I always preach that you should eat local and avoid the chain restaurants like 17,000 cases of the Bubonic plague. But, like everything, there is one exception to this steadfast rule: Steak ‘n Shake. Steak ‘n Shake is a chain restaurant, but they have one item on their menu that can’t be found at a local restaurant, Chili Mac, or as I like to call it, Chili Crack, because it’s truly addictive! When I lived in New York, there wasn’t a Steak ‘n Shake in that city for the first 18 years I lived there and whenever I made a trip back here to Peoria, I always stopped in at Steak ‘n Shake for a quick and tasty fix of Chili Crack. In 2012, Steak ‘n Shake finally opened up a restaurant in Manhattan, right next to the Ed Sullivan Theater on 53rd Street, but it’s weird, I could never go there because it would’ve seemed too out of place eating Chili Crack somewhere other than Peoria. Yesterday I saw this picture of the grand opening of the first Steak ‘n Shake in Peoria on facecrack via the Local History Collection: Peoria Public Library page:
That was from 1958 and it was announcing the opening of the Steak ‘n Shake on Main Street. That Steak ‘n Shake is long gone, but looking at it left me with a powerful craving for Chili Crack, which I haven’t had for quite a while and so let’s make tracks for the one MBIP approved chain restaurant: Steak ‘n Shake!
There’s several Steak ‘n Shakes in Peoria, but I decided to go to the one located closest to MBIP World Headquarters, which is on University near Pioneer Parkway.
It’s one of Peoria’s few restaurants that’s open 24 hours, so all you insomniacs out there take note! Let’s go in and see what’s going on in here tonight.
There’s the main dining room with a sign that says, “Please Wait To Be Seated.”
Normally, I’d bypass that sign and just sit over here at the counter but...
I ran into Tiffany and decided to sit in her section because she was so nice and cute to boot!
She led me to this booth, perfect!
I looked at the menu, but we already know what I’m going to order...
Chili Crack! I placed my order with Tiffany and while that’s being prepared, let’s take a look around in here.
Here’s a vintage photo of Steak ‘n Shake from back in the day. And here’s a brief history of Steak ‘n Shake, which started its operation out of a gas station in Normal, Illinois back in 1932.
Another vintage shot of Steak ‘n Shake hangs over here on this wall. Check out these 10 things you might not know about Steak ‘n Shake via Thrillist.
Wow, that’s one big-ass milkshake!
Here’s another view of the front counter, let’s go over and say hi to the gentleman seated over there at the end of it.
This is Rodney, who works here and is taking a little counter break. Hello, Rodney!
Order up! Which reminds me, we should get back to our table because...
It looks like it’s just about time for...
Chili Crack! Here’s Tiffany with our saucy fix for the night!
Wow, it looks amazing, but it’s not ready to eat just yet. If you’re a Chili Crack enthusiast, you know the proper way to eat this dish...
It comes with two condiments, Parmesan cheese and two packages of crackers.
When adding the Parmesan cheese, you must be careful to sprinkle on just the right amount of cheese. You don’t want to dump the whole tub on there and overpower the dish with Parmesan cheesiness, but you want enough to add just the right amount of dusty Italian cheese flavor to the mix...
This is just the right amount. Trust me, I’ve spent decades perfecting my Chili Crack prep work.
Next you want to crumble up all four crackers on top of the dish. But don’t crumble them too much, you want to leave them somewhat chunky so they add a little crunch to the mix.
This is perfect! But you don’t dig in just yet, the next step is to...
Mix it all together like a saucy little stew. How great does this look?
Well it tastes even better! The trick in eating it is too have equal portions of the beef, pasta and crackers in every bite. This is one unique spicy taste that you won’t find anywhere else.
It’s so fucking good! Thanks to Tiffany and everyone at Steak ‘n Shake for satisfying my Chili Crack attack! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
Steak n Shake
7715 N. University