The warm weather means the return of the outdoor eating experience in central Illinois.
The pushcarts in downtown Peoria are especially luring this time of year.
Eric Shangraw is having a gyro at Haddad's in this week's You Gotta Eat.
Haddad's has been serving good grub in Peoria since the early 80's. Their pushcart outside the Peoria County Courthouse often has a line two-dozen deep. But the family keeps it moving. Co-owner Andy Speck takes orders and money while you wait. He's counting on you making the same order when you get to his mother in law who is doing all the serving.
"We just do an honor system down here," said Speck. "That way it helps facilitate people just moving the line along. That way when they get up to the line they can just tell what their sandwich is without having to worry about the money," he said.
"I got the pork chop sandwich," said customer Kati Harvey. "I just love pork chops. And it is huge and it is very delicious," she said.
"Pork chops always taste better outside," said Speck.
"Actually I've never eaten at Haddad's before," said customer Ryan Welch. "But I had a taste for their bratwurst today. I got it. (What do you think?) Perfect. They did it right," he said.
"I just like the gyro, man," said another customer.
Whether you say guy-row or gyro, or "year-roe" it all tastes great. Shaved lamb meat in pita bread with some cucumber sauce and onions.
We waited at the back of the line with the rest of humanity. Andy took our 22-dollars in cash half way to the pushcart. We arrived before Mama after a seven minute wait. We had ordered two lemonade shake-ups. They're made with real lemons and big scoops of sugar. I had a gyro. Photographer Doug Smith had a chicken sandwich and a pork chop sandwich. We sat in the afternoon sun and nourished ourselves with a hand held meal. Behind us local kids sang sweet melodies. It was a euphoric experience.
Father Tony runs the family pushcart set up outside Saint Francis Medical Center. Tony is 76-years old Thursday. He was a welder before he started selling food 29-years ago. We are all better off for his long ago career change. Happy Birthday Tony.
The push-carts are open weekdays for lunch. Haddad's has two restaurants on two different locations on Main street in Peoria.
Haddad's Restaurant & Catering
Push Carts Mon-Fri Lunch Hour
Downtown/OSF St. Francis
319 Main St.
1010 W. Main St.