I met Stacy Peterson shortly after I started this blog. She contacted me after she heard me on the Greg and Dan show on WMBD radio and we met at the Peoria Public Library’s northside location.
One of the fun things about moving back here has been reconnecting with old friends and meeting and making new ones. Stacy falls into the latter category. She moved here in 2006 after living in Iowa and studying in Paris, France. Stacy worked for the Peoria Art Guild before joining the Programming Staff at the Peoria Public Library two years ago. She’s the self-appointed “Ambassador of Peoria” and can point you in hundreds of directions as far as unique and fun things to do here in Peoria, both brows included, low and high. Stacy loves James Brown and Johnny Cash equally, collects martini shakers from the ‘50’s, she shops local and is learning to play the ukelele. The proof of that is the picture below.
Stacy’s a cute and peppy fast-talker (although she’s no match for my motor mouth), very witty and a bundle of fun, so I thought she’d be a natural for an MBIP lunch. She suggested The Cracked Pepper restaurant on Adams Street and so that is where I’m going to point the MBIP mobile this sunny afternoon.
And here we are at Cracked Pepper. The door says, "Enter" and so that is what we shall do.
It's really nice in here, let's look at the bakery case.
There's tables opposite the front counter to sit and dine at.
No, that is me! And you're all welcome to come along on this ride!
They have a vast collection of pepper mills on display in here.
There's another dining room through here, let's venture in and check it out.
There's a coffee bar with iced tea and more tables back here.
There's also a lot more pepper mills on display back here, I'm really getting into looking at these.
It's cool how they're displayed with light overhead and bordered with a picture frame.
I could take photos of these all day long, there's so many in here, but we need to find a table as Stacy should be here at any minute.
I first chose this table, but after sitting there for a couple of minutes it felt a bit stifling, so I moved...
To this table up front, I felt safer and more comfortable up here and it had a nice view of Adams Street.
And here she is, the MBIP luncheon guest star of the day, Stacy Peterson!
Here we are settled in at our table. Stacy's really cool and fun to hang out with and we had a nice conversation with topics ranging from, Legs McNeil, The Handcuffs, The Irish Villa, the Peoria Journal Star, Punk magazine, The Boogers, my New York apartment, local blogs and bloggers, the Peoria Public Library, the MBIP card and, most intriguingly, a shellacked wiener somewhere in Peoria that Stacy’s going to take me to somewhere down the road, stay tuned for that!
Before you know it, it's dueling camera time! Deedle-dee-dee-dee. One of Stacy's many duties at the library is organizing fun events and a few of them coming up include: The 18th District Congressional Art Show which runs from April 5th to the 26th at the Main Library downtown. This show will feature over 200 pieces of art and one will be chosen to hang in Washington, D.C. April 28th, We're About 9 performs at 2PM for free as part of Music in the McKenzie and there's a lot more going on at all the branches, check out the Peoria Public Library website for more information as my fingers can't type anymore of it in and this caption has really gone on about as far as it should go.
And here's Mike, striking a "Ta-da" lunch is served pose.
Stacy got one of the many colorful salads offered up at Cracked Pepper.
I got the award-winning Italian beef box lunch which comes with cole slaw and a cookie.. The Italian beef was delicious and topped with two kinds of cheese that I had never heard of and didn't write down, so unless you go yourself, you'll never know what it is that tops this sandwich and that's just the way it is. It was a great lunch!
Thoughts For Food
The Stacy L Peterson disclaimer: I have been a vegan for many, many years. My below choices were made, in part, based on memory or nostalgia...that being said, I’m fairly certain that my selections are still “spot-on!”
Favorite pizza in Peoria (or nearby, this appies to all questions): Hoops downtown really can’t be beat. I’d give second prize to Oliver’s in the Heights—I’m a sucker for dining “al fresco” and it’s always a nice crowd in there!
Recommendation for Saturday Night Cheeseburger: I would still have to go with a favorite from the past—the Burger Barge’s “Beach Boy Burger”—a mess of cheese, meat and goodness in one. Though I have to say, though, while I don’t miss hamburgers, when the folks at Ulrich’s on Main are cooking them up, you can smell it for miles and it makes my mouth water! That’s my rec—Ulrich’s—then tell me if they taste as good as they smell.
Best local frozen yogurt: I go out of my way to go to Theo’s for their frozen yogurt—the snickers version is just about the best thing ever. Seriously—it’s like my “Cheers” (but they call me “The Yogurt Lady” in there.)
If you could take a trip back in time, where would you eat a meal in Peoria? Dave Koehler had the Goodness Cafe (now home to Panaderia Ortiz Bakery) and this quirky place not only featured local artists but it also had incredible Vegan choices (or they'd make it for you to order)! Oh, how my palate still longs for the lunches at this place.
Even though you should try to eat local, the one chain restaurant in Peoria I would recommend is: Biaggi’s—just for the Roasted Beet Salad—divine!
Favorite local sandwich: The Falafel at Haddad’s—local, delicious chick-pea goodness.
Best little out of the way joint I know is: Jackson Street Pub (for waffle fries and horseshoes) or Vitale’s (for the steak/onion ranch pizza) in Macomb, Illinois –that stuff fueled me through Grad School!
Someplace that has really good pub grub is: When out-of-towners visit, I always take them to Schooner’s for the Pork Tenderloin—seeing their eyes bug out when that monster comes to the table is the best thing ever!
My favorite spot for breakfast is: I’m really partial to a modified vegetarian omelet at Childer’s and I love the fact that there’s a huge garden behind the restaurant!
And my favorite to have lunch at is: Cracked Pepper (especially on North Adams). Bacon log pastries, salads and sandwiches—something for everyone! Stop in and see the fun staff/stuff at Relics, next door after you dine!
If you had to choose a last meal in Peoria, what would it be (feel free to use items from different restaurants): Wedding Cake from Trefzger’s with the Raspberry/Buttercream filling would be pretty satisfying...Hummus and a Southwestern Salad (with Tofu) from One World, Baba Ganoush from Pita’s Mediterranean Wraps, 7 on Prospect had some delicious Portobello mushroom caps at one time, a perfectly ripe watermelon from Spring Bay Farms, sliced tomatoes from the Garden Spot Farm (drizzled with some Balsamic) would be downright tasty, anything off the menu at Sushigawa is a solid choice...This would apparently be more of a “grazing experience” than an actual meal-think of it as Peoria’s Tasting menu…I'd wash everything down with coffee from 30/30—and even though I haven't eaten animal products in years—I'm still longing for Two25's sea bass that I had eons ago. Okay, I'll stop now.
Thanks to Stacy and Cracked Pepper for a great lunch and afternoon in downtown Peoria! See you all tomorrow.