The ambiance of this restaurant is very cool. It's eclectic, modern, classic and fashionable. I love having a choice from a variety of different ethnicities, but it also makes it hard to choose! They've got an internationally inspired menu, with Asian, Indian, Caribbean, Spanish and Latin influences. Food is great! Service could be better.
Favorite Dish: I ordered the huevos rancheros, which was scrambled eggs with chorizo (Mexican sausage) , black beans, house potatoes, salsa and tortillas. It was very good and fresh. I also had two mimosas, (champagne and orange juice) which were divine.
Biaggi's is a very fancy looking place, without the fancy prices! They have all of your Italian favorites, as well as their own unique dishes. Try them! Everything is good here! They also have a nice choice of wines by the glass or the bottle.
They have a beautiful atmosphere, lots of room, authentic fireplaces, and elegant decor. They also have outside dining in the warmer months. The staff are pleasant and professional.
Favorite Dish: I love their black fettucini noodles with lobster. It's a divine dish!
Their "Osso Buco" is also fabulous. This is tender veal shank
with veges served with potato gnocchi. Of course, my regular
Italian favorite, "veal parmesan" is great here, too.
Escobar's is a latin inspired restaurant with inventive original cuisine. The fare includes meats, seafood, and there are several vegetarian options. The menue changes but you can always expect something special to choose from. The restaurant is a bit upscale but not stuffy. It is a place to dress up for but you don't have to. Service is great and the details are well covered. Prices are quite reasonable for lunch and get a bit pricier for dinner. However, this is about average or slightly below average in price for a nice restaurant in C-U. This is the sister restaurant to Milo's in Urbana but it is not a clone.
Favorite Dish: Be sure to try one of the pasta specials. They are always reasonably priced and very good.
Penn Station is a small chain of sandwich shops with one situated near the campus, just off of Green St. It makes its reputation on making hot, fresh sandwiches with a twist. Not your ordinary deli shop, it makes twists on the old favorites. You won't find turkey here, but chicken teriyaki, pizza (like a calzone in sandwich form), or grilled artichoke. And there are also natural-cut French fries, delicious. I highly recommend this place for someone looking for a change of pace in a sandwich.
This Champaign eatery has an eclectic mix of noodle dishes from around the world. Dive into Pad Thai, Penne Rosa, or even Mac and Cheese. All dishes can be proteined-up with a meat selection, and there's tofu or plain veg for those non-meat eaters. Their portions are generous, and the food is fresh and pretty healthy. They also offer soups and salads if you're not in the mood for noodles.
Favorite Dish: I had the trio, which is a small portion of noodles, a protein, and a side salad. My salad was Ceasar, which was flavorful and not watery, with the right amount of dressing without being heavy or greasy. The protein was a simple grilled chicken breast, which was still moist. Noodles were the Indoneasian Peanut Saute. They list it as being spicy, which I didn't find exactly true, but it was tasty and filling. A good reasonably priced lunch.
Chipotle has now gone national, bringing its organic and delicious fare to towns across the country. It prides itself on fresh, free-range or organic ingredients, and making totally awesome burritos. Although they are a chain, they act anything but one. Give them a try; you won't be disappointed.
Favorite Dish: My favorites here are the carnitas and barbacoa burritos ... the meat is succulent and beyond what you normally find at a burrito joint. The guacamole goes really well with the chips. And the corn salsa is very tasty. mmmm....
This place came highly recommended from friends, so I went to check it out. I was very disappointed. The atmosphere was more of a greasy spoon joint than a restaurant, and the food matched. The persons behind the counter were nice and welcoming, but the downstairs was poorly ventilated and had wads of flies hovering about. I'm sorry, but I cannot rate this place highly and will not go back there.
Favorite Dish: I had a calzone, which is supposed to be one of their specialties. It came very greasy and without much taste. However, it definitely was big. It could have filled me for two meals had I felt like keeping it; as it was, though, I didn't want to repeat the experience at home.
Cafe Kopi is a down-to-earth, chill place to sip a coffe (or tea; they have a huge selection of teas) and chat or read or study. Good music is always playing, usually ambient rock and such, but at a low enough level to maintain concentration or conversation. The decor is world-inspired with instruments and artifacts from around the globe. An overall great place to hang out!
Favorite Dish: I had just snacks and drinks ... the lemonade was homemade and very tasty, and the snickerdoodle went along well with it. They have a wide variety of sandwiches and salads, which sounded great, but I didn't have the stomach to eat a lot.
