A Rochester delicacy: “Garbage Plates”

Rochester, New York

No trip to the Rock is complete without an obligatory stop for a “garbage plate” at Nick Tahou Hots, a landmark restaurant famous for its extreme American cuisine. The earliest version of this dish dates back to 1918, when it was called “Hots and Potatoes.” This evolved to “Hots and Po-tots” and eventually to the “Garbage Plate.” So, why “garbage plate”?

Well, all it takes is one look.



The dish starts with a base of home fries. Simple enough. From that, macaroni salad, baked beans, two cheeseburgers, onions, mustard, chili and hot sauce are piled on top. Apparently, years ago, customers at Nick’s started asking for “one of those plates with all the garbage on it.” And thus, the garbage plate was born.


As unappetizing as it looks, the garbage plates are surprisingly delicious. We expected to be grossed out — but the burgers were cooked well and single forkfuls of meat, onion, chili and potato just the right mix. “This is actually really good,” Alex said. Still, the heaping portions were obscene and we barely put a dent in the three pound plate of food.

“Just one? For the twoaya?” the guy at the counter had asked incredulously when we placed our order. Yes, just one, we shamefully replied.

Give us a break here.


  1. OMG. My husband went to the University of Rochester and can’t shut up about the garbage plates. I’m glad to hear someone else talk about them and to finally see a picture. He has tried to reproduce the garbage plate in our kitchen and while it looked disgusting, I can vouch for how tasty it was. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am from rochester, and on a recent trip i had to make the hot sauce for a friend of mine who lives in GA now. He hadnt had a plate in 8 years. All i hear now is “when you coming back?? I need a plate!!!!”

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