Friday, December 29, 2006

Danner's Salads

Danner's Salads, Inc. is located in Peoria and produces so many of your deli favorite salads such as pistachio fluff, red bean salad, German potato salad, and the best deli mustard salad I have ever tried. Most local grocery stores carry the Danner's brand.

October, 2008 — Danner's Salads has closed after more than 50 years in business. We did manage to get one more tub of the mustard potato salad in, but have been missing it greatly ever since.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Conklin's Barn II Dinner Theater

Something we've just started doing in the last five years or so is going to the Barn II in Goodfield for dinner and a live show. You won't go hungry with this dinner buffet featuring prime rib, fried chicken, soup, salad, bread and sides plus dessert, and you can always be sure they'll have your favorite alcoholic beverages at a great price, because you can bring them yourself (they don't sell liquor).
We always stick to the humorous shows, and we've never left without plenty of laughs. This is a true barn setting, and during intermission you can wander outside and visit the barn cats or wander across the road and visit the cows.
This place is popular, so be sure to call for reservations. Visit them online at

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Basta O'Neill's

We got a chance to check out Basta O'Neill's in Washington last week, located on Cummings Lane in a new strip mall. This Basta is run by the same people as the Basta in East Peoria.
While at the bar, we enjoyed some good wine in stemless glasses and an order of the best bruschetta I have had in close to 10 years. The owner said his daughter makes it herself, and it is a treat.
For dinner I had a spinach salad, which was very good, but could have used a bit more of the great dressing that was on it. I paired this with a cup of minestrone soup, which was good, too.
The decor is warm and nice, and the bar back is a stunning antique.
To go along with the O'Neill portion of the name, they have some Irish favorites on the menu and some Irish beers and decor.
This is a great addition to Washington. They are currently closed on Sundays.

Update: In April, Basta's started featuring live jazz on Thursdays. We made it in on a Thursday, and it was a good time. The server seemed a bit overwhelmed, but they should work the kinks out.
The portobello mushroom appetizer is great, and the bruschetta can be killer, as long as there's enough balsamic on it. If not, just ask for a side of balsamic and you're set.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wheels o' Time Museum

If you're looking for a quirky place to spend an hour or so, and learn a lot about Peoria history while you're at it, look no further than the Wheels o' Time Museum, off Route 40 north of Peoria. This place is packed with historical items from Peoria's past. I've not seen a more comprehensive collection of Peoria artifacts and history in one place.
The museum is owned by 55 collectors, and many have donated interesting cars, clocks, toys, tools and more which pack these buildings. There are even great displays you can drop coins in to see them come to life. The museum is a bargain at $5 for adults, $2.50 for kids, but you can find a coupon at their web site,

Monday, November 27, 2006

What were we thinking?

OK, I admit, I was wooed by a radio commercial I heard for Applebee's. Apparently they paired up with some chef, Tyler Florence, and came up with some limited-time menu items. I heard them describing this steak dinner: "Enjoy a grilled 7 oz. House Sirloin brushed with olive oil, fresh herbs and Italian seasonings paired with plump sautéed shrimp topped with succulent crab stuffing and lemon garlic butter. Served with almond rice pilaf, fresh seasonal vegetables and toasted side bread". It sounded GREAT. So off we went to try it.
The picture on the menu also looked great. The steak looks juicy and succulent and is covered with herbs. StfRon ordered a steak from the special menu as well. We both asked for medium rare.
When they arrived, I was at first taken aback by the lack of any sign of herbs on my steak, plus no smell of herbs and actually, no scent at all from the food. StfRon noticed that his steak was gray instead of brown. In looking, I realized that mine was as well. I tried to cut into it, and it was rubbery. When the waitress came by to check, StfRon said the steaks looked gray and were kind of rubbery. She agreed that they did not look right and offered to have them remade.
While we were waiting, a manager visited our table and told us that all the steaks pretty much look the same, so chances our that our new ones would look that way, too. She said despite the looks, they taste fine.
Our new steaks arrived and sure enough they didn't look much different, still no herbs on mine and still looking a little gray. We tried them, and the flavor was OK.

As we had been waiting for our meal to be delivered a second time, we had been talking about when the last time was that we had visited a chain restaurant. Neither one of us could remember because it had been so long. And really, what IS the goal of marketing like this where places advertise, verbally and/or with beautiful, glossy photos that the actual meal never lives up to? Is the goal to get people in once and get that sale, or is the goal to keep them coming back? If I feel like I've been misled, I'm not likely to rush back.
Surely it could also be the franchise's interpretation of how to prepare the meal, but big chains should make sure the employees know how to prepare something that is going to be plastered all over the place.
The last time this happened, it was Lonestar wooing me with a "garlic lover's" steak and shrimp. You say garlic lover's and you are calling my name. This meal had no garlic at all visible on the steak, unlike the photo covered with minced garlic, and actually my shrimp arrived fried and not garliced. The waitress said you need to specify garlic shrimp, despite the picture showing the shrimp grilled with garlic in the menu.

The employees at Applebee's were great and did right by us. And we left a great tip for our waitress, who was very apologetic. But I doubt we'll be back, and if we are, we'll steer (no pun intended) clear of the steaks.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Vonachen's Old Place

StfRon and I went to the newly reopened Vonachen's Old Place early this month. It was an anniversary of our first date; and our first date was at VOP's. VOP's, located in Junction City in Peoria Heights, was Bud's Aged Steaks for a while, but now has been returned to the Vonachen's name.
Having never been to Bud's, we were a little disappointed to see the decor had changed so much since the last time we were there. The decor is a lot of browns now, and more contemporary. Also missing was the train which used to run in the dining room along the ceiling. We did not have a chance to see how the train car dining looks now.
The menu has changed a lot, too. I was sorry to see that the French onion soup was no longer offered. I remember VOP's as having one of the best French onion soups I've ever had.
For my dinner, I chose an appetizer of rare tuna rolled in sesame seeds, and accompanied this with a side of asparagus. The tuna was superb, and at first I was planning to request some hollandaise after my asparagus arrived naked, but once I tried it, I changed my mind. The asparagus was wonderful, sprinkled with some sea or kosher salt.
I also ordered a glass of pinot noir with my meal, which was $9. Overall, it was an expensive night out, but my meal really was wonderful.
Vonachen's does accommodate groups of up to 90 people.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Uncle Billy's Bakery

