Monday, December 31, 2012

Final bells

This year, like those before, saw the rise and fall of many unique local businesses in central Illinois.
2012 also saw us move out of Illinois, several months ago. Due to this, I find it difficult at this time to keep up with all the local developments, being a couple hundred miles away. We do visit fairly often, but when we do we tend to revisit old favorite dining establishments, or gravitate toward places where family and friends like to go more often than trying the new guy in town.
At this time, I’m going to hang up my blogging hat for a while, but no matter where I am I still seek out unique local shops and restaurants, and hope you will too. Keep living the local and have a great 2013!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Off The Bone Smokehouse Restaurant & Bar at 3127 Prospect in Peoria has closed and El Nopal Authentic Mexican Restaurant is opening soon in its place.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Kuchie's on the Water took over Captain Ron's at 579 Wesley Road in Creve Coeur this August.

Double D Diner in Washington has closed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Madison's on the Square, a bakery and café, will open later this year in Washington in the former BBQ spot on Walnut Street.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Lop Ears Poochy Playground

A few weeks ago we dropped off our dog at Lop Ears Poochy Playground, 10000 North Galena Road in Peoria, for an afternoon of play.
We weren't quite sure what to expect. We walked in to the concrete-floored Morton style building and saw a large open room, but no people or dogs.
After about a minute, a happy dog came running out of a room to the right and I joked that this must be our greeter. The dog ran over to us and soaked up all the attention we gave.
Soon another dog ran out of the room to the right, and before we knew it, a whole stream of dogs poured out of the room to check out who was there, followed by a gentleman who was holding down the fort for the day.
He took plenty of time to ask questions, walk our dog around the site and learn about how she would react to the group.
We soon left to get on with our day and a few hours later I received a text message, apparently from our dog, letting us know that even though she is shy she was having fun.
Lop Ears offers boarding, stay and play and dog daycare.
When we arrived a few hours later, there were a few more people there and we met the wife of the husband/wife team.
I can honestly say I don't think I've ever met people who love dogs more. They were so friendly and very caring about the dogs, and welcomed us to bring our dog back any time.
I certainly will!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Panaderia Ortiz Bakery is now open at 1404 NE Monroe in Peoria. Oh how I miss my lunches at the Goodness Café!
Sazani's Steak & Pasta House is now open at 7327 N Galena Road, also in Peoria.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Junction City's 309 restaurant closed this month. Also in Junction City, Natural Balance Wellness Center is now open.

Taber Lacie Photography and Brienzo's Wood Fired Pizza (with a mobile brick oven!) opened earlier this year.

A new restaurant, Lee's Chinese Garden, has opened at 1221 W. Glen in Peoria next to Mediterranean Mart.

Monday, July 23, 2012


While Bone Appitit in Washington recently closed, late last month Off-the-Bone Smokehouse opened at 3127 N. Prospect Avenue in Peoria.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Keeping cool

It's not only very hot, it's also National Ice Cream month!
Cool off with some treats from the new Coneys, 3725 W. Willow Knolls Road or with some classics from Emo's, 3618 Prospect Road, or slurp a shake while you sit in the shade of the trees at the Ice Cream Shack, 2313 NE Adams Street, all in Peoria.
Across the river chill out at the Ice Cream Shack, 2306 Washington Road in Washington or hit up Uncle Bob for some homemade ice cream at 409 E. Center Street in Eureka, or roll up to Didley's Car Hop, 920 N. Niles Street in Metamora.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


There has been activity at the former Jill's restaurant site at 7327 N. Galena Road in Peoria. A sign on the property reads Sazanis Steak & Pasta opening soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The former Firehouse Bar & Grill is now open as No Wake Zone Bar & Grill, 4925 N. Galena Road in Peoria. They are serving pizzas, sandwiches and salads, burgers, hot dogs and more for both lunch and dinner.

