Monday, November 14, 2011


After a lovely visit at Tanner's Apple Orchard, we headed to Peoria for a bite to eat. We stopped at a local chain restaurant that was started in 1966 by a Swiss immigrant who was well versed in the cheese-making business. Let's face it, he probably also an excellent chocolatier and fondue whiz.
Well this peaceful Swiss decided to start making pizzas and other Americanized Italian dishes. Luckily, he covered them in his fresh cheese and it all came together for the best.
Avanti's is well known in the Peoria area. If you're looking for "authentic" Italian and good looking waiters, you could blow 50 bucks at the Biaggi's down the street. If you're looking for cheesy goodness and haggard, but polite service, you'll find it at Avanti's.

We visited the location at 4711 N Rockwood, which is a nice looking place, but I miss our old hangout on University and Main and seeing the crazy bike man.

This Avanti's is at least larger and more modern.

We were seated and served quickly, probably to keep the peace. (heh more Swiss jokes) Your meal always begins with a Matterhorn sized bread basket and little golden wrapped nuggets of butter.

The slightly sweet bread is warm, soft, and chewy. There's nothing better than slapping butter on a warm piece of bread and watching it melt into the pores.

Avanti's has a typical menu filled with pizzas, ravioli, spaghetti, and subs. Prices are cheap enough to keep the Bradley students satisfied. They also have a daily special, in which I partook.

An Avanti's favorite is the Gondola, a boatload of layered meats and cheese on a sweetly singing bread roll.

Ham, Salami, American cheese, Lettuce and Mayo..Why is this famous?

 Richie likes to double fist his food, so he also ordered the pizza bread.

I went with the special which happened to be chicken cacciatore. A grilled breast of chicken concealed with tomato sauce, in a web of linguine.

My grandpa made some mean cacciatore and this one was pretty surly too. The tomato sauce is chunky and probably too sweet unless, like me, you enjoy eating frosting with a spoon.

Avanti's always ends your meal with a cheap bill and starlight mints. The hills are alive with the smell of garlic and, honestly, the mints do little to mask it, but it's a nice gesture. For a cheap meal that satisfies the American palate, flee through the Alps and check out Avanti's.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kuma's Corner

So after a brief baby hiatus, we return with a new joint that was visited earlier this summer. The crew and I took a short trip to the windy city to take in the sites, get some eats, and... oh yeah, pick up one of our lady friends from the airport. Our journey there degraded into food porn conversation and we had decided on our first stop would be Smoque, which we have blogged about previously here. Unfortunately/fortunately for us, the establishment is closed on Mondays, resulting in plan B.

I had never been to Kuma's, but was greatly intrigued by their menu. Not only did they specialize in large, ridiculously adorned burgers, but each of them was named after a prominent metal band. In addition, the bar plays a wide variety of the aforementioned genre. So me being both a burger addict and lover of the metal of heavy, it was a sure thing. We arrived and were greeted by a friend of mine who was working, luckily this seemed to slightly expedite our seating as it was slightly busy. We chatted, were seated in her section outside in the lovely weather, and then got down to business.
After drooling over the list of burgers and eats, we decided that we were too hungry to not get an appetizer. Behold the glory of the BBQ Pork Fries. BBQ pulled pork piled atop a stack of french fries, covered in jack cheese and onions. we didn't even bother using forks as the 3 of us completely and utterly destroyed the massive pile of goodness. the fries were fairly standard bar quality, but the pulled pork, and cheese on top made this incredible

Feast your eyes on that awesomeness.

Next came the main course, which for dan and I, consisted of the Black Oak Arkansas. This behemoth burger consisted of:Red wine BBQ sauce, Bacon, Aged White Cheddar, and Alpha King Battered Fried Shallot Rings. The red wine BBQ sauce was a bit off, but otherwise the burger was great. The beef was cooked perfectly, and the shallots made for some interesting texture.

Ryan went with the Pantera, Roasted Poblano Pepper, Bacon, Chedder and Monterey Jack, House made Ranchero Sauce, Tortilla Strips. He was feeling a bit o' burn with this one.

