The garbage plate is a concept, not just a dish. It is a lifestyle which mirrors the rough edges of Rochester, New York. While some meals try to wow you with flash and a spritz of parsley, the garbage plate satisfies other senses, taste and the sense of being incredibly full and satisfied. What is a garbage plate you ask? If you do have to ask then you probably aren’t from Rochester. In that case, let me give you a brief overview.
First off, there is the choice in meat. If hot dogs tickle your fancy then choose between a red or white hot dog. If beef is more your hankering, then go for a cheeseburger or hamburger. There are no buns involved in this process, only the meat. Buns would only be fluff, and no one wants fluff in a man’s meal. Next choice is between potato salad or macaroni salad. While most people choose hamburgers or cheeseburgers over hot dogs, this choice is really up to preference. I will delve into the concept of strategy soon, but next we have one more decision to make. Are you a home fries or french fries person? The idea behind all of these decisions is the secret to garbage plates. You may be thinking that this is the generic diner burger meal, but it is very much far from it. When you receive the plate of the 3 choices you have decided on, the idea is to mix all of them up, douse the mixture with ketchup, mustard and hot sauce and dig in. Some people decide to put hot sauce into picture, if that’s your bag then go for it.
Strategy goes as follows, it is very simple so I guess it’s more of a conscious decision to balance the meal. Many people decide that macaroni salad works better than potato salad because you will be choosing between two different types of fries anyways. Potato salad might cause an overload in potato, detracting from the overall enjoyment of the experience. I have also come to find that hamburgers and cheeseburgers are just plain better than hot dogs. Why hot dogs are a choice is only for variety, people seem to love having the choices, though they might never use them.
Now that you know what the base model for a garbage plate is, here are the top 3 places to go to get one. Every diner in Rochester has a derivative of the base model, usually with one slight change to make it their unique version. Find the one that works for you and instant nirvana can be yours.
Gitsis Texas Hots
600 Monroe Avenue
Rochester, New York 14607
Gitsis has the honor of being one of the only 24 hour restaurants to serve the garbage plate. It is a quaint little place that sees all walks of life in the late night and early morning hours. When bars closes there is a rush of people who all come for one thing, a post drinking garbage plate. Nothing tops of the night better. The all female waiting service is inviting, and their casual conversation makes for a very comfortable experience. Another crucial element to the garbage plate experience at Gitsis is one that is often overlooked. The free glass of water that is automatically brought to the table. This glass is the ultimate when trying to finish what can be a very exhausting meal. Make your selections and what you can expect is a roll on the side when the garbage plate reaches your table. It can be a good way to get the ball rolling on the frenzy that is about to ensue. You won’t have to wait long because the service is fast, and garbage plates don’t take hours to make anyway. Gitsis makes the base model garbage plate with no unique twist, though their hot sauce is fantastic, and resembles more of a chili. Try it, I dare you.
Nick Tahou Hots
320 Main St. W
Rochester, NY 14608
While Gitsis can claim to bring you the plate 24 hours a day, Nick Tahou’s can claim to be the birthplace of the delectable dish. Tahou’s is a little less clean, attributable to it’s less than stellar neighborhood. The service is also reminiscent of it’s cleanliness and outlying area. The bright side is being able to taste the garbage plate untouched, at the beginning of it’s evolution. With no twists to the base model, it is a blank slate to discover on your own the plate of your dreams. Do you like mayonaise? It’s there to put on your garbage plate, if you want to go out on a limb. If you’re adventurous and don’t mind being in a darker part of the city, then Tahou’s is worth the trip. Consider it a journey for the holy grail. The grail being the original, and arguably best garbage plate in Rochester. Tahou’s has had the longest time to perfect the dish, and when you eat it, you can tell.
1794 Penfield Rd.
Rochester, NY 14526
Penfield Hots is one of if the most popular place to go for a garbage plate on the East side of Rochester. If Nick Tahou’s doesn’t have the best plate in town, then Penfield Hots definitely does. It’s location is its downfall, as it is not in the center of city, or anywhere near it. It is on the far east side, obviously in Penfield. The Hots franchise has attempted to expand into the city, but the introduction of Monroe Hots was not well received, and was therefore closed down not long after it’s opening. The awesome addition that Penfield Hots has decided to put on the garbage plate is a giant mound of BBQ pulled pork. Of all the things in the world to put on top of an amazing meal like the garbage plate, pulled pork is probably the most ingenius. Try it and you will see what I mean. Penfield might be a distance away, but it’s defintiely worth the voyage for (personally) the best plate in the city.
The size of all these plates are mammoth, and should not be underestimated by the half hungry. The garbage plate is inherently looked down upon because of it’s style and presentation. As stated before, it will not try and lure you in with cheap eye candy, instead it will keep you coming back for more with it’s ultimate orgasmic deliciousness. Choose well young padouin. The path is yours to take.