Greater Peoria is proud to be a region full of midwestern hospitality—where visitors and residents find comfort. Whether you are a resident, guest, visitor, or transplant, when you think about home, these iconic Peoria Area spots come to mind.
Kelly Seed & Hardware Co – Peoria
After three generations of ownership and operation in Peoria, it’s hard to exclude Kelly Seed & Hardware as a pillar of the community–they’ve been selling higher quality agricultural products for over 100 years. Their services include garden solutions, with a focus on vegetables but the locals stop in for their dose of hometown news and to swap stories—or maybe, perhaps, tall tales. Kelly Seed is always a-buzz with chatter—not gossip, but hunting, fishing, farming, gardening and wildlife stories.
Holland’s Mercantile – Washington
This iconic old-fashioned candy store, soda fountain, and toy store has been on the historic Washington Square for 30+ years. This candy emporium is a unique experience—the moment you step through Holland’s Mercantile’s aged wooden entryway, you will be transported back in time to a journey that begins the moment you set foot upon the creaky wooden flooring to explore the aisles of glass jars are filled with every colorful sweet and treat imaginable. This hidden gem will not disappoint.
Emo’s Dairy Mart – Peoria
You will recognize the clown from anywhere—red haired, a nose to rival Rudolph’s, and a cute mid century purple hat to complete the look. But it’s not what’s on the outside sign at Emo’s, it’s what's inside the famous service windows…. Located at the corner of War Memorial and Prospect, this seasonal walk-up window ice cream and hot dog stand has been a community staple for over 50 years. Ask any local what they order from Emo’s and you’ll get a variety of answers—from banana splits to chili dogs to soft serve atop a generous mound of sprinkles—rest assured, a true Peorian will have a go-to favorite.
Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino – East Peoria
As luck would have it, docked on the East Peoria side of the Illinois River sits the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino. If you’re looking for Las Vegas excitement mixed with midwestern hospitality, look no further. This river yacht is a beacon in our own backyard. Ask any local for a story about “The Boat” and you’ll hear tales of jackpots, recollections of mouth-watering steak dinners, step-by-step instructions to find the lucky penny machines, and narratives of reunions, traditions, and good-luck rituals. Par-A-Dice is a great spot to try your luck—not to mention, a spectacular view of the river… from the river!
The Feed Store – Princeville
If you’re looking for a hearty, homestyle farm to table meal, we have the perfect place for you! The Feed Store in Princeville serves up traditional wholesome American food, including burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads. Whether you try the sirloin steak, grilled cheese, pot roast or the meatloaf in their casual atmosphere, you will feel like you’re enjoying a home-cooked meal. End your meal on a sweet note with a skillet cookie or some pie. With irresistible flavors like peanut butter, tollhouse cookie, oreo and pistachio cream, it might be a tough decision!
Schooner’s – Peoria Heights
This venerable tavern has been located on E. War Memorial Drive in Peoria Heights for 40+ years. The biggest selling point has always been familiarity. With little change over four decades, a time traveler from ‘81 would have little trouble recognizing the joint, making this a regional staple. Stop in for their famous beer-battered chicken and a cold beer, but stay for the stories as locals swap fond memories of their hometown hangout.
Happy Thought Coffee – Chillicothe
Happy Thought Coffee has been a part of the Chillicothe community for over 23 years, and is a popular destination for breakfast, lunch and baked goods. Enjoy a selection of coffee, soups, sandwiches and wraps. This friendly small town coffee shop also sells a variety of gifts and accessories including cookbooks, jewelry and hand and body products. With a cozy atmosphere, this hidden gem is an ideal place to spend some time and enjoy a cup of coffee. We recommend you try the breakfast pizza with a frozen coffee!
Mona’s Italian Restaurant – Toluca
The Bernardi family has made it a family tradition of making Central Illinoisans feel at home. Many Italians had immigrated to the Peoria area to work the coal mines that were prevalent in the early 1900s. Nildo “Mona” Arthur Bernardi founded Mona’s Italian Restaurant as a bustling beer parlor in Toluca, Illinois in 1933. When Mona’s Restaurant opened, the Pabst Brewing Company donated a neon sign with the name Mona below it, and the rest is history. With a mission to serve authentic Northern Italian cooking, this family restaurant has expanded a great deal over the last 85+ years from its first location in Toluca. If you’re in Washington, stop into Bernardi’s for the same excellent Italian classics and fried chicken.
The Publik House – Peoria Heights
Nothing makes you feel more at home than comfort food! The Publik House located in Peoria Heights is a english-style American and European gastropub that serves up American classics and pub fare. There’s no way you won’t love the cozy indoor atmosphere, or take advantage of their outdoor seating and get some sun. The Publik House is locally owned, and is known for its great wines and beer from around the world. Try the wings and mac n' cheese or pick from eight different burger options. Whether you’re a fan of chicken, steak, pork or mahi mahi, there’s also a sandwich option for you. We recommend trying the New York Steak Sandwich, which has the most tender and tasty strip steak, smoked cheddar cheese, onions and mushrooms. It’s absolutely delicious!
The Kountry Nook – Pekin
As soon as you step into The Kountry Nook in Pekin, you will be wowed by the homey atmosphere and amount of inventory to choose from. Not only does this shop have all of the decor, gifts and accessory items you could possibly want, but it also has the sweetest and most genuine employees. You will definitely find something unique when selecting from their handmade items and seasonal crafts. We promise you will walk out with something you love!
The 50’s Diner – Peoria
We promise the traditional diner atmosphere at The 50's Diner will make you feel right at home. Located in the Metro Centre, The 50s Diner serves up classic American favorites and all-day breakfast. Their six page menu of all your favorites is sure to have something to curb your cravings! Ranging from omelets and skillets to burgers and sandwiches, there is lots of variety to choose from. Plus, they’re home of the loosey sandwich, which features ground up hamburger and special seasoning. This location is great for a wholesome breakfast experience.
When you think of home, what iconic Peoria Area hometown joints come to mind?