I was a bit nervous about this review. I’ve been to Tahou’s before and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But that was some time ago. In the interim they seem to have corrected any issues that I encountered on my first trip. Before I go any further I should point out that Tahou’s is the home of the garbage plate. Nick originated the idea in the 80’s. Without him (and some college kids) we wouldn’t have the plate that we’ve all come to know and love.
Tahou’s is a bit of a throwback. They have those old style back-lit deli menus. The kind with the letters that you have to individually align to create words. They have booths and counter space that seem to go on forever. There was damage to the signage since the last time I was there and the area is still a bit sketchy and out of the way.


So again, I was a bit hesitant about starting this review. What if I had a bad experience? What if the plate was substandard? Would the Rochester community turn its back on me? Would I ever be able to show my face at Wegmans, or public market?After all, this is the place that won “Best plate” of 2016.
Let’s break down the plate I ordered. I ordered a two cheeseburger plate with everything except onions. Here’s what I received:


Nick Tahou Garbage Plate

You’ll note the copious amount of onions sprinkled throughout my plate. Onions tend to overpower the plate; I’m not a huge fan. It’s annoying when you ask for “no onions” and they put onions on your plate. That aside, they served the plate quickly. They served the food so quickly that it took me by surprise when they told me my order was ready. I was in at a slow time on a week night and there weren’t many people there. The total cost of the plate was $8.50. Here’s how I broke everything down:

Meat: 2

You can see in the photo (towards the top) that the burger has a dark scorch mark. The meat was tough. I peeked at the underside of the burger to find that, while it had been cooked through, it was almost pink. It’s clear the cook left them on one side and didn’t flip them. The meat was also a bit greasier than I’d prefer and the cheese that they use seemed to have a sort of plasticity to it.

Meat Sauce: 4

This was one of the big surprises to me while enjoying this plate. The meat sauce at Tahou’s is likable. It’s got a bit of a kick to it too; it’s very pleasant. I didn’t remember the meat sauce being so good the last time I was here.

Potato Side (home fries): 4

I wasn’t given an option but I received a plate with home fries that were enjoyable. Again, home fries are generally my preference when I’m eating a plate and these were good.

Mac Salad: 4

Another big surprises to me was the mac salad. It was real heavy on the mayo but it was flavorful and was a nice compliment to the other ingredients.

Bread: 5

Yet another place with fantastic bread. Dare I say the bread here was better than the bread you receive at Dogtown. The bread here was super soft and in a word: excellent.

Portion Control/Composition: 3

The plate was a bit unbalanced; I could have used a little less mac salad and a little more meat sauce. For this section, I will live in a parallel world where they got my order correct and didn’t include onions. That said the proportions still would have been a bit misaligned. One of the saving graces of this particular plate was the mustard that they use. I believe it was a beer mustard; although I could be wrong. Whatever type of mustard it was; I enjoyed it. Yet another place with fantastic bread. Dare I say the bread here was better than the bread you receive at Dogtown. The bread here was super soft and in a word: excellent.

Overall Score: 3.67 (repeating of course)

The quality of the plate at Tahou’s took me by surprise, in a good way. I will say that there are other places I’d prefer to go. You should go to Tahou’s to patronize the place where it all started. You need to make the food pilgrimage at least once in your life.

Hi, I’m BossSauce


  1. First, some inaccuracies in your review. Tahou’s invented the plate in the 1930s. It was nicknamed the Garbage Plate in the 1950s. It was well-established by the 1980s.

    Plates at tahou’s aren’t quite as good as they were 10 or 20 years ago (I’ve been going since I was in college in the 80s), but are still good. A tahou’s plate is the standard by which others should be measured because they invented the damn thing! Ever have a steak plate with two eggs on top? They have them at tahou’s. How about a pork chop plate? Italian Sausage plate? Or a grilled cheese plate? Or how about the essential Tabasco (Tahou’s switched from tabasco to read hot years ago, and I’ve never forgiven them). Or how about getting a plate with beans instead of mac salad? Yeah, if you haven’t had those you don’t have the full picture, or the ability to do a complete evaluation.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I did some research and I had trouble finding anything to corroborate your claims about the 1950s. If you have some primary sources I’d be happy to update my post. I was however able to find information related to them just throwing whatever on a plate long before what we’ve come to accept as a plate was “invented”. The history of the dish has been chronicled in numerous places and is often described in the way I wrote. In fact, I linked to a source in the post that describes how it originated. The fact that people just throw random stuff on plates here and elsewhere before it was officially called a “garbage plate” doesn’t make anything I said less true.

      With that out of the way, the history of the dish is largely irrelevant to me at this point. I don’t claim to be a garbage plate historian, I claim to be a food critic. We can argue the merits and basis of that claim but that’s what I am claiming. We don’t ask the critics of the NYT to recite historical facts about the French revolution before they eat ratatouille and likewise, it shouldn’t be an expectation that when you come here that you are forced to sit through a history lesson before you can enjoy the food I write about.

      As for using Tahou’s as a “standard”; I must disagree. I don’t compare every cheeseburger I eat to McDonalds even though they sell more cheeseburgers than anywhere else in the world and are probably most responsible for popularizing the dish. I have had every type of plate you can imagine in locations across the country. This includes a plate with frog legs, grilled cheese, Chicken fingers, split plates (with red AND white hots) the list goes on and is not all-inclusive. I have served as a consultant to places overseas who were gracious enough to reach out to me for advice and have been asked to be on podcasts as a plate aficionado. All this is to say, at this point, I like to think that I have some idea as to what I’m talking about and I’d be willing to put up my garbage plate credentials against just about anybody.

      The fun part about all of this is that we can disagree. You’re allowed to have a dissenting opinion because this is largely a subjective exercise. You can continue to eat there, and I will choose to eat elsewhere. Nobody is discounting what they’ve given our community and the their gift will live on long after the restaurant has closed and people have forgotten who they are. I have the full picture, I encourage you to continue to read my website and stay up-to-date as you may learn something.

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