The Mystery Diner is always in the mood for a good burger and a beer.
I can find one with just a short drive.
It takes a little exploring, though, to find an establishment that puts a unique spin on this traditional fare quite like Gillerson’s Grubbery.
Gillerson’s first opened its doors in the middle of Aurora’s increasingly bustling downtown area across the street from the Hollywood Casino in the fall of 2015 on the site of the former Chef Amaury’s restaurant.
The brick storefront exterior with a simple sign suggests a typical neighborhood tap, but Gillerson’s is anything but.
We walked in on a warm summer evening to a cheery interior with hardwood floors and bright-colored walls. We sat in the cozy dining area, but there is seating in the brick-walled bar and an exterior patio in the back.
In the mood for a cold beverage, the Mystery Diner came to the right place. Gillerson’s provides an extensive sampling of rotating craft beers, with close to 40 varieties either available on tap, in a bottle or can. I selected the Two Brothers Domaine DuPage, a French country ale with a deep amber color suggested by our friendly waiter. It hit the spot.
Onto the grub, and Gillerson’s offers plenty of fun – and creativity – in its dining options. Food and drink specials were listed on the chalkboard above us.
Snacks and shareables include “Scooby Snacks,” tempura shishito peppers with wasabi teriyaki, “Spaceballs,” with risotto, asparagus, jalapeño, sweet corn, onion and jalapeño avocado aioli, and “Trippy Shrooms,” stuffed mushrooms with arugula pesto, cream cheese and garlic aioli.
It being a Wednesday, we opted for the half-off wings, BBQ-style. The serving of 10 wings were not short on meat with a zesty sweet barbecue flavor.
Moving on to the main course, Gillerson’s is bursting with creative ways to dress its handcrafted 8-ounce patties.
The headliner is the Rebel Duck, a steak burger with pork shoulder with bacon, white cheddar, fried onion strings and barbecue sauce, but there is also a Spicy Hawaiian Burger, Avocado Turkey Burger, “Grumpy Patty Melt” served on marble rye, and a “Mac Daddy,” a steak burger with mac and cheese, bacon and roasted jalapeño.
Diners can also craft their own burgers with a seemingly endless smorgasbord of sauces, “O.G. Toppings” like lettuce, tomato and Gillerson’s house-made ketchup or more adventuresome additions like mac and cheese or carnitas.
I created my own classic bacon cheeseburger, served with a side of crispy tater tots. The heaping serving of beef was well-seasoned, juicy and a mouthful.
For those with special dietary concerns, beef can be swapped out for a turkey, black bean or chicken patty, with gluten-free and vegan buns available. Or try the “Impossible Burger,” made with all-natural ingredients like wheat, coconut oil and potatoes that tastes like meat.
My dining companion was in the mood for a sandwich – and again, Gillerson’s has a plethora of creative names and options for the palate.
There is the “Don’t Go Bacon My Heart,” Gillerson’s version of the traditional BLT with avocado aioli served on a tomato focaccia bun, the “So Long Castro” with carnitas, smoked ham, house pickles, swiss cheese on panini bread, and a number of salad options.
She went with the “Winner Winner,” pulled chicken piled high and topped with bourbon BBQ, pickle and onion strings. By the looks of things, it required a knife and fork. My companion had no trouble devouring the mountain of chicken on her plate.
If you’re looking for a fresh, fun trendy take on the traditional beer and burger in downtown Aurora, Gillerson’s Grubbery is the perfect spot.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.
If you go
What: Gillerson’s Grubbery
Where: 33 W. New York St., Aurora
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.