September 6, 2007

You Gotta Eat: Hilltop Casual Diner

By WEEK Producer

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM CDT

A Peoria restaurant is going after the fan of good greasy food.

Eric Shangraw is having lunch at Hilltop Casual Diner in this week's You Gotta Eat.

The Hilltop Casual Diner is in one of those properties that has changed names so many times we've lost count. But after sitting vacant for year, Vergim Dalipi took it over. He put up a coat of fresh paint, and started selling gyros and fried chicken. He says he wants to open a whole chain of restaurants like this in Peoria... I've heard that dream vocalized before only to see it go into the grease pit with a closed sign.

Our number one seller is the gyro. They are fresh cut per–order. Everything here is made per–order, per–customer. It is nice and fresh.

In ten months, the Hilltop has developed a following of local customers. 80–percent of the business is carry–out. Vergim says he started selling fried chicken because that's what the neighborhood expects.

We kind of interact with the people here. They know us and we know them. And it is just an enjoyable place to come to. And like I said, the food is always good.

My favorite thing here is the gyro. But everything is good. I have not had anything bad yet. With a physique like this, I enjoy it all!

Photographer Miles Cooksy and I started with some fried chicken wings. They had a nice light batter and tangy hot sauce for dipping. We loved the wings. And then we each had gyros. They all come piled high with meat... maybe too much...I had to peel off a few slices just to make it manageable. –Fine gyros... –but no better than those served by some of the better–known Lebanese restaurants in town. Our bill with drinks (free refills) 21–dollars. Good luck to Vergim and his business on the Hilltop, because history is not on his side.

Hilltop Casual Diner is open six days a week for lunch and dinner.
Calls ahead for carry out... they're across the street from the Madison Golf Course.

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