Eric's Blog

NORMAL, Ill. -- ISU sports fans have been eating at this Twin Cities restaurant for decades. And so has Redbird basketball coach Dan Muller.

NORMAL, Ill. -- ISU sports fans have been eating at this Twin Cities restaurant for decades. And so has Redbird basketball coach Dan Muller.

Pub II in Normal has always been a favorite hang out for Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller. And that even goes back to his days after a big win as an ISU player.

“I have a lot of memories of being in here with a bunch of teammates, having fun, celebrating, eating, and being responsible of course, but celebrating wins,” Dan Muller.

Dan still runs into friends here. And during the season the restaurant hosts his weekly radio show. Pub II owner Terry Stralow, known to his friends as T-Bone, is one of ISU's biggest fans.

“I love the college atmosphere. Working with kids everyday keeps me young. And where else can you be at work and have your friends come and visit you?” said Stralow.

The food here is the traditional fare you'd expect at a sports themed bar and grill. Dan went the healthy route and ordered the grilled chicken fillet with a side of chips, while I had the rib eye sandwich and fries.

We both gave into a craving however and shared a basket of Pub II's locally famous fried cheese balls. They were as good as advertised.

“The chicken is always juicy, the ingredients are fresh and its just a relatively healthy way to have a good meal here,” said Muller.

Our bill before tip was just under $27.

Pub II is located on the edge of the ISU campus in Normal on the corner of Linden and College. They're open seven days a week starting at 11 a.m.

For the full experience, stop by sometime on game night.

A well-known steakhouse in West Peoria is about to be known for another specialty, their rib recipe. This week on You Gotta Eat, Joe Bennett tops off the rib tour with a signature sauce from Sky Harbor.

WEST PEORIA, Ill. --Don't let the name fool you. Sky Harbor Steakhouse in West Peoria is also a certified rib-specialty restaurant.

They won the Peoria Ribfest two years in a row in the professional category. Here you will find some of the area's best Kansas City style ribs.

"We also do ribs with sauerkraut, it's kind of a German-style dish. So we've got a couple of options," said Owner Daryl Klusendorf. "We also do ribs dry with sauce on the side. That would be Memphis style."

Sky Harbor's owner not only knows how to identify the ribs of different regions, he also knows how to prepare them. Memphis style is not on the menu, but it is still offered by simple request. Klusendorf will not reveal many secrets to the success of Sky Harbor's ribs, but he will say this: the sauce is a family recipe.

"It's got a little light smoke, just the right amount of heat and the right amount of sweetness," said Klusendorf.

Photographer Doug Smith and I each ordered a rack of ribs, Doug's with sauce on the rack and mine with sauce on the side. Yes, they taste as good as they look, if not better. Sweet, tangy, salty, tender... choose any word you want to describe the perfect rib, and apply it to the entire rack. And that's before I even put on the barbecue sauce. These ribs even have low mess factor. The meat is so clean, it doesn't leave a greasy residue on your fingers or the bone.

The ribs come with two sides including salad. Add that to a couple drinks and dessert for Doug, and our total came to $53.80 plus tip.

Sky Harbor Steakhouse is at 1321 North Park Road in West Peoria. They are open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m to 10 p.m. and stay open until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sundays.

PEORIA, Ill -- This week on You Gotta Eat we show you a great place for the right price. Los Jimadores is just south of the border. That is, if you live in Dunlap.

PEORIA, Ill -- The manager of Los Jimadores says his customer base has grown with the economy since the restaurant opened in 2008.

"They love the food and margaritas, you know they're excellent and tacos guanajuatos," says manager Jose Vazquez. "They're grilled steak tacos with chorizo. The other one is tacos el pastor. It's marinated pork, really good."

Doctor George Lucero eats there every week or two, and he's sort of an expert on the topic.

He's from California and lived for a while in New Mexico.

"I've had my fair share of Mexican food everywhere, and I'd say this is hands down the best Mexican food in Peoria," Dr. Lucero says.

"It just makes you feel like you want to have a Margarita along with your lunch, but I can't," laughs Julie McCullough.

She speaks of the the atmosphere, complete with neon murals by a painter from Oaxaca, Mexico.

"We need the black light to be able to see it when it's darker, and we just try to do it different, like to do it more authentic," Vazquez says with pride.

Of course, we had hot nachos served immediately.

I had meant to order a chicken dish, but my Spanish is a little rusty.

I accidentally ordered the Lunch Enchilada Cosumel, which is two shrimp enchiladas with cheese sauce, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream.

