A Brief History
The garbage plate was born in Rochester, New York, at Nick Tahou Hots, a landmark restaurant famous for this great example of American extreme cuisine. The earliest version goes all the way back to 1918, when it was originally called "Hots and Potatoes." The regular customers called it by the nickname "Hots and Po-tots," and it was basically a plate piled high with fried potatoes, baked beans, hot dogs, onions, mustard, and a chili-like meat sauce.
It wasn't until many years later that the dish was officially renamed the "Garbage Plate." The restaurant and bar had became very popular with Rochester's large community of college students, who upon seeing this huge plate of food, and not knowing what exactly it was called on the menu, would simply ask the waitresses, "can I get one of those plates with all the garbage on it?"
The Modern Day Garbage Plate
Today, this bizarre dish is a popular item all over the Rochester area, and each restaurant uses their own particular blend of ingredients. Depending on where you go, it may be called a "trash plate," or a "dumpster plate" instead. In recent years, the cheeseburger has replaced the hot dog as the most popular type of garbage plate. Custom dictates you get your choice of two base items, from a list that includes home fries, pasta salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, French fries, among others. After the starchy foundation is formed, it's topped with either grilled red hots, cheeseburgers, eggs, fish, or whatever else the place you happen to be at offers. Oh, and don't forget the meat sauce, onions, and bright yellow mustard!
Watch One Chef's Battle with this Intimidating Meal
If you would like to see a garbage plate being made step by step, here is the link. This was from my first (and last?) experience with this very unusual dish.