Monday, June 18, 2012


New businesses debuting on the east side of the river this spring include The 5th Quarter Sports Bar & Pizzeria at 1110 N Main in East Peoria (formerly Vertucci's) and Le Fleur florist on the square in Washington.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Beanhive

Over the weekend we found ourselves in Galesburg and I was looking for Kaldi's Coffeehouse on East Simmons Street, but instead I found The Beanhive, which used to be called Kaldi's.
The coffee shop had several customers sitting at tables or in comfy chairs visiting and enjoying coffee and the shelves were lined with Leaves N Beans coffee beans, roasted in Peoria Heights.
In addition to coffee The Bean Hive offers sandwiches including a vegetarian option, cookies and smoothies. They also host live music events.
My husband ordered a latte with an extra shot of espresso and was informed that for the same price he could have a triple shot, which he was all over.

Monday, June 04, 2012


This weekend we were in Monmouth and saw the new Petey's Pub & Grill, which has been open several months now, located at 2 American Way. Apparently the owner of Cerar's Barnstormer, where we've enjoyed several family dinners, is the owner of Petey's.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bernardi's Pub and Italian Eatery

For Mother's Day we met the moms (and a dad) at the newly dubbed and revamped Bernardi's Pub and Italian Eatery in Dunlap's Lake of the Woods Plaza.
Waiting for some of our party to arrive, we enjoyed their outdoor seating for a bit since the weather was so beautiful.
Once we headed inside, I loved the large vintage prints of Mona's and various family shots throughout the dining room.
The menu featured some of the more traditional Bernardi's family classics such as tortellini, but also salads, beer battered asparagus, Cajun salmon, pulled pork, grilled tuna, a Reuben, and even a mac n cheese melt complete with Italian beef, BBQ sauce and green onion.
However, once I saw the garlic parmesan flatbread on the menu, I was sunk.

Described as fire roasted flatbread brushed in Bernardi oil, parmesan, and fresh parsley served with homemade roasted garlic paste with chopped tomatoes and slightly drizzled with Olio & Vino’s black truffle oil, I was surprised at the simplicity of the flatbread when it arrived, accompanied by a dish of garlic paste. However, this was a dish after my own heart, with true, hearty roasted garlic I could spread all over the soft pita-like bread.
I had the fortune of sampling my husband's little "hush puppies", which were dusted with powdered sugar, and my mom's side of mac and cheese, which was delicious. I have always liked the idea of mac and cheese at a restaurant, but have always been disappointed after trying it. This version topped the charts.
My dad had a nice looking piece of salmon that I believe featured a pesto-based sauce and my mom had some BBQ pork sliders.
I did notice fried chicken being served up in galvanized "buckets" and I remembered my dining companion talking about a customer who was taken aback by the change. Hey, if the food is good, it's all good with me!
We were able to supplement our meal with margaritas, red wine and iced tea, and service was good.
I'll be sure to keep Bernardi's Pub on my list for future family gatherings!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Soul Food Catering is now open in the former Rosie's BBQ & Grill at 2626 N. Sheridan Road in Peoria.

Friday, May 04, 2012


Granny Goodwitch Bakery opened a storefront at 1104 Main Street in East Peoria this winter.

Friday, April 27, 2012


A karaoke bar named Pitch will open at 631 Main Street in Peoria next month.

Mother's Day is rapidly nearing. I'll be on the prowl for a gift from a great local shop and am trying to think of someplace we can sneak in for breakfast without all the chaos or portable brunch items to take over to Mom's. As much as I would like it, I don't think a Cracked Pepper bacon log will work!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sunday, April 08, 2012


Shifter's Pub has opened at 500 Main Street in Peoria, which was home to the Whammy Bar, Euro Jack's and Babe's, just to name a few.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


A reader sent me a review of his visit to the updated Bernardi's Pub and Italian Eatery in Dunlap. Looks like they have a brand new menu with less emphasis on Italian food and a pulled pork sandwich I think I need to check out!

Recently we stopped in Eureka for a tasty locally-brewed coffee at Mika's and noticed their neighbors The Skirt Outlet and Objects.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Bernardi's North in Dunlap's Lake of the Woods Plaza is changing their name to Bernardi's Pub and Italian Eatery.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I received a tip from a reader that Retro American Tap on Peoria's riverfront was closed as of yesterday, and confirmed this tonight. The location formerly housed Old Chicago.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Yesterday while we were in downtown Peoria for the St. Patrick's Day parade, we noticed that The Nut House on Main Street is for sale.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Luck o' the Irish

We're going to take in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Peoria on Saturday.
I'm sure there are no shortage of places that will be serving up corned beef and cabbage for the occasion. I saw that Jimmy's Bar on Farmington Road will be featuring the meal for $8, along with Guinness beef stew and other special menu items.
Do you have a favorite haunt for St. Pat's themed food?