Typically I'm not a shrimp-lover, but I was certainly impressed enough to clean my plate.

Photographer Chad Weber had the Lunch Fajita Quesadilla, a seven-inch flour tortilla with chicken, shredded cheese and a medley of grilled goods.

As much as I enjoyed my meal, I admittedly was eying Chad's plate.

After some fried ice cream, our meals with drinks came to $22.99 plus tip.

I would definitely recommend paying a little extra for an assortment of dips to go with your complimentary chips.

Los Jimadores is on 7723 North University in Peoria.

They are available for take out.

2 Chez is a family-oriented restaurant with something on the menu for everyone.

2 Chez is tucked in the the corner of Knoxville and Pioneer Parkway. Owner Todd Hohulin opened in 2008, surviving the great recession through good food and good service.

Todd Hohoolin said, "Over the years our good customers have become more like family than customers."

We arrived at a time when most customers know each other and exactly what they want to eat. The menu looks like an English Sunday roast: lamb, duck, chicken, beef, veal, a menu fit for a king.

Diner Polly Barton said, "At night scallops. During the day a salad."

The lunch crowd seems fond of the salads. Especially the 2 Chez salad.

Lynn Flaherty liked the, "Bacon, walnuts, cucumbers, grilled chicken."

Two of the regulars at 2 Chez are Tom and Dorothy Brubaker. Ask Tom what he likes and he'll tell you. "Everything. The soups are fan... He's got almost 200 different soups."

The soups and dressings are all made in-house along with the sun-dried tomato spread. 2 Chez gets high ranks from me for the spread alone. As for soup, I had the beer-cheese and broccoli. Photographer Larry Foulk opted for salad before his entree. Steak Frites for Larry. He said it was 'medium-well, just right.' I had the feature, Florentine Ravioli stuffed with spinach and cheese, topped with veal bolognese.

If I had a more refined palette I would come up with a better description than 'amazing.' The entrees had our appetites 'en garde' so we took boxes over desserts, which are also made in-house. Our total with two soft drinks, two entrees came to $34.84 plus tip. An appropriate price for food so good. In the words of the restaurant owner, "We're down-home people doing upscale business here."

2 Chez is located at 7815 North Knoxville Avenue. They are open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays and open for dinner on Saturdays.

We take off for one of Peoria's newest eateries. Located on the corner of one of the city's busier intersections...

The Famous City Bistro is located at Sheridan and Glen in Peoria....offering both dine-in and drive-up service.

We opted for the dine-in, since it's tough to do one of these stories inside the news van.

Famous City Bistro's owner --Ken Humphrey is the owner and creator of the concept for the restaurant. Humphrey says the resturant offers a variety of sandwiches and entrees from across the nation. There are even Po Boy New Orleans sandwiches and Broasted Chicken..so..we asked John Harlan and his wife Sidney what they were having...

"You're having two of something. What is that?
"Chicago dogs, Chicago dogs, pretty good ones."
"They're large"
"Yeah, you get mustard on your nose"

Customer, Sidney Harlan was enjoying "The beef brisket. Very juicey, very good".

Despite those recommendations, I ordered daily special of Broasted Chicken --because it's made in a pressure cooker, and is supposed to be very tender.

Photographer Larry ordered the pork tenderloin....because it was large.

The Broasted Chicken was delivered hot and steamy with skinny french fries... For $6.99 you get two pieces. I got four --because I was hungry. The chicken was very juicy and very good..recommended.

Larry loaded up his tenderloin with condiments and pronounced it good, The tenderloin came with beans which had some bite to them, which Larry liked.

We topped off our lunch with a chocolate Sundae for me, and a root beer float for Larry.

Amazingly, after paying our bill of $26.39 for lunch and soft drinks, we were able to waddle to our car.

Famous City Bistro is at the corner of Sheridan and Glen in Peoria, open
10:30am to 10pm Mon- Thursday, Friday and weekends, 10:30am to midnight.
We take off for one of Peoria's newest eateries. Located on the corner of one of the city's busier intersections... Read more »
If you Google "breakfast" and "Peoria, Illinois" one of the responses you get is: LePeep, the oddly named little restaurant which serves only breakfast and lunch. Read more »
This week on "You Gotta Eat", we're featuring a place that offers more than the usual sports bar--we're heading off to EP's Timeout for lunch today. Read more »
Thursday night on You Gotta Eat, it's off the Heart of Illinois Fair and this time, it wasn't exactly to eat fair food. Read more »