You Gotta Eat: Breakfast any time at Mel's Cafe

By Joe Bennett

August 23, 2012 Updated Aug 23, 2012 at 7:36 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- If you zig-zag away from Washington Street in East Peoria, you just may find yourself at Mel's Café.

If you try some homemade pie, you'll find yourself going back for more.

"I was kind of worried when I first opened it, because of it being off the beaten path," admits co-owner Kimmie Christianson, "but everybody seems to find it."

Mel's Café has gained some word of mouth praise over the last couple years, attracting locals with that home-town feel.

"I just love the way it was decorated," says one regular. "Our little waitress is wonderful."

Patrons say the food is just-like-mom-used-to-make.

Something about the Swiss Steak makes it one of the most requested meals.

"It's the sauce that they put on the top of it," says another regular customer. "The tomato sauce and stuff with it."

And just to be clear, it is called Mel's Café and not Mel's Diner.

"I do have an Alice breakfast, and I have a Flo's breakfast to kind of bring in with the theme," says Christianson.

And you can't go to Mel's without expecting to kiss some grits, which got us in the mood for breakfast.

Photographer Doug Smith went for the Steak and Eggs with toast and hash browns.

Doug said he prefers his steak grilled and not pan-seared.

I went for the Skillet Omelet with American potatoes, vegetables and bacon covered with sausage gravy.

Yeah, it's as good as it looks and sounds.

Doug and I agreed the homemade coconut and chocolate pies were worth the trip.

Two meals, three drinks, one side and two desserts came to $29.32 plus tip.

The few reviews I found online were all complimentary, which gave me an idea; go to my Facebook page once you've had a chance to try Mel's.

Leave your own review, and while you're there feel free to suggest a place for a future You Gotta Eat.

Mel's Café is at 520 Bloomington Road in East Peoria.

They are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

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