Some weeks back I took the family out for dinner at the Spotted Dog in Carrboro, with the intention of writing a review for you all. Many things happened in between then and now that took precedence on the newsletter theme, yet now I feel like the time is right to tell you about this little gem of a restaurant.
If we were all sitting here together I would start by asking for a show of hands as to who has already been to the Spotted Dog. Being that the number of comparable vegan/vegetarian restaurants is so small and that the Spotted Dog has been in business since 1998, I would guess that many of you would raise your hands. And if you haven't been there yet, I have to say, "What are you waiting for? You need to get on it!" This restaurant has some seriously delicious food and one of the most robust vegetarian menus I have seen (outside of a purely vegetarian establishment).
I will add a disclaimer though to my urging you to go eat lunch there right now. It is this: If you are at all claustrophobic, you might want to wait until the weather is warmer to go. The reason is that the building itself is tiny, located on a pointed island of sidewalk that divides Main and Weaver Streets. This photo shows you just about all the seating that exists inside the building. It looks lovely, right? Well, fill it with diners, wait staff, trays of food, and turn on the several TVs set to sports channels, and you can guess why I suggested that those who don't do crowded spaces, might want to wait until the outdoor seating becomes viable.
You can count on this place being crowded when you go. Why is it always crowded? Well since I am in that kind of a mood, I will exercise a little punniness and count the reasons for you.
1) The food is really, really good.
2) They make a tangible effort to use fresh, local, organic ingredients (like supporting NC-based, Delight Soy, which makes the best chik'n patties I have ever tasted).
3) They have a Large selection of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. I have been there many times and try to order something different every time. I have not even dented the veg section. (#s 2 & 3 are really a subset of #1)
4) Check out that 100 sanitation rating in the photo above! Considering that with the Serve Safe bonus points, it is possible to earn a total sanitation score of 105 from the Health Department, any place with a rating less than 97 makes me raise my eyebrows, a lot. The fact that they boast a rating of 100 is really sexy.
5) The casual atmosphere and moderate pricing make it a reasonable place for a quick lunch or a night out with the family.
6) The portions are very generous = lotta bang for your buck.
7) They are pet-friendly. Dogs must eat outside with their fams, of course.
8) The restaurant has prime location in Carrboro for foot traffic. If you are driving, you will have to settle for one of the Municipal lots in the area or take your chances across the street at the Carr Mill Mall parking lot.
9) The business is very involved in the community, supporting cool non-profits like Paws 4 Ever and Girls Rock NC.
10) Lastly, you won't find it mentioned on their website, but it is well known that the long-time owners are a lesbian couple who are extremely welcoming and supportive of diversity. The doggedly (whoa! more pun action!) eclectic population of Carrboro makes a point to support them in return.
Undoubtedly there are also some bar-related reasons why the Spotted Dog consistently draws a crowd, but since the alcohol aspect is completely outside my realm of experience, I can't tell you what they are.
Seriously, other than the cramped seating issue and the fact that it may not be fancy enough to impress some stuffed shirts, there is no reason to wait. Check out these Tinga Tacos I got the last time I was there: