Dumpster Plate, Sloppy Plate, Trash Plate – all these names refer to one well known item, the Garbage Plate. The first Garbage Plate was formed at Nick Tahou’s here in Rochester. Nick Tahou, owner of the restaurant and creator of the Plate, ran his business for 50 years until his death in 1997.

During this time, the Garbage Plate rose in popularity. Since this innovative cuisine was created, restaurants throughout Rochester have attempted to emulate the fine flavor of the original.

The Garbage Plate consists of a few essential food groups – grains and meats are the two crucial items. The ideal plate has several ingredients – two selections of grilled cheese, fish, chicken, Italian sausage, hamburger or hot dog. These are then piled upon two selections of macaroni salad, beans, french fries or home fries. This platter is then drenched in Tahou’s secret ingredient – a spicy sauce with ground meat. A popular spot to quell late night hunger, many drunk college students choose to get the works – relish, mustard, onions and the list goes on.

Although a Garbage Plate can be consumed as a typical meal – eating the entre and sides separately – it is not restricted to that. The most popular way to eat a Garbage Plate is to mash the meat and stir it into the macaroni salad and french fries. The bread is saved to sop up the left over mess – if you find that you are able to finish.

Rochester natives seem to pride themselves on this culinary eccentricity. More than once in the past three years have I been asked if I had dined at famous Nick Tahou’s or tasted one of his popular plates. In fact, an entire website has been dedicated to rating Garbage Plates in Rochester, http://www.geocities.com/garbageplates.

This plate has grown from a Rochester dish to a nationwide fetish. It has been featured on The Food Network’s “Unwrapped” as well as Monopoly’s “City in a Box” board game.

Rochester students, however, are the biggest supporters. Students from the Rochester Institute of Technology commemorate Tahou’s death by eating a Garbage Plate at his grave site on his birthday. Additionally, UR’s Sigma Phi Epsilon has organized an entire philanthropic event around Garbage Plates.

Ricketts can be reached at

aricketts@campustimes.org.



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