One of the great things about dining at locally owned restaurants is that you will often find eclectic menus. Since these eateries are managing a supply chain that only needs to cover one or two locations, they can be a lot more flexible with their ingredient choices. They also often carry the most intriguing names, which is the case with Long Nine Junction, in Springfield, Illinois. Located across the street from the old state capitol building, it’s a perfect location for a lunch stop, while exploring nearby sights.
We want to thank Visit Springfield and Long Nine Junction for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Welcome to Long Nine Junction
During the planning phase of our trip, we discovered this “rising star” restaurant located in the heart of downtown Springfield. Our hosts at Visit Springfield warned us that this spot has a tremendous lunch rush, but we were not going to worry about a little wait. When we arrived, we were actually at the tail end of the rush, so our line time was kept to a minimum. Long Nine Junction rotates their menu based on availability of ingredients, as well as wanting to offer up some unique flavor combinations. A series of chalkboards, as well as a huge piece of Kraft paper, hold the options of the day. There were so many amazing sounding dishes, that it was okay to have a short wait to reflect.
What’s in a Name?
If you are like us, you are wondering where the name Long Nine Junction came from. Evidently, it is a historical reference to some legislators who once called Illinois home. A group of nine senators and representatives, who all shared similar political beliefs, all had a height of at least six feet tall. Hence, the name Long Nine. While we are sure that many Illinois residents would recognize the various names, the one that jumped out at us was Abraham Lincoln. We had already had a chance to visit his tomb. (You can see that article here.) It only seemed appropriate that the restaurant is shaped like a long, deep galley, with bench and bar seating.
South of the Border Sammie
With all of this history involved with picking a name, they were certainly dedicated to providing some unique dishes. Crystal would end up picking a rather popular choice with the Monterrey Turkey. Most restaurants would offer a turkey sandwich just to please the masses. Long Nine Junction takes this common dish and blows it up with some amazing flavor additions. Starting with the turkey, which is house roasted to provide maximum flavor. Slather on a heaping helping of smashed avocado and some delectable Monterrey Jack cheese for added depth. All of this is sandwiched on Focaccia bread for texture. They even toss in a serving of their spicy black bean dipping sauce for those needing something extra.
So you say you aren’t in the mood for a sandwich. Don’t worry, Long Nine Junction has you covered. Each day, they offer up a few bowled options that put the bread on the side. During this visit, we were joined by a couple of our new friends from Visit Springfield Illinois. While we awaited Jeff Berg, the Tourism Manager to join us, we were enjoying the company of Zhavier Harris. We decided to go ahead and order, and Zhavier picked the Yucatan Chicken. A mix of red chili chicken, poblano red beans & rice, tomatillo guacamole, and house slaw become an explosion of flavors.
Taste the Colors
I was having a lot of difficulty with the menu, since my decision required me to sway from my standard approach. For me, a menu that offers a Cuban sandwich pretty well locks up my choice. Long Nine Junction had one available that day, but something else was grabbing my attention. Their Pork Belly Torta promised a delectable combination of flavors that begged to be tried. They start with a red chili and honey glazed pork belly, which is topped with smashed avocado. To that they add pumpkin seed slaw, and sandwich it all inside a sweet roll. As if that amazing creation wasn’t enough, they add black bean dipping sauce to the mix on this tray, as well. A cup of their “soup of the day” added even more flavor that had me coming back for more.
Hanging with Our Hosts
Once he was done with his meeting, Jeff Berg joined us for some food and fellowship. He ended up mimicking my choice, which told me I had picked the perfect dish. Earlier in the day, we had the opportunity to visit the office of the tourism bureau. This is one of our favorite stops in each city we tour. The people who have chosen to help spread the story of the cities that they live in are like local cheerleaders. Their enthusiasm helps spur us to do the very best we can in getting their message out to you. We hope that we are doing our job, and that you are finding sites that you would love to visit, and maybe a few unique eateries that will tease your taste buds. See anything you like?