Last week when A Taste Of Peoria was happening at the Riverfront Festival Park, I was in New York and missed the event. I did go last year and while I appreciate what they do, I also realized back then that it’s impossible to have a true, “taste of Peoria” in one evening and place. And so this hatched an idea for yet another on-going series here on MBIP! I’ve decided to go around town where there’s a collection of restaurants in one area and try them all out on one blog post! And I thought the best place to start would be one of Peoria’s oldest shopping areas that’s really been renovated in the last couple of years and that place is Junction City Shopping Center. In addition to great stores for service and shopping there, they also have lots of wonderful and diverse places to eat. So let’s go and take a taste of Junction City! (Note: The order they appear are the order I went to them over a two day period last Sunday and Monday.)
The People: From left: Caroline, Carla and Izzy.
The Place: For those of you who remember, this space used to house the old soda fountain area for the Drug Store here in Junction City. I remember it well, because I worked in the Drug Store all through high school and coming in here brought back a lot of memories for me! It’s bright and nice in here and it’s all self-serve with lots of flavors and toppings to choose from! There’s two dining areas to sit in and there’s outside seating as well.
The Taste: Carla is the owner and she recommended I try the cupcake batter flavor and it was creamy and delicious. I also added a lot of toppings including Reese’s Pieces, mini-chocolate kisses, crunched up graham crackers and hot caramel. This was a sweet treat indeed and it was fun to make it myself!
The People: They were a little shy in there and no one wanted to pose for the MBIP Camera. Oh well, you can’t win them all, but they were nice and welcoming to me!
The Place: It’s take-out and in-house dining here and I chose to eat inside. The dining room is off to the right and has tables and booths to enjoy your meal at. It’s a simple, clean design and it has a calm atmosphere inside.
The Taste: I asked them to bring me what they considered a signature lunch dish and they brought me a dish of the Garlic Chicken and White Rice. It was just a little spicy (she asked if I liked spicy food and I told her yes), but not overpowering and sometimes garlic can give me heartburn, but I was fine after this, so they didn’t overdue the garlic either. The chicken was juicy and the vegetables were crisp and this was a tasty and satisfying dish!
The People: Eric and Jordan (top photo), Lauren and Jordan (bottom photo.)
The Place: It’s huge inside, much bigger than it looks! It’s got a bright and airy atmosphere and there’s three dining areas and a bar off to the right for single diners, which is where I sat. Everyone here is super-friendly and you can see all the action going on in the kitchen in the back because it’s exposed and open for public viewing. There’s also outside seating available.
The Taste: Mary, the manager chose my dish and she brought me out a half-sized order (I asked for a smaller portion since I was going to be eating multiple meals) of a dish called: Chilaquiles Verdes. Yes, that’s a half order! Mary told me this is their version of breakfast nachos and it consists of homemade corn tortilla chips, salsa verde, roasted chicken, chorizo, sunny-side eggs, sour cream, Queso Fresco and avocado. This was so delicious and it had so much flavor and varied tastes going on it was insane! I can’t even describe it, all I can tell you is that you have to try this dish at least once in your lifetime, it is so good! And if you order the full portion, be prepared to get part of it to go!
Brienzo’s Wood Fired Pizza
The People: Nathan and Rachel.
The Place: Brienzo’s has a nice old-school Italian feel to it as you walk in to the dining room and see the paintings on the walls and walk through the archway to order your pizza. All pizzas are made to order and you can watch them as they’re being prepared and are then slid into the specially-made wood-fired oven. In addition to signature and specialty pies, you can build your own and there’s a nice selection of craft beer and there’s also wine on tap, which you don’t see very often. There’s tables and booths for seating and outdoor dining is available here too.
