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.