Monday, March 12, 2012


The Butcher Block Steakhouse, located in Peoria's Junction City, is now known as Magnolia's on Propsect.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Maxine's on Main

Recently a friend and I headed out to Morton to try the new Maxine's on Main, located at 208 N. Main Street.
We walked in to the cozy bungalow and were recognized by our reservation and arrival time and were seated on the front porch area at a tall table.
Both being fans of cheese, we decided to partake of the cheese plate, which our server told us consisted of goudas, one goat cheese and three cow cheeses. The cheeses were accompanied by a delicious cherry mustard, some nuts and savory caramelized onions.
For dinner I went with the wheat crusted salmon on a bed of red pepper couscous.
We finished our meal with a chocolate flight for dessert. We got to sample a Cabernet brownie; cayenne, hazelnut and bacon truffles; Pot de Creme and chocolate bark. My favorites were the spicy cayenne truffle and the bark.
Service was great and all of the food was nicely presented and well-prepared.
Maxine's also features a nice wine and beer selection, and currently only serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Monday, February 27, 2012


I heard that Salt on Prospect in Peoria Heights is planning to expand into the vacant space next to them and is considering offering brunch on Sundays.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


As of the beginning of this month, Los Jimadores in Washburn is now serving breakfast.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Party Mardi

I'm always looking for a reason to celebrate. A couple of weeks ago while glancing at my calendar, I noticed that Fat Tuesday is February 21.
The first place I thought about visiting was Beignet's On The Corner, 100 State Street in Peoria. Their menu has a New Orleans flair and I love their shrimp bisque.
I noticed River Beach Pub, 13637 N River Beach Dr, South Rome is offering hurricanes and jambalaya on Fat Tuesday. 
If I don't want to wait until Tuesday to celebrate, Saturday, February 18 I see that 309 in Junction City is having a Mardi Gras complete with hurricanes, beads, masquerade masks, live blues and jazz.
Also this Saturday night is Willett's Winery's annual Mardi Gras Party with New Orleans style cuisine and the Mason Dixies Band starting. The winery is located at 105 East Market Street in Manito.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Lunch for $10 or less

Tired of brown bagging it but don't want to break the bank? Here are some options for lunch under $10 in the Peoria area:

Yen Ching 6936 North University Street, Peoria
Los Jimadores 7723 North University Street, Peoria
Alwan & Sons Meat Company 703 E War Memorial Dr., Peoria Heights
Cracked Pepper 311 Main Street and 3406 NE Adams, Peoria
Rizzi's 112 State Street and 4613 North Sheridan Road, Peoria
Cummins Family Restaurant 1869 Washington Road, Washington
Spotted Cow 718 W. Glen, Peoria
Smo-King Pit Northwoods Mall, Peoria
Joe's Peoria 1301 W Pioneer Pkwy., Peoria

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


If you're looking for some new places to dine, check out Knuckles Pizza at 1719 W. Woodside Drive in Dunlap or Kabab-G at 7800 Sommer Drive in Peoria.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rasoi The Indian Kitchen

I don't have a wealth of experience with Indian food, but when a friend suggested lunch at Rasoi The Indian Kitchen last week, I was interested to give it a try.
Located on N. Knoxville Avenue at Pioneer Parkway in Peoria, the last time I visited the spot it was The Copperworks restaurant. The walls have since been painted a warm yellow and the restaurant has a somewhat calming appeal.
As we were seated, the waiter asked if we wanted to eat from the buffet. My friend asked if we could order from the menu and he said no, just the buffet, so buffet is what we did.
He poured us each a glass of water as we went to fill our plates.
Based on my limited knowledge of Indian food, I believe I ended up eating chicken masala, a paneer in what appeared to be a pesto-type sauce, chicken tikka, some delicate chips that were fairly salty and some fruit. There were also vegetables to make a salad with and soups, among other Indian dishes such as goat curry.
Two baskets of naan were brought to the table, which was plenty to accompany our meal.
Most of the traditional Indian dishes I tried had a hint of spicy heat to them, but nothing overpowering, and I would try any of them again.
After spotting it on the buffet, I had to finish with the rice pudding, which was a nice touch.
Since it was a buffet, service was not invasive, but we could have used a refill on our waters about midway though the meal.
On the way out my friend stopped by a table for what I thought would be mints or toothpicks, but instead took a spoonful of cardamom and asked me if I would like some. I popped some in my mouth and decided it was an unusual, but refreshing end to my meal at Rasoi.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hacienda Fuentes Cantina & Grill

