Nick Tahou Hots
|Nick Tahou Hots|
Nick Tahou Hots is a Rochester, New York, landmark restaurant featuring a dish called the Garbage Plate. The restaurant was founded in 1918 by Alex Tahou, the grandfather of the current owner (also named Alex Tahou), and named for Nick Tahou, the founder's son, who operated the establishment until his death in 1997. While there are other Upstate New York variants, Nick Tahou's is the originator of the Garbage Plate® and, as holder of the trademark, the only restaurant able to use the name.
A Garbage Plate is a combination of two selections of cheeseburger, hamburger, red hots, white hots, Italian sausage, chicken tender, fish (haddock), fried ham, grilled cheese, or eggs; and two sides of either home fries, French fries, baked beans, or macaroni salad. On top of that are the options of mustard and onions, and Nick's proprietary hot sauce, a sauce with spices and slowly simmered ground beef. The dish is served with Italian bread and butter on the side. Health.com named the Garbage Plate the fattiest food in the state of New York.
A charitable Garbage Plate Run is sponsored by the University of Rochester's Sigma Phi Epsilon. Held annually in the spring, this three-man race begins at the U of R River Campus. The first of the team members run 2.2 miles through the city to Nick Tahou's. Once they arrive, the second teammate eats a Garbage Plate as quickly as they are able, then the final teammate runs back to campus to complete the race. In a race titled the "Ironman", one-man teams attempt to complete all three tasks alone. CURE Childhood Cancer Association is the recipient of all proceeds collected during the event, including sponsor funds and contestant's entry fees. Many Rochester Institute of Technology students have made it tradition to buy a Garbage Plate, take it to Nick Tahou's grave site and eat it on his birthday (January 6).
In the mid 1950's, Nick Tahoe's hot dog stand was located in a much smaller building just to the West of the railroad station where it now exists. Lines of eager blue and white collar workers from the area frequented there, primarily for the hot dogs "with everything to go" for lunch. Regardless of the weather, often the lunchtime waiting lines stretched a block or more while inside Nick and family members worked at a fever pitch; shouting "two hots - everything to go" on an almost robotic basis. There was a continually replenished mound of hot dogs about a foot high on the grille and regardless of the length of the line, the wait was never very long due to the precision teamwork of Nick and the rest of his family as they processed orders with a speed that is still unrivaled.
From 1979 to 2007, there were two Nick Tahou Hots restaurants in Rochester: one located in downtown Rochester and the other satellite restaurant located on Lyell Avenue (NY Route 31) in Gates. In 2007, Steve Tahou and his sister Joanne Tahou-Demkou, the children of Ike Tahou (Nick's brother), assumed full ownership of the Lyell Ave. location and renamed it "Steve T. Hots and Potatoes". Steve has returned to using Rochester-based Zweigle's hot dogs and Italian sausages, which were used in the original garbage plates at Nick's. The original West Main Street location continue to use the trademarked "Nick Tahou" and "Garbage Plate" names, and continue to use the Nick Tahou Hot Dog branded dogs in their plates. While previously open all night, the downtown restaurant began closing at 8 p.m. in 1998 in voluntary compliance with the city's effort to reduce troublesome night spots. Steve T.'s remains open 24 hours a day. Peak times of business occur during the weekends shortly after 2am, when local bars close.
There was also a short-lived Nick Tahou's operation in Oswego, New York, but not much is known about the location or its history.
Nick's has been featured on Food Network's Unwrapped episode titled "Funny Foods" as well as the City in a Box Monopoly-based board game showcasing famous Rochester landmarks. The Garbage Plate was also highlighted in the July 2007 issue of the US Airways in-flight magazine. On the November 16, 2009 episode of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart told the people of Rochester to "Get their heads out of their Garbage Plates." On February 23, 2011 the Food Network filmed a segment for the show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the recommendation of Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini.  An segment in Inside Lacrosse Magazine had an extensive review of the Garbage Plate. Nick Tahou's was also featured on the Travel Channel's series Chowdown Countdown where it ranked #81 out of 101 locations.
Nick Tahou's Garbage Plate has spawned several imitators in the Greater Rochester area, including Mark's Texas Hots ("The Sloppy Plate"), Gitsis Texas Hots ("The Gitsis Plate"), Empire Hots ("The Trash Plate"), Fairport Hots ("The Hot Plate"), Tom Wahl's ("55 Junker Plate"), Jimmy Z's ("Five Star Plate"), Klassy Cat ("Kitty Litter Plate"), Irondequoit Hots ("The HOG Plate"), Salvatore's Garage Door ("The Salvie Plate") and Hungry's in the village of Pittsford.
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- Mitzewich, John. "The Famous Garbage Plate of Rochester, New York". americanfood.about.com. Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
- Stradley, Linda (2004). "History of Garbage Plate". whatscookingamerica.net. Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
- Nich Tahou Hots' Menu. garbageplate.com. Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
- "The 50 Fattiest Foods in the States". Health.com. June 29, 2010. Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- Nick Tahou Hots' official MySpace. MySpace.com. Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
- EVENT: Nick Tahou's Garbage Plate Run..., University of Rochester Newsletter, April 19, 2005
- stevethots.com 3/9/2007 Rochester D&C Article, retrieved 12/26/2009
- (July 2007). US Airways Magazine review of the Garbage Plate (PDF). usairwaysmag.com. Retrieved on September 1, 2008.