Yet another wonderful place in Galesburg is Uncle Billy's Bakery, 83 S. Seminary Street. They ground flour on the premises and everything is made from scratch, from whole-grain breads to cookies, muffins, cakes and pies. They also serve coffee and tea to accompany your treats. I stopped in there recently and saw that they had oatmeal fudgies, one of my favorites. But there was a new addition, white chocolate fudgies. I had to try one, and I think I have a new favorite! My favorite non-bar cookie from the shop is a cocoa oatmeal cookie. I also picked up a loaf of cheddar herb bread, which is made with organic flour. The bread is wonderful when toasted and used for a sandwich.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tanner's Orchard

Fall is always the time Tanner's Orchard comes to mind. People go crazy for apple cider, cider donuts, caramel apples, gourds and pumpkins at Tanner's each year.
StfRon and I made the trek to Tanner's last weekend. Of course we always go in the same door and volley for space at the cider sampling barrel. We each drank a refreshing Dixie cup full and moved on.
I was looking forward to some soup, which I know they had served in the past, but this time they had cider brats, steak sandwiches and hot dogs, so we both had hot dogs. We visited the goats and sent a cup of food up the conveyor belt for them.
Tanner's has lots of fun things for kids like the barrel train and corn maze.
They've also started an online store, so if the drive out Route 40 to Speer is too far or you want to avoid the crowds, visit There is a lot of great information on the web site as well.
This weekend is the Christmas open house, November 3 & 4.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Smo-King Pit

Mall food may not sound very appetizing, but if you overlook the Smo-King Pit in Northwoods Mall in Peoria, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.
The Smo-King Pit is occupying the former Diamond Daves location near Sears on the second level. If you're a rib lover, you HAVE to try the ribs here. You can choose your number of rib bones you would like, plus your choice of sides. They also have sandwiches, wings and more.
Every time we have been in the sides are served piping hot, even though I'm sure they are prepared ahead, and your food will arrive very quickly. I can honestly say in all the dozen or so times I ate at Famous Daves, the food was warm, never hot.
They also make their own cheesecakes, which are frozen, but tasty. Next time, I'm going to order a slice with my meal so it can warm up a bit while I eat.
The service is great here, which pairs nicely with excellent food.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Rizzi's has been a standard in Peoria for Italian for quite some time with a location on Sheridan next to Jeffrey Alans, 4613 N. Sheridan Road, to be exact. A more recent addition is the Rizzi's at 112 State Street downtown.
The two are different as far as atmosphere, and the menu differs as well. At Rizzi's on Sheridan, you can enjoy lunch or dinner in a smaller, cozy atmosphere. My long-time favorite here is the calzones. Plan to bust a gut, or take half home with you!
Rizzi's downtown is more of an upscale feel in an old, renovated brick building.
Almost every Italian restaurant now does the olive oil with bread and Parmesan before your meal. Let me tell you, though, I had lunch at Rizzi's downtown this week, and I think it is by far the best olive oil I've ever been served in a restaurant. The tomato-basil salad dressing is excellent, too.
Rizzi's downtown is also available for parties.
Peruse the menus at

April, 2007 - I met a group at Rizzi's on State for a party, in their small party room behind the bar. There were about 10 of us.
The olive oil for the bread was as good as always. And I tried a new dish, pollo francaise, which was FABULOUS. Boneless breast of chicken dipped in egg sauteed with lemon butter and white wine sauce. I had it over angel hair pasta, with the garden salad topped with tomato basil dressing. My entrée was served piping hot, despite our large group, plus the restaurant was full of prom-goers. A very nice meal, indeed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Perfect Pear Boutique

I've recently discovered that boutique shops are a great place to find clothing and goods made right here in the USA. A Perfect Pear, 4544 North Prospect Road in Peoria Heights, is a great example. Here you can find unique clothing and accessories and you won't look just like the gal in the next cube. Sure, it might cost a little more, but it's worth it for the style, and for knowing that you're supporting your fellow Americans.
A Perfect Pear carries many great brands, like Laundry, Seven for All Mankind, Spanx and Juicy Couture.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Namaste Wellness Studio

There are a lot of interesting things going on at Junction City in Peoria right now, including a recent newcomer, Namaste Wellness Studio.
I tried yoga on a whim about 10 years ago, and loved it, but stopped going due to the instructor moving to Colorado.
Last year, I got hooked up with yoga at Franciscan Recreation Center. It's a great price, and Vicky is an excellent instructor. But, the time slot isn't great for me, plus it's a long drive from home.
Now, yoga is becoming easier to find in Peoria. Maybe Washington could take note: People can't come to yoga in Washington at lunch time during week days. Most of us work out of town.
So, off to Peoria for great yoga we go! Namaste offers several levels of yoga at several time slots, yoga for teens, partner yoga, intermediate, Ashtanga, beginning and beginner and beyond. And don't think that yoga is just for women. At Franciscan, usually 1/3 of the class is men.
Yoga can ease muscle tension and pain, make you more flexible and stable, and it even got rid of the jiggle in my thighs!
The studio has an informative website at

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mackinaw Valley Vineyard

A great place we have discovered, thanks to some friends, is the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard on Rt. 9, four miles east of Mackinaw. On a nice Sunday afternoon, StfRon and I went so he could check out the place. I had been before with friends and knew that the grounds are very well landscaped and relaxing.
StfRon and I started in the tasting room and ended up buying a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers and sharing it down by the lake, where the area was still set up from a wedding the night before. This also gave us the idea to consider the winery for our upcoming reception.
The winery normally has about six or seven different wines available for free sampling, or you can buy a glass to enjoy indoors or on the grounds, or you can buy a bottle to share (or several to take home). They have cheese and crackers available for purchase. If you want something more substantial, you can bring along a picnic.
The grounds are very nice. You can walk along the grape vines, sit on the deck in a rocker or walk around the lake nearby. The owner told us about an historic cemetery out at the end of the lake, which was neat to see.
For more information, see the website at

Friday, September 22, 2006

Luthy Botanical Garden

Nested in on Prospect in Peoria are the beautifully landscaped paths of Luthy Botanical Gardens. This park is a very relaxing place to visit, and they also host some neat events out there like jazz music and the candlelight walks during the holidays. The gift shop often has many unique items to offer as well.
The paths are accented with some great statuary made by local artists, and many of the items are for sale.
My brother will be getting married in Luthy Botanical Gardens next summer, which sounds like a beautiful setting for a wedding.
I don't know much about George Luthy himself, but StfRon and I were sick to watch his house in East Peoria, atop Fondulac Drive across from Kohl's, next to Bob Evans, be torn down last year to make way for a modern high-rise office building. The house and site were beautiful, and we often visited while it was vacant, wishing we could buy the house and restore it to it's once apparent splendor. The site had been bought by a developer, though, and was priced for commercial development, which put it out of our range, especially considering the work the house would have needed.
It seems to me that East Peoria is a city without a lot of historical buildings, and it would have been worth it to preserve this property and educate the community on it's history, especially considering all the growth the town has been experiencing. It's a shame that the house is lost forever.
At least we can enjoy the botanical gardens.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


One place that's a must visit if you like hearty German-style fare is the Kaiserhof in Bradford. They serve up heaping plates of sauerbraten and schnitzel, seafood and pork medallions, and you can wash it down with some great German beer or wine. You won't leave here hungry!
If you're up for more of a festival atmosphere, there is going to be an Oktoberfest in Bradford Sept. 29-Oct. 1 on Main Street with live German music, food, beer and wine, 50/50 drawings and more. Hours are 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday with church service at 9 a.m.
But, you still need to make a point to visit the restaurant at another time. I've taken people from Cape Cod and Florida out there, and they still rave about it.

