You may call it a strong will; I call it a persevering spirit. Whatever the case, there’s little doubt I get mine from my mom, the woman who talked me into visiting Uncle Bub’s in Westmont this past Saturday, where she’d been the week before.
See, some people would visit a place like that, have a barbecue beef sandwich that they didn’t particularly enjoy, and never want to go back. Not my mom. Her friend tells her – swears up and down, in fact – that the burgers at Uncle Bub’s are the best. We had to find out.
In case you’re not from the Chicago area, or if you are but don’t know Westmont well, here’s a bit of history: Westmont is one of the cities along the Metra’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, the one I’m most familiar with, having grown up in the southwest suburbs.
It’s not as commercial as Oak Brook, which is to its north, or as charming as Downers Grove, which is to its west. In fact, outside of being near a lot of things, Westmont isn’t filled with many claims to fame.
Downtown Westmont, which is where Uncle Bub’s is located, is something of a stereotype. You can see the beginnings of redevelopment everywhere, from the new condo building to the trendy espresso bar, but it’s not quite a thriving faux-urban center.
Uncle Bub’s is right on Cass Avenue, across the street from an antique store and steps from a big Catholic church. There’s a lot of parking, which is a plus, and from the moment you pull up, you can tell this is no ordinary storefront.
Outside, Uncle Bub’s looks like a cross between a barn and a warehouse. Dark red shutters and awnings decorate the rustic exterior. By the front entrance, a large white sign with black print gives you instructions of what to do when you enter.
This place is casual – like hanging-out-in-your-friend’s-backyard casual, with red-and-white-checkered tablecloths and old-wood booths. It’s a little reminiscent of Cracker Barrel, but not quite as cutesy and a whole lot more barn.
You order at the counter like you would at a fast-food place, and the server gives you something– in our case, a wooden rooster – to mark your order.
So in terms of overall ambiance, this place maintains a consistent atmosphere, which is cool.
From the silhouette cowboy by the bathrooms to the knickknacks on the walls to the way the tables are decorated, you get the same message: this place should be about quality of food, the kind of place where you can take your kids and they can be loud and crazy, and you’ll enjoy a good meal for a reasonable price.
Part of that message is true. The prices are very affordable. My mom and I each got a burger, fries and an extra side (she, the cole slaw; I, corn on the cob), and we paid less than $15.
Also, I’ll add that the place is clean, the organization is good and the staff is very friendly and helpful.
One guy, who maybe is the owner or manager, I don’t know, stopped by our table a few times just to make sure everything was OK, and I’m pretty sure he cleared our table as soon as we’d finished eating.
But, and here’s the important part, the food was just OK. Like, maybe barely OK. My burger had gristle in it, and if there’s one thing I cannot handle in red meat, it’s gristle.
I only ate half of it, and my mom barely managed to finish hers. The fries, on the other hand, are a different story entirely – pure magic with a crispy exterior and a soft inside, seasoned with nothing overpowering but just enough to make you say Man, that’s a good fry.
o good, in fact, they almost make up for the burgers. Key word: almost.
I probably won’t be stopping by Uncle Bub’s again, not unless it’s with a big group of people with different palates than my own, or, possibly, just to pick up a side of fries on the go.
132 S Cass Ave
Westmont, IL 60559
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.