Garbage Plate

This Garbage Plate recipe is a homemade version of the Garbage Plate that you’ll find in Rochester, NY. Complete with meat hot sauce, fries, mac salad and cheeseburgers or hot dogs this is as easy, classic dish that’s perfect for Father’s Day!

A Garbage Plate with some ketchup and a bowl of bread behind it.

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Hey parents, have you ever just sat back and watched your kid while they interact with other kids? I’m not talking about keeping an eye on them as we always do. I’m referring to observing them and their unique personality type next to a variety of other personality types in other kids.

J and I did this recently and it was certainly interesting. We’ve always known that A is a very independent person. But this was only further magnified when she was amongst group of her peers.

Now don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t extreme about it. She’s a bit reserved but once she warms up to new surroundings, she generally interacts with and has fun with other kids. She frequently talks fondly about her friends at daycare and even prays for them (my heart explodes, it’s so cute!).

A Garbage Plate being held by a man.

But it was very apparent to us that she doesn’t need other kids to be able to have a good time. She doesn’t rely on anyone but herself. A is perfectly content to go into a situation and find something to entertain herself.

We also noticed that in group settings she prefers to be in a sort of leadership role. She’s not particularly bossy about it and doesn’t always assert herself as “the leader.” But there are certainly times where she nicely chooses to move onto the next thing instead of being one of the one ones being led by someone else.

Justin remarked to me recently that he’s always had the impression that she is more of an Alpha in social situations with other kids. And I can totally see this.

A close up shot of the burger in a Garbage Plate.

In some ways I think this is a really positive thing. She knows what she wants and her happiness doesn’t hinge on pleasing others (although she clearly gets joy out of making other people happy). A friend of mine even said she thinks it could help her be less susceptible to peer pressure in the future (Gosh, I hope so!).

But this also gives me a little bit of anxiety. First of all, the fact is, I have a bit of an abrasive side to my personality. It’s definitely an area I’ve actively worked on for years and I continue to make strides in this area. But at times it can make me seem pretty cold and unapproachable. Since the day I found out I was pregnant, I hoped and prayed that this part of me did not get passed on to my girls.

And also, kids can be downright vicious, especially girls. J and I go out of our way to model and teach kindness and empathy. I talk to her often about being inclusive and playing with all of the kids.

A photo of a whole garbage plate with ketchup and bread out of focus.

One time when A came home and told me there was a new girl in class at daycare, we had a long but friendly conversation about how important it was for her to make this little girl feel welcome and how she should make a point to approach her and invite her to play.

This also opened up a talk about how if she ever sees one of the other kids sitting alone or being left out, that she should go out of her way to befriend them and include them.

I know we will continue to have these talks, but how do you know if it will make a difference? That’s the terrifying thing about parenting. We can drill it day in and day out and hope with everything in us that they remember these things.

I regret that when I was a kid, I didn’t have the courage to be the one to go sit with the kid who was sitting alone in the cafeteria. I only hope my girls can be that courageous.


As I mentioned in my Meat Hot Sauce post, we have a local specialty in these parts called a Garbage Plate. Now bear with me here and don’t get scared off by the name. I know it sounds crazy and I’m sure once I fully describe this, it’ll sound even crazier, but trust me on this.

The magic all began at a local dirty spoon called Nick Tahou’s a long time ago. Since then, most establishments around here that aren’t among the higher end have their own variation of a Garbage Plate. But Nick Tahou’s is widely regarded as the original.

An overhead shot of a Garbage Plate with a fork to the left of it and some ketchup and bread above it.

A basic Garbage Plate is comprised of a few elements. Homefries or french fries and macaroni salad or baked beans on one plate. These are topped with some sort of main-dish item, most often hot dogs or cheeseburgers or a combination of the two.

A big ladle full of Meat Hot Sauce is then poured over the entire plate along with a drizzle of mustard and a sprinkling of chopped raw onions (this Holy Trinity is known as “everything” so if you go in and order a cheeseburger plate with everything, you’ll receive something resembling the photos in this post). A plate is served with a couple slices of day-old Italian bread and a couple pats of butter.

Half of a Garbage Plate which is cut off on the left side with the front of the mac salad in focus.

Now there is plenty of debate as to how one should eat their plate. Growing up, I always went for the cheeseburger plate with everything-no-onions route and then piled on plenty of ketchup and Frank’s Red Hot (both very important elements in my expert opinion). I would cut my burgers and mix everything together and then proceed to eat the whole damn thing and sop up the juices with that glorious bread.

As you can imagine, this is excellent drunk food. There used to be an additional location that was not located in the city, which was open 24/7. I can remember an entire summer, just before my senior year, that we would stumble in late into the night (or really the very early morning hours) and devour our plates.

This Garbage Plate photo also has ketchup and bread in the background.

I do NOT endorse underage drinking, but I have to admit that I did a bit of it myself and have since learned my lesson. I’m happy to say that we did have designated drivers for these late-night trips and in general. We may have made some poor decision, but driving drunk definitely was not one of them. ALICE AND TESSA, WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE 21 AND PLEASE EXERCISE SOME MODERATION (please and thank you).

Those days are long gone, but I do still enjoy a plate here and there and you should too! This is super easy to make and would be an excellent option for a Father’s Day BBQ. You can even lay out all the toppings and let people build their own plates! Around here, some people even have Plate Buffets at their wedding as a late night snack (Do this. Your friends will thank you!).

Other great foods to make for Dad include:

Garbage Plate

This Garbage Plate recipe is a homemade version of the Garbage Plate that you'll find in Rochester, NY. Complete with meat hot sauce, fries, mac salad and cheeseburgers or hot dogs this is as easy, classic dish that's perfect for Father's Day!

10 minPrep Time

10 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

Yields 1 plate

Author:

Recipe Image
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Ingredients

  • Cooked French fries (or home fries)
  • Macaroni Salad (I went with prepared Mac Salad from my local deli counter)
  • Grilled Cheeseburgers
  • Mustard (I used Dijon)
  • Meat hot sauce
  • Fresh chopped onions
  • Ketchup
  • Frank's Red Hot
  • Day-old Italian bread

Instructions

  1. Begin by placing the fries and mac salad onto your plate.
  2. Next add the cheeseburgers (or hot dogs) on top.
  3. Drizzle some mustard onto this.
  4. Pour a generous ladle of meat hot sauce over the plate.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped raw onions.
  6. Cut up your burgers and mix everything together with plenty of ketchup and Frank's Red Hot and sop up the juices with the Italian bread.
  7. Enjoy!
Cuisine: Grill, meat, easy, party | Recipe Type: Main, Dinner

Notes

Set this up as a make-your-own Plate bar at your next party!

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This Garbage Plate recipe is a homemade version of the Garbage Plate that you'll find in Rochester, NY. Complete with meat hot sauce, fries, mac salad and cheeseburgers or hot dogs this is as easy, classic dish that's perfect for Father's Day!

This Garbage Plate recipe is a homemade version of the Garbage Plate that you'll find in Rochester, NY. Complete with meat hot sauce, fries, mac salad and cheeseburgers or hot dogs this is as easy, classic dish that's perfect for Father's Day!

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