Date Night Dinners - The Garbage Plate

5/09/2014 tringel 0 Comments

The garbage plate. Sounds appetizing right? I mean, who wouldn't want to eat a plate of garbage? Luckily for you, and me, this dish is much better then the name lets on. And if you bear with me through a few paragraphs of rambling, I promise you will fall in love with a new meal. Okay, okay, I always say not to make promises you cannot keep, so can't promise you will fall in love, but I can promise you will be intrigued enough to try this out...or at least tell other people about this weird meal you read about online.

If you are from the Rochester, NY area you already know what I am talking about. And, you probably began drooling over the thought of this delicious concoction when you heard the word garbage. I went to college in upstate New York, in a very small town. It was about an hour and half outside of Rochester, home of the garbage plate. With little to do in upstate, I was bound to hear about this "delicacy," and of course, the inevitable day came when my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it.

I will admit on my own, this is a good, once-in-a-while, special meal (word to the wise: don't eat it on a day you are counting calories). But, when you are dating someone who is from the Rochester area, you will eventually have to except the love affair between that man and the garbage plate. It becomes a recurring suggestion when deciding dinner, a typical holiday meal when visiting family, and always an easy remedy to fixing homesickness. And that is how the garbage plate slowly inched its way into a special place in my heart...and stomach.

I know you are all still thinking, what is this infamous garbage plate you speak of. I promised you intrigue, and here you go. A garbage plate is macaroni salad, french fries/home fries/or something of the sort, baked beans, hamburger/cheeseburger/hotdog/etc., spicy meat sauce, onions, ketchup and mustard, served with a side of bread. Now I know what you are thinking. Sounds like a lot of great cookout food. But let's take it a step farther. These are not eaten separately; they are combined to create one giant plate of food, one dish. I have listed each in the order they go on the plate. Yes there is an order, and yes, they all get pilled on top of each other and then mixed like a big chipotle burrito bowl (just replace the mexican food with american). You start with the mac salad.

Then you add the baked beans. Followed by french fries.

Your choice of meat follows. We chose cheeseburgers this time. My personal favorite is hotdogs. You can put one or two, or even four. There is one place outside of Rochester place that makes a timed eating contest out their garbage plate. It is topped with four bacon cheeseburgers. The whole thing doesn't even fit into on of those styrofoam carry out containers. It is ridiculous; I have seen many try the challenge and fail. I will spare them the embarrassment of posting the picture of them after trying to eat pounds of food in a mere 30 minutes.

Next comes the spicy meat sauce. Then it is garnished with diced onions (you know, to make it healthy, *breaks out in laughter*), ketchup and mustard. And it is typically served with a piece or two of bread on the side. As if we need any more carbs. But you have to have something to soak up every last bite.

Intrigued yet? For me, The best part about this is each component tastes great on it's own. I don't like my food to touch so I can assure you of that. I did eat mine using three separate plates after all. I know it may seem a bit strange, but it really is good. It is one of those dishes that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. And if you don't like it all piled up the way true Rochestereans do, it will still be a win. You will still have a complete meal (burger with a side of mac salad, beans and fries). You will be able to host an impromptu cookout or be the best guest in attendance at a cookout you are going to because you brought more food to share.

Here are the recipes Brenden and I used for the mac salad and meat sauce. We followed both recipes exactly for the most part, well, we left out the olives from the mac salad. We also made the mac salad the night before, so we ended up making an extra half batch of the mac salad dressing since it dried up a bit over night. Below is a more specific recipe for the construction of the full garbage plate. We used frozen fries and canned beans this time around. Brenden is working on perfecting the meat sauce, his favorite component, and then maybe we will have time to home make some of the other components.

The Garbage Plate
Inspiration from Nick Tahou's, Rochester, NY


  • 1 generous scoop of mac salad (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup baked beans (canned), heated as directed on stove
  • 10-15 french fries (frozen), baked as directed on package
  • 1-2 small cheeseburgers
  • 1 generous scoop of spicy meat sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1/4 small yellow onion, diced
  • Ketchup and mustard to taste


  1. Take a large plate and pile ingredients on in order listed above.
  2. The bottom layer should have mac salads, baked beans, and french fries.
  3. Place burgers on top of the three.
  4. Scoop the meat sauce on top of that.
  5. Top with onions, ketchup and mustard.
  6. Mix it up and enjoy.

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