The Infamous “Garbage Plate” at Nick Tahou Hots — I 490 & W. Main St., Rochester, New York


The Garbage Plate.

The name is actually trademarked. It’s been featured on the Food Network’s “Unwrapped” episode titled, “Funny Foods.” In 2009, John Stewart on “The Daily Show,” told the people of Rochester, New York to “Get out their Garbage Plates.” In the 2012 film, “The Place Beyond the Pines,” starring Ryan Gosling, Garbage Plates are mentioned as a “must have” for Bradley Cooper’s character when he travels through Rochester, New York. And more than 5 million have been served.

Yes, it’s the Garbage Plate – the dish that put Nick Tahou Hots Restaurant on the map. The establishment was founded in 1918 by Alex Tahou, the grandfather of the 21st century owner (also named Alex Tahou), and named for Nick Tahou, the founder’s son, who operated the restaurant until his death in 1997.

What is the Garbage Plate? How do you put one together? Together, let’s trash it:

  • First, customers get a choice of mountain portions of two bases from a list that includes home fries, pasta salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, French fries and macaroni salad.
  • Next, two huge all-beef, flame-broiled red hots are added to the top of the mound.
  • No matter what combination of Garbage Plate items you choose, your heap is covered with mustard and onions. That’s just the rule.
  • Then, the plate is finished with two large ladles of a mysterious meat sauce that could be chili, uh, is that really beef? Who knows? The pièce de résistance are two or three pieces of white bread.

Bottom line, it’s a buffet table or a picnic on a plate. Truckers place bets on who can finish one. Most can’t. In the end, they have to throw in the towel. Literally.

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