Homemade Garbage Plates

Today I am sharing a very special local dish from where I grew up, known as the Garbage Plate. Not a very appetizing name right? Let me explain… A Garbage Plate is a combination of one selection of typically cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, or white hots. But you can also choose Italian sausage, chicken tender, haddock, fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs (yes eggs and it’s called a Breakfast Plate – it’s delicious). Then you choose two sides of either home fries, French fries, baked beans, or macaroni salad. On top of that are the options of mustard and onions, and a proprietary hot sauce, made with spices and slowly simmered ground beef. And then it’s all served with Italian bread and butter on the side. I like to use the bread to swipe up any remaining sauce when I’m finished! There’s actually a specific way to put it all together too. Click HERE to see how!

Garbage Plate 1

Are you hungry yet? Okay I know what you are thinking, and yes, it is definitely more popular to the college student crowd. Although I’ve actually eaten it sober many many more times than under the influence. Nick Tahou Hots is the originator of a the Garbage Plate and it’s popularity has spawned several imitators in the Greater Rochester area, including Mark’s Texas Hots (“The Sloppy Plate”), Gitsis Texas Hots (“The Gitsis Plate”), Empire Hots (“The Trash Plate”), Fairport Hots (“The Hot Plate”), Tom Wahl’s (“55 Junker Plate”), Jimmy Z’s (“Five Star Plate”), and others. Another fun fact, Health.com named the Garbage Plate the fattiest food in the state of New York, which is not all that surprising.

As for me and my history with the Garbage Plate, I used to get it with baked beans instead of mac salad, but I slowly converted over the years to enjoying the mac salad more. Today my perfect Garbage Plate is cheeseburger with mac salad, home fries, and a huge amount of ketchup. I go though half a bottle in one sitting, no lie. After cutting up the cheeseburgers and mixing it all together I swear it all gets absorbed and nearly disappears. Here is my plate before being cut up and mixed. I thought of posting a mixed picture but it’s not really a pretty sight.

Garbage Plate 2

As for my Memphian friends who I subjected this upon, they all loved it! Granted most of them had a half sized plate, but that’s really how much you should eat unless you like testing out how clogged you can get your arteries in one sitting. The bonus to this meal was the Genesee beer, found at a local grocery store! Never thought I’d see the day that a Rochester brewery would have a market in the south.

One year ago: Baked Oatmeal with Blackberries and Bananas

Two years ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes


Makes 4 garbage plates (serves 4 garbage-plate-pros or 8 regular people)



1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb. ground beef

1 cup water, plus more if needed

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

3/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves


8 beef patties, cooked

8 slices of American cheese (preferably white but did yellow this time)

4 cups macaroni salad

4 cups home fries (cubed hash browns), cooked

1 medium yellow onion, diced

Ketchup, mustard and Tabasco sauce

1 loaf of fresh Italian bread, sliced and buttered

1 case Genny Light/Genesee beer


  1. In large skillet, fry chopped onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add meat, stirring constantly with fork to keep its texture fine. Once the meat browns, add water and tomato paste. Simmer 10 minutes. Add sugar and spices. Simmer 30 minutes, adding water if necessary to keep it moist but not soupy*.
  2. To assemble the garbage plate, melt one slice of cheese on each beef patty. Place 1 cup of macaroni salad and 1 cup of hash browns each onto four plates. Place 2 beef patties on top of the heaps, in the center. Spread mustard and diced onions over the beef patties. With a ladle, cover the center of the heap with plate sauce. Top with ketchup and/or Tabasco sauce, and garnish with buttered bread. (Also, here’s a slide show of how to put together a garbage plate.)
  3. Best served with Genny Light or Genesee beer.

*I like to prepare my sauce the day before. I feel like the flavors mix together better if they sit in the fridge overnight. But you must resist the urge to spoon off the grease that settles on top before reheating it!

Source: Adapted slightly from The Lynches.


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