Last time I posted Rochester Garbage Plates, it was an ode to Nick Tahou on his birthday, the evil genius behind piling greasy foods on a plate, leaving behind a legacy and tradition for all Rochester, New York natives. The original garbage plate, if you will.
What's In This Article
What is a garbage plate?
I know what you are thinking… “What in the world is a garbage plate?? I just see a pile of random food!”
A Garbage Plate is a loaded dish of crispy home fries, hot sauce, macaroni salad and cheeseburgers topped with raw onions, condiments and slices of white bread. Sometimes you’ll see it with hot dogs (red hots) or even white veal hot dogs (white hots).
Ding, ding, ding- you got it! Garbage plates come in many varieties, but they are all comprised of three basic layers: the base, meat and toppings.
Where did the garbage plate originate?
Garbage plates hail from the Rochester area and the story goes that they were developed by hungry, and possibly really drunk, college students from the University of Rochester.
The just wanted a plate of food and basically had the workers at Nick Tahou Hots piled all the leftovers odds and ends onto a plate.
What is on a garbage plate?
The base is generally crispy home fries and sometimes French fries. I liked to make mine in giant cubes, but to each their own.
Next comes more carbs in the form of macaroni salad. For a garbage plate, a dry mac salad made a day ahead of time is best. All the other condiments will result in it being too saucy if your mac salad is a wet one.
But hey, if you are into that kind of thing, who am I to stop you?
The one ingredient that never changes is what garbage plate goers call Rochester Hot Sauce. Not the usual Texas Pete, but instead beef simmered in onion, garlic, tomato sauce and spices to an almost chili-like consistency, but ironically not very spicy. Meat sauce.
Every “hots” store will have their own proprietary hot sauce, so there isn’t one right way to make it.
The base can consist of macaroni salad, baked beans, home fries or French fries. The meat layer can be just about any piece of meat, or non-meat, you can think of!
A traditional plate uses cheeseburgers or hamburgers, but you can also mix it up and get hot dogs, grilled cheese, fried fish, fried ham, steak, Italian sausage or fried chicken fingers.
Some people don’t use any meat and that is okay too. This is a lot of food!
The toppings range from:
- Fried eggs
- Extra cheese
- Raw onion
- Sauteed onion
- Hot Sauce
- Buffalo sauce
All plates are served with a side of plain white bread (untoasted) with butter packets to mop up the extra sauce. The goal being to end up with a clean plate.
Not down for this long process, but want to try a plate? You can always purchase pre-made macaroni salad, canned mild chili and frozen home fries.
Another little fact, health.com has rated the Garbage Plate the fattiest food in the entire state of New York, so please consume in moderation!
Let’s review the steps for eat a garbage plate at home:
- Make the base of home fries or french fries.
- Top with a cold macaroni salad.
- Smother with Rochester style hot sauce.
- Add your desired meat (or lack thereof).
- Adorn with toppings of choice.
- Place plain white bread on the side.
- Eat like you’ve never eaten before!
- Take a long nap.
Storage & Reheating
Garbage plates are best enjoyed freshly made. You can make all of the elements ahead of time and then assemble, but you’ll lose a bit of of the crunchies from the potatoes if you make them too early. That being said, most garbage plates are served in styrofoam containers that essentially steam the whole plate in transit, so this might be more authentic!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They are best reheated in the oven on 300°F for about 10 minutes. You can certainly microwave them, but it will come with the usual woes of the microwave like soggy or rubbery food.
More Regional Dishes
Rochester Garbage Plate Recipe
- 6 cups classic macaroni salad click for recipe
- 2 cups crispy home fries click for recipe
- 4 cups Rochester hot sauce click for recipe
- 12 frozen hamburger patties
- 12 slices American cheese
- 12 slices white bread
- butter softened, for buttering the bread
- yellow mustard
- raw onions , chopped
- Fire up the grill to high heat. Grill each hamburger patty 5 minutes on each side for a medium burger. Top with cheese and allow to melt for 1 minute, remove.
- Now you are ready to build your magnificent Rochester Style Garbage Plate! Take a large scoop of home fries, place on one side of the plate. Next, take a large scoop of macaroni salad and place on the other side of the plate. Top with 1-2 cheeseburgers, then raw onions and Rochester hot sauce. Finish with any desired condiments and serve with a slice of buttered bread. Enjoy your Rochester Style Garbage Plate!
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and leave us a comment!
My husband will be SO happy to hear what he calls ‘This is what I threw together’ is an actual thing!! 😉
Rochester Style Garbage Plates sound like pure comfort and delicious! I’m loving this Throwback post series you have been doing!!!
Yes, we eat garbage plates – except, we call them leftovers 🙂
In all seriousness, I’ve never heard of them before but we do combine Mac-n-Cheese with baked beans with sausage dogs or veggie burgers whenever they are still in the fridge the next morning. Who knew we were creating our very own garbage plate?
Have a wonderful weekend.
Mom Does Reviews
Um, yeah! I’d absolutely eat a garbage plate! I know my hubby would, too. 🙂
Wow… I think I’m speechless haha. This is an interesting concept, I totally get why it’s called the garbage plate lol. I’m one of those weirdos who can’t have food touching another food so my gut is telling me to reach through the screen and separate all that food on the plates haha.
Hmmm, not sure if I would eat it or not. However, I would definitely give it a try.
When in Rome… I like trying regional specialties and often seek them out when I travel. If it’s one of the unhealthiest foods in America, I’m pretty sure I would love it! LOL
You’ve got to be kidding, right? Of COURSE I’d eat a garbage plate. Anytime!
We do SOAP (stuff on a plate) but I haven’t heard of a garbage plate. And I’m from ct!
That is cute Brett- and it sounds much better than “garbage”!
Being from New Zealand I have never heard of a garbage plate before! I do love anything with hot sauce though, so must be delicious 🙂
This looks like a really popular diner meal we had in St. Louis. Except there they called it a Slinger.
There are times when my foods can mix, but for the most part I have a huge issue with my foods mixing on my plate. Weird, I know 😉
I’d eat it and enjoy it until a few hours later when I’d deeply regret it, hahaha.
I lived in Rochester for a year and my roommate got these all the time. I passed on them, though.
I most definitely would eat a garbage plate. Looks delicious. Makes me hungry actually.
It looks just as good as we get then here in Rochester
Thank you Aunt Donna! David made them- you’ll have to give him the credit!
That dish is not for me, but my husband loves it. Another one that LOVES his Buffalo Bills! He was born & raise in Buffalo. Guess it’s time for us to make a trip up there.
Toni- you and I are the same page. He LOVES them, but I just can’t do it… all that food mixed together just bothers me.
I think my arteries clogged up just reading this! But it’s definitely an interesting concept!
Oh yes, everything in moderation, right?
That looks like heaven on a plate if you ask me. I wish I could have one for dinner tonite actually!
Yes I would eat a garbage plate,that looks so good I will have to try something like this here and see what the family think.