Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise
The best television is found through boredom and persistance. It’s done during those evenings without sporting events when your favorite shows are broadcasting repeats. It forces you to channel surf before you inevitably land on A&E or a Discover, History channel.
I’ve done my fair share of this and I want to know what is taking the Travel Channel so long. Ever see Breakfast Paradise or Extreme Superstores? They must’ve skipped Chenango, N.Y. because The Spot Diner is the biggest diner many will ever see.
Seriously, it’s so large I didn’t recognize it as a diner and passed it on my first try. It’s large enough to accommodate full passenger buses. It’s large enough that it houses arcade games. It’s large enough that it literally serves as a bingo hall from time to time.
With so much square footage to address, it’d be easy for The Spot Diner to simply lay the dining area out like a giant banquet hall and fill it with plastic tables, chairs, tableclothes, etc. The interior of the place is actually quite nice though. White leather half-circle booths with chandeliers over head, coozy dim-lit tables for two near windows and regular countertop space all coexist within the diner (there are at least three rooms with all of the stuff pictured above). On top of this, the space is open 24-hours a day and cared for by a gigantic staff. It’s an impressive diner without even taking a bite.
Unfortunately, the food doesn’t quite live up to the ambiance. Menu selection is pretty good (you can get appetizing $20-plus entrees in addition to all-day breakfast) but prices are fairly high for what you’d expect from a I-81 advertised diner. Omelets can run past $10 for something unique (if I had more cash on me the Gyro and Fetta Omelet would’ve been mine for $10.95) but even a ham, cheese and onion one will cost you nearly that much.
I opted for a green pepper and onion omelet for $7.75. The vegetables were actually incredibly fresh and there seemed to be very little grease or butter usage with the dish. However super-healthy that may be, folks looking for traditional robust breakfast flavor will be disappointed. Salt or pepper will be used by most and ketchup nearly by all.
If you drive I-81 frequently, you’re already aware of Chenango, N.Y. for the plethora of fast food options it gives you. When you see The Spot Diner on the exit ramp sign among them, don’t be fooled. This is no small, quick pit-stop where you can get a meal for $6. It’s an OK thing for diner lovers because The Spot is something you need to check out at least once. If you’re looking for a staple pit-stop however, maybe the fact I drove right by my first time was a sign.
The Final Tab
Pros: Cool establishment, 24-hour place
Cons: Higher prices than expected, average food
Three Out Of Five (Basic combo | It’s OK – try it.)