I really think having contributing writers and photographers on the weekends has been a great thing for this blog. It’s kind of a cleansing palette from my Monday through Friday shenanigans and it’s nice to have different voices, photographers and ideas being played into the mix here. I’m very grateful and appreciative of these talented contributors and I wish I could afford to pay them, but even though the cost of living is a lot less in Peoria, I’m not exactly rolling in clover over here! But I figure the least I can do is invite them all out for a lunch once a month and I”ll pick up the tab. And so, just like in one of those old, manly-voiced, Brenda Vaccaro Tampon commercials, it’s that time of the month! Oh, MBIP contributors...
This month we decided to meet at Peoria's legendary Hofbrau House. This German restaurant has been a fixture in downtown Peoria for over 30 years. It's one of the first places MBIP commenter, friend and co-pilot, Al Rizo found on the internet when I announced I was moving back here and suggested I stop in. Well, Al, today's the day. Here's a view of the Hoffbrau from the back as I pull into the parking lot off Adams Street.
And here's the view of the Hofbrau from the front, which faces Jefferson Street in downtown Peoria.
Wooden soldiers stand guard over the German pub atop the roof.
Let's go in and have a look around. I haven't been in here for over two decades and can't wait to take a tour of the place.
It's just like I remember it, the bar is over on the right and the tables are to the left.
Illuminated fans spin and hum over the bar.
A vintage cash register is nestled next to the bottles behind the bar.
Enjoy this taps shot, Spike, it may never get any better than this!
A glance of the kitchen getting ready for the lunch crowd.
Here's a shot of the Hoffbrau from the back of the restaurant. Light tries to force its way in, but darkness wins in this joint.
The wooden walls are plastered with photos and memorabilia of all things German and Peorian.
German bric-brac, dolls and tchotchkes stand on shelves on the walls near the celing.
Bottles, glasses and uh, oh...is that an internet troll up there?
I don't know what it takes to get into the Hoffbrau's World Beer Tour Hall of Fame, but there's plenty of members in it.
See what I mean?
I reserved the back table for our luncheon, where the hell is everyone?
Here we are, the usual gang of idiots, from left, clockwise: Mike Foster, Bob "The Whale" Miller, Yours Fooley and Bob Gordon. Contributors, "Boris" Boden, Jaws the Cabbie, Jeff Putnam and Gene Rubbico couldn't make it, so we said nasty things about them behind their collective backs. As you can see from the smiles on our faces, the mescaline has just kicked in!
You have to order at the counter up front, so we dutifully trudged up and placed our orders.
The menu and specials hang on the dark wooden wall behind the counter.
Our lunch is ordered and being prepared, so we head back to our table.
And through the magic of the internet, the food is arriving to our table already. Macht shnell! We started off with three orders of beer cheese and crackers. Really tasty and the house mustard is zippy, dippy and devine!
And now for the main courses: Since it was Hash Wednesday, Mike lit into an order of the wine herring.
Bob went for the ham and cheese sandwich.
Here's my order, double chili dogs with topped with onion and a generous dollop of the Hoffbrau house mustard. All that and a bag of chips! And a pickle.
This dog's first name is not Oscar! Best chili dog in the world!
Here's a warm and fuzzy photo of the contributors tucking into lunch. It was a great time and a lively conversation with topics ranging from Catholicism, The Flying Nun, the first time getting served a beer, marijuana, Elvis, high school, The Yardbirds, dead people, POP magazine and plastic shot glasses.
Exactly seven seconds after this photo was snapped, a quadrophonic burp was heard around the world.
Thoughts For Food
Every edition of “Lunch With...” I’m going to ask the luncheon guest the same questions about food in Peoria. Since there were four guests today, I asked Bob Gordon to answer them this month. We’ll see who draws the short straw at the next MBIP Contributors Lunch!
Favorite pizza in Peoria (or nearby, this applies to all questions): Double A's on Willow Knolls Road.
Recommendation for Saturday Night Cheeseburger: Ludy's in Kickapoo.
Best local ice cream and favorite flavor: Emack & Bolio's, cherry vanilla.
If you could take a trip back in time, where would you eat a meal in Peoria? The Downey Flake on Adams in 40s/50s. I heard many stories from family and friends who said they had amazing food and donuts there. Peorians frequented often after a movie when the downtown was really thriving.
Even though you should try to eat local, the one chain restaurant in Peoria I would recommend is: The Longhorn Steakhouse.
Best little out of the way joint I know is: Tyroni's Pizza in Bartonville.
Someplace that has really good pub grub is: TNT's on Prospect in Peoria Heights.
My favorite spot for breakfast is: Last Chance Bar and Grill. It started primarily as a bar, changed ownership and is now a great place for a hearty breakfast or lunch.
If you had to choose a last meal in Peoria, what would it be (feel free to use items from different restaurants): Donnelley's hot wings, La Bamba's steak taco, Burger Barge double burger and cheese curds, a pint of Smithwick's at Kelleher's then I’d top all that off with a hot fudge sundae from Emo's.