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DeLuxe fish sandwich, Champaign

Do any of the former Illinois students or people that live(d) n Champaign remember the fish sandwichs at DeLuxe billiards on Green street?I just haven't enjoyed a fish sandwich as much as I enjoyed that one.I imagine its not there any more.Any thing else like it near campus or in the Chicago area?I am sure its a case of never will find anything as good as I REMEMBER but those were some good eating on Fridays with a beer for all less that 5 bucks.

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  1. Yes, I remember. Campustown looks like an upscale suburban downtown now. Not to say that it isn't prettier, but some of the unique places are gone. A huge bar/restaurant has gone up on the Deluxe site, called "Legends". They have a "deluxe" fish sandwich on Fri./Sat., but I am not that impressed with it. Plus, the place has no Geist. I would suggest fish sandwiches at the Seaboat (Market and Bradley). Closed Monday. I actually think they are better than the Deluxe's sandwich!

    1. Man, you are bringing back memories. When I didn't have money on Fridays I would go to Round Robins and snarf down some two for a quarter hot dogs along with dollar bottles of beer. Ah, but if I had money, the dilemma is whether to get the clam chowder at the Illini Union basement or the fish sandwiches at Deluxe. Deluxe won out most of the time.

      I just remember that it wasn't real fancy, it came on a hamburger bun, a couple of crinkle cut pickle slices and some raw onion slivers. But it had really crispy crust and flaky and sweet fish on the inside, all steamy and good.

      So when do we bomb Legends and bring back Deluxe?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Phaedrus

        The Union upstairs still has good soup, the downstairs is like a mall food court now. How long ago were you at UI?

        1. re: Phaedrus

          Forgot to mentioned, The Esquire in dwtwn Champaign (which has been revitalized tremendously and is full of upscale restaurants and martininbars) still has great fish sandwiches on Friday. That place has probably been there for 30-40 years and will be for another I am sure.

        2. wow, i miss those Delux fish sandwiches (they had steak sandwiches too which were not bad) and the stuffed pizza at Garcia's (or Papa Del's if you liked really bready crusts). USed to like the sweet potato fries at Courier Cafe. There used to be a small Thai cafeteria on campus, is it still there? What about Bishop's buffet in the mall? Greater Downtown Champaign Food & Beverage Co? Bombay Bicycle Club? The Korean place on W Stoughton? Jarling's Custard Cup in W Champaign?

          5 Replies
          1. re: barleywino

            Not sure about the Thai place...there are other decent ones now. Bishop's is long gone, I think it closed in the mid-90's when the mall got expanded and swanked up. Greater Downtown is a Thai place called Nitaya (okay). bombay closed in the early 90's when i was an undergrad, and despite many other restaurants opening, esp. in Champaign, BBC building was leveled and the site is vacant to this day. Not sure about the Korean place you mentioned. Jarling's does the same booming business.

            1. re: ddfry3

              Some updates: just ate tonight at Escobar's, a Latin fusion place north of downtown Champaign, just east of the Neil St. post office location. Lovely space, very good food. Will be open for brunch on Sundays, as well. B Won is very good Korean, it is in a nice sit-down space along the trackes on Neil, south of Kirby, in one of several nicer strip-mall buildings near the old site of Hillcrest Lumber. Finally, the Sea Boat is opening a location with an expanded menu and a seating area in the localation of one of the shuttered Denny's dry cleaners locations, just across Kirby from Jerry's IGA. Lest I be accused of blasphemy, the Sea Boat sandwich is the best I have ever had, even better than the late, long-lamented Deluxe.

              Closures: Jolly Roger, downtown Urbana. Place had been bleeding money for a long time, food hadn't been good in a long time. The Ned Kelly's location in Urbana folded after declining business. Couldn't compete with all the N. Prospect restaurants (those of you who haven't been back in quite a while, N. Prospect is a huge sprawl of shopping and restaurants going all the way out to Olympian Dr.) and all the fine rest. opening in Champaign...

            2. re: barleywino

              Is the Thai cafeteria you mean Basil Thai on Green St. - in the same building as the Art co-op? If so, it's still there.

              1. re: gran queso

                In the 90's there was a Thai cafeteria in the YMCA. Is that what you're talking about?

                1. re: GAT

                  yes, the one in the Y! I think the owner's name was Mayuri or something like that

            3. Hm, no mention of Elite Diner (possibly soon to re-open around Ann Arbor, Mich.?) or Po Boy's?

              1 Reply
              1. re: pbz

                Never did know where the Elite ended up, it was moved a number of years ago for the County Courthouse expansion project...it's in MI??

