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The Infamous Garbage Plate.

The Infamous Garbage Plate.

Every town in America has their freakish delicacies . Right? No? Actually, this is pretty far from a delicacy, since I use the term delicacy referring to ingredients that are difficult to find. I think Rochesterians use the term delicacy jokingly. At least, I hope so. This monstrosity is frankensteinishly put together with ingredients that are actually pretty easy to find. And my hometown of Rochester, NY came up with this monstrosity. You’re welcome. Why would we create such a thing? Who knows, maybe we want to get on this website (oh wait, we did). But the website came long after the Garbage Plate was in existence, meaning someone just had a crazy idea combined with a crazy appetite.

The Garbage Plate (appetizing name, I know) consists of 2 cheeseburger patties (or hamburger patties, or hot dogs, or sausages) on top of a bed of half macaroni salad, half home fries, and covered with a special spicy hot sauce. Mustard and ketchup are optional to squirt on top. It usually comes with a side of bread with butter, but I decided to cut the few calories I could in hopes I only have to run 36 miles to burn this off rather than 38 miles.

Even though I lived in Rochester my entire life, I hadn’t tried a Garbage Plate until I was around 21 years old. That was also when I first tried Taco Bell. Once you hit the drinking age, you tend to eat a lot of crap after late nights of drinking binges. There’s something about craving greasy, heavy food after alcohol. Which is why most of the Garbage Plate enthusiasts are college students. I tend to think the rest of the enthusiasts eat it for the nostalgia. Or because they want to speed up Type 2 Diabetes in record time. For reasons unknown.

You can love it or hate it. I hate myself for loving it. But once in awhile, especially after running 5 miles, I feel the urge to eat something really, really bad for me. And this hits the spot. Chris was more than anxious to run out to the nearest trash bin to get me a plate of garbage, but I actually had all the ingredients in the fridge. I just needed to be Frankenstein.

*Please eat at your own risk.

Garbage Plate

September 14, 2009
: makes 2 plates
: moderate


  • Ingredients for Cheeseburger:
  • • 1 lb. ground beef made into 4 hamburger patties
  • • salt and pepper
  • • 4 slices American cheese (or cheddar)
  • Ingredients for Mac Salad:
  • • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni, or shells
  • • 2 Tbsp. minced pickles
  • • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • • salt
  • • pepper
  • • paprika
  • Ingredients for Home Fries:
  • • 2 medium size potatoes, cubed and patted dry
  • • oil
  • • salt
  • • pepper
  • • paprika
  • Secret Spicy Sauce:
  • • 1/4 lb. ground beef
  • • 1/4 cup minced onions
  • • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • • 1 tsp. Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • • 3/4 cup water
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop 2 medium size potatoes into cubes
  • Step 2 pat dry to soak up moisture. Spread on baking sheet, coat with oil, and sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika. Bake for 40 minutes, turning over once after 20 minutes.
  • Step 3 As potatoes are baking, boil pasta for salad. After pasta is cooked, drain and cool under cold water. Pour pasta into large bowl, add minced pickles, mayonnaise. Salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Step 4 In a small pot on medium high heat, cook ground beef, crushing into small bits with a spoon. Add minced onions, cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chili powder, hot sauce, tomato paste and water. Cook on medium heat, stirring once in awhile, until sauce has thickened enough to coat a spoon. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Step 5 Cook beef patties as you prefer (grill, pan, etc.) Top with cheese. To plate, layer half the dish with macaroni salad, half with home fried potatoes. Place cheeseburger patties on top. Pour spicy sauce on top. Ketchup and mustard are optional. Serve immediately before any regrets.



Instructions with Photos:


I didn’t have two medium size potatoes of equal proportions – I had a big and little one. It evened out.

Patting them of the excess moisture helps them bake up crispier in the oven. I decided to go the oven route so you wouldn’t have to suffer cooking so much on the stove all at once. And within the 40 minutes these are cooking, you can make the mac salad, cheeseburgers and hot sauce.


Coat generously with oil. I used mild olive oil. I’m going say I used about 3 Tbsp. of oil. Just coat it.


Salt, pepper and paprika.


Bake for 40 minutes, flipping over after 20 minutes.


During the time the potatoes are baking, cook the pasta according to box instructions.


Add mayonnaise and minced pickles.


Refrigerate until ready to plate.


To make hot sauce, brown ground beef in small pot on medium high heat, crushing bits of beef with a spoon.


Add minced onions, sauteing for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add hot sauce, chili powder, tomato paste and water.


