Can we have too many great lunch spots downtown serving tasty food at a reasonable price?
I think not and who better to take over the cool courtyard of the Haberfelde building than The Spot, building on the food truck success of Curbside Kitchen and owner Chris Gonzalez. The Mexican-American food truck, which once parked downtown and is now serving CSUB, specializes in breakfast burritos ($5 all month this past January) and asada fries.
The Spot's location right next to Horse in an Alley (formerly T.L. Maxwell’s) is perfect as we recall a lot of delis and sandwich shops setting up there over the decades. If you want a more upscale business lunch spot, of course, you have Mamma Mia’s and Uricchio’s, but this is a casual, order at a counter and wait eatery for sandwiches, bowls, burritos and taco plates, with pretty much everything under $10. We saw lawyers in suits, friends and solo diners on the weekday we visited. And there’s the convenience of Johanna’s Ice Cream and Candy stand right next to it if you need dessert.
On our visit, though we didn’t get to the breakfast burritos, we did order the Texas burrito ($7.99), the chili bowl ($7.49) and Ryan’s special sandwich ($7.99), liking pretty much everything we sampled. Picking a favorite would be difficult, and probably mostly influenced by the mood we were in and what we were craving on any given day.
Let’s start with that burrito, made with a respectable carne asada and pretty much the kitchen sink: pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, lettuce and possibly another salsa. Sounds like a wet mess but it held up well in our hands, just be ready for a healthy portion of meat in the mix.
The cleverest design was the chili “bowl,” which was actually served on a fresh cornmeal Belgian waffle that was thick and moist and made so much sense topped with the no-beans chili, cheese, green onions and sour cream on top. It was perfect for those days when you skipped breakfast, it’s getting near lunch time and this choice seems like the perfect compromise. The quality of the waffle in particular was impressive for this price.
Ryan’s special was probably the sandwich to order if you’re a foodie: a grilled French roll with thick pieces of grilled pork belly, sliced cucumbers and lettuce mixed with mint and red chili flecks, the kind of sandwich where every bite tastes slightly different. That’s a good thing, I think, and it’s a surprise to see something so clever in a casual setting and, at that price point, it’s a value.
Service is swift as if they know you probably have a lunch hour and sauntering back late could cost you a raise on your next performance review. But the small crew is friendly and I noticed in particular they keep the place super clean. It should also be noted The Spot is active on social media such as Instagram and Facebook and it’s there you can sign up to get on an email list and be informed about their $1 taco specials or the breakfast burrito special they had been running. You can also order online through their website to save time. It’s weekday breakfast and lunch only right now, but given the directions they are going, who knows what the future will bring.