NORMAL - The guy at Moe's Southwest Grill called my order the "Art Vandalay." I called it a "vegetarian burrito."

Part of my non-conforming attitude came from my being hungry and not in the mood to play. Most of it was that I couldn't remember who Art Vandalay is/was. I had to look it up later.

Art Vandalay is George Costanza's alias on "Seinfeld." Pretty random. Clever. Makes me feel better about ordering an Art Vandalay.

But I am ambivalent about this menu full of fun names at Moe's.

At one level, I want the menu name to describe the food, averting the confusion and time spent figuring out what to order. But then, I darn near ordered the Billy Barou just to order one.

Moe's is a new place at a new shopping center, the Constitution Trail Centre, Raab Road at Main Street in north Normal. The restaurant is a southwestern incarnation of the Mexican-themed Chipotle and Q'doba.

Same fast casual style; almost the same food; same assembly-line system of workers adding ingredients into your order. Like the other two, Moe's provides a pretty good meal.

At this point, I vouch only for the Art Vandalay, a mix of beans, rice, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole, with cilantro and chopped jalapeno. All the ingredients are optional, and they ask your preferences during the construction of your meal as you stand and watch.

Some pluses at Moe's:

• The burritos come with chips and salsa at no extra cost.

• I went on a Sunday, about 1 p.m. The dining area was near capacity, and the line at the food counter was constant. Nevertheless, the men's room was clean, as were the tables.

• These people know how to roll a fat burrito. Seems like any time I order a burrito at a place like this it disintegrates into my hand about halfway through. The Moe's burrito held together through the entire meal.

A couple downsides:

• Those frothy smoothy-looking drinks at the counter are alcoholic beverages - a disappointment to me and to the kids behind me who were ordering with their parents.

• I felt a little squeezed at Moe's. The bathroom is so narrow that you have to lock the door. Someone opening the door will slam the door into you if you are standing at the sink.

Every so often during my 45 minutes there, one of the employees yelled "Welcome to Moe's." This started a chain reaction of workers saying "Welcome to Moe's." Kinda gimmicky, but so it goes.

The essential was that I left feeling full and with the sense that the meal was a good value. I spent about $8 on burrito, chips and fountain drinks.


Raab Road at Main Street. The street address is 1720 Bradford Lane, Normal.

Phone: (309) 862-6637 (MOES)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

More on the menu

Moe's offers a run of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salads and fajitas. The most expensive food item is $8, for the Fat Sam fajita.


The adult drinks include beer and Moe-Ritas, also known as margaritas. Coke products come from the fountain. Sweet tea provides a change of pace from regular iced tea, which also is available.

Off site

Moe's will cater, and it also has a lineup of box lunches for off-site meetings and parties.

Business history

A group of entrepreneurs founded Moe's in Atlanta, Ga., in 2000, as the flagship restaurant for Raving Brands. Raving Brands sold to Focus Brands Inc. in 2007. Focus Brands restaurants include Schlotzsky's and other food and beverage brands.

Ken Solem and Gary Sparks are co-owners of the Normal franchise of Moe's.

No Moe?

There is no person named Moe directly connected to the restaurant chain.


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