Mystery Diner in La Salle: A Cheeseburger in Paradise tempts at 9th Street Pub

Kitchen has reputation for quality food in Illinois Valley

Restaurant-taverns in the Illinois Valley periodically change hands – the pandemic certainly did the industry no favors – so it’s worth taking note when a bar has operated continuously since 1977.

You can’t stay in business 45 years with a bad kitchen, right?

Which brings us to the 9th Street Pub, a neighborhood bar perched on (you guessed it) Ninth Street between Lafayette and Creve Coeur in La Salle. At first blush, it’s your stereotypical watering hole: pool tables, TVs for sports broadcasts, and video gaming terminals.

But the family-owned tavern has held its own through industry upheaval, and one factor in its staying power is the kitchen. The 9th Street Pub has cultivated a reputation for quality.

The breadth of the menu is especially notable. The 9th Street Pub offers brunch on Saturday and Sunday with competitively priced entrees including omelettes, French toast, pancakes and egg dishes. The lunch and dinner menu is even more expansive, and for every item you’d expect on a pub menu (wings, nachos, fried noshes, for example), there are sit-down options with daily specials. Monday, for example, is Polish Day and Smokehouse Sundays feature barbecue, though ribs are regularly available.

The Mystery Diner decided pub grub was warranted (when is it not?) and ordered the Cheeseburger in Paradise, a beef patty with American and Swiss, bacon, avocado and sprouts. My dining companion sampled a cup of tomato basil soup, and opted for the deep-fried tacos, the daily special with an attention-grabbing price of three for $3.50. (Dinner came to just $15, including soft drinks.)

Our helpful server earned extra points for steering us toward the tacos, which were filled with freshly prepared meat. Personal recommendations from the wait staff go a long way on a Mystery Diner’s score sheet.

The dining area is in front of the stage. The 9th Street Pub doubles as a live-music venue, and the stage was decked with Halloween decor and life-size skeletons.

Mystery Diner already is thinking about the 9th Street Pub as a takeout option. A Cheeseburger in Paradise to munch on at home for game day? Yes, yes.

To place a takeout order (the menu is available at 9thstpub.com), call 815-454-5119. The pub is located at 253 Ninth St., La Salle.

Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., the 9th Street Pub accepts major credit cards and offers outdoor seating on the west patio.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: 9th Street Pub

WHERE: 253 Ninth St., La Salle

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week

PHONE: 815-454-5119

INFORMATION: 9thstpub.com