A saying goes that “everything is bigger in Texas,” both real and imagined.
The Mystery Diner, a lifelong Yankee, has yet to have the opportunity to travel south and set foot in the Lone Star State.
But worry not, though.
A taste of Texas, which squares with the Mystery Diner’s sensibilities, has settled in Kendall County.
The Houston-based 9er’s Grill opened its first Illinois location in Montgomery in the fall of 2016 at the former Applebee’s location on Route 30 just east of Douglas Road, in front of the Blain’s Farm & Fleet store.
The restaurant touts itself on its website as a chain that started as a family-owned convenience store and is now one of the most popular burger places in the Houston area. But 9er’s Grill offers much more than burgers, as the Mystery Diner found out on a recent spring Sunday evening.
Noting the 9er’s Grill’s covered outdoor patio area – perfect for if the weather ever warms up – we walked inside.
The dining options at 9er’s Grill, where you order at the front counter, are plentiful.
The restaurant offers a host of appetizers from Jalapeno Poppers and 9er’s Quesadillas to New Orleans Boudin Balls (pork and rice sausage, breaded and deep fried) and Chips and Texas Toothpicks (deep fried, tempura breaded jalapeno spears served with ranch or blue cheese).
There is a large offering of salads, seafood options like catfish and shrimp platters, even a breakfast menu for those venturing out in the morning.
The Mystery Diner, though, is red-blooded and prefers red meat when sampling a new steakhouse.
A nice ribeye is as tasty as they come, and I settled on the West Texas Ribeye.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Cooked to perfection, the 12-ounce steak was juicy, pink in the middle and well-seasoned. Adding to the Mystery Diner’s delight, it was drizzled with seasoned mushrooms, which only added to the flavor. Steaks come with a choice of two sides, and I selected a side salad and baked potato. The hefty-sized potato came covered with bacon bits and green onions.
A dining companion, always an adventuresome sort, went with the Texas Pounder (a pro tip, this burger will require two hands and quite the appetite).
Two fresh beef patties are stacked high with bacon, cheese and jalapeno peppers. It came with a generous helping of steak fries.
We settled in for a hearty, most filling and enjoyable dining experience. Not a morsel of red meat was left on the Mystery Diner’s plate.
Noting the local flavor – Chicago-based sports themes throughout the restaurant and historical photos on the way out – we agreed that 9er’s Grill was a steakhouse we’d sink our teeth into again.
For a taste of Texas and Texas-sized servings right in your backyard, diners can’t go wrong with 9er’s Grill.
• 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: 9er’s Grill
Where: 350 US-30, Montgomery
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Information: Call 630-229-0333, or go to 9ersgrill.com.