World Famous “Garbage Plate” of Rochester, NY




Do people really eat this? A three-pound dish of home fries, macaroni salad, two all-beef flamed-broiled red hots, a greasy mystery meat with mustard and onions all smothered under a bottle of ketchup?

Not only do they eat it they’ve been queuing up it for several decades at Nick Tahou Hots, a Rochester institution founded in 1918.

3rd generation owner, Alex Tahou was sitting at one of his bar stools facing the grills when I walked in and started taking photos.

“Hey! I hope your not with the food inspection department!” he joked.

First called “Hots and Potatoes” the dish got its start during the Great Depression when Alex’s grandfather and originally owner provided a fast, cheap, huge portion of food to fill the belly. In those days, it wasn’t about nourishment but substance. His original recipe for the hot sauce is still used today and with a little luck might be on store shelves in the near future.

Today, the seedy landmark is popular with college students, construction workers, local patrons and even former Governor Elliot Spitzer who demanded the “gut-busting” favorite be served on his inauguration day.

The name ‘garbage plate’ got its dubious distinction by undergrads at the University of Rochester requesting the dish by repeating: “Give me one of those plates with all the garbage on it.” Don’t be fooled by imitations though. Others try to emulate it with names like “trash plate” or “dumpster plate.” They are not the same.

Healthy Living magazine rates the regional specialty as one of the 50 fattiest foods in the U.S. but they fail to mention that it doesn’t have to be. Cook Willie offers multiple choices of meat (or no meat) with all the fixings and 25-year associate Earl Lee encourages doggie bags even after he’s done snickering at you for failing to finish the piled-high platter.

Overall, this is a must visit when in Rochester.