Friday, October 30, 2009

Peoria Institution: Mike's Tavern

Mike's Tavern is one of my favorite places in Peoria. It is located at 626 W. Cedar in West Peoria. Mike's is also known as "Mike's Stand Up Tap". This is because there are a limited number of barstools (three) and the only other seats are some vintage school desks, you know, the one's that have the desk attached to the chair and were apparently made before people wrote left handed. Mike's oozes character; lots of dust, old beer signs, worn out bar, and even a pay phone inside! It's like walking into a time capsule except for that the house beer is Bud Light instead of Hamm's or Blatz (which they probably have if you wanted one). The only draft beers are Busch and Bud Light, anything else you might want comes in a can.

Mike's has a great story behind it which adds to its charm. When you pull up in one of the three parking spots directly in front of the bar, you might say "this place looks like an old garage" well that's because it is. That's right, years before Mike's Tavern became a friendly neighborhood tavern it held the cars of whoever lived in the house adjacent to it. Turning your garage into a bar is every red blood American man's dream and in West Peoria that dream has come true. Mike's underwent it's conversion in the 70's and was a much different place than it is today. Back in the day Mike's was a stag bar, meaning females were not allowed. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that the original owner went to great lengths to avoid his wife and wanted to ensure that the guys in the neighborhood could do the same. The only way women could get a drink from the bar was through a window behind the bar where girls from the neighborhood and Bradley could buy six packs. Times have changed and now women are allowed in Mike's, however most days (and nights) the majority of patrons are men.

Mike's Tavern is a no frills, old school neighborhood tavern. No flatscreens, no overpriced drinks, no deutschbags in cargo shorts listening to Seether. If you go to Mike's you might get a few looks from the regulars but that's probably just because they consider it to be a well kept secret and would like to keep it that way.

The hours are erratic, usually depending on the mood of the owner or whoever is tending bar and how many people are in there at the time. Most nights Mike's stays open till 1 AM and usually opens around noon. So, if you've never been to Peoria or been here your whole life Mike's is a must see and if it's not your cup of tea then frankly, you have no respect for tradition and are an idiot. Go check it out and see for yourself!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Peoria Institutions

Today I would just like to provide a list of taverns that I consider to be Peoria institutions. The common thread among these establishments is that they have all been around for a long time and still have the same name as when they were established (some with the same owners). Eventually I will get to writing extensive reviews about these places but for now a simple list will suffice. Some of these taverns are located in somewhat questionable neighborhoods but I can attest that at each and every one of them you will be treated well by both the regulars and the bartenders. I will list the taverns in order of what I consider to be their importance to their respective communities, historical significance, and uniqueness. There are assuredly more bars that can be considered "institutions" and as time goes on I will add them to this list.

Edward Gilles Tap 9919 W. US Highway 150 Kickapoo (309) 691 2021

Castle's Patio Inn 802 W. Loucks Peoria (309) 685 9570

Mike's Tavern 626 N. Cedar West Peoria

Katie McButt's 2440 N. Knoxville Peoria (309) 682 6916

Edwards Tap 10004 Powder Mill Rd. Edwards (309) 673 5515

Last Chance 2713 W. Second St. Peoria (309) 253 5036

The Hillside 1745 N. Sheridan Rd. (309) 686 0206

The Variety Club 123 E. Washington St. East Peoria (309) 694 9023

Tartan Inn 428 N. Waverly Ave. West Peoria (309) 676 1533

Owl's Nest 2128 W. Callender Ave. West Peoria (309) 676 0853

Dome Tap 2305 W. Lincoln Ave. Peoria (309) 637 6851

Tina's Coach Stop 3522 W. Lincoln Ave. Peoria

Garden Gate Tap 1313 W. Garden St. Peoria (309) 637-4826

Double A's Pizza

Double A's Pizza is located on Willow Knolls Rd. at the corner of Radnor Rd. It is a brand new building that opened up a couple of months ago. I never visited their old location off Pioneer Parkway but I have little doubt that their new digs are an improvement. Upon entering the new Double A's the first thing I noticed is that they have a shitload of flatscreens. I counted twenty, with ten above the bar. Just about every time I drive by this place at night it is packed, especially on the weekends which means over a hundred people. The bar seats about twenty and they have about five or six large booths with probably twenty tables in the middle.

They have decently priced drink specials including four different versions of Hurricanes which sound like they would get you pretty smashed (especially the category four). The food is good but a little over priced, a large Deluxe pizza (basically a supreme) will cost a little under twenty bucks, even though it is only 16 inches across. The pizza is served on a super thin crust (no deep dish here) and cut into squares. It was good but nothing spectacular. They do have some specialty pizzas like Hawaiian and Barbeque Chicken as well as burgers, sandwiches, and a ton of appetizers. They have good wings (get the bone in ones though) but their hottest sauce really isn't that hot.

The fact that this a new location for Double A's probably has a lot to do with their success, as it is in a location where their isn't much else around. Double A's is a great place to take the family to eat or to watch a game with your buddies. However, if you don't like crowded restaurants I would suggest going early and on a weeknight.