Bring on the burgers
All in all, Kuma's lives up to the expectations of a sweet burger joint with some awesome tunes, good food, and lots of good people. A must for any burger/metal fiend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sloppy Joe's

Every time we walked by the restaurant in our resort, I got that damn SNL Sloppy Joe song stuck in my head.  The original Sloppy Joe's wasn't named after the epic sandwich.  It was named after the sloppy floors in the Key West location where Ernest Hemingway like to chillax and bitch about his wives. This earned him a primo spot on their logo.

The Treasure Island Sloppy Joe's is located within the Bilmar resort.  They have a nice large deck that reaches  out onto the beach.

 We sat on the deck for our meal and caught a nice breeze off the gulf.  I was amused by the gulls that maneuvered their way around the ropes and scooped up bits of food.

Service was slowwww.  No one even noticed us until a braced faced dude of at least 30 stopped by and asked if we had been waited on yet.  He ended up being our server because apparently, no one else wanted to.

The menu did boast a hearty Sloppy Joe sandwich, which I spied a woman eating at the next table, but we did not partake.

Richie wanted some 'fresh' seafood, so he order the conch fritters and fries.  They did have quite a few healthier seafood entrees, but what else would you expect from Richard?

 I am loco for pollo so I ordered the pollo taco salad.  I despise food from the sea, but they had several other offerings that appealed to me, including chicken wraps, sandwiches, pulled pork, and Angus burgers.  The salad was pretty huge and loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, and chicken.  Once I dug deep in the bottom, I reached the beans and rice, my favorite layer.  They had a slight spiciness to them, it wasn't too much for my wussy tongue.  The whole salad was encapsulated in a light, crispy tortilla shell.  I'm not a fan of hard shells, but this had a good greasy, salty taste to it.  I nibbled the edges.

Richie's conch fritters were essentially hush puppies mixed with a bit of conch.  Hush puppies are always pretty great, but if you order conch fritters, you would expect to taste a bit more of the conch.  The fries were up to par with most chain restaurants' offerings.

For his meal, Richie ordered a Cuban with a side of beans and rice.  

Castro would frown upon this Cuban.  None of the meat appeared to be freshly sliced, and the bun was nothing special. 

Though we had a nice view and a cool breeze in our faces, I wouldn't necessarily revisit Sloppy Joe's.  It was more of a matter of convenience for us to eat there anyway.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dixie's Little Dog House

Another stop in Treasure Island was a tiny little place called Dixie's Little Dog House.

They boast Chicago-style dogs and Italian Beef.  Obviously the place couldn't compare to the real thing, but we had to try it anyway.  The current incarnation of the Dog House has been in place since 2008.  Apparently, it has changed owners a few times over.

We walked into the sauna of a store and were greeted by a counter, two tables, and a large ocean mural.

  I just wanted a snack, so I ordered a small Chicago-style dog with everything on it except peppers.  Richie went for the Italian beef sandwich.  We sat outside under an umbrella and waited for our food.

  It took awhile to come out even though we were the only customers.  I blame the beef.
Though I ordered a small, I wasn't expecting it to be the size of a toe.  The server did warn me when I ordered though.  At least it was loaded with flavorful toppings and bright green relish.  Pretty Chicago-ish.

  I wonder where you get buns that tiny?  I scarfed the lil chihuahua and tried to calm my growling stomach while Richie nibbled his Mastiff of a sandwich.

Richie's Italian beef was spicy and juicy, dripping down his chin and onto the table.

He wolfed it down, but said it wasn't quite what one could experience in Chicago.

 I thought it was a nice change of pace from the seafood restaurants and bars in the area.  I just wish I would have ordered a bigger dog.  One that could withstand more than 2 bites.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Biff Burger

While in Florida, we were able to meet up with a cousin and she recommended a place to us called Biff Burger.  Not 5 minutes later and Richie had the GPS coordinates plugged into his phone so we could navigate there.  Pulling into the lot at Biff was fairly intimidating.  Unbeknownst to us, it was Bike Night.  And the bikers were out in full force.  Luckily, they paid us no mind as we walked in the smoke clouded front doors of the tiny restaurant.