The Taste: Rachel and Nathan had trouble choosing a pie for me to sample because they said so many of them are popular. They ended up serving me the signature pie of the house, The Brienzo which is a pizza pie topped with: Meatballs, sausage, sweet peppers and ricotta and mozzarella cheese. This was really a tasty pie with the meat selections playing well off of the sweet peppers and the two styles of melted cheese. And Rachel revealed one trick to me they do in here, the crust is coated with a glaze of garlic butter and it really adds to the flavor when you bite into the outer crust area!
thirty-thirty Coffee Company
The People: Trey and Isadore
The Place: Just like the original thirty-thirty on Main Street, this place is cozy, warm and has a nice comfortable ambience to it. There’s wooden communal tables as well as smaller tables for single diners and a few comfortable chairs tucked away in the front corner. There’s artwork and photography on the walls and you order up at the front wooden and somewhat rustic counter.
The Taste: Trey told me that the pastries available were from Le Bakery and since I wanted to keep this a taste of Junction City, we decided to go with a couple of drinks. Trey told me they recently started brewing their own craft soda, so I told him to choose one of those and a coffee to go along with it. The soda he made up included, Hibiscus, ginger and lime and Isadora made me a cup of Cafe Miel. The two really went well together, the soda was both sweet and tart, with a lot of the lime flavor coming through and the Cafe Miel was definitely made with a whole latte love! Oof, sorry about that!
The People: Taylor (top) and Miguel and Mike (bottom).
The Place: Prince would have loved it in here! The entire restaurant has a purple hue to it, accentuated with white tables and chandeliers and artwork on the walls. In addition to tables there’s also a fully stocked bar where you can dine at the front of the restaurant. It’s got a high class look with a nice casual and friendly atmosphere. This would be a perfect place for a date night or a special occasion dinner.
The Taste: I asked Taylor to make a suggestion and she told me that she always suggests the Sandinista Roll, so I went with her suggestion and made a joke about The Clash. She had never heard of The Clash and I felt a little old, because I am and took a seat at the bar. But before I sat down I met Mike and Miguel who are the chefs in here and they were very friendly and welcoming as was Taylor. Taylor brought out the Sandinista Roll and I have to agree with her, it was a great suggestion and a wonderful and tasty roll! It consisted of fresh yellowtail and avocado with spicy tuna, tempura jalapeno, cilantro and topped with sriracha and crunch. It had just the right amount of spice and the tuna was so fresh and tasty. They also have a full vegetarian selection, so I’ll be coming back for our Saturday night vegetarian meals one of these weeks, so stay tuned for that!
Cyd’s Gourmet Kitchen and Cafe
The Person: Kelli.
The Place: Cyd’s has been a popular spot in Junction City for quite a while now and for a good reason, the food here is fantastic. And there’s lots of dining options here to choose from: They have a full bakery, there’s deli-cases to get something to go or you can order in and dine inside at the spacious dining area or sit outside and there’s also a gourmet grocery section to get items to take home and prepare yourself. I chose to sit in the dining area which is a great people watching place and it’s very comfortable with a decidedly urban feel to it.
The Taste: Kelli suggested the Leland’s Best BLT sandwich and so that’s what I ordered and it did not disappoint. When Food Network chef Alton Brown came to town a while back, this was one of his favorites and I can see why! The sandwich is made with garden fresh tomatoes, crispy, smoky bacon, lettuce and basil mayo on fresh toasted Italian bread. All the flavors work well together, especially the smoky bacon and basil mayo, that was a really tasty one-two punch for the taste buds! It’s served with house-made chips and they were crunchy and a great compliment to the sandwich!
Edge By Chef Dustin Allen
The People: Dustin (top) and Magan (bottom.)
The Place: This one was the only place I didn’t get to go to on my sampling tour because they only open after 5PM and I was working when I did this. However, we were just here in June, so you can read about the experience by clicking right here. These pictures are taken from that night.
The Taste: I had the New York Strip Steak last June and it was unbelievable! You can read the whole review right here!
So that’s my taste of Junction City! Lots of great and varied food, flavors and people and I suggest you try some of these places out the next time you’re in that area! Stay tuned for the next MBIP “Taste of Peoria” coming up in a couple of weeks!
Related Posts: The Last Hour @ Taste Of Peoria and Walking Around Junction City On A Friday Afternoon.