Trying to get an interview for TV news in the middle of the Taste of Peoria is difficult, to say the least.
So, we did the next best thing: going to the stores ahead of Wednesday night’s feast, finding out how they make the tasty treats on your plates.
First stop: Dac’s Smokehouse, with a taco pairing that has to be tasted to be believed.
“We’re doing our brisket chimichurri tacos, one of our most popular items,” explained owner Matthew Wight. “Castilla cheese, pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos and an Argentinian sauce on our brisket – we use way more cilantro than they’d ever use,” he said with a laugh.
To get the taste just right, Wight explains it was a lot of trial-and-error.
“A lot of the times, the best comes from sitting around in the backyard and barbecuing with your friends, smoking meats. We want that kind of environment around here.”
For something cheesier, head across Northwoods Mall’s plaza to Nick & Willy’s pizza booth.
There, they’re making the literally (four time) award-winning Aegean pizza by the slice.
“It’s got olive oil, garlic, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, mozzarella and oregano,” recited owner Steve Carter. “And it’s really good.”
For his pies, quality is the name of the game.
“Everything is hand-made. Diced, sliced, we do it all here every day. Fresh dough, everything.”
And newcomers to Taste of Peoria 2019: food trucks.
Nacho Mama’s rolled into the mall parking lot, touting their famed Smokey the Pig sandwich and what they called a ‘Burgerdilla,’ – a delicious mess of a cheeseburger and quesadilla combined.
“Ground hamburger beef, cheese sauce, tomato, onion, pickle – all grilled on the tortilla.”
Owner and operator Karen Harris says its a big honor for her to be in the food truck inaugural class.
“It’s the best of what Peoria has to offer,” she said, “they can bring people from all the surrounding communities who may not get the opportunity to try these foods, but here they are all in one place.”
Taste of Peoria runs from 4PM to 11PM at Northwoods Mall’s JCPenney parking lot.
Shuttle service will provide park-around rides from other areas of the mall until 9PM, and the mall will remain open until a bit after the Taste closes down to allow people to walk through and get to their cars.
Admission is only $2 (plus the cost of food and drink tokens), and all proceeds go to help the Peoria Santa Parade.