You Gotta Eat: The Retro American Tap

By WEEK Producer

September 15, 2011 Updated Sep 15, 2011 at 10:48 PM CDT

You Gotta Eat' goes to Peoria's riverfront because there's a new name and a new menu for a local eatery.

The Retro American Tap stands where Old Chicago was on Peoria's Riverfront. You'll know you're there by the smell of the meat smoking. Dale Paulson is the owner and manager, and told me there's more than just a name-change involved here.

Paulson surprised me by the number of American beers on tap. A lot of the old favorites, and some brews I'd never heard of.

But we were here for food….and the smell of the smoker was getting to me. Chef Ed says the purpose of smoking meat is to make it tenderer. Beef Brisket is a lean cut of meat. Cooking it for eight hours slowly breaks down the meat…and smoking it add flavor. So, beef brisket it was.

Photographer Joe Bennett ordered the Smokey Mountain Chicken.
The BBQ beef brisket horseshoe comes-as it should -on a metal plate (the anvil) a layer of toast, the beef, then waffle fries all topped by a cheese sauce-made in this case with Hamm's beer. This is good stuff. I wouldn't have thought of cheese sauce with Hamm's beer, but it's good and this is the secret of the sandwich.

Joe, on the other hand, had the Smokey mountain chicken: grilled chicken basted in BBQ sauce, topped with smoked ham, melted Swiss, jack and cheddar cheeses….and with bacon added for good measure.
"How is it?"
"Really good".
Joe pronounced it the best chicken sandwich he'd ever had…and said he'd be back for more.

Our bill for all of this, with soft drinks, came to forty-two dollars and fifty-one cents, plus tip. The Retro American Tap is at 120 SW Water Street, and opens at 11-AM Monday through Friday, Ten AM on Weekends.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.