November, 2008 — The Kaiserhof in Bradford has closed. A new location has opened at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie in Peoria.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Jalapenos Mexican restaurant took over the space that Dominic's had for many years in the Metro Centre in Peoria. The menu is very similar to what you will find at one of the many Fiesta Ranchera locations in the Central Illinois area.
My favorite dish here is the enchiladas suisa.
And of course I can't forget to mention the margaritas!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ice Cream Shack

A gem I discovered due to my last job is the Ice Cream Shack in Peoria. It's right where Jefferson and Adams split, near the Hofbrau.

The shack has food items such as hot dogs, chili cheese fries, tamales and BBQ sandwiches along with a plethora of ice cream treats. They have their own version of the ice cream chain's Blizzard. The Ice Cream Shack's version is packed with goodies. My favorite is the peanut butter cup. Plus, they have TONS of shake flavors to choose from. You won't find this kind of variety at the ice cream chain!

They also have lots of outdoor seating, so it's great to go down on a nice, or even slightly hot day. You can usually snag a table in the shade.

The shack will be closing this year September 29, check it out, or you'll have to wait for next season!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hanssen's Le Bakery & Café

If you're looking for a different breakfast or lunch option in Peoria, you need to check out Hanssen's Le Café, located in Peoria's Metro Centre. They have an impressive selection of fresh salads, soups, quiches and omelettes, just to name a few.
You just pick up a tray on your way in and walk past the glass cases to peer in at all the great options.
I enjoyed a half chicken pesto sandwich with a cup of grilled cheese tomato soup. The soup was rich and savory.
I also love a chicken salad they make, which has huge grapes in it.
And when you're done with your meal, you might just mosey over to Le Bakery side and grab some treats for later. The thing I usually can't resist is the baklava, a favorite my mom makes.

November, 2008 — Le Café has reopened as Café Evergreen. Le Bakery is still operating next door.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Green View

Need some plants, trees or even some great gift ideas? Give Green View a try.
Founed in 1955, Green View is a family-owned business with locations in Dunlap, Normal, Champaign, Oswego and Springfield.
They also offer free seminars on various landscaping topics. Look for a list at

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Jim's Bistro

Jim's Bistro at 4612 North Prospect Road in Peoria Heights is a great addition to the area.
I've been in several times for lunch. After I tried the beefeater sandwich, I've had a hard time trying anything else. But everyone I've eaten with loves their meal choices, as well.
Give the bistro a try for lunch or dinner, and the bonus is a nice walk through the Heights where you can do some window shopping. A lot of great shops have sprung up lately.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Eastside Center

You know what would be refreshing after this incredibly humid summer? A few hours at Splashdown at the Eastside Center in East Peoria!

Eastside Center has plenty of activities to offer besides the 3-acre water park complete with Lazy River and Wild Ride tube slide, like an indoor track, volleyball and basketball courts, a fitness center, AND great classes like yoga, cardio and weight-lifting classes.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Duffy's Tavern

Today we travel to Utica for a visit to a great local haunt that isn't too far a stretch for us Central Illinoisans, Duffy's Tavern.

We discovered Duffy's about six years ago after a trip to beautiful Starved Rock State Park, less than two hours from Peoria. Duffy's is not far from the park, on the corner on the main drag (Mill Street) in Utica. It looked like a nice Irish place to quench a thirst worked up by a day of hiking.

The building is beautiful, an old brick building with tin ceilings and lots of great trinkets to check out while you toss back some cold ones. You might even luck into a basket of popcorn to munch on while you hang out.

Duffy's has a good selection of imports and such, and Irish favorites like corned beef and reuben sandwiches, plus seafood, steaks and pasta. I must say, we haven't eaten a meal there yet, but we need to soon!
A few years later, in the spring of 2004, we were saddened to hear about Duffy's being hit by a tornado that struck Utica. The second story of the building was damaged, but we heard Duffy's would plan to reopen and cheered.

For an anniversary, we booked a cabin at Starved Rock in 2005 and headed over to Duffy's. They were back in full force, basically just as we remembered the place. It was almost like coming home.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cyd's Sendsationals

Recently I had lunch at Cyd's Sendsationals in Peoria Heights. Cyd's is a smörgåsbord of culinary delights. Don't feel like cooking? Pick up some gourmet fare from Cyd's, like the cilantro pork tenderloin I was eying.

For lunch, Cyd's has a great selection of sandwiches and salads. I had an apricot chicken salad sandwich, a grapefruit soda and a marble brownie to save for a snack later.

Cyd's is also a great option for cakes, catering and cooking classes. You can view their weekly menus and cooking class info at

I've heard a rumor that Cyd's will be relocating to Junction City in October, which should give them even more room to fill with gourmet goodies!

Update, April, 2007: Cyd's has relocated to Junction City, at Prospect and Knoxville Ave. I stopped in for lunch, and enjoyed the modern look. They have several salads, sandwiches and starting at 2 p.m. have appetizers. They also carry single bottles of beer for purchase while you dine-in.
I had a fruit and nut salad with brie, walnuts, dried apricots, prosciutto and mixed greens with a balsamic dressing. Very tasty.
I like the chairs they chose for the dining room. They remind me of these chairs I saw on Made in America.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Blue MoonLight Drive-In

The former Galesburg Drive-In was reopened in 2005 as the Blue MoonLight Drive-In, 2875 West Main St.

