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Dining on a Dime: The Spot


Published November 6, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.
Updated November 19, 2020 at 7:39 p.m.

Cheesesteak at the Spot - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Cheesesteak at the Spot

On the nicest November day in the history of democracy, I tore myself away from the television to eat a cheesesteak.

I was bingeing on Day 4 of “Election Day in America Continued,” and coverage was focused on Philly. So I did what any ex-pat from the City of Bro Lo would do and headed to the nearest cheesesteak place.  In my case, a most fortunate one, that happens to be the Spot on Shelburne Road.

For my impromptu trip, I overlooked the required reservation. This was easily remedied on the spot at the Spot, where I popped out my phone and reserved an outdoor seat for that moment. A few tables in an enclosed outdoor dining area had lunch customers, but I was alone on the open-air patio.

I ordered a small cheesesteak with chips and a pickle ($9) and a seltzer with cranberry juice.

“Cheers!” the server said when she set down my drink.

She nailed the vibe: I was cheered to be outdoors, removed from CNN’s electronic election map, and on the verge of eating a sandwich that’s hard to replicate in any worthy fashion on the east side of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

But in Burlington's South End, happily, the sandwich had the requisite squish to the bread, the beef was a cut above the versions I favored in Philly (maybe 'cause in that city they’re whipping out sandwiches faster than they’re counting votes), and the grilled red peppers added zing.

I'm pretty sure the cheese on my cheesesteak was melted American, and I'm a provolone person.  Yet melted American is the winning choice, the poetic choice, for Election Week in the USA.

I watched cars pull up for window service in a scene that harked back to the Spot’s previous incarnation as a gas station.  Reinforcing the reminiscences, a tow truck arrived to rescue a busted Land Rover whose owner had eaten lunch at the restaurant.

As I finished my meal, an acquaintance showed up for lunch.  From across the parking lot, she inquired about the food, and I gave her the scoop: “Cheesesteak. In honor of the vote count in Philly.”

A man waiting for his to-go order heard me and started to clap. He said that he, too, had ordered a cheesesteak. I asked him if it was for Election Day in Philadelphia.

“No,” he said. “But that’s the best reason I’ve heard.”

I couldn't argue with his own reason.  Barry, who told me only his first name, is a Philly native and eats cheesesteaks regularly at the Spot because they're so good, he said.

We bemoaned the state of Italian hoagies in Vermont, and then I walked home to check the vote. Biden had a 0.2 percent lead in Pennsylvania; the electoral vote tally hadn’t budged.

Still, the narrative was advancing. According to a "breaking news" alert on CNN, Biden will address the nation tonight.
Dining on a Dime is a series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: [email protected].

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