Nine O Seven Grill
Have you ever tried to go out to eat with a group of friends or family and experience the trouble of everyone having a different idea of what kind of food they wanted to eat that night? Usually when that happens you have to argue it out with the other members of your group, take a vote, or settle it over a game of rock, paper scissors.
The founders of Nine 0 Seven Grill on Benicia’s First Street, Randy and Ann-Marie Ramos, have found a solution to that conundrum. They strive to serve the best of everything. They’ve chosen the three most popular genres of food—Mexican, American, and Italian—and offer a variety of items from all three, against an American cuisine backdrop.
“We tried to combine the three favorites, but still keep that infusion of different items so there’s a bit of variety, but not stretching too far out of the comfort zone,” Ann-Marie said. “It’s a place that gives you a lot of options, especially if you’re going out with friends, or you’ve got kids who want pasta and maybe the parents want a nice steak.”
Randy really knows his way around the restaurant business. Randy has been in the industry for more than 20 years and has founded or managed a number of eateries over the past couple decades. Prior to Nine O Seven Grill & Catering was Randy’s Mexican Restaurant, here in town, which has since changed ownership.
“I’ve owned five restaurants all around town and, for a while, had one in Napa,” Randy said. “I needed to come back here to Benicia—it’s where my business roots are. It’s where I have a loyal customer base.”
Nine 0 Seven’s menu offers full breakfast, lunch and dinner choices, and has a little bit of everything. One of their signature dishes—the carnitas tacos, which are made up of the fresh meat using a traditional family recipe. They include a nice medium-spicy sauce, with avocado and some limes on the side for good measure. Like many of their dishes, this one is based off of a recipe that came straight from the Ramos family household in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Another standout signature item is their angel wings, which are pork shanks smothered in a sweet chili sauce, a taste you really can’t find everywhere but Benicia. The sauce has a mild, zesty flavor, and the pork—like most of their meats—comes right off the bone.
“We initially thought to open a grand Steakhouse, but the decision was difficult to settle on due to the fact that many people are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and so on… With the final decision to open Nine O Seven Grill we were able to offer a variety that would better suit the majority of consumers, ” Ann-Marie said. “In Janurary we really started to lean toward gluten-free recipes and menu options since it became my personal dedication in 2014.”
On the flip side of the table, they’ve got a number of burgers, steaks and seafood choices. Their burger is awfully tender too, and they offer a good variety of choices, from the barbecue bleu cheese burger for those who like to veer off of the beaten bath, to your standard bacon cheddar burger, which offers a nice amount of applewood smoked bacon.
“In a word, ‘Simplicity” —we’ve found some restaurants may have fantastic, creative Executive Chefs who I typically try to do too much on a single plate,” Ann-Marie said. “We find simplicity is better. I’ve always been one for clean eating options so you don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re eating a quality piece of meat or fish.”
Then there’s the salmon, which they marinate with a Jack Daniels Whiskey Citrus Sauce, making it a must-try for seafood lovers. On the appetizer menu, their flavorful coconut prawns and the pork sliders are two standout items, and they’ve also got a full pasta menu, offering everything from spaghetti and meatballs to tri-color cheese tortellini. And they’ve always got a couple cakes ready to go for folks who have a sweet tooth.
“Another thing I love about our menu is, you can’t get a Mexican breakfast anywhere else around here, unless you want to go to Vallejo or Concord,” Randy said. “But we offer killer chorizo and eggs; and we’ve got the best Huevos Rancheros.”
Randy and Ann-Marie say they always go the extra length to ensure their food is top quality. Randy inspects everything himself, and personally searches and acquires the food that goes into their restaurant. What makes it easier for him, though, is the fact that the restaurant is so popular; they’re steadily turning over items from all over the menu, so nothing has extended “shelf life”.
“If were somewhere and we see a menu item we like, I’ll say, ‘Why don’t we do that?’” Randy said. “You just find ideas, and you try to put your own spin on it. Our food is no secret and something you’ve likely had somewhere else. We just add our twist and make sure the quality standards/presentation are higher than someone else’s.”
And, while they do have a bar you may not see it- due to lack of space! Nine 0 Seven Grill -has a full liquor license and a service area, where they make their House Margarita’s and Bloody Mary’s…so if you go there looking for wine, beer, or a cocktail, they won’t disappoint.
In addition to their front room, the Nine 0 Seven Grill has a cozy little back area too, with an assortment of tables nestled on an old-style brick patio, a great place to enjoy a meal during a hot summer night. They also offer takeout, so feel free to phone in and pick up. They offer a full range of Catering Services as well, something the couple has lots of experience in, and they take a great amount of pride in doing. They say they have a steady stream of folks who reach out to them from all over the bay area to cater special events.
“It’s a lot of responsibility on us to make sure someone’s wedding or milestone birthday goes well,” Ann-Marie said. “We get a lot of special events!”
The story behind the food is one most folks don’t see, but it involves a lot of hard work and care. Randy and Ann-Marie, between their multiple responsibilities-, working constantly, and it’s not uncommon for their jobs to take a chunk out of every single day of the week for a long period of time. It’s a fast-paced, high-stress life, but they’ve been succeeding at it for years.
“There’s times where we’re working seven days a week for 6-8 weeks at a time,” Randy said. “Holidays and weekends are typically the moneymaker days.
It’s a lifestyle and not for everyone.”
“We find ourselve’s not celebrating many of the holidays on the actual holiday itself anymore,” Ann-Marie added. “We usually celebrate the weekend before or after. You got to get it in when you can!”
The Nine 0 Seven Grill is located, fittingly, at 907 First Street, in Benicia. For more information, call (707) 746-0505 or visit www.907grill.com. If you’re interested in their catering for your wedding, birthday, corporate gathering, or other special event, call (707) 750-5295.
Nate Gartrell grew up in Benicia, studied journalism in college, and has written for a handful of media outlets since age 15. He aspires to visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and to hit the trifecta at the horse track.