and craft beverage scene and is a destination in its own for foodies and beverage…