In Rochester, New York, the “Garbage Plate” holds a special place in people’s hearts and stomachs. For the uninitiated, the dish doesn’t contain any actual garbage, unless you count the paper plate it’s served on. As local legend goes, the Garbage Plate was invented many moons ago at a lunch counter called Nick Tahou Hots. A group of college students rolled in one day and requested a plate with “all the garbage on it.” In response, late owner Nick Tahou crafted a distinct combination plate that’s became a cherished local favorite.

The name “Garbage Plate” is now a registered trademark of Nick Tahou Hots, but the essence of the Garbage Plate can be found all over Rochester, from humble burger joints to upscale dining establishments. Each place has its own interpretation, listed on the menu as a “Rochester Plate,” “Trash Plate,” “Hot Plate” or “Junkyard Plate.” What sets the Garbage Plate apart is the twist that each eatery brings to the iconic dish.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Rochester Garbage Plate!

What is a Garbage Plate?

@visitrochester For us, we really like Garbage Plates ????????Nick Tahou’s Hots #VisitROC #thisisroc #rochesterny #upstateny #newyork #garbageplates ♬ It’s Corn – Tariq & The Gregory Brothers & Recess Therapy

The Garbage Plate features your choice of cheeseburger, hamburger, Italian sausage, steak, chicken or white hots (a regional hot dog found in Rochester) served on a heap of home fries, french fries, baked beans and macaroni salad. What truly sets it apart, however, is the signature Rochester hot sauce, which is a spicy meat-based sauce that’s reminiscent of Cincinnati chili. If you’d like to tempt fate, opt to add mustard and onions as a heartburn-inducing garnish. You mix everything together and wolf it down with a side of bread and butter.

Who has the best Garbage Plate in Rochester?

It’s important to note there’s no such thing as the “best” Garbage Plate. Every interpretation is different and each is beautiful in its own way. To experience the original that started it all, visit Nick Tahou’s Hots. Some other popular spots include Bill Gray’s Dog Town Hots, Jeremiah’s Tavern, Genesee Brew House, the Gate House, Marshall Street Bar & Grill and the concession stand at Innovative Field, home of the minor league Rochester Reds.

For a unique take on the Garbage Plate, order the sushi version at Stingray Fusion or Red Fern’s vegan “Compost Plate.” Keep your eyes open for “hots” in small towns near Rochester, too. I recommend Henrietta Hots, Jimmy Z’s Plates and Shakes, Mark’s Texas Hots, Fairport Hots, and Westridge Hots, among many other options.

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