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 for casual entertaining!

Here are the recipes you’ll need if you want to make Garbage Plates from scratch: Tuna Macaroni Salad (omit the tuna), Oven Fries and Meat Hot Sauce.

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

Meet the Garbage Plate, Rochester delicacy!

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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 a Nick Tahou Plate is widely regarded as the original.

As you can imagine, this is excellent drunk food. There used to be an additional location that was closer to the suburb I grew up in, which was open 24/7. I can remember an entire summer, just before my senior year, that we would stumble in there late into the night (or really the very early morning hours. Note: we did have designated drivers) and devour our plates. I do not endorse underage drinking, and those days are long gone. But I do still enjoy a plate here and there and you should too!

A Garbage Plate being held by a man.

What ingredients go into a Garbage Plate Recipe?

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

A generous 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. To sop it all up, of course.

Tips for making an authentic Nick Tahou Garbage Plate

  • The Meat Hot Sauce is a must- don’t skip it. In fact, make it ahead and freeze what you don’t use. Trust me, it’s epic on a hot dog!
  • Keep it simple and get the store-bought mac salad and some frozen fries. Or if you’re feeling like a total rock-star you can make this with my Tuna Macaroni Salad (leave out the tuna) and my Oven Fries.
  • Make sure you don’t forget the day-old Italian bread. It’s key!

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

What are good Garbage Plate toppings?

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 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 into bite-size pieces and mix everything together and then proceed to eat the whole darn thing and sop up the juices with that glorious bread.

Are there any good substitutes for the basic ingredients?

If burgers aren’t your thing, you could totally add things like hot dogs, chicken fingers, Italian sausage. I’ve even seen their menu includes the option for Grilled Cheese, Fish and Eggs. I’m just a purist and love a good burger (or two in this case!). For the sides, my favorites are mac salad and french fries, but home fries and baked beans are also good substitutes for either of these. That said, in my opinion, there is no substitute for a good Meat Hot Sauce.

What are some good events for serving these?

This is super easy to make and would be an excellent option for a BBQ, Father’s Day, Game Day or any other casual entertaining. 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!).

Leftovers and reheating:

I’ll be honest, reheated fries are not my thing and these are definitely best served right away, but if you do have leftovers, store each component separately and reheat separately for best results!

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

Ingredients you can prep ahead:

  • Make the meat hot sauce
  • Make the macaroni salad
  • Cut the fries and freeze them (do this on a sheet tray and when you’re ready to bake, pop them right into the oven)
  • Chop the onions

Helpful tools:

  1. Chef’s knife
  2. Cutting board
  3. Air Fryer
  4. Ladle

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions!

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

Garbage Plate
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

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 for casual entertaining!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: garbage plate
Servings: 1 Plate
Author: Nick Tahou's, Rochester, NY
Ingredients
  • Cooked French fries (or home fries) (or home fries)
  • Macaroni salad (I went with prepared Mac Salad from my local deli counter)
  • 2 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.

Recipe Notes

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

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

  • 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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