EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Mike White has barbecued for friends, family and competitions for years.
Now he's offering his family's recipes to everyone at Whitey's Barbecue in East Peoria.
"I get a lot of, 'You should open a place,' and this one came open,” White said. “We took a shot, and I'm glad we did."
And so am I.
I was a judge in last year's Heart of Illinois Fair barbecue competition where Whitey's smoked the competition in three categories, including grand champion.
White said, "The biggest satisfaction is just hearing people tell me how much they enjoy the food."
"I've had barbecue in Memphis, I've had barbecue down south, 'cause I lived down south for a while,” said regular customer Temple Ohl. “This is the best barbecue I've ever had."
The service is so fast that guest eater Mark Bullion and I had our meals waiting for us when we sat down with our drinks.
Mark ordered a meatloaf sandwich with a side of potato salad.
He said the salad was how he likes it, with more mustard than mayo, and he says the meatloaf puts all other meatloafs to shame. I'll just say it comes very close, because I don’t want to offend my mom.
I had the brisket sandwich with a side of barbecued baked beans and sweet potato fries.
To keep things short, I'll just say they are all the best around. You can tell by the taste that everything here is home-cut and home-made.
Mark and I split a rack of baby-back ribs, which are just the right tenderness to slide off the bone without falling apart in your hands.
Mark called them the best ribs he has had in years. I'll go a step further and say they're the best I've had anywhere.
Our meals with drinks came to $42.44 plus tip, and keep in mind, that includes a full order of ribs.
"You know, I get a lot of, 'We needed something like this: home-made, hometown barbecue,’ and hopefully we can give it to them," White says with a modest smile.
Whitey's Barbecue is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and stays open until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.