Name: Spiedie & Rib Pit
Location: Upper Front St., Binghamton or Vestal Parkway
Price: Less than $10 per person
This wouldn't be a proper Binghamton food blog if I went much longer without dedicating a post to perhaps the region's most popular native food, the spiedie (pronounced "speedy" for those uninitiated). Spiedies are chunks of marinated meat (originally lamb, but nowadays either chicken or pork) skewered and grilled, then served with some variety of bread (either regular Italian bread, a sub roll, or even pita bread). Coney Island has its hot dogs, Chicago its deep-dish pizza, Buffalo's got wings, Rochester has the...ummm...garbage plate. We've got spiedies (and to a lesser extent, their breaded, deep-fried counterpart City Chicken), and there are many, many places in the area that either specialize in spiedies or at least offer them.
So it's about time I jump headlong into the spiedie debate. Where in the Triple Cities can you get the best of this regional delicacy? In my mind, there are three main contenders: Sharkey's, Lupo's, and the Spiedie & Rib Pit. There are TONS of places in the area where you can get spiedies, but I think these are the three that most people would mention first before any others.
Sharkey's is often considered to be the birthplace of the spiedie. They've been operating from their West Side Binghamton location on Glenwood Avenue for more than 60 years and specialize not only in spiedies but also in steamed clams and holupki (cabbage rolls). I will dedicate a post to Sharkey's at some later date, but for now I will say that I am not too impressed with their offerings.
Another contender is Lupo's, who bottle the famous Lupo's spiedie marinades and sauces that are ubiquitous at local grocery stores so that consumers can make their own. They have a couple locations in the area and are considered by many to be the best the area has to offer.
Then there's the Spiedie & Rib Pit, founded in 1993 as (I believe) an offshoot to the Lupo spiedie kingdom. In addition to the spiedie, they also offer various other items like more traditional subs and ribs. They offer their spiedies in some untraditional ways (Buffalo style, Greek style, etc...) which seems to bother the "purists" who prefer their sandwiches unadorned. But they do indeed have a legion of followers.
Today I'll focus on the third of these choices.
Megan and I were headed out of town on Friday and were in need of a quick lunch before we got on the road. We happened to be on the Vestal Parkway and ended up at the Spiedie & Rib Pit. The store is pretty small and laid out kind of like a typical fast food place. She ordered a Blue Cheese chicken spiedie on a sub roll. and I went with the Greek spiedie, which has chicken, lettuce, tomato, onions, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce on a pita.
This spiedie was fantastic, much like just about every other I've had in the place, and at this point I've probably had just about all of them at one point or another. It's hard to describe the taste of the spiedie meat itself. It has a lot of flavor, with all sorts of other unique seasoning from the marinade process. A healthy mixture of Italian herbs, vinegar, and lemon juice is my guess. Whatever it is, it's great, and the grilling process brings out those flavors so well. The feta cheese and tzatziki sauce added favorably to the mix. With a side of fries (which are also quite good--Megan thinks they are the best fries she has ever had, I beg to differ but they are still very good) and a drink, I was a pretty happy camper.
Spiedie purity be damned, for a quick, fast-food style meal in the Binghamton area, it's hard to do better than the Spiedie & Rib Pit. And if you are a newcomer to Binghamton and have never had spiedies before, first of all, you MUST, and secondly, the Spiedie & Rib Pit would likely get my vote of where you should head first.