                Po Boy's just closed recently, I never did go there until the end. Quite the place, it was only open Fri/Sat at the end of its run of 50+ years. Li'l Porgy's is still alive and kicking, and Hickory River Smokehouse (Cunningham just south of I-74) is excellent, the latter has the best quality meat for sure. You can also get BBQ at 1st and Green, at Ye Olde Donut shop/BBQ/whatever they call it!

              2. IMHO the best, cheapo fish sandwich was Derald's on Fridays (catering truck that parked behind Davenport hall most days during the lunch hours). And gadzooks, that guy made a mean chili bacon cheeseburger!! It was also a real artery-clogger... but damn tasty.

                2 Replies
                1. re: caliking

                  Deral's is still going strong, with a catering truck on Mathews east of the Union, and one near the Grainger Library on Springfield. I have enjoyed a breakfast sandwich there from time to time, I'll have to try the fish sometime!

                  1. re: ddfry3

                    Old post, I know, but, boy does this bring back memories! I was a grad student in Noyes Lab (79-84), and hit Derald's on a regular basis. (Heck, they were often right outside the door! Or, if not there, around the corner by RAL.) Rarely got the fish; my usual was the bratwurst. (Sometimes, they'd spot me in line and ask, "Plain brat?")

                    The Deluxe was more of an occasional treat. It would've never occurred to me to go there on any day but Friday, but those fish sandwiches were awesome!

                2. I realize this is an old post but if I could weigh in on it a bit, the fish sandwich sold at Legends in Champaign follows EXACTLY the same recipe as the Deluxe Fish sandwich. It's the same owners as Deluxe and the recipe is their same super-secret recipe. I know this because I used to cook at Legends. The sandwich is as fantastic as ever. I realize there's bias in having nostalgic feelings about certain dishes but I really haven't had as good a beer battered fish sandwich before or since the Legends/Deluxe version. I left Champaign 13 years ago and I still think about it.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: ilikeeatingalot

                    I actually prefer both the Derald's version and the Seaboat version. Another unrelated thing (to the food at least) I miss is the character of places like Deluxe vs. the slick anonymous sports-bar look of Legends. When I got to UI 21 years ago as an undergrad there were so many eating places that were local...now it almost looks like downtown Naperville! Egads. Luckily downtown Champaign has many good independent choices and is quite the scene these days. Lots of al fresco dining when weather permits.

                    403 W Kirby Ave, Champaign, IL 61820

                    1. re: ddfry3

                      I was there recently, too. I don't know that Green's changed for better or worse. The choices there were never that great - it's still by and large a bunch of crappy fast food. I thought and still think that Legends stands out as one of the nicer establishments.

                      But you're right, downtown Champaign is really nice now.

                      1. re: ilikeeatingalot

                        When I got there almost 21 years ago, of course the Co-Ed Theater was there (LONG gone), McDonald's, Wendy's and the like, as one would expect, but there were many independent places...Deluxe, Mi Pueblo, Coslow's, Eddie's, Papa Del's (before their move), and several others in Johnstowne Center I am missing. It had an urban, sort of dingy, quality about it. Now it is full of Potbelly, Starbucks, Urban Outifitters, and the like. It looks nicer and more upscale. I am not convinced it has as much soul, however.

                        1. re: ddfry3

                          Man, I miss those days every time I go back. Even Murphy's has been gentrified. Going into the Illini Union is heartbreaking. I used to love the clam chowders on Fridays and I like the cafeteria food there too. But now it is all fast food. I think the mediterranean across from where the Co-Ed was is still around.

                          1. re: Phaedrus

                            Zorba's is still there...Record Co. and everything else on that block has changed over, in some cases many times, except the florist, maybe? I still think the food at Murphy's is good, even if it more like a cavernous beer hall now. I, too, used to go to the Union cafeteria and charge a taco sald to my student acct. The buffet upstairs is still going last time I checked, and good, if more pricey than it used to be.

                    2. re: ilikeeatingalot

                      I don't know how you acquired this information about the owners and recipe, ilikeeatingalot , but it is totally inaccurate. I've lived in Champaign-Urbana for 42 years, and in the '70's ate at the DeLuxe everyday. I knew the owners well, and they are not the people who now own it. One of the owners who is still in the area is so adamant about Legends' claim to use the same recipe that he took out an ad in the newspaper denying it. For one thing, that sandwich can not be made in a regular french fryer. The huge tub of grease that the DeLuxe used to fry fish was covered with years and tears of cooked on grease on the exterior. I'm not sure whether that contributed anything to the taste, but it sure added flavor to the "DeLuxe experience." The other contributors to this thread are correct in stating that Derald's fish is the same type of batter as the DeLuxe, and tastes almost exactly like it.

