How to Put Together a Garbage Plate

Make this famous Rochester, NY, dish at home

  • 01 of 07

    What Is a Garbage Plate?

    Garbage plate
    Eugene Peretz / Flickr

     The garbage plate is traditional fare in the city of Rochester, NY. It originated at the restaurant Nick Tahou Hots and, since they hold the copyright to the name "garbage plate," it's the only place you can order one by that name. Look for trash plates, dumpster plates, and other takes on the dish elsewhere. 

    The giant, carb-loaded, hodgepodge of a dish is popular with college kids and the late-night crowd. If you can't make it to Rochester to get your fill of this over-indulgent plate of comfort food, then make your own at home.

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  • 02 of 07

    Plate the Macaroni Salad

    Photo © John Mitzewich

    When ordering a garbage plate, customers usually get a choice of two bases from a list that includes home fries, pasta salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, and French fries. Probably the most traditional combo is macaroni salad and fries or home fries.

    Load up half of your plate with macaroni salad. Don't forget that you'll be piling a lot more on, but over-filling the plate is an essential part of making a garbage plate.

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  • 03 of 07

    Add the Home Fries or French Fries

    Photo © John Mitzewich

    Cover the other half of the plate with home fries or French fries. Again, you can swap the macaroni salad for macaroni and cheese and the fries for baked beans or any combination thereof if desired. The combination of macaroni salad and fried potatoes is a nice contrast of cold and creamy and hot and crispy. Store-bought or homemade ingredients can be used, just make sure the potatoes are nice and hot and crispy. No matter what combo you choose, you'll have a carb-loaded dish.

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  • 04 of 07

    Add the Protein

    Photo © John Mitzewich

    Next, add a protein on top. When ordering at a restaurant, there are typically a long list of options, including split and grilled hot dogs, hamburger patties, sausages, fried fish, chicken tenders, and more. Probably the most traditional options are grilled red hots and burgers. Choose one and add the hot, grilled meat on top of your plate.

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  • 05 of 07

    Slather With Meat Sauce

    Photo © John Mitzewich

    All garbage plates require a generous topping of a signature meat hot sauce. It's very similar to a thin all-beef chili with a little extra cayenne and chili powder. For a vegetarian version, try using a vegan chili with beans or veggie meat crumbles instead of beef.

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  • 06 of 07

    Top With Garnishes

    Photo © John Mitzewich

    Yellow mustard and chopped, fresh onion are classic topping choices, and ketchup can also be included. Sprinkle and drizzle on top before serving.

    Sliced white bread or rolls are often served on the side and can be used for mopping up any sauce. More carbs!

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  • 07 of 07

    Serve Your Garbage Plate

    Photo © John Mitzewich

    Serve your garbage plate while the potatoes are still crisp and the meat and meat sauce are still piping hot. This dish is especially good late on a cold winter night, maybe after a few drinks. Share with a couple of friends or, if you're extra hungry and really brave, try conquering a garbage plate on your own.