A favorite part of our travels is dining at local restaurants. We like to mix up the cuisines to keep our meals interesting. When we visited Peoria, Illinois, and the surrounding area, we dined at a great mix of restaurants, from barbecue and pub food to Asian and Cajun. Here are nine Peoria restaurants we tried and recommend, plus a few places we stopped into just for beverages.
The Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern is sure to satisfy the barbecue lover’s appetite. Located in an 1899 former train depot on the downtown riverfront, the Blue Duck serves house-smoked meats, in not only traditional sandwiches and entrees, but also in more creative menu items. For instance, the Banh Mi, inspired by the Asian street sandwich, includes brisket tossed in soy garlic sauce and topped with pickled veggies, jalapenos, cilantro and red pepper aioli. Skip the fries and instead order warm bacon potato salad. Or choose the simpler Barbecued Baked Potato topped with brisket, bacon, melted cheddar, scallions, and horseradish crema. Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern also features draft beers from regional microbreweries.
212 SW Water Street, Suite B, Peoria
A half block down from the Blue Duck, Rhythm Kitchen Music Café transports you to Cajun country. Decorated in kitschy Mardi Gras, this New Orleans-style eatery serves up dishes like Shrimp Creole, Gumbo Ya-Ya, and Crawfish Etouffee. The spiciness of the Jamaican Jerk Chicken balances nicely with the sweetness of sweet potatoes and bananas. The made-on-site bread pudding served with generous dollop of whipped cream, is a nice ending to our meal.
305 Water Street, Peoria
Located in downtown Peoria’s Warehouse District, the Thyme Kitchen + Craft Beer menu ranges from burgers and barbecue to Deconstructed Duck Tamale and Lacquered Salmon. One unusual appetizer on the menu is bone marrow, served with toast, bacon jam, and pickled red onion. Entrees include Nashville Spicy Fried Chicken Thighs served with fries and coleslaw and Lacquered Salmon with honey roasted baby carrots and bacon lentils. The restaurant offers a selection of 40 craft beers. It’s nice that you can order them in a “taster” size. They also boast a selection of over 200 bourbons.
736 SW Washington Street, Peoria
4. Novu Sushi
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Novu Sushi is no longer in business.
If you like Sushi, you’ll love the upscale Novu Sushi in Peoria’s Junction City Shopping Center, with 38 different maki, tradition, vegetarian, and futo maki rolls on the menu. They also offer a nice menu of entrees, ranging from miso glazed salmon to a crusted steak filet.
5901 N Prospect Road, Peoria
Childers Eatery, also in the Junction City Shopping Center, serves up an awesome breakfast in a casual diner atmosphere. Whether you choose sweet or savory, the entrees are over the top. Peach slices, fresh blueberries, and graham cracker pieces top the Blueberry Peach Waffle, made with blueberry batter. For Benedict lovers, Childers Eatery offers eight options. Other breakfast entrees include Short Rib Breakfast Tostadas, Bacon Chicken Pesto Omelet and much more. Childers is open for breakfast and lunch.
5805 N Humboldt Avenue, Peoria
Natural daylight fills the Jonah’s Seafood House and Oyster Bar during the lunch hour. Located in East Peoria across the river from downtown Peoria, the waterfront setting feels like it’s in a resort town. In fact, even the street entrance exudes a seashore feel, using seashells instead of stones in its landscaping. Seafood is flown in daily, and the menu is updated twice daily. Entrees include Bayou Style Jambalaya or simpler, but tasty, fried jumbo shrimp.
2601 N Main Street, East Peoria
The lunch menu at the family-owned Heart in Peoria Heights includes a nice mix of sandwiches and salads, including a New Orleans style Oyster Po-Boy and Muffaletta. A popular lighter option is the crustless quiche, served with a salad. The dinner menu offers a selection of steaks, plus New Orleans inspired Shrimp & Grits and Jambalaya.
4604 N Prospect Road, Peoria Heights
8. Denhart’s Baking Company
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, this restaurant is permanently closed.
Denhart’s Baking Company in Washington, Illinois, (about 12 miles east of Peoria) is located in an old bank building that dates back to the 1800s. The menu includes a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, and entrees and also offers daily specials like a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Finish your meal with a sweet slice of pie.
101 Washington Square, Washington
Seasons Gastropub in Morton, Illinois, (about 20 miles southeast of Peoria) offers both indoor and patio seating. Choose from sandwiches, like the smoky beef brisket sandwich topped with onion straws or a breaded pork tenderloin served on brioche. Plated meals include smoked meatloaf and blackened salmon.
149 S Main Street, Morton
Coffee and martinis
During our Peoria stay, we visited two coffee shops, plus a bar for cocktails, martinis to be specific.
Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co. has two locations: one in downtown Peoria, and one in the Junction City Shopping Center. The cafe roasts its own beans for a “farm-to-cup” mentality. Hot chocolate is another option, which comes topped with a smooth and sweet marshmallow swirl.
734 Main Street, Peoria
5901 N Prospect Road, Suite 7, Peoria
Tristan, CxT Roasting Company’s roastmaster in the family-owned small coffee shop, roasts small batches of single-origin coffee in house. You can see the roasting machine through a glass partition. They also have cold drip makers. Cold drip is a process in which cold water slowly drips through the ground coffee beans and a filter, leaving behind the bitterness. CxT also offers an assortment of interesting teas, like green mango peach.
309B Main Street, Peoria
How can you pass up a bar that lists over 100 martinis on its menu? Add to that, it’s in a former 1899 train depot, sharing the building with the aforementioned Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern. The top seller, Almond Joy, is made with Malibu Coconut Rum, Kahlua Coffee Liqueur, dark crème de cacao, Monin Almond Syrup and cream.
212 Southwest Water Street, Peoria
While visiting the Peoria area, we stayed at the Par-a-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria; the Cornerstone Inn in Washington; and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Morton. Check rates for all Peoria hotels.
Disclosures: The Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted our visit to the Peoria area. Our meals were complimentary. However, any opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “Check rates” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.
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