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Apr 7, 2009 09:51 AM

Suggestions in Peoria, IL

I will be spending my weekdays in Peoria, IL since I've just been staffed on a project for work there. I'm from the NYC area so I'm used to many restaurant choices! Can anyone suggest some places to try in Peoria? I like all types of food and while I'm not opposed to chain restuarants, I'd like to hit some local spots! Any suggestions for italian, japanese, thai, chinese, continental, etc.


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  1. There are some really good Italian places. Rizzi's on State, Pontevechio, Basta in Peoria Heights.

    Also some really good BBQ in Peoria surprisingly. Smo-King Pit at Northwoods Mall is the best...i know that's wierd saying something in the mall is the best but that's what I craved.

    For good Peoria food, Mr. G's on Main Street does good, greasy Chicago Style food...there's also Vertucci's in East Peoria that may do it a little better. Right near the Par-A-Dice is the a place called The Burger of the best dives you'll find in Peoria.

    As for chains, the only chain I ever craved was Granite City Brewery in East Peoria. Good food, large portions.

    I could go on for hours about bar food....Hoops on Main Street is a local institution. The food is ok, but they do pizza by the slice until 4 am. Kelleher's on Water Street was my favorite bar in Peoria...and the food wasn't too bad either.

    I'm no expert on Asian food, so hopefully someone else can help you out on that.

    1. Welcome to Peoria from a fellow (former) New Yorker!
      You'll really be pleasantly surprised by the variety of restaurants here.

      A few of my favorites:
      Sizzling India (on Main Street)---honestly, it's better Indian food than I've been able to find in NYC (my parents still live there). Don't wrinkle your nose when I say "lunch buffet"---it's a great deal, the food is kept to the right temperatures, and there is always a wonderful variety. Dosas, butter chicken, saag paneer, sambar, channa masala, chaat masala, tandoori chicken, vegetable korma---that and more is all delicious.

      Haddad's (also on Main)---delicious Lebanese food. But you're there for the food, not the ambiance. Haven't found a clunker on the menu yet. Go only when you're VERY hungry---portions are HUGE.

      Thanh Linh (also on Main)---very good Vietnamese food. My favorite is the grilled chicken served with egg roll over rice noodles with lettuce, cucumbers, bean sprouts,etc. Be sure to add the fish sauce. They also have very good pho.

      Very good Thai food can be found at Taste of Thai (on Pioneer Parkway). Delicious green curry. Just be aware---the food is infinately better than the service!

      If you like bar-b-que, I'd suggest Hickory River, near the "new" mall (OK, it's near the Home Depot). Hickory River is a chain, but I LOVE their pulled pork with the mixed sauce. Sides are surprisingly tasty, too.

      Kelleher's Irish Pub (mentioned by the other poster) is very good. It's a "Cheers" kind of atmosphere in a great old building. I like the Beamish steak sandwich.

      If you love New York style pizza---get enough of it BEFORE you come to Peoria! Most pizza here is either on super-thin crust, or deep-dish Chicago-style (at the chains). However, if you really need a NY pizza fix, drive 12 miles north of Peoria to Bella Roma in Chillicothe (it's on the main drag---rt. 29---known as 4th Street in Chillicothe---next to the Verizon store).

      If you want great Mexican food, you'll have to drive to Chillicothe again. Tequila's (NOT to be confused with "Good Tequila's" in north Peoria) is two doors down from Bella Roma. We eat there at least once a week (headed there tonight!). Yeah, they do the "normal" stuff---tacos, burritos,enchiladas---well enough, but really shine when you order more authentic items, like mocajete (get the chicken/green sauce combo). Be sure to ask for the HOT salsa with your chips. Burritos Traditional is another favorite. Try the beans charros style rather than refried.

      Hope you enjoy your time in Peoria!

