Phil's Roadhouse Grill in Montgomery

By: Ruben Borjas, Jr., Columnist, Montgomery County News
| Published 12/19/2023


MONTGOMERY, TX -- For anyone in South, East, Central, or North Montgomery County, and all points beyond. If you’re looking for a county daytrip of shopping and a great meal; Montgomery, in the West of the county is the place to be. It’s a place where you can build a healthy appetite ‘Sipping ‘n Strolling’ around Historic Montgomery with all its shops, then take a twenty second car ride across the State Highway, and arrive at a restaurant destined to fill your stomach. It’s so good, it will force you to call for a designated driver for the ride home. And that’s just from the food alone.

If you leave the place hungry, it's your own dang fault

If you love places with license plates hanging from the shiplapped walls, and farm trucks ladened with giant spools of hay, or random farm machinery parked outside; Phil’s Roadhouse Grill, located at 14075 Liberty Street, just South of SH 105, in Montgomery, is the place to go. Just walking in the place, past the Western mural as you enter from the wooden porch, you half-way expect to be handed a pair of boots as proper attire, should an unsuspecting patron be wearing sneakers. But that’s all in good fun. The real seriousness of Phil’s is the food, and there is no joking about it. If you leave Phil’s hungry, it’s your own dang fault; because the portion sizes here are as big as Texas.

I got a weird look from the waitress (whose name is a synonym for Translucent), when I ordered the five best sellers that Phil’s offers. I decided if I’m gonna review a restaurant, then, let’s review. I made no bones about it. My mind was made up. I’m not leaving Phil’s hungry. And even if I have to lie around bloated and digesting like an alligator for several weeks. I’m gonna do it. So I made my plan. I decided not to order the steak, because everyone orders the steak. Of course it’s magnificent and so delicious. And yes, it’s cooked to perfection in whichever way you want. Besides I didn’t need it to crowd out the other dishes for placement in my stomach.

I went for an appetizer first. An app made famous by the 1991 movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. They’re relatively new to the menu, and came out toasty warm with a nice golden brown battered crust, with a soft and delicious inside. It was sprinkled with a house spice, of which pretty much everything on the menu is seasoned. I would have asked for the recipe, but didn’t wanna be told I’d have to be killed afterwards. The fried tomatoes paired well with the homemade ranch dressing that is made in the kitchen. The next app out was Phil’s Buffalo Bites, it was so large it could be a meal for two with a large side of fries. This past Summer, I was in Austin, and ordered a duck breast appetizer, expecting slices of succulent duck breast in an Asian sauce. It turned out to be four wafer thin slices I could see through. And it was more expensive than the Buffalo Bites. They were swimming in sauce by the way. Since I’m used to spice, I had no need for the celery sticks, instead I occasionally dipped the chicken in the same ranch dressing. They were excellent with or without the additional sauce.

The next dish was the Roadhouse Favorite Chicken Fried Steak, with white gravy, and sides of delicious cheesy macaroni, and mashed potatoes. I loved the texture and the sound of the steak as I dragged my fork across it. And let’s talk about size. I estimated mine to be as big as a small suckling pig. One thing that caught my attention was that it didn’t fall apart the moment you cut into it. That’s a fault of so many restaurants. It held its ground as if a soldier on a battle line. And with each dip in the gravy it just kept getting better and better. The macaroni and cheese was awesome. It put to the sword any notion of my using anything macaroni in a box anymore. If you are gonna go all out to impress at a dinner party, just order a large double to quad portion à la carte to go. Don’t even try it on your own. You’d simply embarrass yourself. I won’t even try it, and I consider myself a gourmet cook.

I asked for a pork chop à la carte since I had the Chicken Fried Steak, and sides. I had actually tried it a long while back on a visit. I could have sworn the chop had been marinated, but Ms. Translucent (the waitress) assured me that it was seasoned with the house spice. It was so moist and delicious, with a little pink in the middle. And with the cooking temperature of pork being 20 degrees lower than chicken. That of course allows for maximized taste. I gave each slice a little extra time on my palate, for my taste buds to savor the flavor. And there was no need to ask for any type of sauce. Don’t even think about it, if you know what’s good for you. To do so after all, is an insult to the chef. Besides, they know what they are doing in this kitchen.

