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Champaign-Urbana - Regional Recommendations

Jannae Feb 28, 2011 06:51 PM

My husband and I will be visiting the Champaign-Urbana area in late April for about a week.

Coming from Alabama, we're looking to try out the regional favorites. Is there a cusine that defines the area? The "must go to" place that is found only in Champaign-Urbana region?

Is there something that's unique to that part of the state?

We're open to trying new things, all price points okay. Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner recommendations are greatly appreciated.

We'll be driving in on I-57, so any recommendations along the way are welcome as well.

  1. p
    ParmLover Mar 4, 2011 01:16 PM

    I've lived in C-U for 20+ years. I would suggest these favorites of mine - they're just some of my favorite places, not necessarily what you describe.

    - If you are up for bbq, my husband's and my personal new favorite is Black Dog bbq. Hard to get into but worth the wait. We almost always get pulled pork but they have so many good things. Love the ribs, and the potato casserole. They brew their own iced tea too. Love the ambiance here too. Have yet to try the famous "burnt ends", always out when we are there. The staff there are so great.

    - Silvercreek, Urbana. Love the atmosphere of this restaurant and their current chef is good. It's one of my favorites right now, it hasn't been sometimes in the past, but right now it's high on my list.

    - Escobar, Champaign. My husband and I love, love, love this place. We would go here more frequently if we could afford it ; ) I believe it's Cuban influence. Very creative.

    - Timpone's, Urbana. I would also go here more if I could afford it. This is our go-to restaurant every year for New Year's eve.

    Also, would highly recommend Sunsinger for a cafe experience. Jarling's is also open now -- you should stop for some terrific custard. If either of you loves chocolate as much as I do, order my personal "concoction" -- a turtle "snowstorm" only made with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. (and no nuts for me) Blow your head off chocolate. Their cold fudge sundae is also great.

    Just some personal recommendations. Enjoy! -- Chuck in IL

    P.S. Courier Cafe is also good for burgers, milkshakes, soups, etc. Neat atmosphere here too.

    -----
    Silvercreek
    402 N Race St, Urbana, IL 61801

    Timpone's Restaurant
    710 S Goodwin Ave Ste 1, Urbana, IL 61801

    6 Replies
    1. re: ParmLover
      d
      ddfry3 Mar 4, 2011 05:25 PM

      Black Dog is indeed great, but hardly unique to the area. Have not been to Silvercreek regularly in several years (no longer live in the area now), but have a LONG memory of many ups and down, mostly uneven over the last 10-15 years. Sunsinger is a pleasant place to relax with wine or cocktail and sandwiches or snacks. I think timpone's is past its prime, I would go to Cafe Luna for better, more inventive food, tapas style, which admittedly, Timpone's is not. Sea Boat on Kirby does WONDERFUL fish sandwiches, and actually, the Derald's Catering trucks near the engineering campus and then Illini Union serve up means short-order dishes.

      -----
      Silvercreek
      402 N Race St, Urbana, IL 61801

      Timpone's Restaurant
      710 S Goodwin Ave Ste 1, Urbana, IL 61801

      Cafe Luna
      116 N Chestnut St Ste 100, Champaign, IL 61820

      1. re: ddfry3
        Jannae Mar 4, 2011 06:30 PM

        Thank you DD and PL for the tips. Even if there's no regional designation for the area, eating at the local non-national chain places will be great.

        1. re: ddfry3
          p
          ParmLover Mar 7, 2011 05:04 AM

          I would highly recommend Seaboat too. We are there every other week probably. The catfish sandwiches are superb. The okra in particular is really really good -- nice and crispy, not greasy. We have liked just about everything we've tried there, even the side spaghetti is good. The fried chicken is also good. One thing that is unique depending on what you like -- we like iced tea and tried theirs when they put it on the menu -- it must be a southern recipe, tastes like it has molasses in it or something? -- Chuck in IL

          -----
          Seaboat
          403 W Kirby Ave, Champaign, IL 61820

          1. re: ParmLover
            d
            ddfry3 Mar 7, 2011 10:05 AM

            Unless they have changed it, the fish sandwiches are actually whiting, not catfish. Either way, they are tops! Such nice people who run it, too. Have not found anything as good in the St. Louis area.

            1. re: ddfry3
              p
              ParmLover Mar 7, 2011 10:21 AM

              They have both on the menu -- walleye and catfish. I just looked up their menu to see -- sometimes I get a catfish sandwich and sometimes I get the "sea boat" walleye sandwich. On the sandwich list, cod, catfish, walleye, and tilapia are all listed. My favorite is the catfish sandwich. They are indeed very nice people. -- Chuck in IL

              http://theseaboat.com

              1. re: ParmLover
                Jannae Mar 7, 2011 03:32 PM

                Thanks for the recommendation, we'll have to check it out.

      2. d
        ddfry3 Feb 28, 2011 07:36 PM

        Champaign-Urbana is too small an area to have any indigenous local cuisine. A pizza place that is unique to central Illinois is Monicals, there is a location on just off the University Ave. and I-57 interchange. I find their pizza okay. Lots of people rave about Papa Del's, on campus, a more Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. That's really all I can think of. That said, if you peruse recent threads, you'll find that there are several places worth visiting for good food, just not unique to the area. That's my $.02 worth! Have fun.

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