Late last month I met my husband in Pekin for lunch at Hacienda Fuentes Cantina & Grill.
We sat in a booth in the second dining room and were served a basket of crunchy tortilla chips with salsa.
The waiter came by for my drink order but I still had to take in the many menu options, so he said he would be back for our food order.
I decided on the Tacos Hacienda ($7.99), three pork tacos with grilled onions and tomatillo sauce with a side of rice and beans. The tacos were tasty, complete with crunchy onions and were served in flour tortillas.
At a table nearby while we were dining, the staff sang happy birthday to a sombrero-wearing young lady, and proceeded to smear some whipped cream on her face. Later I noticed some photos of similar celebrants, so it must be their tradition.
Years ago before there were several small, local Mexican restaurants in the Peoria area, I remember helping someone celebrate a birthday at Chi-Chi's where they topped the birthday girl's head with a huge sombrero and snapped a photo of her.
Hacienda Fuentes has lunch specials starting at $4.50.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


It looks like Rosie's BBQ & Grill on Sheridan Road in Peoria has closed.
I also heard that O's Tacos -N- More has closed. O's was on Farmington Road.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I heard that Copper River Coffee & Tea in Peoria closed December 31.

I also heard that a florist is planning to open on Peoria Street in Washington next to Castaways Consignment.

June Bug's Diner is open in the former El Somberito/Three Fat Guys Pizza location on Meadow Avenue in East Peoria.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Local birthday loot

My birthday is creeping up, and I've been receiving some goodies from local establishments to help me celebrate.
Kep's Place in Washington mailed me a free pizza coupon as did Tobin's Pizza in Bloomington. One World in Peoria sent me an email for a free dessert as did Noir Tapas & Rendezvous Lounge in Peoria Heights (theirs is valid with a $20 purchase).

Friday, January 06, 2012

Champs West

I just found out what I'd been missing when we visited Champs West in Peoria for the first time just before the holidays.
The stools were well worn but comfy and the bar had a similar decor to Donnelly's in Peoria, with a few tall tables and stools for seating.
We took a seat at the bar and proceeded to check out the lunch menu, which featured several $6 options.
I ordered a tuna melt, but soon was informed by the nice lady working behind the bar that they didn't have any, so I switched to ham and swiss on sourdough. The lunch includes two sides, so I chose a cup of chicken soup and the macaroni salad.
My husband ordered potato salad and potato chips as his sides. The chips were the ridged sort, and all the rest of the sides seemed homemade, or at least not your standard fare. The potato salad was mustard style and the chicken soup was piping hot and very tasty.
As for my sandwich, I appreciated that the sourdough bread was not two huge slabs, but a more manageable sort, and the ham was not your average thin deli ham.
We were well taken care of with our iced tea refills and were even given a pitcher to keep close at hand in case we needed a quick top off. She even went and got us more ice during our short meal, and to top it off, offered us cookies from a tin before we paid our bill.
While we were eating several locals wandered in with gifts or holiday wishes for the staff.
Champs is now on my list for affordable lunch fare.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Final Bells

In 2011, we bid farewell to the following local businesses. Here's to a new year of supporting local businesses!

Mr. G's Chicago Style
Vertucci's Chicago Style Eats
Country Diner
Chicago Grill
Victor's Mexican American Restaurant
Gilles Tap
Firehouse Pizza (Pekin and Gale in Peoria)
German Specialties
Davis Bros. Pizza (Peoria Heights)
Jack's Around the Map Cafe
Dane's Bar and Grill
Lee's Family Restaurant
Taj of India
Whammy Bar
Cafe 101
Club Carbon
Illinois Antique Center

Sunday, January 01, 2012