                      1. re: dekethedog

                        And remember no tartar sauce on the fish.DeLuxe is where I began to like ketchup on fish sandwiches and I am not a big ketchup fan.

                        1. re: dekethedog

                          Hey there Deke, I never had the *actual* fish sandwich as served by Deluxe - I base what I know on what I recall the Legends management saying and what I know some long-time patrons went there for. If there's a difference between the recipes and Derald's has something more reminiscent of DeLuxe's original sandwich, that's something I was never aware of. I certainly never heard of there being some kind of dispute over the authenticity of the recipe. News to me.

                          1. re: ilikeeatingalot

                            the last time i had the Deluxe fish sandwich was probably almost 25 yrs ago, but i can still picture that batter (and the $1 Molsons and Mooseheads). even then the sandwich was legendary. also the Rosebud donuts which we would go at 3am to get hot out of the oven (are those still around?) -- i remember a slightly crisp glazed exterior, warm and just a bit oily, with melt in your mouth puffy interior, and of course with that signature rosebud shape and kiss/smear of red jelly on the outside.

                            1. re: barleywino

                              There is little doubt in my mind that the DeLuxe fish recipe and Legends are different. Have been to both. Derald's is excellent, and reminds me most of DeLuxe. Derald's has a sit down location in the UI College of Law, but have always preferred the product out of the catering truck. They have great breakfast fare and burgers, too.

                              Here's a recent link about donuts:


                              1. re: ddfry3

                                that was it-- Ye Olde Donut shoppe. not sure whether they still do those rosebud donuts the same way though

                                1. re: barleywino

                                  Oh, those early morning Ye Olde Donut runs!! They seem to taste better when you approach it from the night rather than from the morning. Copious alcohol consumptions helps with the sojourns from the night time.

                                  1. re: barleywino

                                    Last time I was there they tasted very good, similar to how I remember them in the late 80s. I believe there was a location of Ye Olde at Lincoln and University, saoutheast corner, which lasted until the early 90s, and the donuts at Dandy Donuts, east of the courthouse, were good too. I liked how it used to be a Dunkin Donuts, I believe, but he just changed the name and kept things pretty much the same.

                                2. re: barleywino

                                  The last time I had a DeLuxe fish sandwich was 35 years ago and I still haven't found one as good. As a matter of fact I posted a query on the Chicago Chowhounds trying to find a sandwich as good as theirs in the Chicago area. I go back to CU occasionly and will have to try Legends and Derald's. A fish sandwich, a Stroh's and a bowl of chili at the DeLuxe...and another beer....and a game of pool...and another beer....may as well pack in the rest of the afternoon. Some of my best memories were with my co-workers from the architectural firm I worked with on Friday afternoons at the DeLuxe. Roland, Tim, Tim, Bill, Jim, Don where are you now?

                                  1. re: Mobiusring

                                    DeLuxe's fish sandwiches and Legend"s fish sandwiches are NOT the same! the legend as "they" call it does NOT live on, the batter recipe wasn't sold with the business it was kept by the original owners, I do get a kick out of their commercials on the radio and what the team at legend's tell their customers about how authentic the fish sandwich.

                            2. re: ilikeeatingalot

                              i know Legends. My nephew was a u of I student about 5 years ago and used to hang out there. I'll have to try their fish sandwich next time!

                            3. Yes, my bride to be and I sat in the front booth and watched the riot after Illinois beat Michigan in '83. They bought only Caribou "J" cut cod in 10,000 pound lots. They mixed white vinegar into the mustard before it went into the squeeze bottles. These are the only secrets I can tell. Block and Holt (current Legends owners) are opening Prairie Fire in the former TGI space 10/12.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chejfeff

                                Please tell me it's not going to be another sports bar. If so, I'll be at Seaboat nearby post-haste!

                              2. I so remember these. I think it was the fish on Rye bread with mayo, white onion and dill pickles. Legendary!

                                1. I remember from the 70's. Breaded deep fried fish on Rye with mayo, white onion and dill pickles. Still make them today.

                                  1. Holy Crap do I remember!. Dad worked at the UofI in the early seventies and on Fridays he would stand in line to get the fish sandwiches. I remember them with pickle and onion on plain white Sunbeam bread wrapped in wax paper. Best fish sandwich ever. Still think about them.