Rochester, NY: Home of the world-famous “Garbage Plate”!

My town, Rochester N.Y., was once a bustling, high-tech manufacturing center; the home of Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, Gleasons, and a couple of medium-sized GM plants. But as in many other Rust Belt cities, the manufacturing presence is pretty much history at this point. The largest employers are now the two hospital/health care systems and the Wegmans supermarket chain (company headquarters are located here), with a bunch of colleges, public school districts, and many low-paying service and retail companies bringing up the rear.

Rochester can’t boast about much these days, but it is home to the world famous “Garbage Plate” (see top photo). In fact, the city is currently in the midst of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the delectable dish.

What’s that? You ask what exactly is a Garbage Plate?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! Okay, okay. I apologize. Let me take a step back and explain this gourmet jewel to all of you unfortunate non-Rochesterians.

Well, way back in 1918, Greek immigrant, Alex Tahou (correctly pronounced tah-HOO although it’s generally pronounced as TAH-ho), opened his greasy spoon, Tahou’s Diner (later named, “Nick Tahou’s Hots,” in honor of his son), and at some point began serving a plate he called “hots and potats” consisting of two hot dogs over heaps of home fries and macaroni salad (or baked beans), all smothered with a grease-laden, ground beef-based hot sauce and topped with chopped raw onions and mustard and ketchup. Two hamburgers or cheeseburgers rather than hot dogs became another option later on. I had my first introduction to “hots and potats” in 1977 thanks to Duane “Big D” Hedman after we had worked a Saturday morning overtime shift at Kodak’s old Elmgrove Plant.

In the 1980s, college students kept coming into Nick’s and ordering “that dish with all the garbage on it,” so the plate was officially renamed “The Garbage Plate.”

Imitations sprang up all over town so the Tahous trademarked the “Garbage Plate” moniker in 1992, but most hot dog/hamburger/pizza joints in the area have their own alternate-named version of the plate.

Last night, the local Triple-A baseball franchise, the Rochester Red Wings, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Tahous and the Garbage Plate by renaming the team the “Plates” for one game and offering t-shirts and caps with the “Plates” logo. Yesterday morning, our eldest son sent me a last-minute email suggesting we should go the game. Argh! I knew the place was going to be packed, but any excuse for a father-son outing is a good thing. Traffic was torturously bumper-to-bumper as we neared Frontier Field stadium, but our son was driving so I was calmly relaxed. Once we finally made it inside, we immediately got in line at the team apparel store. We both ended up buying “Plates” caps, of course, to commemorate the historic event. We then went up to our seats and mostly shot the breeze rather than watch the minor league game. Stadium capacity is 13,500 and there weren’t many empty seats. By 8:30 pm, we had had enough and headed for the exit.

There’s not a lot going on in ROC city these days, but the locals take a lot of pride in Rochester’s contribution to international gourmet cuisine, the Garbage Plate! By the way, for those health-conscious readers, the plate comes in at around 1700 calories and 90 grams of fat; not exactly a meal my internist would recommend. But if I WERE to get a plate, my favorite combination is a white hot* and cheeseburger over mac salad and home fries, all smothered in meat hot sauce and topped with chopped raw onions, but please, ABSOLUTELY NO ketchup or mustard.

*”WHITE hot dogs?,” you ask? Ha! That’s a whole nother post, my non-Rochesterian friends!

Postscript: The 8/11/17 edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that the attendance for the “Plates” game was 13,281, the second-largest baseball crowd in Frontier Field’s 20 seasons.

Nick Tahou’s, the unpretentious home of the world famous, “Garbage Plate,” at 320 W. Main St, Rochester, NY., open 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, Mon.-Thurs. and 8:00 am – 12 midnight on Fri., closed on Sat. and Sun.


A long line of salivating Rochesterians as they anxiously anticipate an authentic “Garbage Plate” from the Nick Tahou’s stand at Frontier Field on Plate Night, August 10th, 2017
“Plates” regalia

Donuts Delite: Not much to brag about in Rochester, NY anymore, but we do have the best donuts in the USA!