The next dish was a Phil’s Burger basket. I was starting to get a little full at this point. But I remained true to my pledge to digest like a large reptile. The double meat and cheese burger is big enough to satisfy anyone short of a Montgomery High School football lineman; or the most burly of Lake Creek Settlement farmers or ranchers. The burger is ginormous, and is topped and bottomed out with all fixings. And that’s before a fried or soft runny egg is added, along with freshly cooked bacon, all designed to a diner’s specifications. It’s an intimidating piece of work, and you need an engineering degree just trying to figure out how to eat it. You practically have to dislocate your jaw just to get a proper first bite. And if you are in for lunch or dinner, and wear clothes fit for the office or a nice evening out. Do yourself a favor, and bring your own adult bid. Phil’s Burger is juicy. It’s messy. And most importantly … It’s to die for. And coupled with onion rings, and the Santa Fe Ranch sauce, it's a masterpiece even Leonardo di Vinci couldn’t have dreamed up.

By this time, the owner was getting a little suspicious. Who is this guy ordering dish after dish? And she soon recognized me from my page 4 picture in MCN, since there are papers posted in the front of Phil’s. Marisa Philipello-Zamarripa, the daughter of Phil Philipello, who took on the restaurant back in 2005, is the current owner. She took over when her father passed away in July 2014. Marisa’s story is amazing. Her father never wanted his children working in his restaurant. Marisa, and her sister were educated. M worked in government, while her sibling went to medical school. And as her father’s illness began to take its fatal course, Marisa quit her job, to start helping in the restaurant. She worked from bussing tables to washing dishes. And as his condition worsened, she took on more responsibility. But she still wasn’t ready, and when he washed his hands of the matter. When he told her she needed to figure it out for herself. She got thrown in the deep end of the pool with no life preserver.

So Marisa started managing and working in the kitchen. She had to train herself in all aspects of the business, with front and back of house issues. From ordering supplies and ingredients. To dealing with vendors, and the government. It took several years to work out her system. And she is a better woman for it.

Marisa even asked me to try out a new menu item. How could I turn her down? Phil’s Philly Quesadilla. It’s a super large flour tortilla, filled with seared medium rare Ribeye steak, then shaved. Grilled peppers, onions, and your choice of swiss or cheese whiz are added. All of that is slapped on a flat iron grill, and is served with a side of Au Jus, and sour cream. It’s large enough to accommodate three average people, or one MHS lineman, so order as needed. I dipped it in the Au Jus and the sour cream, and of course it offered different flavors in each bite. I was impressed with the app. The tortilla held its own with the grilled veggies, ribeye, and cheese. It was easy to handle and sturdy enough to finish to the end. It’s an app worthy of the name, PHIL. And I’m sure it will be a hit when added to the menu.

It then came time for dessert. Marisa suggested the Fruit Cobbler, which was peach. I appreciated the lattice crust, buttered it was. And it held its shape in the serving bowl. Delicious of course, and it reminded me to check my blood sugar when I got home. It too was made on site. Everything was. And it tasted great, and I thought it brought a fine end to my meal.

Now fully engorged, Marisa insisted I try another small dessert. A tiny serving of banana pudding, and thankfully it was. It’s a house favorite to end a meal. Made of course with vanilla pudding, and loaded with bananas, wafers, and smothered with whipped cream. No wonder it’s beloved and raved about by new and repeat customers.

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Phil’s. I highly recommend it to the good people of Montgomery, and the county. Heck, I herald it, “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World.” It’s worth the trip, and for the price; it competes very well with the higher end steakhouses in Conroe, and The Woodlands. And coupled with the antique shopping opportunities, the entertainment, the lake, and the bed & breakfasts in Montgomery. There’s no doubt. Phil’s Roadhouse Grill makes for that perfect lunch or dinner opportunity, or for the ideal great weekday or weekend trip.

Ruben can be reached at:

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