Saturday, January 30, 2010

Smo-King Pit Barbecue

Yet another surprising mall joint, Smo-King Pit Barbecue was one of my favorite restaurants in Peoria. It's located in Northwoods Mall in the otherwise deserted hallway down from the equally deserted Sears.
Smo-King Pit first opened in Peoria Heights in 1997 under the name Citchen's Cafe. They moved to the mall (2200 War Memorial Drive) just a few yrs ago. Despite their location, all the meat is slow cooked over a hickory wood fire pit. They claim to have "award-winning" ribs, but who doesn't claim that?

The inside of the restaurant is very cute and woodsy. You can almost forget you're in a subpar mall. The workers seem to be a tight knit family and are always very polite and appreciative of their patrons... even this tattooed hoodrat.

The menu is typical of a barbecue joint. Ribs, briskets, pork, you know...meat. I would usually get the pulled pork platter- a sandwich with two sides for 8.99. They pile the meat on a relatively generic bun. But the bun is just a background player. The generous portion of pulled pork is juicy, smoky, and topped with a thick midwest-style bbq sauce which they make in the restaurant. You can buy a bottle for $5.99

Richie usually orders the brisket, but on this particular visit, chose the ribs.

Four bones and two sides for $6.99- a cheap way to satisfy your craving for ribs without sacrificing your taste buds. As for the sides, the baked beans are a little runny for my tastes, but I must say that their green beans are outstanding. Salty and spicy with bits of bacon, probably laden with sodium, about as unhealthy as one can make green beans. God, that looks good.

And apparently, it was, as evidenced by this picture of Richie gnawing on the bone.

They are also known for their homemade cheesecakes, which I, for some reason beyond me, never tried. They have 28 flavors, but rotate 4-5 daily.

Next time you find yourself at Northwoods, I beg you to forgo Charley's Subs and whatever smelly pizza buffet occupies a corner in the food court, and take a stroll down towards Sears. Take a left turn at the mattress store that somehow stays afloat, and walk towards the big (inanimate) pig. Finally, suffer through the contemporary praise music and enjoy your barbecue.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Osaka Sushi Bar

Can you really trust a sushi bar that sits openly in the middle of a mall in Davenport Iowa?
According to iron stomach Richie, you can...

Now that he works at Northpark Mall (Kimberly Rd), he often partakes in the lunch special at Osaka's Sushi Bar. I have eaten at the sushi bar and the full steak house with him before, always just getting tamago, which is sweet fried egg folded over rice. Not a fish fan.

The full restaurant, on Utica Ridge Rd, is no greasy joint. Along with the sushi bar, they offer hibachi, tempura, and teriyaki menus. You can view their full menu HERE

They offer daily specials on some crazy rolls like the Party Boy or Godzilla. All kinds of weird stuff shoved in there.

The Osaka Sushi Bar location is about 10 miles away, in the middle of the mall, right next to JC Penney.

It's down the hall from the food court, where most of the "restaurants" are. It's in a bit of an awkward position, the tables are out on the mall floor, and you can watch as passerbyers gape at you in horror or envy as you shove your face with raw fish and weird sauces.

But the food is freshly prepared in front of you in the very small bar area. We have never been served a questionable piece, but then again, it all looks the same to me. You can even order a Japanese beer while you wait, but we prefer the green tea. Service can be a bit slow during the lunch hour, as they usually only have one server and two chefs. It's one of the few places in the mall I would eat, and by far the cleanest, with the cleanest workers as well.

Here's the lunch special, in which Richie partakes...

Fried fish rolls and spicy tuna rolls for $6.99

and the tamago I usually order...

So don't shy away because of it's odd location. Just buck up and try to act inconspicuous as the mall walkers leer at you from afar.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Well we finally stopped at our first Greasy Joint of the year, Flapjacks (highways 61 and 64) in Maquoketa Iowa. Flapjacks is a locally owned diner, opened in 1983. You can view their menu HERE
There are a few reasons one might stop in Maquoketa. A pit stop on the way to Dubuque, to go to the caves, see a movie at the 61 Drive In, orrrr to buy a car from Brad Deery.

Yes, the old greasy joint bus is no more. I have passed on the PT Cruiser to my sister, so everyone can stop making fun of it now. The new grease-mobile is a Kia Rondo and on the way back from picking it up, we stopped to eat at Flapjacks. At a place with such a name, you'd think we would have to eat some pancakes. wrong! My intolerance to gluten has made the whole greasy joint thing a bit of a drag lately, but I can still pick my way around a plate...but not a plate of pancakes.

Flapjacks was filled with old people who seemed to know each other pretty well. They walked from table to table chit chatting. Even though it was noon, EVERYONE was eating breakfast. Except me.

I ordered a chef salad with honey mustard dressing. Boring, I know, but I already had eggs for breakfast. It was crisp and delicious. The dressing had a nice zing to it.

This stuff was on our table.

I had never before seen Spike and, because I could use some sodium in my diet, I spiked my salad. It was quite salty and a bit like the seasoning from Red Robin. They had another one that was supposed to be "firey"

Our waitress was a super sweet lady who talked fast and referred to everyone as 'Hon.' Sooo stereotypical for a trucker joint, and so awesome. I felt like we should say that Large Marge sent us.

Richie opted for a breakfast boat. This boat has a hull filled with country potatoes, peppers, onions, and cheese covered by a nice tarp of eggs. Off the port bow and quarter were slices of buttered toast, and jam was located off the starboard bow. Greasy breakfast ahoy.

The food came out about 5 minutes after we ordered and we were out of there in less than 30. Of course, if you've seen Richie eat, you know how he Hoovers it down. Or maybe he's more of a Dyson. Cyclone action.

This is a definite must stop if you find yourself in Maquoketa. Would be especially delicious after hiking through the caves!