If you don't remember drive-in theaters from your youth, that's a sad thing. The good news is, there seems to be a resurgence in drive-ins. This one takes the cake, serving such delights as tortilla pizzas, tex-mex and pizza paninis, subs, homemade ice cream sandwiches, and, of course, popcorn.
There's nothing quite like watching a movie at a drive-in. It truly says summer!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Apple's Bakery

Apple's Bakery, 8412 N. Knoxville Ave. in Peoria, opens at 6 a.m. so you can get your fix early!

Apple's is a fun place to visit for lunch or baked goods. For lunch they have great soups and sandwiches to choose from and they have several CHIP approved selections, for those who are being kind to their hearts. The shop carries a good selection of wines, bulk coffee and more.

Apple's also offers quiches, casseroles and breakfast offerings for carryout so you can enjoy them at home.

The pictures on the website, will make your mouth water! Check out the chocolate bourbon pecan pie in the online catalog section, and they even have offerings for your pooch! They also have their weekly menus posted online.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Yordy Turkey Farm

Just in case you're trying to get a jump start on Thanksgiving, you need to keep Yordy Turkey Farm in mind.

These plump birds are 100% natural with no added preservatives and none of those weird growth enhancers and are found right here in Central Illinois, Morton, to be exact. I have heard of people who go out to the farm every time they are going to have turkey and hand pick their bird from those running around out there. I find that a little strange, just like the whole lobster tank at a seafood chain restaurant who shall remain nameless. Just give me a fresh, natural turkey ready for the oven or grill and it's all good.

You can also get turkey breasts, thighs, legs, wings and smokey turkeys at Yordy's. Waddle on over to to find out more.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Wine Experience

Looking for a place in Central Illinois where you can try a variety of wines and good cheese? Look no further than The Wine Experience, attached to Super Liquors in Peoria, 818 E War Memorial Dr, Peoria Heights.

Here you can order a variety of wines by the glass, and this is a hefty glass of wine. You also have a choice of several nice sandwiches, such as a crab cake sandwich (which they were out of on my most recent visit) and an Oriental chicken sandwich, desserts, and the aforementioned cheese plate. I ordered one of these in the absence of the crab cake sandwich and the cheeses were excellent and accompanied by some quince spread and bread slices and an apple garnish. They also offer beers by the bottle for those beeries (thanks Pammy) who don't feel like partaking o' the grape.

A nice bonus is if you like your wine or cheese, you can stop by Super Liquors on your way out and pick up some to take home.

If you have a sensitive tush that protests after an hour of sitting on a wooden bar stool with a wooden back, you can scam a seat on the cushy couches.

The Wine Experience has live entertainment many nights, and are open Wednesday-Saturday.

On a side note, on of the reasons we ended up at The Wine Experience the other night was that we had been out at the Vintage Illinois wine festival at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe. It was a nice time. For your $10 fee, you received 5 tasting tickets and a wine glass. We tried something from every winery there save for Mackinaw Valley, and the only reason we did not try their selections was because we have visited their winery several times.

We spoke to Mr. Furrow from Furrow Vineyard and Winery and we will certainly visit the winery soon. We picked up a bottle of their red wine that features their red barn on the label.

My personal favorite, and according to the gentleman who served it to me, also the show favorite, was Spirit Knob Chambourcin Estate Reserve. The wine tasted great, but what got me was the finish. I've never been one to gush about the oaky tannins or hints of pepper or black cherry or whatever in a wine, unless I'm poking fun. But this wine had a distinct vanilla finish, which was very surprising, and very pleasant.

We bought a bottle, and apparently they don't have a website, so if this bottle holds true to what we sampled at the show, we'll be contacting them or making the trek to Ursa, Illinois, which we had never heard of until we picked up the Spirit Knob brochure. Might be a good road trip to get in some geocaching.

April, 2007 - On a more recent trip to the Wine Experience, they do still have some excellent-sounding food options on the menu. We weren't hungry, so we passed. However, I must say, I miss some of the past "experience" of the Wine Experience. They used to have the leather-bound wine list with pages describing each wine in detail. This time, no description, just the name and price. And they used to deliver your glass of wine with a card showing the name, bin number and description, so if you liked it, you could easily buy a bottle later.
But, they did have a live band, and I had a great time.

July, 2007 - We went into Super Liquors only to find the Wine Experience filled with racks and bottles of wine. The Wine Experience has been turned into a retail/tasting area.

Vertucci's Chicago Style Eats

Vertucci's Chicago Style Eats is doing a bang-up business for lunch. I haven't been in for dinner yet, but I'll bet it's more of the same.

Located at 1104 N. Main St. in East Peoria, near the Shell station, Vertucci's has a good variety of Italian sandwiches, pizzas made from scratch, calzones, stromboli, Chicago-style dogs, polish sausages and salads. I've had the Italian beef sandwich and it is very good, served on Gonnella bread with your choice of sweet peppers, hot peppers, grilled onions and you can add provolone cheese for only 65¢ more. The beef has a great flavor and the onions are incredibly sweet.

Vertucci's will even deliver your order for $3-$5, depending on distance.

And if you're really feeling hungry, or wild and crazy, try the hot dog challenge. If you can pack away 12 hot dogs in 24 minutes, you get the dirty dozen for free.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Udder's Ice Creamery

When you're out at Northwoods Mall in Peoria, sometimes a pretzel just doesn't cut it. How about some ice cream to accompany your shopping excursion?
Udder's Ice Creamery, located on the second floor near the "food court", will fit the bill nicely. This business has been serving up frozen treats such as shakes, ice cream and soft serve since 1994.
Udder's also serves croissant sandwiches, deli sandwiches, hot dogs and slushes.

Udder's has since closed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tequila's Mexican Bar & Grill

Peoria has quite an abundance of Mexican and Italian restaurants. I'll bet you could spend two weeks straight dining out on Italian and Mexican and never eat at the same place twice.

Chillicothe, on the other hand, has more limited options for ethnic food. If you find yourself craving Mexican while in Chillicothe, Tequila's Mexican Bar & Grill, 226 N. Fourth St., is the place for you.

The chips they set down at our table with a side of salsa were the heartiest chips I've ever been served at a Mexican restaurant. These chips can hold their own without salsa. The salsa was good as well. Not too hot, not too mild.

I was interested to see that they have Huevos Divorciados on the menu, which reminded me of a dish I tried in Puerto Rico and loved. They offer several lunch combos for only $4.50, only $3.99 Thursday-Saturday. And I wish I had been hungry enough to try the asparagus al Grill sounds great.

I did have the enchiladas verdes, with chicken instead of beef. The chicken was very juicy and the tortilla was still firm, not falling apart like I have had at some places. I also felt compelled to have a margarita on the rocks, which was pretty tasty on this hot day.