Cook on medium heat, stirring once in awhile, until sauce has thickened enough to coat a spoon. Set aside until ready to use.


Cook beef patties as you prefer (grill, pan, etc.) Top with cheese.


To plate, layer half the dish with macaroni salad, half with home fried potatoes.


Perfectly crisp potatoes. This is actually a great side dish for a brunch too. And the mac salad would be good for a picnic lunch. Which is why it’s completely nonsensical to put all this stuff together on a single plate.

Who ever said a plate of garbage had to make sense?


Place cheeseburger patties on top.


Pour spicy sauce on top. Ketchup and mustard are optional. Serve immediately before any regrets arise.


And there you have it. A little taste of Rochester in your mouth. I’ll send you some antacids later. *Burp*

16 thoughts on “The Infamous Garbage Plate.”

  • Believe it or not I’ve never had a garbage plate – despite being in Rochester 6 years and going to college here. I had a knock-off version in the campus dining hall but have never been to Nick Tahous.

    This looks good – it is the “original” recipe?

  • Leslie – I have no idea what the original recipe is 😛 This was just my take on the recipe, since no restaurant ever spills the ingredients of their special hot sauce. But my husband said it was pretty darn close 🙂

  • It’s like a backyard cookout all on one plate. I’m going back and forth between grossed out and totally thinking I’d eat that. Very interesting…

  • Hey, I came across your blog via foodgawker.com and I almost peed my pants when I saw a garbage plate staring me in the face! I hate to admit, being a long time Rochestarian myself, I’ve polished off my fair share of them in my life. I went to school in Penfield and my friends and I would frequent “P-hots” after engaging in shady behavior.

    I really dig your blog. Been thinkin’ about starting my own if I can figure out how. I’ll definitely be continuing to read yours. Cheers!


  • I’ve never had a garbage plate. But it reminds of the horseshoe in Springfield, Ill. Basically it’s a hamburger patty or some other type of meat on thick toast, topped with a lot of cheese and fries.

  • I went to UR years ago and that was when I was introduced to the garbage plate. I had the privilege of eating at the original Nick Tahoes! What a treat when you are 3 sheets to the wind! This recipe looks pretty close to what I have eaten while in Rochester.
    There was this one time while at Tahoes a group of men had a food fight and fist fight over what looked like a couple of “professionals” (I am being polite) When this group of people were kicked out of Tahoes they entered a limo! There was never a dull moment while eating at these places.
    There is also a vegatarian plate which was also known as the “P” plate. For the life of me I can not remember what they would replace the meat with for the vegatarian plate; maybe a veggie burger would be a good idea.
    Thanks for posting this recipe, brings back tons of memories.

  • April – I went back and forth from being grossed out to salivating. Right now, looking at it, I’m thinking WTF!!

    Chiara – Totally understand 🙂

    Catalina – I haven’t made the blueberry pie yet, I froze my blueberries since I haven’t had the time. But I need to pick up sugar at the store. I’ll let you know! 🙂

    Carly – Wow I almost made someone pee their pants with my photo! That’s a new one, hahah! It’s great you wanna start your own blog, feel free to e-mail me any questions you have about blogging, I’d be more than willing to help!

    Hummingbird – I swear I saw that horseshoe on Foodnetwork. This garbage plate created quite a stir on twitter though. Maybe I’ll take a shot at the horseshoe now..haha.

    Meghan – I never stepped foot in the original Nick Tahoes, just the one on Lyell ave. I was too afraid…even in Gates! That’s a funny story btw. I always see cops in front of the one in Gates. That’s why I didn’t link to any Tahou’s restaurants on my site, I didn’t wanna risk anyone’s safety…hehe.

    I bet theres a way to cut all the calories and make a healthy plate…nahhhh…..

  • I’m from the south and the first time I ever heard of the garbage plate was on an episode of Diners, Drives-Ins, and Dives. I know that feeling of wanting greasy food after drinking all too well, as I’m a college student myself and have eaten plenty of questionable things. I may just have to bookmark this recipe. 😉

  • hahaha. Man..I lived in Rochester for 3 years and this plate scared the hell out of me. All I remember is having it once..and the place was filled up with drunk college students.

  • Nhiro – Interesting…I didn’t know Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featured garbage plates. Thanks for the comment!

    Colin – Yes…yes it is.

    Elle – I’m happy to scare the hell out of you. It scares me too, sometimes.

  • I’ve lived in Rochester my entire life of almost 50 years. Eaten dozens of G. plates. For vegans, they do have a fish plate. They replace they meat patties with fried fish squares. And of course we have the famous white hots to compliment the reds.

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