Saucy Salads at gusto!

           The sign says, “COME GET SAUCED WITH US.”

As a salad aficionado, I am often enticed by restaurants who want to up the ante in affordably healthy and quick meals. So when I saw gusto! was trying to do just that, my interest was piqued and my tummy was grumbly.

I arrived about half an hour after they had opened, just before the start of the lunch rush. I ordered grilled chicken on mixed greens with chipotle mango avocado as my gusto, their eponymous way of defining your ideal flavor palette of the day. Once I ordered, I didn’t have to wait very long before my lunch was ready. I took a seat on a small barstool at the window to wistfully stare out at my beloved, ever evolving city.

My food arrived on a metal tray in a biodegradable disposable bowl with the chips in a small paper bag. I was impressed by their subtle eco-conscious decisions, setting an example for other eateries. Each meal comes with the perfect amount of housemade sweet potato chips that I tried my best to not devour hastily. Every chip was a crispy release of lightly sweet and salted buttery goodness. My salad stood piled high with a flavorful scoop of a heartier guacamole-esque concoction of red onion, black beans, corn, and large mango chunks mixed and mashed with avocado. The fresh bitter flavor of the greens was perfectly juxtaposed with every bite of it.

The nuclear orange creamy chipotle dressing was boldly flavored with red pepper, but lacked the smoky and time-released spiciness I often expect from chipotle sauces. I loved the flavor of it because it was more of a roasted red pepper dressing, something I often see more reserved for hummuses. While I find ‘chipotle’ to be a bit of a misnomer, I was impressed with its zest and ingenuity.

Gusto! oozes with cheerful enthusiasm and I find their positivity to be infectious. Their menu serves as a microcosmic reminder of what drives us as people and what we are passionate about by asking “What’s your gusto?” It makes what could be merely a meal into something more self-reflective and inspiring. Their founder, Nate Hybl, is a former NFL quarterback turned restaurateur, two incredibly divergent career paths. His passion for food led him down a completely different trajectory, a shift that encourages others to follow their own aspirations.

I very much enjoyed my meal and I look forward to trying their other entrees. Coupled with a sunny window seat, Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu playing on the radio, and a spacious environment, gusto! has proved to be a lovely place to take myself out for lunch. Keep it in mind for your next lunch outing in Beltlandia, be it one with a friend after an intense kickboxing class at Vesta Movement next door, or just grabbing it to-go to incite lunch envy at the office. They also deliver with Postmates if you’re not too keen on losing your parking spot at work.


About Lee Ogilvie

Lee Ogilvie is an Atlanta-based writer who enjoys local coffee houses, farmers' markets, and Free Art Fridays. She uses 'art' as a verb and lives life with food on her face. She resides in Sylvan Hills with her boyfriend and her plucky cat, Artemis. You'll find her blogging about her lunches at Lee Makes Lunch

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