One of the things I like about doing this blog is finding new places around town I had never heard of. Recently in the comments section, MBIP reader and commenter, mazr put up a link to a bakery on downtown's North Side called, Panaderia Ortiz Bakery and mentioned they have great pizza and tamales. I’ve been meaning to have lunch with Erik Reader and catch up with him about what he’s been up to since our last lunch, so I thought this would be a good excuse to go and try it out. It’s off to the MBIP mobile we go!
Off we go into that wild blue yonder headed for downtown Peoria.
And here we are at Panaderia Ortiz Bakery. One thing puzzles me there though, there's one front door...
And here's another door over here, which one should I enter in?
Wow, Monty and Carol aren't in here, but what a cool place!
It kind of feels like you've walked back in time when you come in here and the bakery products look and smell fantastic in here.
I love the smiley face cookies in here, really colorful and you can tell that they're handmade by the loopy smiles on the cookies. Very cool!
The cakes in here look magical...
See what I mean?
There's a small area where you can sit at and dine in here over there in the corner, let's go over there and see what's happening.
Here's Robert and Bill Ordaz enjoying some lunch in the corner table. Bill's the dad and Robert's the son and Bill told me he's all for pushing people to shop local and buying well built, beautiful old homes like the ones in this neighborhood. And he leads by example, he owns, rents and sells real estate in this neighborhood.
And in the other corner enjoying some of Panaderia's homemade goodness are, from left, Nate, Josh and a nice fellow who's name I forgot to write down. If you're reading this, let me know your name and I'll correct it! Nate told me he saw me taking pictures at Crusens a while back.
Let's go get in line and place our luncheon order.
Marie, the pretty woman working behind the counter told me it would be a thirty minute wait for one of their homemade pizzas and that's perfect seeing as i'm about thirty minutes early to meet Erik. It turns out Marie not only works behind the counter here...
But she's the co-owner along with her husband Bernardo to the right. That's their daughter Angie that they're holding. Great to see a family-owned business thriving in downtown Peoria.
Okay, through the magic of the internet, you're spared a thirty minute wait and here's the homemade pizza that Bernardo whipped up back in the kitchen. It looks amazing!
I applied a little hot sauce and took a bite, delicious!
And here's today's luncheon guest, Erik Reader, president and owner of Reader Area Development. Erik's an inspirational guy who's trying to make a difference in this town, specifically in the real estate development of urban neighborhood's like the one that Panaderia Ortiz Bakery is part of. And he puts his money where his mouth is, as you'll see soon.
We had a nice conversation over slices of pizza with topics including local blogs—Erik not only produces content for his Reader Area Development blog, he's also helping out with a new local bike blog called, Bike Peoria. Erik's also on the Board of Directors with Main Street Pekin and he's still working on the house he bought for redevelopment in this neighborhood and we'll check that out soon. But first...
One of the best tamales ever! If you haven't stopped in here, do yourself a favor and check it out, great food and a really friendly atmosphere in here.
And speaking of checking things out, Erik offered to give us a little tour to show us the progress on the house he bought in this neighborhood. If you didn't see the original post of our lunch with Erik back in April, check it out here to see what the house looked like then.
Here we are and the place is looking nice!
Let's go inside and see the progress Erik has made in the last five months.
Wow, he's really cleaned this place up, it looks great in here!
Check out the hardwood floor in the front hallway, it's a great touch to the entry way!
The kitchen's looking fantastic too. So great to see someone like Erik making a difference by positive real estate development in this town.
The best was this brick from the foundation of the house itself. A great memento for MBIP Headquarters.
As I walked to my car, I noticed this hand-painted mural on the side of the Panaderia Oritz Bakery, which kind of summed up the mood of the day. See you all tomorrow.
Thoughts For Food, Part II
Erik is the first person on this blog to be a guest luncher for two episodes, so I asked him if he’d fill out the “Thoughts For Food” questionnaire again and he dutifully did. And here it is!
Favorite pizza in Peoria (or nearby, this applies to all questions): Bacci Pizzeria, there honestly needs to be a place like this on every corner.
Recommendation for Saturday Night Cheeseburger: Anywhere that claims to have "The Best Horseshoe In Town" needs to be tested.
If you could take a trip back in time, where would you eat a meal in Peoria? I wouldn't mind grabbing a Thanksgiving Day broiled squirrel at the Peoria House.
Even though you should try to eat local, the one chain restaurant in Peoria I would recommend is: I really wasn't mad at the last meal I had at Texas Roadhouse. They have cold Shiner.
Favorite local sandwich: Few places outside of Chicago do an Italian Beef right, but Super Gyros in East Peoria has the best around.
Best little out of the way joint I know is: Only been once, but Shiloh's in Macomb.
Someplace that has really good pub grub is: Donnelly's.
My favorite spot for breakfast is: Thirty-Thirty Coffee. One cup of coffee, no sides.
And my favorite spot to have lunch at is: Working downtown, Cracked Pepper never disappoints.
If you had to choose a last meal in Peoria, what would it be (feel free to use items from different restaurants): One of everything from Mr. G's.