Burlington’s South End hot “Spot”

The Spot’s signature fish tacos are loaded with fresh vegetables, mango salsa, and chipotle sauce.

The Spot’s signature fish tacos are loaded with fresh vegetables, mango salsa, and chipotle sauce.

By Julia Donnini

If you’re looking for a meal that warms and excites, let the Hawaiian-style Spot do its thing. Family-style or relaxed date night—any excuse will do to tempt your fellow diners.

But don’t dip into the local eatery and expect just pork and pineapples. Even in the dead of winter, The Spot is lively. The ‘50’s facade beckons from the road. It both mirrors the design of its gas station predecessor and is topped with a wind turbine powering part of the restaurant’s lighting and cooling systems. That’s not the cherry on the sundae though. A less visible detail lines the roof—36 photovoltaic panels generate 35 percent of the Spot’s electricity.

And the inspiration flows indoors. Trinkets deck the walls like a tropical Hard Rock Café: Hawaiian relics like seashells and sporting magazine feature stories of the owner, Russ Scully, are just a few sights.  Even the booths’ painted wave motif lures diners to float in. And no matter what, expect a bright “aloha” from over the surfboard-shaped front counter.

Bread to start? Think again—fried polenta bites with red pepper relish and capers whet the palate. Our server Jacob Smith also tossed an invitation to try the pineapple habanero hot sauce. It’s so popular that it’s bottled for guests who want to enjoy the kick at home. Following suit, we dove into The Spot’s signature tacos, the Peahi.  Two fish tacos loaded with mango salsa, lettuce, red cabbage, and a creamy chipotle sauce.

Our dinner continued with the Indo Reef Dance. This curry-coconut entrée swims with shrimp, tofu, and roasted vegetables–all over rice. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli complement this Hawaiian stew.

The second entrée, the Ukulele Luau is another new dinner menu item. This dish sports local, braised pork shoulder glazed in sweet ancho sauce. General Manager Shannon Lipkin said “All of our meats are sourced from Vermont or a Vermont company.” The beef is from La Platte and the bacon and ham are from Vermont Smoke & Cure. The thick slab of homemade cornbread is this dish’s substitute for bread. Lipkin explained, “Our focus is really to make as much in-house as possible.”

When you’re not squeezing a lime or testing the homemade toppings, let your eyes wander. For kids who think coastal living means toes dipped in Lake Champlain, The Spot’s fish tank is a keyhole into the exotic world of surf. You can’t snorkel but you can dream.

As the night comes to a close, try the classic option for dessert: chocolate cake. This thick slice erupts with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. After dinner you’ll want to sit hammock-style regardless of wetsuit or work garb.

One thing is for sure; the Spot has made its splash. Test the waters and you’ll be hooked.

The Spot, located at 210 Shelburne Road in Burlington, is open for breakfast and lunch daily from 7 am-3pm. Dinner service runs Tuesday-Saturday from 5-9 pm. For more information, call (802) 540-1778. Also visit www.thespotvt.com for online ordering.


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