The servers and employees at Tequila's were attentive and friendly.

6/14/07 — Tequila's is operating a cart near the courthouse in Peoria. It's a good way to give them a try if you don't want to drive all the way to Chillicothe.
One lunch hour I sampled the chicken hard-shelled tacos. The chicken was shredded, juicy and wonderfully seasoned. Two tacos set me back a whole $3 for lunch.

December 2008 — Tequila's has opened a location in Washington.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Smoking Pleasure by Work

I do admit to smoking a few cigars in my early to mid 20s. The last really memorable cigar I had was about 10 years ago when a friend and her husband smuggled me a Cuban back from a cruise they were on. They thought it was hysterical that a skinny girl like me would smoke a Cuban. And smoke it I did, in my bathrobe in my apartment at the time.

If you're looking for a great selection of fine pipes, cigar cutters, a walk-in humidor full of a wide array of cigars and even gourmet chocolates, look no further than Smoking Pleasure by Work, 456 Fulton Street, Suite 128 in the Twin Towers in Peoria. This shop has been locally owned an operated since 1963.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Red Zin

When you're looking for a nicer dining establishment, don't overlook Red Zin, 456 Fulton St. in Peoria. Replacing The Grill on Fulton a couple years ago, right near the Civic Center and all the happening downtown bars, Red Zin is top notch.
They have many creative appetizer choices, unique salads to accompany your meal, excellent seafood, pork and beef entrees, and a tempting dessert selection. We recently tried the fallen chocolate cake. StfRon proclaimed it unextraorinary, but I thought it was fabulous. Almost like eating brownie mix!
Add to the mix some great wine options (try the Ravenswood if you like Red Zinfandel) and live piano music, and you're starting, or ending your evening on a high note by visiting Red Zin. And don't forget, they serve lunch, too.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Peoria Hofbrau

If you're looking for a cozy German-style bar and restaurant, look no further than the Peoria Hofbrau, 2210 NE Jefferson Ave, Peoria. I should know, my family and I practically live there, and it's where StfRon and I met one fateful Thursday more than 5 1/2 years ago.
This is the kind of place where everybody knows your name after you spend a couple of evenings there. And they do a great lunch, too, although I rarely get out of work for lunch. For a German restaurant, it's funny how people rave about the chili dogs served at lunchtime. When I do go, I go for the braunschweiger sandwich.

The Hofbrau has a great selection of beer, and if you try 80 different beers and get your tour card stamped, you can immortalize yourself on the wall of fame, or shame, depending on how you look at it. Plus, when you're halfway done with your tour, you get a free dinner.

There are lots of great dinner choices here. If you happen to be in on a Friday or Saturday night, be sure to check out the specials. They're usually fabulous. I must say, though, I have never tried any of the rabbit specials, which I'm sure are great, but I just can't bring myself to eat a rabbit.

They serve up a unique plate of nachos here, tortilla chips covered with ground beef and shredded cheddar, toasted nicely in the oven and served with sides of sour cream, salsa and hot peppers. Not exactly German fare, but delish nonetheless.

The Hofbrau has some great wine choices, too, and some of the best group of workers you could hope to find.
We've met a lot of great people over the years at the Hofbrau. One of them has recently passed away, Randy Franks. Randy was the quintessential gentleman, unless he was telling one of his jokes. He waited tables and bartended at the Hofbrau a few years ago. He was always at the ready with a light for your cigarette, another drink as the last drops were hitting your tongue, a great suggestion for an after dinner cocktail, and a good laugh. And man, did that guy have ears! He could hear a comment from clear across the bar while he was carrying on a conversation with some other people, and next thing you know, after he finished talking with them he'd be down commenting about what you had said. He could hear an emptying glass from a room away.
We've missed him over the years. Prost, Randy.

The Outsider Gallery

Bishop Hill is a great place to visit. There are many neat shops to poke around in, historic buildings and charming restaurants. It's like stepping back in time. The Outsider Gallery features unique works by area artisans. There are bowls and baskets made of paper, eggs carved with beautiful Victorian lace patterns, even a fun collection of socially incorrect art.
We stopped in and were quite amused by some of the selections.
Take a gander on the web at and then take the drive.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Nut House

There's a little treasure of a shop tucked away at 311 Main Street in Peoria. It's called The Nut House, and it's been in Peoria for around 100 years. The Nut House roasts fresh nuts every day, carries homemade and diabetic candies and are a great resource for gifts or for candies for your wedding or other party. They carry fun candy like rock candy and Jelly Belly jelly beans, too.
Visit on the web at

Monday, June 05, 2006

Maurie's Candies

I shudder to think what my life would be like if I had never been introduced to caramel apples from Maurie's Candies, 522 Court Street in Pekin. I was sitting at work, minding my own business, when a co-worker brought in a bag of caramel apples and offered them to our department. I tried one, and was hooked. It's the best caramel apple I've ever had. I guess they can only make them for a short time each fall, with their super-secret caramel recipe calling for the right climatic conditions.

Maurie's also has plenty of other homemade candies, books, gifts and magazines, too.

My co-worker may rue the day he brought those apples in. Every year as soon as I start thinking fall, I start bugging him about whether the apples are ready yet. Not living in Pekin, I like to have that inside source...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


If you're looking for a great pie in Peoria, you need to try Leonardo's. With locations on War Memorial and also at Grand Prairie, you're never too far to stop in.
Both sites have a neat decor, and a great thin crust pizza. They also have pan pizza, but I'm a peepers partial to thin crust, myself. The Da Vinci Delight is heavenly, and I generally go for low-fat meats on my pizza, like Canadian bacon. Set me in front of this pie piled high with sausage, pepperoni, bacon bits, Canadian bacon, ham, ground beef, mushroom, green pepper, onion, green olive and black olive, and I can hardly tear myself away. We ordered this pizza for lunch at work when a vendor was on site from Colorado and he RAVED about it.

They serve beer and wine, and also have great entertainment, like my local fave, the Bogside Zukes.

Leonardo's menu and even some coupons can be found at

May, 2007 - Leonardo's has closed their War Memorial location. Trek on out to the Shoppes at Grand Prairie for your pie.

August, 2007 - Leonardo's has closed their Grand Prairie location.

March, 2008 - The War Memorial location has been opened as a La Gondola.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Kelly Seed & Hardware Co.

