It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I’m starvin’ like Marvin over here and that can mean only one thing: Food Cart A-Go-Go! To the MBIP Mobile!
Okay, we’re traveling up the Main Street Hill and we’ve parked (rather sloppily and at an angle #AmberParkingAlert) and we’ve got just one hour and fifteen minutes to hit all the food carts, meet the vendors, buy lunch at each one and then get some pictures of people having lunch in downtown Peoria near the Courthouse. 3, 2, 1...go!
There’s a half a dozen carts you can choose from during lunch time in downtown Peoria, or you can just go to all of them like I’m going to this afternoon. Here they are, from top: Ortiz Taco Bar, Manna Foods, Haddad’s, Asian Market, Willie’s Homemade Tamales and Tanh Linh Vietnamese Cuisine.
Meet The Vendors
We’ve met Bernardo from the Panaderia Ortiz Bakery before and you can check that out here. Since there were lines at all the carts, I couldn’t get everyone’s name, but I’ve met this friendly woman from Manna Food on previous food cart adventures and she’s always fun to talk to and I love her smile! It was great to see Loreece Haddad, the Grand Matriarch of the Haddad family at their food truck! I remember this pretty woman behind the Asian Market cart from past luncheon visits here as well and she’s right next door to the friendly couple running the ever-popular Willie’s Homemade Tamale cart. And here’s a million dollar smile from this pretty woman in charge of the Tanh Linh Vietnamese Cuisine Cart. Alright, now that the introductions have been made, let’s get lunch!
There’s Bernardo and his assistant preparing me a steak taco and it looks delicious! One of the things you have to deal with at the food carts is lines, but they move fast. Check out the James Shin Special, I was going to get it till I saw the dreaded triple exclamation point alert. Aaahhh! After I got my order at Manna, I walked down to the corner and quickly got my order at Haddad’s and then saw the long line at Tanh Linh and decided to come back to that cart and I crossed the street to...
The Asian Market cart where I quickly got my order and then it was over to Willie’s Tamales and they win the award for the longest line of all the food carts! They certainly are popular and I’ve had their food so I know why the line is longer than a Jerry Garcia guitar solo from the ‘70’s! Check out the boombox blaring out soul music to make the time in line here a little more pleasant, nice! We're partying like it's 1989! I finally made my way to the grill and ordered tamales, but they told me they only have them on Fridays, which was a bitter disappointment considering the name of the cart is Willie’s Tamales, but I quickly gathered my wits and ordered something else, keep on scrolling to find out what I got here instead of tamales...I mean it says “Tamales” right there on the cart...okay, I gotta let this go, let’s just move on!
The last stop of this food cart run is Tanh Linn and as you can see, the line here is still pretty long, but we’ve made good time so let’s just grin and bear it. And yeah, I’m obsessing over this woman in front of me in line...give me a break, like you’ve never fixated on some one in line, you know you have!
Holy freakin' moley, I love the way her hair is flying in the breeze! Okay, I need to get back on track, sorry about that! I need to focus on the food carts!
The special today at Tanh Linn is Chicken Curry...I wonder if that’s any relation to Adam? Okay, all the food is placed in the passenger seat in the MBIP Mobile and there’s 42 minutes still on the parking meter, plenty of time to take some pictures enjoying their lunch in and around the courthouse square in downtown Peoria!
People Eating Lunch!
Everyone was enjoying their lunch break and the tasty food down here, so I didn’t bother with getting names because I appreciated them pausing for a pose for the MBIP Camera and didn’t want to take up any more of their time. However, I did see a familiar face in the crowd, in the second photo from the bottom that’s Lisa Miller, having lunch with her friend, John. Lisa used to be a morning anchor at WMBD and we have several friends in common including Matt Buedel and Steve Tarter from the PJ Star. Lisa now works at Caterpillar in a P.R. position. In fact Steve recently wrote a story about the number of media personalities who move on to P.R. jobs after doing duty reporting the news on TV and radio and you can read that story right here. Finally I met a fellow who told me he’s a big fan of MBIP and reads the blog every day and as we all know, I never get tired of hearing that! Great to see everyone enjoying lunch in downtown Peoria. And speaking of lunch, it’s time to sample the food that we just got from the carts. To the MBIP Mobie once again! Oh and before we get in to the MBIP Mobile, please note that there’s still 29 minutes left on the meter! We did this in record time and I’m pretty gosh-darned proud of myself!
MBIP World Headquarters
Okay, here we are traveling back to MBIP World Headquarters with the passenger seat filled with freshly purchased food cart entrees and appetizers! There’s the official MBIP World Headquarters Kitchen/Food Laboratory and we’ve taken out the official MBIP food tasting plate to sample the items we got today. And of course, Joan Jett is keeping a watchful eye over all these festive proceedings!
Here’s what I got from the carts: A steak taco from Ortiz Taco Bar, Crab Rangoon from Manna Foods, an Gyro with everything on it from Haddad’s cart, Egg Rolls and Fried Rice from the Asian Market, a Pork Chop Sandwich from Willie’s Tamale’s (I’m still mystified why they don’t have tamales every day...your name is Willie’s Tamales after all...okay, I really have to let this go!) and last but certainly not least, the Adam...I mean Chicken Curry Special from Tanh Linn.
Taking A Bite Of Everything
I can’t eat all of this, so I thought I’d have a bite of every dish and save the rest for later. The steak taco from Ortiz Taco Bar was really good, the steak was tender and it was spicy but not overpowering. The Crab Rangoon from Manna was tasty, rich and creamy, but I forgot to get sauce for it, so it was a little on the dry side. The Gyro from Haddad’s was so good! It was packed with spicy meat and the seasonings and sauce in the pita pocket were so delicious! I think Haddad’s is the food cart that’s been there the longest and the experience shows! The Egg Roll and Fried Rice from Asian Market was good, but just a little on the bland side and I’m kicking myself I didn’t get any hot mustard for it, this is what happens when the pressure of a ticking parking meter is looming over your head! The Pork Chop sandwich from Willie’s was really good...but I really wish I could’ve gotten some tamales..okay, I’ll obsess over this all day! Finally the Chicken Curry Special from Tanh Linn was well worth the wait, check out the size of the portion and the chicken and rice were spicy, juicy and oh-so delicious!
My Favorite Dish From Today’s Food Cart A-Go-Go Adventure...
It’s a tie between the Haddad’s Gyro and the Chicken Curry Special at Tanh Linn! While I enjoyed all the food and I encourage you to sample all of them, these were my two favorites of the day. Thanks to everyone for posing for pictures and playing along today!
And yeah, I’m still obsessing over the lack of tamales at Willie's Tamales and her too! We’ll see you all tomorrow!