September 1, 2021
For the past month and a half, Z and I have been making weekly trips to Rochester. The main purpose of these trips is for Z to be injected with the potentially life saving drug Amondys-45, our side mission is to make the trips fun by finding the perfect garbage plate.
The garbage plate is a Rochester born delicacy, which involves throwing a bunch of grilled meats and classic Americana cookout sides on a plate and covering them in a hearty helping of spicy meat sauce. I first discovered this perfect drunken dish in the drunkest place on earth: college. It was a rarely ordered offering in our open-till-the-sun-comes-up dining locale. Later, I was reminded of the garbage plate by one of my favorite youtubers, who was born and raised in Rochester. It was simply dumb luck that, as of late, I myself have so often found myself in that youtuber’s birthplace.
With that being said, Z and I have tried three garbage plates so far. Here are my thoughts on them.
Our first garbage plate is from the first place that pops up when you google “Rochester Garbage Plate,” Nick Tahou’s. Their claim to fame is being the original creator of the garbage plate. Their location is accessible and has the vibe of a lunch place dive in an old timey factory town. In fact, there is a lunch break swarm just as we arrive. Z and I order two cheeseburger garbage plates and see a fry cook -- ala Spongebob Squarepants -- throw french fries for Z and homefries for me into to-go boxes alongside a serving of macaroni salad, on top of which goes two cheeseburgers in each box and a scoop of meat sauce. I grab packets of ketchup and mustard and receive with the boxes two servings of soft sliced bread with packets of butter. We bring all of this to the hospital and eat it in the infusion room. Each part of the garbage plates from Nick Tahous are unexceptional and all together the plates are fine, but lack luster. We pour on the ketchup and mustard for extra flavor and, though we each eat our food without complaint, we agree that even if Mr. Tahou did invent the garbage plate he has not done much to improve it since then.
Z does some research and finds a list of the best garbage plates of Rochester, focusing in on one place, Sticky Lips. This is a BBQ restaurant that boasts a garbage plate with a BBQ twist. Pulled pork is an option for the meat on top of the plate, and they throw in a third side, baked beans, along with fries and mac salad. Instead of a serving of bread on the side we receive a square of cornbread, which is disappointingly dry (I have been spoiled by my mom’s cornbread which is unnaturally moist). But besides that the plate is quite good. The fries are seasoned and the beans are sweet. The meatsauce on this place is also deliciously spicy. Z and I again both order cheese burger plates for the sake of fair comparison and both enjoy this plate much more than its predecessor. Z has leftovers, which I am jealous of the next day.
After this plate, we re-watch the Rochester born youtuber’s video to see what she has to say about the local dish. She suggests a place called Henrietta Hots, which has also been recommended to us by our favorite nurse at the infusion center. We take one week off from garbage plates, but the week after we go to Henrietta Hots. This is the first time we have eaten our plates not in the hospital, Z and I didn’t even get to see Sticky Lips. Henrietta Hots is a small, casual eatery, which is mostly accessible (the curb cut was sub-par) and mostly empty when we arrive. Upon our arrival, we are handed a list of options for our plate. This is the first time we’ve had this much say over the construction of our plates and also the first time we’ve gotten to choose two different meats instead of two servings of the same variety. Z goes for a gluten free plate of two cheeseburger patties with jalapenos, grilled peppers, meat sauce, ketchup, and mustard over home fries and coleslaw. I order one cheeseburger and one white hotdog (another Rochester original),with grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms, meat sauce, ketchup, and mustard over home fries and mac salad. Each of us gets soft bread and butter on the side. This is the spiciest plate we’ve had so far, the meat sauce itself is delicious, but fiery hot. Z’s choice to top his plate with jalapenos burns him in the tongue. I have taken the opportunity to try another Rochester specialty, the white hotdog, this thick sausage has been split down the middle and grilled. I try a bite of it on its own, it is salty, but lacks the smoky deliciousness of a plain red hotdog I was expecting and craving. I never expected that the true deliciousness of a hotdog was housed in its red color. Within the piled on contents of the rest of my to go box I can bury my hotdog related disappointment. I enjoy the extra toppings Henrietta Hots has to offer, especially the grilled mushrooms, which delight me every time they end up on my fork. Henrietta Hots feels like the five guys of garbage plates with its unlimited toppings and sauces, and I love Five Guys.
So that’s three garbage plates down. I think for the sake of my digestive tract we’re going to take a little bit of a break from them before we try some more. But next time you are in Rochester, I recommend you check them out, it is very fun food.