"Hey, McFly. I thought I told you never to come in here."

"Did anybody tell you that this is the private club of the Satan’s Helpers?"

The menu was up on a slotted sign behind the ordering window.  They have many special burgers like the Roquefort and Dog-on Burgers, specialty hot dogs, steak sandwiches, chicken, and soft serve ice cream.
The menu was a little hard to read, but really, Richie just wanted a famous Biff Burger anyway.

  Biff Burger actually has a long and doleful history.  Things started off well in the beginning when Bruce and Earl Brane opened the first restaurant in 1956 in Clearwater FL.  They invented a roto-red broiler that simultaneously rotated the beef and toasted the buns beneath, so the drippings from the burger would go into the bun.  That's why they serve the burgers in a plastic bag.   The restaurant soon expanded to the St. Petersburg location we visited and to hundreds of other locations across the South.  The franchises were sold as Port-a-units, with practically the whole restaurant being shipped to the new location.
Sadly, out of all those restaurants, only two remain. 

We ordered at the counter and waited near the pick-up side.  From our small booth, I could see and hear a band playing from the adjoining bar area .

The food came out quickly, and we dug right in.  Richie's Cheese Biff Deluxe burger ($1.70) was small, maybe 2 oz., and he probably could have laid waste to 4 of them if he had known this.

  The burgers are slathered with a special sauce that has been analyzed and scrutinized by fans for years.  Supposedly it contains 27 spices but here is a small batch recipe.  Tastes uncannily like Boozie's sauce

Fries were fresh out of the fryer.  Crispy and tongue singeing.The tater tots were delicious little potato nuggets with a nice crisp bronze shell.  The chocolate shake was pretty standard, prepared with vanilla soft serve infused with chocolate syrup. 

Though considered a fast food restaurant, the burgers certainly tasted far superior to similar offerings.  (Burger King, ahem)  Plus, they have a large menu with unique items forged from time-tested recipes.  Biff is a cool little joint to enjoy with the family.  Just maybe not on Bike Night.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Governor's Pub and Grill

Governor's Pub and Grill, located in Bettendorf, Iowa (3470 Middle Rd) has been around for many years.  They fairly recently remodeled the exterior and now boast a large patio with ample seating.

  They do not, however, have a website or any historical information available.  So it shall remain a mystery as to why it's called Governor's and why Ben Franklin gets his drink on there.

Governor's seems like a typical bar and grill, dim lighting, high seat tables, TVs tuned to ESPN, and a large bar.  However, as well as providing a well-stocked bar, they focus on serving a variety of quality food.  My grandpa was particularly fond of their ribs, of which Richie partook.

I have to admit, service is always pretty slow.  We were not terribly interested in the NBA playoffs on TV (Oklahoma City has a team?), and neither of us wanted to dip into the public popcorn cesspool.  However, it picked up once our waitress noticed us and got our drinks out.  

We started with an order of fried pickles, because, you know, veggies are important.  The pickles had a crispy seasoned exterior hugging the delicious dill. 

I am a creature of habit, and generally always order the pretzel stack.  This time was no exception.  It's a classy way to eat a giant pretzel, sliced in half, sandwiching a good portion of smoked turkey, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, and dripping with honey mustard.  Much more satisfying than nibbling a Super Pretzel while balancing a small tub of nacho cheese in your lap, in a flip-up seat at the ballpark. 

The special that night was their 'famous' ribs, served with a side of onion rings.  Governor's uses a "special" barbecue sauce which I assume is an original recipe, but then again, it could be KC Masterpiece dumped into an unlabeled bucket.

Richie thought they were decent for bar ribs, but nothing like slow cooked and falling off the bone.  the onion rings were good, but count em- one, two, three.  He also noted that the beans were pretty tasty, but sub-par when compared to his own recipe. 

Overall, Governor's is always a pleasant experience, but nothing to-die-for.  Probably a nice stop for the casual drinker.  It seems to be a gathering place for Bettendorf's 'Athletic Booster crowd', so avoid on Sundays during football season.