There's something about an old hardware store that brings back a sense of wonder. Kelly Seed & Hardware, 202 Hamilton Boulevard, has graced downtown Peoria since 1920.
They carry bulk and packaged seed, bedding plants, bulbs, lawn ornaments, bird seed and feeders, all surrounded by beautiful old oak cabinets and seed bins. This is a neat store to poke around in.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Jonah's Seafood House & 2601 Oyster Bar

Jonah's, 2601 N. Main Street, East Peoria, is an obvious choice if you are looking for a great seafood restaurant. However, I like the place more for their entertainment factor.

They do have great live music every Saturday night in the oyster bar, usually blues or jazz. I'm a low-key gal. I like hanging out in the restaurant bar next door, where it's generally more quiet and they serve up a mean dish of spicy nut mix. I'll order a good glass of wine or two and generally will be tempted by the fact that they are one of the few places in the area that I know of where you can enjoy a nice cheese plate with your wine. They serve a plate of cheese and fruit along with a great seeded mustard to dip your cheese in. It's heaven to a girl like me. And StfRon will usually put up with it, since they have Pilsner Urquell there.

The other thing I love about Jonah's is the back patio area. On a nice Saturday night you can hang out on the patio and enjoy drinks, a good view of the river AND the sounds of the band drifting out. Let's face it, for the most part, East Peoria has the better deal on the river in this area anyway. They don't have to look at the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Update, April 2007 - Rumor has it that Jonah's no longer features live entertainment. I will have to go check it out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Illinois Valley Glass & Mirror

Illinois Valley Glass & Mirror has been owned by the Watkins family since 1951. With showrooms in both Peoria and Morton, they are a great source for replacement (cut to size) mirrors, windows and glass and new mirrors and glass for your home, auto and commercial needs. They even carry screens, custom shower enclosures and doors and offer a 24-hour emergency board-up service.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Harold's Hamburgers

In the mood for old school fast food? Why not check out Harold's Hamburgers? Located at 2305 Washington Rd. in Washington, Harold's brings you burgers, ham and cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, onion rings, fries, tater tots, shakes and fruit pies the way you remember them.
They even host cruise-ins from time-to-time.

March, 2010 — Harold's Hambugers has closed.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

German Specialties

German Specialties, 3919 N Sheridan Rd, Peoria, is your one-stop shop for great German food and goods.

They carry meats, cheeses and breads, German dessert mixes for black forest cakes and more, spaetzle mix and German candies. During Christmas, the selection of German candies makes for great stocking stuffers.

German Specialties also carries flags and t-shirts and you can even order items such as a nice German hat to stick yer gamsbart in!

In the winter of 2008, German Specialties relocated to the 3000 block of University Street in Peoria, near Hobby Lobby.

October, 2011 — German Specialties has closed

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

F. Scott's Whiskey Bar & Grill

F. Scott's Whiskey Bar & Grill has been a favorite of ours for several years. Located at 114 SW Jefferson Ave. in Peoria, they serve up the best prime rib for miles around. You can get a huge hunk of prime rib, sides are extra, but they have asparagus and a baked potato about the size of a football as some of the choices. You can skip the sides if you want, the steaks are filling enough and come with a small garnish of vegetables that are very tasty.
F. Scott's also has some great wine choices to accompany your meal and of course a nice whiskey selection to finish off with.

They also have various specials, some pork and a tuna steak, but they are best known for steaks and they do a fabulous job with them.

StfRon says they have the best flourless chocolate cake, second to none. I'm not a big chocolate lover, so I'll have to take his word for it.

The service is always great at F. Scott's. We generally don't get out of there for under $100 (which includes dinner, several drinks and chocolate cake), but we always have a great time.
The bar is worth visiting as well, if you're not up for dinner, or just want to have some drinks and check out the menu. The decor along with the dark wood makes for a nice, cozy atmosphere.

Update, February 2007 - F. Scott's has closed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Echo Valley Meats

Echo Valley Meats was established in 1999. Visit their retail stores, order online or request a catalog to enjoy top choice cuts of meat, hams, beef jerky and more!

Echo Valley's main production facility is right here in central Illinois in Bartonville.
Check them out on the web at

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Denhart Baking Company

Visit Denhart Baking Company, a beautifully restored building on the historic Washington square which houses a coffee shop and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch featuring Fair Trade & organic coffees. They opened for business in late April.

StfRon and I have been in several times for breakfast and have found everything to be very good. They have a nice fresh fruit plate that comes with a muffin and French toast which I had with a side of corned beef hash...mmm! We're looking forward to trying the lunch menu and the brunch. We looked over the lunch menu and saw a lot of good possibilities.

The brick and stone Italianate Style building was built by Charles Anthony and Henry Denhart in 1874. The two had begun a business partnership in 1865 with the purchase of a dry goods store, located just east of where the bank now stands. The store on the square was known to be a meeting place for Abraham Lincoln and other politicians. In 1866, the Anthony and Denhart Banking Company opened in the back of the dry goods store and later moved into the new corner building. One of the early banks in Washington was established in 1858 under the name of A. G. Danforth & Co. Henry Denhart & Co.'s bank was established in 1866. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places August 12, 2005.

May, 2007 - Denhart's is now serving dinner Tuesday-Saturday. And why not stop down in the pub after you eat?

July, 2007 - We stopped in to Denhart's for dinner on a Wednesday and I tried the fried chicken special, served with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn fritters. The chicken was great! It tasted reminiscent of KFC, but hotter and fresher. The mashed potatoes were also KFC style, very good. And the fritters were a nice touch.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cliff's Rod & Gun

If you're looking to add to your gun collection or interested in target shooting (by the way, the Peoria German-American Central Society's Sport Verein club has target shooting twice each month, visit for more info), then Cliff's Rod & Gun is the place for you.

Cliff carries several brands of firearms and hunting knives, too. The shop offers gun repair, ammunition, rod and reel repair, decoys and more. Visit them on the web at, or stop by at 15704 N Von Achen Drive in Chillicothe, right off of Route 29 near Wolf Hollow Archery.

June, 2007 - Cliff has retired and closed his shop.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Our favorite Washington-area haunt is Bernardi's, 2137 Washington Rd., Washington, of Mona's and Capponi's fame. They have a cozy bar, in which we often eat at one of the booths, as we prefer them to the larger dining rooms, which are also very nice.

They have a new pasta special every month, which is always fun to look forward to, along with other daily and weekly specials. The everyday favorites are the Mona's tortellini with meat sauce and the fried chicken. They also have a nice wine list and some import beers. The staff is always friendly and on the ball.
You will never leave there hungry!

May 16, 2006 - The pasta o'the month for May is my favorite so far, and it's a bellybuster! It's baked mostaccioli pasta paired with sausage, green peppers, big mushrooms, onions and your choice of a garlic tomato sauce or their famous meat sauce, all smothered with melted cheese. It's fab-u-lous!!

