Everything You Need to Know About the Rochester Garbage Plate

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Food in Rochester

America is famous for its ever-so-creative (and normally delicious) “extreme cuisine”.

If you’re visiting the country for the first time, you’ll no doubt have come into contact – or at least caught a glimpse of – the supersize culture in the country. Whatever restaurant you’re dining at, you’ll find some servings to be somewhat larger than the servings in other countries.

This is certainly the case with the ‘Garbage Plate’ of Rochester.

Even if it’s your first time staying at the best hotels in Rochester, you’ll most likely have come across this unique meal with a name to match on a café or restaurant menu in the city. With TV shows like Man Vs Food drawing attention to some of the country’s most massive portions, you’ll find many meals being advertised as a “challenge” drawing in competitively-minded customers. This is certainly the case with the gargantuan Garbage Plate.

Garbage PlateInstead a mile-high plate of chicken wings or rump steak as big as your head, there’s something special about the Garbage Plate. With a cultural relevance unique to the city, the Garbage Plate is a must-try during your stay at our hotel suites in Rochester, NY, whether as a sharing platter or for you to attack solo.

Either way, good luck!

What is the Garbage Plate?

Garbage plateThe Garbage Plate is a large dish piled with fries, macaroni salad, baked beans and a choice of meats.

On top of this, the dish is dressed with spicy mustard, chopped onions, and Nick Tahou hot sauce, named after the restaurant in which it was created and made famous by. The hot sauce is mixed with ketchup and served less as a side dip and instead as a part of the meal itself, adding depth to the flavor.

The meal is served with a side helping of Italian bread spread heavily with butter. All in all, the combination is a messy sight – hence the name – but is a wholesome (if not heavy) meal.

If you’re going to give it a try, make sure to make room beforehand!

The history of the Garbage Plate

Originally, the Garbage Plate was known as “Hots and Potatoes”, or “Hots and Po-tots” before being trademarked by Nick Tahou Hots in 1992.

The Tahou restaurant was a popular spot for college students in the early ‘90s when, legend has it, they would ask if they could have “one of those plates with all the garbage on it?” This birthed the new name and for years, the Tahou chain reigned supreme with their messy plate.

Modern-day variations

The above variation of the dish is the traditional makeup of the platter, but over the years the dish has been hybridized by various other restaurants across the city.

For instance, the popular hot dog meat choice, made famous by the original Nick Tahou restaurant, has been replaced by cheeseburgers in many Rochester establishments. On top of this, many restaurants also offer grilled red hots, eggs, fish and many other options. With a range of different name variations, the Garbage Plate is called the trash plate, messy plate, dumpster plate and many other nicknames by local restaurants, all motivated by not breaching Tahou’s trademark.

Contemporary garbage traditions

If you’re in town for business and are visiting the meeting rooms in Rochester for the first time, then the Garbage Plate is often seen as a rite of passage.

College students at the local Rochester University Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity also hold an annual Nick Tahou run to raise money for charity. This requires a team of three students. One runs the 2.2 miles from the frat house to the restaurant, the second eats a full Garbage Plate, and the third makes the run back.

A second, more hardcore version exists called the Iron Man, which requires just one student to complete the relay. Hungry?

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