Gen X at 40

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'nee -

OK... eew.

Linda -

It's a Rochester thing. You wouldn't understand.

My eleven-year-old son's been begging me to take him for a Garbage Plate ordinaire ever since this news broke. But then again, he likes Marmite.

Alan -

I am all for local fast foods. I never had "fries with the works" in PEI but I have had excellent poutine (Colburne's in Pembroke) as well as excellent donairs (Pete's Pizzaria in Halifax) so I inherently trust your son's instincts on this.

Julia -

The REAL garbage plate is the one on the right. You can tell because the mound of delicious goodness is heaped upon a sturdy, paper plate that serves to soak up the grease. I will attest that this is a most excellent platter to injest after a night of drinking, studying, partying, or just because you got a craving. I will be in Rochester in a few weeks for my dad's birthday. He, my husband, and I are all fans of the garbage plate and I just MIGHT be able to convince them that we need to stop at Lyle Ave. for a heart-stopping plate. For the record, my favorite combo is two red hots (hot dogs) on top of potatoes, macaroni salad, covered with everything (onions, mustard, and greek sauce). I then add ketchup and a dab of hot sauce. You cut it all up, mix it, and enjoy. THAT is the official way to eat one.

Alan -

Is it the king of the upstate foods? Where does it stand in the pantheon compared to spiedies and wecks?

Linda -

I'm pretty sure it kicks their butts!


But really, spiedies have a greater geographic distribution. There is no such thing as a garbage plate in Syracuse, nor does anyone here care about beef on weck. Spiedies, however, hold sway from Oswego to Binghamton, and probably elsewhere besides.

Alan -

Even I know what a spiedie is. Greek sauce marinaded chuncks of cicken roasted and served on a white bun of some specific but indescribable nature.


That's because you reside on the Spiedie Axis which runs north-south.

Alan -

That axis of spiediedom. That is a great concept.<p>I was remisss in identifying the key fast food, however, which we have beaten around here a few times but that is the hot, which has a glamour and prestige not associated with it in Canada.

LeonS -

Alas Alan your were also remiss in calling spiedies "chicken", as the "greek marinade" should point to, spiedies are originally lamb. They are available in all the major meats, pork, beef, and chicken, but lamb, is the first and the best (IMO, and venison, skewered with pork, is a close second).

And how can we discuss Upstate junk food without mentioning wings?

Alan -

Thanks Leon - I am here to learn. As a Scot, lamb is always in order is venison is unavailable. We often also leave the actual meat portions to others - preferring the internal organs to mere muscle.<p>You have raised a jurisdicitonal quesitons with wings which is also raised by wecks - are they upstate or western NY?

LeonS -

Oh that. Well, I'm considering Upstate to be everything in New York State that isn't NYC, Long Island, or White Plains (Rockland a matter of some debate). But Buffalo, and it's marvelous array of Junk foods, is clearly in Western NY. So my answer: both!

It's not unreasonable, since if you are going parcel up NY state on the "Western NY" level spedies are really from the Southern Tier (Triple Cites area), with some following in Central NY (Syracuse and surrounding areas).

Alan -

See - I am up here in Canada trying to figure all this out even though it is only 3 hours away! So far I have learned that Rocherster is not west or central or southern but upstate. Oswego is not north but it is up. Also the southern tier is more in the west than south. I think I am getting the hang of it.

LeonS -

Here's an offical version (I guess):

It puts Rochester (Monroe country) in "Central" which makes sense, but no one from the Binghamton area (Broome county) thinks they are in the "Leather Stocking" region. I'm pretty sure most everyone in Broome, Tioga, Chemung, and Steuben counties consider themselves to be in the "Southern Tier".

And here's what these people see as "Western NY":

And here's a map of the "Souther Tier" as I know it:

I can see why you're confused. Heck now *I'm* confused.

As for "Upstate", I agree with the Wikipedia: "Upstate New York is the region of New York State outside of the core of the New York metropolitan area." (

It would be just like a Rochesterian to claim "Upstate" for themseleves. :)

Being a Canadian, I bet you have better things to worry about.

Alan -

Not if I want a white hot, spiedie and a weck every once in a while!

Sarah -

Have any of you upstate-new-yorkers been to Empire Hots? (AKA E Hotz)

They make the best trash plate I've ever had.

It's amazing.

I'm getting one tonight after Harry Potter :-)

Corey -

Just a friendly reminder from an ex-tioga county resident about your spiedie discription. Marinated meat(most any kind, but lamb was first) placed into Italian bread. The marinade is most definately NOT Greek, but Italian. In the "Southern Tier" they are common, but very uncommon elsewhere(at least ones that are anything like Lupos, Sharkeys). I've made spiedies in numerous countries(former military), and they have been praised everywhere. They arew one of the most culturally ingrained local food items I've come across. You can buy sauces, meat in groceries, stands, restaurants. People buy the sauce online all over. As far as beef on weck...not as big a deal(ex-wife from Woodlawn Beach, Buffalo) That is a good sandwich, but not the same cultural impact as spiedies(doubt people are ordering those online). Finally, yes upstate New york is anywhere outside the metro area. Just thought I'd give my 2 cents,and talk about one of my happiest food memories from home. Rocky Mountain Spiedie chef

Alan -

That is great information. There is, apparently, a guy who makes speedies in his backyard in Endicott - sort of an endless BBQ. I need to find that place.

Backer -

What the hell's a trash plate (i know what it is), but since it just a rib off of the original, its just as weak as the people claiming it to be the best.

Garrick -

There is no denying that Nick's is the original! But having eaten at every hots in the Rochester area, Empire Hots is the best by far. I moved to the San Francisco area 2 years ago and the only thing I miss about Rottenchester is Trash Plates, Abbotts, and Wegman's. I try to explain to people out here what a trash plate is and they all think it sounds gross. It truly is a Rochester thing! We are flying home for x-mas and on the way from the airport I'm going to Hots before anything else!

Steve S -

Empire Hots is probably not the best plate but obviously it is a matter of opinion but there are probably over 40-50 restaurants that now serve a Garbage Plate in Rochester.

My Favs Include:
-Steve or Nick Tahous
-Dogtown Hots
-Henrietta Hots or Charlotte Hots (same owner)
-Webster Hots
-C + C Deli (in Gates)
-Abes (west side)
-Wimpy's (in Gates)
-Bay Hots (now closed)

Some of My LEAST favorite Plates:
-Empire Hots (sauce is bland/no flavor, plate was almost cold when served)
-Bill Grays (only the plates suck, the burgers are awesome)
-MacGregors (overpriced)
-Any other place trying to make a buck but doesn't care what they throw on a plate

One more piece of advice...Look up the recipe and make your own!

amy -

After living in the"southern tier" for 20 years I love spiedies...but beef on weck and buffalo wings far surpass the garbage/trash plate. I now live in wny"buffalo/ rochester" area. I can now say that buffalo wins ONLY because buffalo wings are served EVERYWHERE in the country(even though I wouldn't order them anywhere else)! They are the late night hang -over,studying snack of all time.