Garbage Plate Tacos

by Erin

Ever been to/lived in Rochester, NY? Then you probably know what a garbage plate is and are totally down with the idea of a garbage plate taco!

Garbage Plate Tacos by The Spiffy Cookie #NationalTacoDay #GarbagePlate #thespiffycookie
When I am away from Rochester, NY (where I grew up) for any length of time I start to crave garbage plates. Since the last time I was there was Christmas last year you could say the cravings are setting in. Garbage plates used to be my first stop whenever I would get into town. I used to text my fiends with an ETA to meet there before I would even go home because it was right off the highway on the way. I occasionally make them at home, but this time turned them into tacos for #NationalTacoDay ! I used the sauce as the taco meat, topped with the macaroni salad and home fries as per usual, followed by ketchup, mustard and chopped onion! I even served it with baked beans on the side (another popular garbage plate addition).

Normally I associate garbage plates with a cold can of Genny Light, but since this is the taco version I feel like they should be served with one of those alcoholic seltzers to fully complete the white-girl makeover. The only kind I like is from a company called Crook & Marker which serendipitously comes from Rochester, NY! It’s sparkling water, not seltzer, so maybe that’s why I like it better? Whatever the reason they are the only drink of it’s kind that I enjoy. But I digress. Scroll down for even more creative taco goodness to celebrate!

Garbage Plate Tacos by The Spiffy Cookie #recipe #taco # garbageplate

Happy National Taco Day!

Thank you to Valentina from The Baking Fairy for hosting this one-day event!
Check out all the delicious recipes we made for the occasion:

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Breakfast Tacos by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Egg and Bacon Loaded Breakfast Tacos by Cheese Curd in Paradise
Garbage Plate Tacos by The Spiffy Cookie
Huevos Rancheros Tacos by Our Good Life
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas Tacos by The Redhead Baker
Lobster Roll Street Tacos by Daily Dish Recipes
Old-School Hard Shell Tacos by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Seared Albacore Tuna Loin Soft Tacos by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Shrimp Tacos with Apple Pomegranate Salsa by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Tacos de Calabacitas by Tip Garden
Vegan Nopales Tacos with Charred Corn and Black Bean Salsa by The Baking Fairy
Vindaloo Pork Belly Street Tacos by Palatable Pastime
Walking Taco Bar by For The Love of Food

Garbage Plate Tacos by The Spiffy Cookie #rochesterny #garbageplate #taconight

Two years ago: Pumpkin Chess Pie

Five years ago: Buckeye Granola Bites

Six year ago: Jalapeno Popper Fettucine Alfredo

Seven years ago: Hazelnut Praline Paste

Eight years ago: Pumpkin Danish


Serves 8



1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup water, plus more if needed

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 Tbsp brown sugar (or 1/2 cup grated carrots)

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 paprika

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves


16 flour soft taco shells

2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese

2 cups macaroni salad

2 cups home fries (cubed hash browns), cooked

1 small yellow onion, diced

Ketchup, mustard and Frank’s hot sauce


  1. In large skillet, fry chopped onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add meat, stirring constantly to keep its texture fine. Once the meat browns, add water and tomato paste. Simmer 10 minutes. Add sugar (or carrots) and spices. Simmer 30 minutes, or until water cooks off to resemble taco meat. Remove from heat.
  2. To assemble the tacos, layer meat, cheese, macaroni salad, and hash browns into each taco shell. Top with diced onions, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce (if desired).

Source: Adapted slightly from my Homemade Garbage Plates.

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Cheese Curd In Paradise October 13, 2019 - 3:15 pm

These sound amazing. I have never had a garbage plate, but I heard about them for the time last year because my cousin married a someone from Rochester, NY. I think I would love it.

spiffycookie October 14, 2019 - 5:58 am

I think you would too! What’s not to love?

Nicole Hood October 7, 2019 - 1:23 am

How have I never had this dish before?! This sounds messy but amazing!!

spiffycookie October 7, 2019 - 8:24 am

If you’ve never been to Western, NY (specifically Rochester) that would be why! Even then I know some people who have never had one and were born and raised there.

Angela October 6, 2019 - 8:13 pm


spiffycookie October 7, 2019 - 8:25 am

Dude yes!

Sue Lau October 6, 2019 - 4:57 pm

I love this creative take on a taco!

Valentina | The Baking Fairy October 5, 2019 - 12:53 pm

These tacos sound EPIC! I’ve never had a garbage plate but it sounds like the ultimate hangover cure hahaha

spiffycookie October 6, 2019 - 6:06 pm

Haha most people have not had them outside of Western NY! Definitely goo late night food ;-)

Karen October 4, 2019 - 6:27 pm

I have never heard of garbage plates! Now I’m intrigued! Your tacos sound wonderful.

Wendy Klik October 4, 2019 - 10:59 am

Is this actually a restaurant? How cool. When I saw garbage plate I immediately was thrown back to my childhood. We ate garbage soup each week when my Mom cleaned out the refrigerator of leftovers LOL

spiffycookie October 4, 2019 - 3:50 pm

Yea, the “garbage plate” was trademarked by a burger and hot dog joint called Tahou’s. Now every burger/hot dog place has their own version they just call it different things.


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