Tasty Interlude: Rochester Plate Sauce!

4 Jun

Ah, the Garbage Plate. A Rochester, NY staple of cheap eats aficionados and drunk college students wanting something to sop up their booze-filled stomachs.  Many a late night I had eaten these plates.  Consisting of heaping piles of home fries, macaroni salad, and cheeseburgers drowned in a rich, greasy meat sauce, this record holding fatty meal often averages over three days’ fat intake. One plate of this stuff is insanely greasy, filling, and delicious – and is often too much for one person to handle.  I proudly would finish one off by myself, besting many of my male friends. (Of course, my diminutive figure is misleading!)

While New York City has bagels and Chicago has pizza, Rochester has the Garbage Plate, originally created by Nick Tahou’s and duplicated across the city and region.  However, this culinary beast is rarely recreated well outside of its hometown. Enter Rochester Plate Sauce by Hot Top Foods, which has taken on the daunting task of making the key secret ingredient in this dish – the greasy, spicy meat sauce that tops the garbage plate.  I somehow garnered this company’s attention, and was able to sample some for your reading pleasure. While the meal may not be eye candy, it is pretty darn tasty.

The sauce comes shipped in a very well packed box. Within the sauce box are three packets, and I found one packet was more than enough for two Garbage Plates. With a sheet of instructions included, the preparation seems complex.  Partially due to the fact that the Plate has many purists and loyal fans, the reproduction of this plate outside of Rochester is pretty much nonexistent.  The recipe included helps the home cook to recreate a semblance of an authentic plate.  I will provide the instructions, and the shortcuts. Trust me, the shortcuts work wonders, but I tried it whole hog for the demo.

Part 1: Home fries.

Shortcut: Frozen home fries or French fries (I prefer shoestring). Bake until done.

Instructions: Cube potato, boil until just getting tender. Pan fry in oil with onion until browned.


Part 2: Mac salad

Shortcut 1: Store bought

Shortcut 2: Easy Mac – cook without the cheese sauce. Add a bit of chopped celery onion, mayo and mustard at the end.

Instructions: Cook up mac, add celery, onion, mayo and other preferred flavourings. Cool.

Part 3: Burger

Shortcut: Omit, or make the dog type of plate by microwaving your hot dogs

Instructions: cook burger and melt American white cheese on top

Part 4: Sauce

Shortcut: Rochester Plate Sauce – microwave or boil for a couple of minutes.

Shortcut 2: Use pasta sauce. Add in a lot of red chili flakes. If you are ambitious, fry up ground meat and add to sauce.  This really doesn’t taste authentic, but you can pretend.  Still, with this new Rochester Plate Sauce, trying to create a sub-par sauce without that distinctive flavor is much more difficult.

Instructions: SECRET!

Assembling the plate is not very artistic. The ones from Nick Tahou’s are always a sloppy pile of deliciousness. I tried to make mine look nicer. My traditional plate has a ton of Frank’s hot sauce and some mustard on it. Others add ketchup, but I don’t. Some put more raw onion on top, but it’s more of a luxury to me.

Then we have the final product! To eat, cut off a bit of meat, stir everything around and enjoy!  Don’t feel bad if you can’t finish it, though.  Leave that to the experts.



I have to say that the concept of portable plate sauce is pretty awesome. Not only is it a very easy way to complete a homemade garbage plate, but having the sauce also makes me want to make the meal! Trust me, I do get the craving every once in a while.  As I’m about a seven hour  drive from ROC  (that’s Rochester), this is a great alternative to going up there for the real thing.  And now, you too can try a Garbage Plate,  just like any ROC expatriate.

The sauce itself did have the greasy sheen on top that is typical of a Garbage plate, and it was not excessive to worry me. The colour actually looks a bit more red and vibrant than many of the website’s pictures – it is not just a brown pile of deliciousness. The consistency surprised me – while it is a meat sauce, the meat is extremely fine, almost adding a gritty texture to the sauce.  I have been told by the manufacturer that this is being refined – and I can’t wait to see how it can get better!  It also had a bit of an irony aftertaste, attributed to secret ingredients and preservatives.  To the consumer, I would recommend adding your own ground meat.  The sauce is a bit spicy, but not up to my standards; I had to add a lot of Frank’s Hot Sauce (my personal bit of heaven, though others prefer Tabasco) to it.


I would recommend folks try this if they are adventurous foodies who have never experienced a Rochester Plate.  Expat Rochesterians may also enjoy having such a simple way to top off a food that reminds them of home.  I know that when I have mine, I think of late night eating contests, grease soaked fingers and games of drunken Super Monkey Ball.  How about you?

If you’re interested, visit www.platesauce.com to order your box of plate deliciousness, and get ready for some Rochester memory waves!  And a special thank you to them to treating me to their tasty wares :3

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One Response to “Tasty Interlude: Rochester Plate Sauce!”

  1. EngineerBrony 22 June 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    I’m a horrible WNY-er. I lived in Rochester for 6 years and never once ate at Tahou’s or had a garbage plate. 😦

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