May, 2007 - Bernardi's is no longer doing a pasta of the month, but has added some new favorites to the menu. Also very good is the new bleu cheese, tomato-topped garlic bread. And they have a web site,

August, 2008 - Bernardi's North has opened in Dunlap. This location offers lunch as well as dinner.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Abe's in the Metro Centre in Peoria is a great place to visit. There's always the scent of caramel popcorn in the air, and lots of great gifts, candies, bath gels and lotions, candles, sauces, salsas and kitchen linens, plus a whole lot more.
Once, we spent a couple of hours traipsing around Peoria looking for a pizza peel. Finally, we stopped at Abe's, and they hooked us up.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Zobrist Construction

In the market for some construction work? Why not give Zobrist Construction a try? Located at 95 Commerce Drive in Morton, they are a general contracting firm that's been in the biz since 1939. Find out more and see some photos of their work at

Yen Ching

Moving on we get to a favorite of mine for at least 20 years, Yen Ching. Located at 6936 N. University St. in Peoria, Yen Ching is the place to go for sizzling rice soup and Mongolian beef. It's the best of either that I've ever had. They bring a plate of rice out alongside your soup and dump it in at the table so you get to hear that refreshing sizzle as you are served your soup.
They also have cheap lunch specials, around $5 for an entree, rice, egg roll and drink during the week.
And one thing we keep saying we need to try is the happy family. We've seen people enjoying this in the restaurant, but we just can't break away from the Mongolian beef to try something new!
Yen Ching does serve beer, wine and cocktails.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Willie's Tamales

I have to give Willie's Tamales kudos for making mouths water for years outside of UFS Savings Center on SW Adams Street in Peoria. The brats and pork chops sizzling on that grill with the sweet onions and peppers makes for an aroma you almost are powerless against.

The Vault Gift Shop

The Vault Gift Shop
953 N. Second Street, Chillicothe
This quaint shop is located in the Happy Thought Coffee shop in Chillicothe inside of an old bank vault. It's great to poke around while you are waiting for coffee or lunch at Happy Thought. Oddly enough, I used to get eye exams in the vault, as my eye doctor used the same building for his practice.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Uptown Grill

Uptown Grill, 601 First Street, LaSalle
This restaurant is a gem we stumbled across completely by accident while looking for a place to stop on our way back to the Peoria area. They have a top-notch appetizer menu, including choices like baked herb goat cheese and gorgonzola potato chips. Moving on to dinner, they have a large, exotic selection of seafood as well as steaks, chops, chicken and pasta. Visit them on the web at and consider a stop when you're on your way back from the Chicago area or after a day of hiking at Starved Rock State Park.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trailhead Nature Store

Besides hiking at Forest Park Nature Center, the next best thing is being there when the Trailhead Nature Store is open and being able to go in and poke around.
Located at 5809 Forest Park Drive in Peoria, they have a great selection of eco-friendly products and clothing, like coffee, cleansers, paper products and more. They also have great bird feeders and seed, bird houses, Burt's Bees products, books and lots of fun stuff for kids.
Find out more at

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sol Azteca

We were anxious to try Sol Azteca when it debuted in Washington. In a town short on nicer sit-down restaurants, any sign of a new one causes a lot of interest. And we were not disappointed by this one.
Sol Azteca, 1289 N. Peoria St., Washington, is a fine example of great Mexican food.
The salsa is fresh and delicious. The service is quick and very efficient. And the food is great. It comes out faster than you can say, "Do I have time for a quick siesta?"
Seriously, your order comes out very quickly, on a nice hot plate, and it tastes great. Wash it down with a margarita or cerveza, and all is good.

Russell's Cycle & Fitness

There's a great place for bicycles and fitness equipment located right here in central Illinois, Russell's Cycle & Fitness, 10 Valley Forge Plaza, Washington.
For almost 30 years, Russell's has had a passion for bikes and fitness. They carry fitness apparel, treadmills, car racks, child seats for bikes, and, of course, bikes and bike parts. They even have used bikes! And Joe is one of the friendliest, most helpful guys I've run across in a store in a very long time.
Their website has a lot of great resources,

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Queen Bee Ribs

Queen Bee Ribs, Peoria
This down-to-earth joint serves up ribs, chicken and pork along with sides such as breaded okra. I can't say that I've been there, but StfRon raved about it after a co-worker brought him carryout from there. And after reading an archived Journal Star review of the place, I think it's high time I buzz on over there. Queen Bee, here I come!

Spring 2008 — Queen Bee's address at 123 S MacArthur Highway in Peoria is now home to the Original Gulley's BBQ.

The Paper Moon

The Paper Moon, 112 N. Main St., Washington
Located on Washington's charming square, this shop has tons of scrapbooking and rubber stamp products, papers, cardstock, stickers, idea books and more.Their website features a lot of great information about the store,

May, 2007 - The Paper Moon has gone out of business.

One World Café

One World Café, 1245 W. Main St., Peoria, gracing this corner since 1993, has awesome food and an eclectic decor. Add drinks, desserts, live music and a Wi-Fi zone, and once you get there, you might not want to leave!
One World also offers catering and a meeting room.
My personal favorite item is the Herbivorian with hummus. The marble rye bread they use is soft and delicious. And they have the best BBQ chicken pizza I've had, and I've tried several. Read all about it at

Naturally Yours

Naturally Yours, 4700 N. University, Peoria, is Central Illinois' largest health food store, with a great selection of organics, health foods, spices and supplements.
Naturally Yours carries organic meats, natural makeup and skin products, shampoos and more, plus paper products made from post-consumer recycled paper.
You can even pick up a sandwich, smoothie or fresh-baked cookie from their deli counter while you're there.
My recent deli choice was a hummus veggie sandwich on multi-grain bread, chock full of cucumbers, zucchini (I think), onions, lettuce and carrot shreds on this hearty bread spread with hummus.
Their website is chock full of naturally good information,

July, 2007 - Naturally Yours has started a blog site,

August, 2008 — Naturally Yours now has a location in Normal at 1503 E. College Avenue.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Maria's Tea Room

Maria's Tea Room is a great place for lunch, and I was excited to see recently that they were opening back up.
My friend and I went in the week after they reopened and I'm happy to report that it is still great. Located at 3129 N. Prospect, Peoria, they serve great sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches and, of course, plenty of good tea.
Once seated we had great service and all the waitresses we encountered seemed to really enjoy their jobs.
Maria's is currently serving lunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

February, 2009 — Maria's in Peoria has closed, however the Washington location is open.

