Approximately three hours southwest of Chicago, Peoria, Illinois, is the oldest European settlement in the state and named after the Peoria tribe. Today, an expansive arts, entertainment and dining district lies near Peoria’s waterfront along the Illinois River. Whether you choose a funky spot for late-night cocktails in downtown Peoria, craft beer and pub fare in nearby Pekin or Washington, ice cream or frozen yogurt in East Peoria, or dressed-up popcorn in Morton, you’ll find a great variety of food and drink among local purveyors. Here’s a quick guide to some of the top places to eat and drink in the Peoria area in Illinois.
Sips and Bites in Peoria
Peoria has a huge number of drinking and dining options, which can seem a bit overwhelming at first. But a self-guided Sips and Bites Tours provide a great taste of Peoria through fun and focused tours. Visit all of the destinations on the Craft Beer Hop and collect stickers at each one to win a prize from the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Stops include Thyme Kitchen and Craft Beer in the Peoria Warehouse District or Peoria Hofbrau, known for fine German and American cuisine since 1984.
Collect Pizza Prowl stickers at stops such as Double A’s in Peoria or Michael’s Italian Feast in Washington. If you love chicken wings prepared any number of ways, you’ll appreciate more than a dozen varieties at McMahon’s Pints & Plates, in East Peoria. One stop along the Wing Walk, this restaurant serves garlic Parmesan, citrus chili and many other tempting flavors.
On the Ice Cream Crawl you’ll find East Peoria’s M & M Twistee Treat, a custard cone-shaped building serving hot dogs and pizza burgers as well as cool dairy treats as well as Emack & Bolio’s in Peoria. On the Sweet Treats Trail, Pekin’s favorites include Maurie’s Candies, while the Great American Popcorn Co. in Morton serves the ultimate gourmet snack.
Get your caffeine fix while following the Java Jaunt, at Eli’s Coffee in Morton, a local staple for coffee, cookies and conversation since 2005. In Peoria, Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co. takes its name from the region—30 degrees north and south of the equator—where the majority of specialty coffee is farmed. Sips and Bites tours reward you with great flavors, discovered at your own pace.
There’s plenty of upscale dining in the Peoria, Illinois, area. A sampling includes Troy Ummel’s Connected restaurant, which combines delicious Italian fare with an upscale, romantic ambiance. A dramatic 22-foot waterfall complements cuisine from this professionally trained chef with nearly 30 years experience. You’ll find a pleasant surprise in a strip mall when you try EDGE by Chef Dustin Allen, which showcases farm-fresh, locally sourced ingredients and four-course prix fixe meals. EDGE was an Open Table Diners’ Choice winner in 2015, too.
Seafood enthusiasts will love The Fish House. This 40-year-old Peoria staple serves seafood dishes ‘from around the globe,’ as well as steak, chicken and pasta. The adjacent Seafood Market sells fresh Alaskan halibut, King Crab, and Florida red snapper, to name a few.
Beer & Booze
When JK Williams Distilling, LLC opened in 2013, it served only a few unaged whiskeys. Now, nearly three years later, they feature several whiskeys and bourbons, which includes a recently released 2-year-old straight bourbon, says Kristin Williams, co-founder and co-owner.
With the tag line “Eat. Drink. Be English,” Fox Pub and Cafe is Peoria’s only British-themed pub. You’ll find bangers and mash here, fish and chips and bags - fresh-baked sandwich buns filled with corned beef, beer-battered haddock and more. Eleven different draft beers on tap, and trivia games, are other draws.
Craft beer and dynamite half-pound burgers draw customers to Maquet’s Rail House in Pekin, while the recently opened Season’s Gastropub in Morton, pairs seasonal, chef-driven dishes with great brews.
Casual and Fun
Downtown Peoria staple, The Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern features traditional smoked barbecue—including brisket and St. Louis cut ribs—plus unique appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos and even rice bowls.
“We're excited to be a part of the movement to bring diners to downtown Peoria and the RiverFront area,” says Joanna Voos, General Manager. “A new wave of restaurants, bars, brewers and coffee shops are opening in the downtown, warehouse and waterfront districts of Peoria that are bringing thoughtful menus and craft beer/cocktail options to diners.”
Chicago dogs rule at Tasty’s Chicago Grill, which also serves burgers, beef and sausage sandwiches, and a huge variety of gyros, amid classic diner ambiance. There’s delicious baklava too.
Opened in Peoria more than two decades ago, One World Cafe features flavors from across the globe. “We offer something that could satisfy any palate,” says Amy Eid, in human resources for the restaurant. The cafe serves pizzas, burgers, salads, hummus and taquitos—just as an example of its diverse offerings.
“As the popularity of culinary and appreciation of food grows [in Peoria], we find more guests appreciating what we do, and also have more freedom to push the limits with new and exciting flavors.” Eid says.
Serving customers since 1999, Rhythm Kitchen Music Cafe features “…good southern home cooking, New Orleans style, with a flare, for vegetarians,” says Shelley Lenzini, owner. “[It’s] a place to gather for great food, awesome live music and old and new friends.
“I've been waiting for years for developers to see the great possibilities that are here with the old buildings and the river. There is such charm and awesome stories that come from this. It gives the downtown riverfront the opportunity to give back and revitalize for the future to come.”
Since 1861, in Peoria Trefzger’s Bakery has delighted customers with made-from-scratch pies such wild berry with lemon crust, and decadent chocolate eclairs. This is a great spot for breakfast pastries and coffee too.
Another sweet Peoria staple, Le Bakery, is known for ricotta-filled cannoli, still warm pies and breakfast pastries made daily. East Peoria is home to Carl’s Bakery & Restaurant, famous for its yeast donuts, fritters and bear claws. And while the Great American Popcorn Co. may be best known for its 40 flavors of popcorn it also serves homemade fudge and 24 ice cream flavors.
Handcrafted ice cream and Mexican ‘paleterias’ (popsicles) made with natural ingredients draw customers to Las Delicias. The shop sells fresh juices and house-made granola, too. The bright lime, lemon, fuchsia, and cobalt décor makes this a cheerful dining destination. For more cool and sweet snacks, check out East Peoria’s M & M Twistee Treat ice cream parlor and hot dog stand, from March to October; or the Ice Cream Shack of Sunnyland.
This is just a quick look at some of the top dining spots in the Peoria area. For more dining options visit the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s dining page, or download our visitor’s guide.