Four Signs: You’re eating garbage plates in Rochester, N.Y.

Geography Essay
Photos and captions by Nathan Mattise

College (and post-college limbo) is a time for excessive sleeping, partying, *studying*…. and traveling. It’s one of the finer points of college because there are no real commitments to hold you back. So in the spirit of good roadtrip, In the Pursuit of the Trivial offers the Five Signs series. It’s a photo-documentary account from an exotic location done through the signs ready to greet every and all tourists. Today, welcome to Rochester, N.Y. – home of the garbage plate.

If you ate a garbage plate, you too would know that your body simply does not have enough physical room for more than four signs…

1. “Nick Tahou – Home of the Garbage Plate.”

First, what is a garbage plate? Here’s the description from their website (which happens to be

We start with a base of any combination of home fries, macaroni salad, baked beans, or french fries topped by your choice of meats and dressed to your liking with spicy mustard, chopped onions, and Nick Tahou’s signature hot sauce. Each plate comes with two thick slices of fresh italian bread and butter.

The meat choices include burgers, dogs (called “hots” in Rochester), chicken tenders, fish, fried ham, veggie, egg, sausage or grilled cheese. When you invent the dish, it’s no surprise you get considered the best plate in town fairly often.

2. “Home of the Garbage Plate”

I felt like it was my civic duty to finish my very first plate, but if you’re interested in what it looks like here is the culinary masterpiece. The building itself is almost as cool as the food too. It’s this warehouse right off a major highway and the interior has a very nostalgic feel to it – those plastic booth/seats, everything comes on a tray with plastic utensils and paper plates, and the food is ordered and made at the same diner-metallic central station.

3. “Men”

I can’t lie. This (or the corresponding “Women”) may eventually prove to be the most important sign for any visitors, but while it’s going down the food is absolutely delicious. The dog itself is unique from other dogs I’ve encountered but then if you add the proper condiments (the spicy mustard, chilli and Frank’s are musts) it truly is a flavor party in your mouth. Frank’s and mac salad go incredibly well together, the chilli/spicy mustard duo seem to compliment anything that’s warm and the texture when you can get a little of everything in one forkful is tremendous. It’s a must-take food pilgrimage.

4. “31 East | 490 East”

So take it. The ride is easy and the locale is really just off these major roads. If you’re really feeling frisky, you can even run there because lord knows what calorie intake awaits you.

And that’s it from Rochester, N.Y.. There are no signs that didn’t make the cut this time around so, until next time, I’ll make sure to keep you posted on the next adventure.

(Links today from Wikipedia,, Yelp and

If you want to yell at Nate for this idea because it’s dumb or he utilizes it too much, e-mail him. If you don’t think Rochester, N.Y. isn’t exciting enough, feel free to contact him with a better trip to share too.


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Filed under Essays, Geography

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