      7 Replies
      1. re: Anne

        My in law family is in Peoria so we travel there several times a year. We have found really good bar food at Khaki Jack's at Willow Knolls and Allen Road behind the Huck's gas station. Great moist pork chop sandwich and the tuna burger was ahi tuna cooked to perfection. Sweet potato fries are wonderful! Much better now that there is no smoking in restaurants! Also north of Peoria on Rte. 29 in Sparland is Willies smokehouse. Great Southern BBQ, his smoker is out front, and Mississippi style tamales.

        1. re: LikestoEatout

          Thanks to everyone for their replies! It sounds like I'm developing quite a list of great places to try! I appreciate the suggestions and will certainly post my reviews!

          1. re: andibrooke22

            One more request...don't want to push my luck here, but can anyone suggest a decent Japanese place? Thanks!

            1. re: andibrooke22

              Sushi Gawa (in Westlake Shopping Center---across from the "old" mall with Sears in it) has pretty good sushi. Don't know how well it would compare to what you're used to in New York, though. They also do a pretty good teriyaki. Whatever you do, STAY AWAY from Sushi Popo in Metro Center. They consistantly score very poorly on health inspections!
              If you're looking for hibachi-style Japanese, though, there is only one in Peoria. It's called Kobe and it's in the Willow Knolls Shopping center (next to Burlington Coat Factory). We've only been there once, and it was good, but I've had better.

              Oh, and for Chinese, our favorite is Yen Ching in the Tanglewood Shopping Center off University St., north of Northmoor Rd. Just be aware that "Chinese" food here is quite different from what you're used to. A LOT less adventurous. Sweet and sour pork/chicken is probably the most popular "Chinese" dish here.

        2. re: Anne

          The buffet at sizzling India was amazing! Thanks for the suggestion.

          1. re: andibrooke22

            So glad you liked it! It's probably my favorite lunch in Peoria.
            On a sad note, I need to edit my original post. Bella Roma in Chillicothe (the place with the NY-style pizza) closed a couple of weeks ago. My search is on for a replacement....

          2. re: Anne

            As a visitor to Peoria (for Caterpillar), I have tried, thanks to this board:
            Thanh linh - Good Vietnamese. I had a pho dish on a cold Feb night.
            Haddad's - Like Anne said, it is really brash, but the food was good and servings large. First time I had tried baba ganoush and tabbouleh.
            Alexander's - I find their steaks tasty, and cooking it yourself to be fun with customers who are comforatble with doing that. A few large beers always helped to ease any anxiety of the DIY grilling.
            The Hofbrau - A good selection of German beer on draft, and German food. The waitress suggested the pork chops, but I got the Jager schnitzel, and loved it. Lots of locals there, it seems in a cozy small place. Be prepared to wait, and they aren't open on Mondays.
            Jim's is touted to be the best steak house in town, but I have not been. I am told it has a dark wood atmosphere, if that is your thing.
            Jonah's seafood - Menu said fish is flown in few times a week. I remember the food being good, but really pricey. I returned once by myself to have some oysters. $10 for 1/2 dozen kind of shocked me, but then again, the last time I ate oysters OTHS was in New Orleans, so I was spoiled by cheap oysters.
            Burger Barge - good burger in a fun atmosphere.
            Up Hwy 29 seems to be the pork tenderloin sandwich, but I only had one in Lacon, IL, and it was OK.

          3. One more suggestion! For a true Midwestern culinary experience, go to Jubilee Cafe on the Kickapoo-Edwards Rd. in nearby Edwards. Order the pork tenderloin sandwich. You may never have heard of that before. It's a slice of lean pork pounded to the size of a dinner plate, breaded and fried. They are deliciously addictive. You might want to get the mashed potatoes with it. Like grandma used to make!
            Be sure to save room for a piece of the homemade pie (find your favorite in the revolving pie case).

            6 Replies
            1. re: Anne

              Based on experience, I would suggest staying away from the Jubilee Cafe!!! If your looking for a good tenderloin I would suggest Schooner's either the one on War Memorial or in Morton.

