The Spot*
Clearlake, Calif.

Burgers   Bar   Live Music

A classic 1950s themed bar and grill on the lake.  
Come for the food.  Stay for the music.  
Remember good times.

Lake County

"Each bite is like a trip through Americana."

The link adds a smoldering heat, torched more when The Spot’s kitchen staff give it a turn on the charbroiler. The added smoke picks up on the fatty, acrid streak of bacon, mixed in with the chili — which includes a measure of jalapeno, as well.  “It’s a really good combination,” Botello explained. “I like it.”

Each bite is a trip through Americana. The Spot’s chili dog carries the same casual swagger of as anything served at Nathan’s, Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island.

The latter two are Detroit fixtures, by the way. They sit side by side and their fans refuse to mingle, even though one family owns both joints.

But in The Spot’s chili dog, one finds earthiness of Midwestern chili, with beans, a measure of southwestern heat and the ambition of Americans everywhere who take common fare and lend it a creative boost.

Dave Faries can be reached at 900-2016

Chili dog, without the mess

By Dave Faries, [email protected], @beedavefaries on Twitter
Posted: 04/20/16, 10:25 PM PDT |  

Americans have a gift for ennobling the most humble of foods.
The hamburger, for instance, supposedly began as a slab of meat “baked” under the saddles of Mongolian marauders as the stormed across the plains of Eastern Europe. It became a backyard staple and, finally, a mark of culinary ostentation, dressed with artisanal bacon, farm fresh eggs, foie gras and more.

Bland, rudimentary sausages became the all-American hot dog. Although of German origin, the frankfurter became associated first with ballparks then with urban chefs delving into the art of charcuterie.

And then there is the chili dog.

Nothing more than a hot dog smothered in chili — and perhaps onions, cheese or other condiments, depending upon location — the dish conjured reverent memories of Coney Island in its heyday, the Detroit of the muscle city era and the sort of malt shop where one might hang out with Richie, Potsie and The Fonz.

At The Spot, Clearlake’s paean to nostalgia — and to diner fare nicely done — they take the chili dog to another level.
The French bread pocket chili dog, prepared if you wish with a hot link, involves familiar ingredients. But the meat, chili, cheese and onions are tucked into a hollowed half of fresh French bread.
“Make it sloppy, but don’t make a mess,” The Spot’s Fernando Botello said, explaining the logic behind the creation.

Yes, the bread trumps a plain hot dog bun. Through this device, it’s possible to pick up the chili dog and devour it like a sandwich. But the key to the dish lies in the rich, hefty joust between hot link and home-made chili.


Clearlake >> According to Glenn Peterson, running a restaurant is a lot like a romantic relationship. “You have to keep things fresh and interesting and change it up once in a while,” said The Spot owner. “It’s a romance, if you will.”

Having been in operation for over three years, Peterson decided it was about time for something new and fresh at the Clearlake establishment. And what better way to bring some excitement to the place than to host a contest?

So over the next couple of months, The Spot will be accepting burger recipes from the public. After the deadline on March 1, they’ll narrow down the submissions to three finalists. Those burgers will then be added to the menu for the public to vote on beginning Saint Patrick’s Day.

The best part of the whole thing? The winner doesn’t only get bragging rights. Their creation will be added to the menu — which currently features 13 different burgers — and named after them. Plus, all three finalists eat free once a week for the rest of the year.

“We’d been toying around with some new burgers that are somewhat unusual,” Peterson said. “I thought, hey why not get some other minds in on this to come up with something innovative​?”

This is the first time The Spot has held a recipe contest, but not their first competition altogether. As a popular breakfast and lunch destination for car clubs thanks to the waterfront views and the 1950s décor, in the summer of 2015 they put on a vintage car photo contest, inviting patrons to submit their best images of classic cars. The winner had their photograph mounted in the restaurant and posted on their website.

Peterson has no way of knowing just how many burger recipe submissions they’ll receive. There could be three or there could be 20. But for those who intend to take part in the contest, Peterson’s advice is simple: be creative, but most importantly, make sure it tastes good. The most innovative recipes won’t count for much if customers don’t want to eat it.

Some regulations will be posted in the restaurant, but there are no rules for what can and cannot be included in a recipe. However, common sense should of course be used. Don’t include expensive things like caviar, because The Spot isn’t going to sell many $60 burgers. Don’t pick anything difficult to recreate or utilize hard-to-find ingredients.

“If it’s something too off the wall, it may not be practical to put it on our menu,” said Peterson. “I just hope that people realize that if they’re specifying Zimbabwe water buffalo patties, we’re not going to be able to do much with that.”

The deadline for submitting a recipe is March 1. For a full list of rules, visit The Spot, 14625 Lakeshore Dr., Clearlake. Contact the restaurant at 900-8671.

Jennifer Gruenke can be reached at 900-2019.

Twice As Good (2xG)
Award-winning, local Blues artists, Paul and Rich Steward, a father and son duo, perform "Back to Clearlake Oaks" from their highly acclaimed album of the same name

Regular featured performers at The Spot*... We are honored to present their official music video here.

Check our Music & Events page for their upcoming shows at The Spot*
Dave Broida shreds the harp
The legendary PhD of bluesology, Dave Broida, performs with The Hip Replacements in Upper Lake

Dave and his Blues Farm will perform at The Spot* this summer.  Check our Music & Events page for dates and times.