Lindy's Downtown Market

Lindy's Downtown Market, 110 Peoria St., Washington, is the quintessential hometown grocery store with a whole lot more. They carry great cheeses and meats, such as the Boar's Head line (, an awesome wine selection and many specialty items like Harry & David snacks, gourmet cookies, milk in glass bottles, locally-made pastas, unique sauces and dressings, the list goes on and on. Every time we go in I see something new and delicious to try.
I stopped in yesterday, and they had this great selection of organic yogurts in glass bottles, which are labeled as being European style. I can't wait to try it!
Update: Lindy's has debuted their website,

June, 2007 - Lindy's now offers canvas bags to carry your groceries in. Saves on all that plastic and paper in landfills, plus you get 10 cents off your grocery purchase each time you bring your bag back. Now, if we could just remember to bring the bag every time...

Klusendorf's Sky Harbor Steakhouse

Klusendorf's Sky Harbor Steakhouse, 1321 N. Park Rd. in West Peoria, is a great place to have a nice evening out with their retro, dimly-lit atmosphere and awesome steaks.
We have only really discovered this gem in the last year or so.
A couple of weeks ago we headed to Sky Harbor for dinner because we knew Jimmy Binkley was going to be playing piano, and we had a great meal.
It was Saturday, so we ended up waiting maybe an hour for a table, but we managed to squeeze in at the bar for our wait. They had a good wine and beer selection to keep us occupied.
I ordered the petite filet cooked medium rare, and despite it's thickness, it was cooked to perfection and almost melted in my mouth. My green beans, however, were cooked to disintegration, but after a great steak like that, I barely noticed.
All in all, it was a great evening. Scope it out at

2/15/08- Sky Harbor has patio dining as well.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jukebox Comedy Club

It's good for your health to laugh, and the Jukebox Comedy Club, 3527 Farmington Rd. in Peoria, is a great place to get a good laugh on. They bring in great comedians and even hypnotists to entertain crowds every weekend. Visit their site at

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Innkeeper's Coffee

Now for a great place a bit outside of the immediate Peoria area, Innkeeper's Coffee, located at 80 N. Seminary Street in Galesburg.
If you have not been to Innkeeper's Coffee since they moved to their new location (or ever) you are way overdue. The new location is stunning and unexpected in this town (not to say that Galesburg isn't great). They have fabulous, beautiful chocolates, great coffees (roasted in their shop) tea and wonderful baked goods.
When we sampled an apricot brandy white chocolate pastry, we were in heaven. Seminary Street in Galesburg is a great place to take advantage of unique local businesses, and you can top off your day with a visit to Innkeepers, a real treasure. Visit them online, and you can even order coffee and tea from their store:

6/20/06 - a recent trip to Innkeeper's revealed lunch choices. I tried the trio salad, with mixed greens, tomatoes, feta, swiss cheese, spinach, some ham that was so juicy and mouth-wateringly salty and a scoop of potato salad made with apples. The whole salad was scrumptious!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Holland's Mercantile

Holland's Mercantile, 117 Washington Square in Washington, is a great old fashioned candy store where candy is sold in bulk.
Opened in 1987, Holland's now features a soda fountain, ice cream parlor, hot dogs and popcorn in addition to a great candy selection.
They carry tons of candy you remember from way back when. And heck, who isn't up for a good phosphate now and then?

Monday, March 13, 2006


Following up with a local business that begins with F, we have Fluff, a new set of shops offering fun fashion accessories in Peoria and Morton. They have tons of great purses, fashion jewelry, and were even carrying the famous leg lamps from A Christmas Story!
I got some great crystal earrings here for my friend. Fluff is the place to go for those who like girly stuff!

December, 2008 — Fluff in Peoria has closed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Emo's Dairy Mart

The familiar clown atop Emo's Dairy Mart, at the intersection of Prospect Rd. and War Memorial Dr., has taken several spills from his perch over the years, but he looks none the worse for the wear.
During spring and summer months, Emo's serves up soft serve ice cream, hot dogs, chili dogs and the best cheese fries in town.
I saw the Help Wanted sign in the window this week, so we shouldn't have to wait much longer for our annual fix!

Dixon's Fisheries, Inc.

Dixon's has been involved in the fish industry in Illinois since the early 1900s. They offer a large, fresh supply of seafood at 6926 N. University in Peoria. Especially popular during the holidays are the seafood trays.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cummins Family Restaurant

Moving on to the letter C...It was great to see a new, old favorite show up in Washington, Cummins Family Restaurant, in the old What Bill Likes Location at 1869 Washington Rd.
Cummins was next to K's Merchandise for years, and who doesn't love a restaurant where you can have breakfast all day?!
We visited Cummins on the second day of their opening and had a great meal and attentive service. I was pleased to see that they even had fried mush on the menu, which I ordered along with a side of bacon and some orange juice. Everything was great, and we'll definitely be repeat customers!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Beachler's Servicenter & Car Wash

Beachler's ServiCenter ( has the benefit of three generations of family having operated the business since it's inception in 1951. Located at 3623 N. University at War Memorial Drive in Peoria, Beachler's even has Saturday auto service hours and provides a free car wash with scheduled maintenance service.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Why not start with an alphabetical list of local businesses? And let's start with a great one: Agatucci's.
Agatucci's is located at 2607 N. University St. in Peoria. It's a cozy family restaurant that serves up a great thin crust pizza pie, plus plenty of other favorites. They've been around for over 50 years, and actually are said to hold the oldest liquor license operating under the same business name in Peoria.

"There used to be shops..."

We went to Wisconsin for vacation a couple years ago to visit the Apostle Islands. We drove into a town called Ashland and found a nice brewpub, the South Shore Brewery ( After hanging out there for a bit and enjoying some great food and beverage, we drove around looking for the retail district, you know, the small town, downtowny-type area that it seemed like this town would have. We spotted a lady in a park, so we pulled over and asked her if there were any shops around that we could visit. She paused and said "There used to be shops...before the Wal-Mart".

Support your local businesses

Think of your favorite mom & pop restaurant or store. Do you have one, or is it something you remember fondly from childhood? Did/do you know the owner(s) or always get special service when you went/go there?
How exciting would it be if every shopping/dining experience was the same from town to town, save for the layout of the Wal-Mart store or TGI Fridays wall decor being different from the last one you visited?
As consumers, we have a great opportunity to support many unique local businesses that create the fabric of our communities. We'll be featuring local businesses here to remind you of the great options available to us, owned and operated by our friends and neighbors.