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Feb 14, 2009 08:01 AM

Markets in Urbana/Champaign

It looks like my husband and I might be moving to Urbana/Champaign this August. What's the market situation there? I know it's a small town and wondered if there's a decent amount of ethnic stores, particularly Mexican and Italian... Any good cheese shops? Places to get freshly sliced prosciutto? What about seafood and prime beef? What are the supermarkets like? I didn't see any Whole Foods or Trader Joes on GoogleMaps. How's the farmers market?

We'll be visiting in March and I've looked at the recommended restaurants- anything new?

Thank you:)

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  1. Actually, it's not so small, between Savoy, Urbana, Champaign, and the students, the area is over 150,000. Because of the university and the number of people from other countries, it is very good in ethnic stores. World Harvest tops among them, then Euro-Mart, Am-Ko, there is a Mexican grocery on Green Street, multiple Asian groceries in different parts of town. Cheese shops include the aformentioned World Harvest, Art Mart at Lincoln Square, Sunsinger on Windsor. Prosciutto for sure at the latter two. There was a seafood retail store, but it closed. Schuncks is the best overall supermarket, their meat dept. is quite good and I think you would be pleased with their seafood for day to day use. There are 3 locations (It's based in St. Louis).

    The area doesn't have the population minimum for Whole Foods...simple as that.
    I'd' say the restaurant thread is pretty current. Downtown Champaign has many restaurants to try...Luna and Bacaro tops among them.

    I don't think I am alone in saying that the Urbana Farmer's Market is probably the best in the state outside Chicago. A real gem.

    It really is a nice area, and you will eat pretty well, unless you are coming from Chicago or NYC.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ddfry3

      Thanks for your help! I did not mean to insult C-U...I'm in a city of ~2.5 million so it will be a big change for me! It will be nice to get away from traffic though! :)

      1. re: QSheba

        No prob at all. 2.5 million...sounds like Chicago, although I thought they were back up to 2.8 or so. You'll do pretty well for an area this size, and of course, Chicago is +-2 hours away!

        1. re: ddfry3

          Do people regularly go there for shopping? We were discussing buying a freezer and making perhaps monthly trips up to Chicago- which I love!

          It looks like we will for sure be moving to C-U now and I am very nervous. We're heading out 3/12-3/15 while my husband meets people in the department (Chemistry at UIUC) while I look for a place to live and set to see the C-U area. I haven't found too much info about neighborhoods...

          The department is picking up the tab for meals so I don't want to pick anything too fancy so I think we'll try the "better" places for lunch and the casual places for dinner. Or rather, -I- will try the nice places for lunch while he is busy:)

          I'm not a big breakfast person- any rec's for great bagels?

          Thanks again!

      2. re: ddfry3

        ddfry has it mostly covered, but I would add that Old Time Meat and Deli on Neil street is a very good butcher shop. They know what they're doing, they can fill most orders, and they carry prime beef. They also carry frozen ducks and geese.

        Across the parking lot from them is Green Onion, a really outstanding Korean grocery.

        Bagels: I read in the Champaign Taste blog that there is someone in the urbana farmers market who makes good bagels. the photos looked very persuasive. Sadly, this happened right after I moved. The bagels at Mirabelle Bakery are quite good too. (Another gem, by the way.)

        My favorite Indian grocer was in that shopping square off Neil where Papa George's (ex pickles) was. (What is it called?) He closes on Thursday, drives up to Chicago and repoens on Friday with lots of great indian produce. Needless to say the place gets quite crowded on Fridays.

        1. re: Behemoth

          QSheba, welcome to C-U!

          The bagel guy mentioned in Champaign Taste is:

          Stewart's Artisan Breads and Desserts
          1404 Caro Court
          Mahomet, IL 61853
          Phone: 217-586-7816

          They sell at the Market, but you can also call/email to arrange for an order.

          Behemoth, thanks for the tip on the Indian grocer. That's close to me, and I had no idea. I'm going to have to check it this weekend.

          There's also a small Mexican grocer on Prospect avenue just south of Bloomington road (west side of the street, near the Rest Stoppe discount furniture place).

          We shop primarily at Common Ground Food Co-op and the Jerrys IGA in Round Barn. They're not as fancy as Shnucks but we appreciate the bulk sections. Though, we're not buying meat, so that probably makes our perspective a bit different. Common Ground sells meat and eggs (and produce) from area producers.

          1. re: debbiel

            Thank you so much Behomoth and DebbieL- I'm looking forward to visiting. Everyone I've corresponded with at the UIUC and here on Chowhound has been so friendly! I guess it's the Midwest thing:)