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Wednesday, March 13,2013

New in town

Lansing City Market & Spencer's Kitchen and Bar

by ALLAN I. ROSS
Two new food stations popped up inside Lansing City Market last week. 

Ofilia’s El Burrito, the satellite location for Ofilia Diaz’ popular south Lansing taqueria, serves both ready-to-eat and frozen Mexican food, including wet burritos, enchiladas and tamales. 

Diaz, who took over El Burrito, 5920 S. Cedar St. in Lansing, two years ago,  also sells her homemade sweet baked goods, salsa and guacamole at the new location. 

A couple of doors down, the newest entry to Lansing’s farm-to-table movement —as well as its newest specialty breakfast joint — has arrived in the form of Wandering Waffle. The minimalist logo consists of a pair of stenciled waffles that owner/operator Samantha Wilbur hopes will soon be as ubiquitous as a certain other local diner’s skull-and-flatware insignia (we’re looking at you, Golden Harvest). She developed the Wandering Waffle concept with her husband, Zach, who moved to Lansing last year to take a farming class with a Michigan State University extension program. 

Think of Wandering Waffle as an upscale hot dog cart — this is food that was designed to be portable and meant to be eaten right away without utensils. In this case, however, instead of a bun, you get a choice of either gluten-free waffle ($6) or savory waffle ($5), and instead of a processed meat cylinder you get any of a selection of all-natural meat, vegetable or dessert toppings, the majority of which you can track to within 60 miles of downtown Lansing. 

“Except for the flour, everything we use is either locally produced or fair trade,” Wilbur said. “I can tell you exactly where every ingredient is from.”

That includes bacon from Black Oak Pork in Byron, eggs from Three Ponds Farm in DeWitt and buttermilk from MOO-ville in Nashville. Every waffle comes with one topping, with each additional topping either 50 cents or $1 more. Early standouts include the pizza waffle ($6.50), s’more ($5.50) and ham and cheese ($6). It takes about three minutes to make, but if you just can’t stand in one place for even that long, Wilbur said you’ll be able to text your order in (phone number coming soon). How’s that for living in the Electronic Age? So the big question remains: why waffles?

“Because pancakes have too much human error,” Wilbur deadpans. And bonus: Wilbur plans to stay open during weekend bar hours, from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., to take advantage of Waterfront Bar & Grill’s late night crowd. No more driving home hungry! 

Later this week, local restaurateur Spencer Soka unveils his newest creation: Spencer’s Kitchen and Bar. Soka opened both State Side Deli locations (Okemos in 2009 and East Lansing in 2010) before giving the East Lansing store this new identity. 

Soka closed on Jan. 30 and spent “well over $100,000” to revamp the place into a 2,300 square foot, full-service restaurant, including adding a bar, laying down a new floor and creating a theme: an ode to the histories of East Lansing and Detroit. He’s still waiting on the liquor license to be approved, but he thinks that should happen by the end of the week.

Spencer’s will still carry the corned beef sandwiches State Side was famous for, but Soka has made many new additions to the menu: build-your-own burgers, hand-dipped onion rings, appetizers and ribs. 

Lansing City Market
325 City Market Dr.
Lansing
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
lansingcitymarket.com

Spencer’s Kitchen and Bar
313 E. Grand River Ave.
East Lansing
11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday
Noon-10 p.m. Sunday
(517) 853-3033

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