Mucho Gusto! New restaurant provides unique dining experience


Jack Rafferty

Gusto! is a hip restaurant with a modern style and fast, healthy food. Drawing from a wide variety of cultures and styles, the menu offers numerous fascinating offerings that could help make it a quirky and exotic local favorite.

As I walked into the Ponce location of Gusto!, I was greeted by an indescribably savory aroma and the chatter of many lively conversations. As I approached the counter, I was asked,  “what’s your gusto?” and directed to a stack of menus sitting on the counter.  

I picked up the menu, and was immediately struck by how simple, yet diverse, it was. It was very organized and thus, at first glance, seemingly limited.  That being said, I was surprised to see that  it was filled with 72 possible combinations.

First, you decide the base; mixed greens, brown rice, half greens and half rice, or a flatbread wrap. I decided on the brown rice bowl.

Next, you choose your topping. I opted for the grilled chicken, but was also offered grilled portobello mushrooms, or a halved avocado.  

Lastly, you get to pick your “gusto,” which is essentially the flavorings that are added. There are six options for this category, ranging from “chile citrus bbq” to “buffalo buttermilk blue.”  I chose “chipotle mango avocado,” which constituted of a decadent chipotle sauce, avocado chunks, black beans, mango slices, and a creamy white shredded cheese. The savory sauce added  riveting flavor, complementing the charred chicken perfectly.

The chipotle mango chicken rice bowl.
The chipotle mango chicken rice bowl.
The design... Impeccable!
The design… Impeccable!

The most notable part of my experience was the speed at which the food was prepared. It seemed as if by the time I had reached the pickup counter, my food was ready. Essentially, it was a higher quality and healthier version of fast food (but more expensive).

Another positive I took from my visit was the kindness of the staff.  They were welcoming and seemed to enjoy their work.  Fast food workers have a reputation for being rude, but Gusto!’s upscale fast food was accompanied by a surprisingly friendly and polite staff.

My only complaint is the ambience, which was sort of strange, and average at best. This is not a major issue as the restaurant seems to be used mostly for takeout, but it is worth noting. The inside of the restaurant was impressive with a contemporary design and striking yellow throughout the room.

The price was on the high end for fast food, but the price can be explained by the fresh and flavorful ingredients, making it possibly highest quality fast food restaurant I have ever been to. Obviously, an increase in quality goes hand in hand with an increase in price, but for me, Gusto! Made this tradeoff well worth it, as the food tasted more expensive than it was.

Every meal comes with a side of sweet potato chips, which were good enough, but nothing special. They are undoubtedly healthier than regular potato chips, but also tasted a bit worse and didn’t add much to the dining experience.

Overall, Gusto! Is an interesting take on healthier fast food. The options are diverse and numerous, and the style of the restaurant was unconventional and distinctive. My experience was positive, and I plan on visiting again the next time I am in the mood for something different: a dish that is bizarre and out of the ordinary, but still tastes great.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email