June's Laughing Bird shrimp tossed with house-made orecchiette

It takes three hours to drive the 160 miles from Chicago to Peoria (Peoria Heights, to be exact). But all serious foodies within striking distance should experience the culinary talent of Josh Adams, the James Beard–nominated chef/owner of June. The pleasant, if somewhat austere, dining room is in a strip mall; your sweet waitress might be a college student; and the diners dress way casual. That said, leave your foodie ’tude at the door because the cooking at June is fab. From sorbetlike carrot-ginger soup to ultratender skirt steak sous vide, there’s pure pleasure in every bite. I particularly loved the Laughing Bird shrimp tossed with house-made orecchiette (pictured here), made all the more special by a garnish of pea tendrils picked fresh from the flat in the open kitchen. 4450 N. Prospect Rd., Peoria Heights; 309-682-5863.





Photograph: Grant Kessler