Mystery Diner: Gustos serves up hearty portions with meats from local butcher

Crest Hill venue ‘pleasantly friendly, casual and animated’

I had never actually gone to Gustos Bar & Grill in Crest Hill until someone pointed out to me that the sports bar was recently remodeled.

So I checked out Gustos’ website and learned it’s been locally owned and operated since 1978. I then checked out Gustos’ extensive menu – and its separate breakfast menu. Items include “craft style, homemade sandwiches and burgers, using meat from a local butcher who’s been in business since the 1950s. All of our menu items are made with fresh ingredients.”

Of course, when I read “local butcher,” I immediately thought of Mitchell’s Food Mart in Joliet. And the website confirmed my guess.

Gustos also orders all its signature breads from the Highland Baking Company in Northbrook. Gustos caters special events and parties, the website said.

Recently, some friends and I enjoyed a socially distanced dinner with carryout from Gustos. Naturally, one of us ordered Gustos’ signature Go for the Gustos burger for $10.

This was a half pound of beef smothered with applewood smoked bacon, ham, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and a fried egg. The website said it takes “two hands, two napkins and two beers” to finish this sandwich.

This person skipped the side dish of fries or homemade Buffalo Chicken Mac-and-Cheese in favor of an order of chili fries for $6. These fries came covered with Gustos’ homemade chili, nacho cheese, onions and sour cream – a dish so hearty that the website said, “You’ll have to eat this one with a fork.”

The person who ate them said, “The chili fries I thought needed a little salt but not enough to keep me away from them. I liked that the different fry sides came with different fries. It’s a nice way to keep the food exciting.”

Another person ordered the classic cheeseburger for $9, without any vegetables (although it could have been served with lettuce, tomato and onion) and with American cheese and plenty of bacon. All of this was piled onto a pretzel roll.

Gustos said this cheeseburger is for the “traditionalist.” That must be true because this person went with an order of fries.

They said the burger was well-cooked and well-seasoned. The bun has a “toastiness” to it, which isn’t always the case in carryout, when the bun can get a little soft from the heat of the burger. The cheese was melted over the bacon, “which was really nice because the bacon didn’t move around.”

A third person in our party ordered The Gustos Pop for $10 with a side of the homemade Buffalo Chicken Mac-and-Cheese.

This burger was half a pound of beef with cheddar cheese and very large cream cheese poppers. The patty was almost an inch thick and the pretzel bun was toasted beautifully.

Serving fried jalapeño poppers stuffed with cream cheese on a burger was an interesting combination that was surprisingly delicious.

The macaroni and cheese was creamy and well-seasoned.

And finally, just because, we also ordered Dave’s Signature Fries for $6. Think bacon cheddar fries except with ham and cheddar tossed with a Dijon-maple mustard heaped atop a generous portion of fries.

These loaded fries were really crunchy and had a great fried potato flavor. The mustard sauce was sweet and tangy. One person said, “I wouldn’t have thought it would have worked together so nicely but it did!”

You’re probably wondering if I ate anything at all. Yep. I had the Gustos Flat Burger for $3. This was a quarter pound of beef that was “flattened for a crispy outside and juicy inside,” the website said. The burger came served with lettuce, tomato, pickle and thickly cut raw onion along with a side of fries.

Cheese was 50 cents. I passed because I prefer burgers to cheeseburgers. I also could have ordered an extra patty for $1. I didn’t because I was saving room for Dave’s Signature Fries.

My mistake.

Because that single crispy burger was exactly as promised – and full of flavor besides. So – two burgers next time. On a pretzel roll, if Gustos will substitute.

Now to circle back to what I thought of the remodeling at Gustos Bar & Grill. As I said, I had only recently gone there for the first time, so I can’t compare.

But I can say the atmosphere was pleasantly friendly, casual and animated.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.


WHAT: Gustos Bar & Grill

WHERE: 2115 Plainfield Road, Crest Hill

PHONE: 815-744-4159