Seven months ago I ditched the whole “meat-eating” thing and dove into the wonderful world of vegetarianism. Though my body is thanking me, my wallet is not. Forget craving chicken nuggets and cheesesteaks – the hardest part of this whole adventure has been finding food that I can actually afford.
Dining out can be pricey, period. Throw some diet restrictions in there and you can kiss that dream goodbye. I’ve found it almost impossible to pay a reasonable bill at any of those “specialty” vegan or gluten-free restaurants, so I was pretty stoked when a co-worker told me about The Spot in Northfield.
Located inside The Shop on Tilton just outside of Atlantic City, The Spot is a local staple for both vegetarians and meat eaters. In 2012, it was launched by Jonathon Sands and Erin McGee with the intent of bringing creative dishes to a casual atmosphere. The Spot guarantees the use of fresh food, so no need to worry about paying $10 for a pizza you could have just bought from the freezer section of your local ShopRite. However, if you’re a regular food consumer like me, you have probably developed some trust issues over the years. I mean Wendy’s slogan is “fresh never frozen,” but we all know that’s not the truth. I wanted to put The Spot’s “fresh food” guarantee to the test, so I stopped in for some lunch.
I walked in and sat myself. The restaurant was pretty empty, as most shore places are after Labor Day. It was empty, but not vacant. It still felt cozy. “Fix You” by Coldplay softly filled the room providing a coffee shop feel. I was really digging the atmosphere.
My young waitress was very friendly. I could tell she had a genuine knowledge of the food as I asked different questions about the menu. I decided to start my lunch off with a cup of dairy free cashew broccoli soup, per her recommendation. (Okay, I know what you’re thinking- Cashews and broccoli?) It’s a weird combination, I know. I was nervous too. But I had to find out if cashews were really these magic little tree nuts capable of producing a dairy-like substance- and they were. The soup was great. It resembled a thinner version of the typical cream of broccoli. But without the dairy, I still had room for my main dish.
Choosing a main dish was hard, because the menu was overwhelming. Aside from the standard menu book, The Spot also has a specialty page of options that changes every single day. The first thing that stuck out me on this specialty page were the drinks.They had over 10 variations of fruity refreshments including cranberry acai lemonade, pineapple lemonade, thai tea, thai coffee, and even a nonalcoholic cucumber mojito, all at a standard $6. I was turned off by the price, until I saw the size of these things. All beverages are served in an enormous mason jar, big enough to last through a meal and the drive home. Sidenote: They do provide to-go cups. Plus, we all love to post artsy mason jar photos on Instagram.
I flipped through the menu about a dozen times, amazed at all of the unique dishes I had never before heard of. However, I kept going back to one dish in particular- the quinoa quesadillas. This is because a.) I love mexican food and b.) I cannot find quinoa at any other restaurant. As a committed vegetarian, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
The quesadillas totally lived up to my expectations. They encompassed the perfect cheese to quinoa ratio, mixed with juicy peppers and onions. Perhaps the best part of it all was the crispy black bean tortilla. The dish also came with side of sour cream and quinoa, all for $11.
If you’re not into the whole vegetarian-mexican thing, The Spot still has a lot of great options. Their menu includes burgers, wraps, salads, starters and an extensive list of entrees. Some of the more distinctive dishes include sweet potato wontons, thai chili wings, four cheese grilled cheese, and blueberry cream cheese wontons. They also serve breakfast until 11 a.m. and all day on Sundays. I’m excited to go back and try their “banana fat boy french toast.” Plus maybe this time I’ll have room to fit dessert, because their homemade cookies sound incredible.
The Spot is a perfect place to stop for a casual meal. You get the luxury of gourmet food, without having make reservations, dress up, or pay a ridiculous price. Their menu offers something for everyone. Plus you’re guaranteed to leave with enough leftovers for an entire meal. So if you’re looking for simple and cozy, you’ll have to stop by The Shop on Tilton.