This is a subject near and dear to my heart.
The Garbage Plate.
Native and specific to Rochester, NY.
With many takes and names and options, the Garbage Plate is the key to the heart of most Rochesterians.
Although Health.com has named the Garbage Plate one of the 50 fattiest foods in the United States, it is a delicacy to my dear town.
“In 1918, Alexander Tahou opened a restaurant in Rochester called “Hots and Potatoes”. On the menu was a dish that included just about everything the kitchen could cook — meat and potatoes with a few other things thrown in to make a one-plate meal that would really stick to your ribs. Alexander’s son, Nick, took over the restaurant operations and updated the name to Garbage Plate.
Legend has it that long-ago college students asked Nick Tahou for a dish with ”all the garbage” on it. So, he concocted his original combo plate with two hamburger patties and a choice of two sides — usually some combination of home fries, macaroni salad, and beans. The contents are often laced heavily with ketchup and hot sauce, and mixed together before eating. Rolls or white bread are served on the side. By the 1980s, the place was a huge hit with the college crowd, and eventually that meat and potatoes dish (or “hots and po-tots” as it was sometimes called) was dubbed the Garbage Plate. In 1992, the name was trademarked.” (from whatscookingamerica.net)
Also, traditionally Rochesterian: meat hot sauce. A seasoned and marinated ground beef in spices and herbs and hot sauce. It’s always been too spicy for me, but my boyfriend loves the meat sauce. Missing from this picture are ketchup and mustard. I always go ketchup and mustard.
Options for plates typically include: red hots, white hots, (cheese)burgers, steaks, italian sausage, chicken tenders — completely mix-and-match and usually other meats available as well. For the sides, traditionally are home fries and mac salad (classic) but also french fries, coleslaw, baked beans. Again, mix-and-match.
In addition to Nick Tahou’s famous Garbage Plates, are multiple imitations all over the Rochester area. These are all called Plates. And, it’s almost guaranteed that if a restaurant ends in “Hots”, it will sell plates. Ie. Mark Texas Hots, Gitsis Texas Hots, Empire Hots, Fairport Hots, Webster Hots, Perinton Hots. . . the list goes on! (Although there are, of course, restaurants whose names don’t end in ‘hots’ that sell plates as well.)
Personally, I don’t really like Nick Tahou’s Plates. In my opinion, it’s the mac salad that makes the plate, and their recipe just never sat well with me. So I choose to eat my plates somewhere else. For awhile, my friends and I would travel to Fairport Hots and devour their Hot Plate — my personal favorite being a red-hot plate, with home fries, mac salad and ketchup. Delicious!
But then I found Hungry’s.
Hungry’s is a teeny tiny shack in the town of Pittsford, next to the bar Thirsty’s. It’s situated almost in the center of downtown Pittsford, the town that hosts the WPGA every year. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to see Audis, BMW, Mercedes, or even the occasional Lambo parked on the side of Main Street. Hungry’s is a few meters away from the historic Erie Canal, and often on Friday nights (around 10pm) drunken middle-aged men in Ralph Lauren polos and golf visors are out wandering the streets until their younger counter parts at bar next door take their place. Surrounding Hungry’s are a Ben and Jerry’s, a frozen yogurt place that is always slammed with people, a high-end lingerie shop, and imported luxury car dealerships on almost every street.
But the pretension, fortunately, stops on the streets. Hungry’s has no waiters, no tables, or physical menu. Just a cook who takes your order, a counter top lined up against a wall of old windows and can only fit about five people comfortably, and a white board high above the ordering counter showing the menu. The store feels cramped with seven people or more inside.
You always leave smelling like fryer. And hung over the entire “front” area are dollar bills and the occasional exotic paper note where people have written on and taped them up an any wall space they can find. The cooks are always friendly, joking with my friends and me when we’re in, singing along to the radio, making our orders custom (or in the case of my friend Nick, remaking an order because he mistakenly ordered lettuce on his Plate Wrap.)
Which brings me to the beauty, and title of this blog post, Hungry’s Plate Wrap.
At $5.79, the Plate Wrap comes with a cheese burger, home fries, onions, mustard, and meat hot sauce. They cook the burger, chop it up, warm the tortilla, and mix it all together before rolling it up into a plate burrito.
It’s comparable in size and weight to Chipotle’s burritos (which is one of the reasons I struggle with eating at Chipotle. When I order the burrito, I’m expecting mayo and mustard and burger — not salsa, rice, and pork). What I love most about Hungry’s Plate Wrap is, unlike other traditional plates where it’s a marathon to eat as much as you can before your stomach can’t take it anymore, the Plate Wrap can ALWAYS be finished. You don’t feel like you’re pushing your stomach to extremes by trying to finish. It’s an easy feat and a rewarding one as well.
The Plate Wrap is the quiet, unabashed little brother to the more dominant Garbage Plate. Silently satisfying the greasy cravings of drunken college students whom they also deliver to at local Nazareth and St. John’s colleges. It’s too bad I go to school south of Syracuse!
Oh, and they cater.