Several decades ago, my hometown, Rochester, New York, boasted about being “The World’s Imaging Center” with Eastman Kodak and Xerox both running second and third shifts to keep up with demand. The two companies are now mere shadows of their former selves and Rochester doesn’t have much to brag on except for being one of the poorest cities per capita in the USA.

But one thing we do have are the best donuts in the entire country!

Back when I was a kid, my Dad often made the 1.5 mile trip to Donuts Delite at 1700 Culver Rd. and picked up a couple of dozen donuts for breakfast before we went to church on Sunday. They were the absolute best donuts in the world! The vanilla cream-filled were, hands-down, my favorite but all the varieties were easy on the palate.

The Malley family operated Donuts Delite from 1958 until 2005 when they decided to close the doors. People living on the northeast side of the city were heartbroken. After standing vacant for several years, the iconic, “I Like Ike”-era building faced demolition. But in 2010, Salvatore’s pizza-chain owner, Sam Fantauzzo, reopened Donuts Delite to the delight of all Rochesterians. Fantauzzo consulted closely with the Malleys to ensure the donuts were made precisely according to the family’s original specifications.

I don’t get to Donuts Delite often these days because we now live 11 miles away, but Sunday morning, my wife and I and our 5-year-old granddaughter made a special trip there for breakfast. The place is always packed, especially on weekend mornings. I ordered two large slices of breakfast pizza, a vanilla cream-filled donut for old time sake, and a cup of Joe. Oy vey! Not exactly diet fare but I was willing to make an exception. I took one of the pizza slices home for dinner and ordered three more vanilla cream-filleds “to go” as we headed out the door, two for my bride and one for me. Hey, I’m not driving all the way to Donuts Delite and coming home with just a single vanilla cream-filled in my gut.

Back a few years ago, when my parents were still alive and living down in Florida, everyone who made the trip down there to visit made sure to bring a dozen vanilla cream-filleds from Dunkin Donuts for my appreciative father. Yeah, they’re that good!

Just about every city and town has something or some place to brag about. Rochester isn’t what it used to be but we definitely do have the best donuts in the country at Donuts Delite.

Donuts Delite web site:

Stay tuned to this blog for a future write-up on another food item Rochester is noted for; the infamous Garbage Plate!

Just in time for summer – Clam dip!

Thank you, Lord, for delicious food, all in moderation of course!

An accoutrement staple of backyard summer dining is potato chips and dip. One of my family’s favorite chip dips used to be a New England clam dip manufactured by a local cheese company named “Heluva Good” of all things. For some reason, Heluva Good stopped making its clam dip in the early aughts (2000s). Some said it was because of new FDA regulations.

My hankering for clam dip grew and grew until I finally started searching online for a clam dip recipe that was similar to Heluva Good’s. I found the one below several years ago. It’s a pretty close facsimile and very easy to make. Any time we serve it to guests they always rave about it. I could eat a whole bowl of clam dip with wavy chips in a single sitting all by myself, but my arteries clog up at just the thought of it.

p.s. Heluva Good was headquartered in Sodus N.Y. but was bought out by food conglomerate HP Hood in 2004 and like most things in New York, production was eventually moved out of state. It’s also interesting that the slang term, “one hell of a…” is used to connote something that’s either very good or very bad. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms says the phrase (or “one Devil of a…”) has its roots in the second half of the 1700s.

New England Clam Dip Recipe

  • 1 6.5 oz. can chopped clams
  • 1 6.5 oz. can minced clams
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese – allow to reach room temperature
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Red Hot or Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  1. Drain clams, reserving ¼ cup clam broth. Put drained clams aside.
  2. Mix cream cheese with hand-held electric mixer until smooth while adding clam broth, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Add clams and mix together with a spoon.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for six hours
  5. Sprinkle the top with some additional paprika before serving.