Downtown Streator restaurant honors city's past with meal items
If you want to feed both your stomach and brain, consider ordering a meal from The 318 Restaurant with a side of “Biography in Black” from the library.
The 318 is a relatively new addition to Streator’s downtown. The restaurant opened at 318 E. Main St. (hence its name) earlier this year and serves up burgers, sandwiches, wraps, hot dogs and appetizers with names that pay homage to Streator history.
Locals will recognize the significance of many of the meal monikers, such as “The Brick” burger, which alludes to the city’s former brick-making industry, the "Pluto" burger in honor of Streator son and Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh or the “Plumb” burger, named for Col. Ralph Plumb, a 19th century mayor of Streator who oversaw some of the community’s historic mining operations, among others.
If any of The 318’s many other historical references are a mystery to diners, answers can be found in the Streator history text “Biography in Black” by Paula Angle.
My colleague and I placed a weekday carryout order during our lunch break. This was the first time either of us were sampling The 318, so when I picked up the meals, I took it as a good sign that every table both indoors and on the sidewalk was occupied. A busy lunch location often indicates a good one.
I’m easily reeled in by a good name, so I naturally gravitated toward the “Hardscrabble,” a two-patty hamburger with pepper jack cheese, loaded with slices of jalapeņo ($10.89). The title is a nod to Streator’s original name of Hardscrabble.
Jalapeņo is one of my favorite flavors, and the “Hardscrabble” delivered spice on every bite. I could have made the burger even spicier with The 318’s “homemade VERY HOT hot sauce,” but decided to save that for another order. (And there will be another order!)
Another of my favorite bites is deep-fried sweet corn nuggets, which aren’t always easy to find on menus. But The 318 includes them on its list of appetizers ($6), and they’re a mix of crunchy, sweet and savory perfection.
My colleague also ordered an appetizer of cheese curds ($6), and since we were paying on one ticket, we were offered The 318’s appetizer deal of three for $15. With only two of us to dig into all of our food, we decided to stick with only two appetizers, but the option would be ideal for a larger group.
As his main course, my colleague ordered a grilled cheese cheeseburger, which is a cheeseburger served on a grilled cheese sandwich made with Texas toast ($9.49). He said the sandwich was the best of both a classic grilled cheese and a burger – lots of American cheese, a large ground beef patty and buttery bread.
Both sandwiches came with a side of coleslaw and crinkle-cut french fries.
The 318 doesn’t skimp on portion size, so this is a great stop when you’re hungry. The sandwiches are large and the appetizers are plentiful, so we each had leftovers to take home and savor for later.
• 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.