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East Central Illinois?

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I recently moved back to East Central Illinois, specifically Champaign, after spending two years in Manhattan. Any recommendations? I'm willing to drive an hour or two for really good food.

--Adam

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  1. Wow, Champaign from Manhattan? I've had a miserable time finding good, even passable, food in Cham-bana. However, if you feel like driving across the state, I really enjoy Maldaner's in Springfield. In addition, several good bars and the prospect of a horseshoe (mmmm...gloppy) make the drive tolerable. Or you could always just keep driving to St. Louis...

    5 Replies
    1. re: marie
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      Adam Stephanides

      Good to hear from you; I was starting to think I was the only person from East Central Ill. to use these boards. But while C-U is quite a step down from NYC, I don't think the situation is quite as bad as you say. Since I moved back, I've eaten at a few places which were a good deal more than passable: Timpone's, The Apple Dumplin', and Yen Jing (not to be confused with Yen Ching). And Rubens chocolates are excellent, at least the equal of Leonidas or de Granvelle, two fancy Belgian varieties available in New York. And Curtis Orchard bakes a good cherry pie (I haven't tried their other varieties yet).

      --Adam

      1. re: Adam Stephanides
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        Buddy Maupin

        I WISH I could be eating in East Central Illinois restaurants -- Good Indian and Mongolian in C-U, good Mongolian at South Shores in Decatur, and terrific Thai in Spfld.

        Living in Johnson County --(check it out on the map)
        Any dining suggestions for Marion IL? Carbondale? Vienna?

        1. re: Buddy Maupin

          Funny, I live in Springfield and like to trek to Cham-bana. If you are heading this way I can reccomend La Sorella on the west side of town. (near Chez Target LOL) They keep the menu updated for the seasons and have the best Hazen I've ever had. Good luck.

          1. re: Crystal

            I grew up in Champaign and still return frequently to see Mom. Check out Radio Maria in downtown Champaign. Jarling's Custard Cup on Kirby in Champaign (across from Hessel Park) is excellent. Nearby (and on Campus, I think), you'll find Bagelman's Bagels (no, they are definately not up to NYC standards, but for Champaign, they're not bad, well, hot, at least). The Original Pancake House is Champaign has better food than most in the chain and is quite the local hangout early in morning.

            For food shopping, there is a farmer's market on Saturday mornings in the parking lot at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. Inside the mall, Art Mart sells cheese, olives, coffee and other gourmet yummies. There is also an terrific food shop on University Urbana (name escapes me) which has packaged food from all over -- good place to find elusive, exotic ingredients.

            Don't worry. It's not so bad. You'll get used to it in 9 or 10 years!

            Sara

        2. re: Adam Stephanides
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          Adam Stephanides

          I've eaten at Timpone's twice since my last post, and neither time was anything very good, certainly not good enough to justify the high price tag. So I have to withdraw my recommendation. But I don't know any better place for fine dining closer than Chicago.

          On the plus side, I discovered that the Walnut Street Tea Company sells Cote d'Or chocolate bars. You have to check the expiration dates, but the solid chocolate bars I had were indeed excellent, the best solid chocolate I've ever eaten.

          --Adam