              If you are looking for an excellent steak you should head to Alexander's Street Steak House. You can cook your own or have them cook your steak for you. I suggest cooking your own, eating some garlic Texas toast and having a beverage (or two) while you cook your own.

              If you are looking seafood, the only place I would suggest would be Jonah's in East Peoria.

              The Burger Barge is a must if you are looking for an awesome loaded burger.

              If you want a unique spot to get a drink with a very laid back feel, check out Martini's down town. It's in an old train station converted into a bar near the riverfront. More of an adult clientelle (sp?), which occassionally has some live music (jazz, blues).

              I wouldn't stop at the asian restaurants on Main street (just bad experiences) but would check out Haddad's and highly recomend One World Cafe right across the street from Bradley University for light eats.

              For late night food if you are in the downtown area I would suggest Hoops for pizza, calzones or italian beef that you can watch getting prepared. Or if hungry for a steak you can always head to Richard's which serves steaks until 4 a.m.

              1. re: epkitten

                epkitten, I'm curious about your "bad experiences" at Jubilee Cafe and the "asian restaurants on Main street". We've been going to the Jubilee Cafe since we moved here 20 years ago---the food and service are excellent! It's not a bar (which all your other recommendations are), so maybe that's your complaint? Same with Thanh Linh and Sizzling India. We've been going to those places since they opened (10-12 years ago?) and have never had anything but delicious, fresh meals.

                1. re: Anne


                  I would hardly call all of the recommendations bars. Most or possibly all DO serve alcohol, but would be hard pressed to consider Alexander's, Jonah's, One World or Haddad's bars. I suggested these places strictly for their food and service.

                  The two suggestions for food that were your typical "bar" selections would have been Hoops and Richards which I assume was understood since they were downtown and as I said "open late" . I suggested Martini's for drinks only since they do not serve food.

                  I had poor service and bad food in my one and only experience at Jubilee Cafe. Why would I go back to some place that I did not enjoy? I have had several friends give me bad reports about Sizzling India and some of the other restaurants around BU's campus, besides One World which I have frequented. I don't usually try a place if I haven't heard good things about it.

                  That's the beauty about a message board. You can have your opinion on a subject and I can have mine. andibrooke22 can read both opinions and make up their own mind on whether to try something or not.

                  Can places that serve alcohol not have good food or are they strictly considered bars if they serve alcohol? I guess Texas Road House, Chili's, Applebees, etc., or any other chains are also considered a bar since they serve alcohol just like Alexander's and the other examples above.

                2. re: epkitten

                  I don't get the lure of Alexander's, why do I want to go out, feed at the salad trough and then hangout around a grill cooking my own meal. Our family experience here was awful. We had 10 people, 2 chose to have the house cook their meals and got rewarded with portions smaller than anyone else. For the most part, they sat at the table alone while everyone else was off cooking. The others returned to the table at different times due to however long it took their meat selection to cook. A few returned to cook their meat a little longer because it was so dark around the grill, you couldn't see how your meat was doing. Nobody really talked to one another, everyone was too involved in their own food preparation. This was meant to be a welcome home meal for a relative but it sure was a poor choice. For steaks, Lariat Club on West Glen is better and you can just sit and enjoy your company.

                  1. re: LikestoEatout

                    I'm with you on this one, LikestoEatout. I was only to Alexander's once---nearly 20 years ago---and found no reason to return. If I'm going to have to cook my own meal, I'll pay supermarket prices for the meat---not restaurant prices!

                    1. re: Anne

                      I took the family to Alexander's once and we all really liked it. The guys in my family are grillers anyway and it was sort of fun to hang out and talk with the other people there.

                      The reason I liked Alexander's is because I thought they had quality steaks. I never order steak when I eat out because I can always do it better myself and it's a lot cheaper when I do it at home. Alexander's was different and I liked it. Not something I would do all the time, but still.

                      Salad bars are the same are buffet's and no one complains about least anymore.