It seems part sports bar part restaurant. With two billiard tables and dart boards it is geared to enjoy yourself, and there is delightful outdoor seating to watch the downtown crowd pass by in the summer. There is a nice, wide variety of beers, both on draft and in bottles, which company the American pub food they serve there. Good burgers, salads, and daily specials help make you at ease and have a relaxing time. Well worth checking out.
Favorite Dish: I had the western burger, which was smothered in grilled onions, bacon, and cheddar cheese accompanied with beer-battered onion rings (you have the option of fries, rings, or cottage cheese). Washed it down with a Pyramid Apricot Ale, from California (I was glad to see they stocked some west coast beers there). They had a cheesecake that sounded delicious, but I was stuffed. Next time!
Nitaya has a good atmosphere, pleasant crew. Located near downtown Champaign, near to theaters and the university. There is soothing music throughout, and it is a nice quiet atmosphere. Very enjoyable experience.
Favorite Dish: I had the tod mun (curry fish cakes) and krang mussamun (beef curry with potatoes and onions). The fish cakes were excellent, lightly fried with a crispy skin, and good spice to them. The mussamun was a bit bland, it could have used a bit of a kick, but was good in general. I also had a lychee smoothie, which was cool and refreshing, most excellent.
Modern ambiance, electronica and eclectic Japanese food. Great!
Favorite Dish: For an appetizer, the sushi sampler was great, and the ahi tuna was wonderful! For a main entree, I had the curry marinated swordfish with sweet potatoes. I enjoyed it very much. Sipping sake with my meal was superbe. Lastly for dessert, the green tea ice cream and mochi (blended rice) coated chocolate were excellent!
Eclectic mix of Thai-Indian-Carribean-Cajun. With extensive vegetarian options, international flair, lots of seafood options, great tapas, eclectic artistic atmosphere, and great outdoor seating, you can't beat Radio Maria for a nice dinner out. The waitstaff can leave something to be desired. Some of them are fantastic but some of them are snotty, grumpy, and unaccomodating, not just from my perspective but from other reviews I have read this is usually the only complaint besides no reservations, and you might have to wait a bit on a weekend night to get a table. I'm telling you, though, you can't beat the food if you want an elegant yet relaxed meal and you're somewhat adventurous. Have I mentioned how good the food is? The food is good. Get the Avocado tapas and the Pipian tapas. YUM. They have fresh, in-season seafood specials and buy a lot of their produce from organically grown local farmers. The desserts are fantastic - especially in the summer when they have fresh fruit to play with. Sunday brunch is very popular - Mexican coffee, huge omlettes, great beer bread, yummy coffee cake, spicy chorizo, and tasty mimosas! I don't know anyone who wouldn't choose to eat here first on any occasion. More pricey than your other downtown Champaign alternatives but has more to offer food-wise and well worth it, especially if you get one of the better, more experienced servers. The kitchen staff is fantastic and knows how to cook everything on their diverse menu exceptionally well. The atmosphere is romantic and artistic with eclectic paintings, art, and architechture.
NON SMOKING, Closed on Mondays.
Favorite Dish: Sunday brunch - mexican coffee, beer bread, potatoes, coffee cake - long live carbs! $7-15
Lunch - Quesa Si (chicken quesadillas), Grilled Gruyere, Bluebell Salad, Veggie Pad Thai. $7-15
Dinner - the chicken dish ... tapas (Avocado, Pipian, Mezze)... my mother loved her crab cakes, I've heard the Cornish Hen in the white chocolate mole is really good, too. $12-20
The first time I walked in, the manager was praying with incense sticks in her hands. Visually it's decorated with portraits and art from Thailand. A little divey.
Then the smell of the food hits you. It's served on styrofoam plates with disposable flatware, but it's the most authentic Thai I've had in Illinois.
Absolutely delicious. Hot, sour, salty, sweet, all of the Thai flavors blend to give your palate an incredible taste experience. They also have a full vegetarian menu for animal-friendly diners.
Favorite Dish: Pad Ped Pla Dook - A spicy fried catfish dish with chiles, bamboo shoots, garlic, basil leaves, bell pepper and other spices. You can order it mild to spicy, but spicy is not for the meek. It is, however, delicious!
My wife loves the Basil Chicken - ground chicken with bell pepper, onion, carrot and basil leaves with a nice peppery flavor.
Also try the Pad Thai and the Satay!
I love this restaurant. On Sunday nights the wines are half price and so I've tried plenty! The staff make excellent wine pairings suggestions and they have the best deserts in town (without doubt). On my last Sunday visit - thanks to the cheap wine - I splashed out and tried the truffle risotto. The experience was exquisite. Before I was served, my meal I was brought out the truffles to smell, touch and admire before they were shaved onto my meal by the chef. They are amazingly aromatic and a gustatory treat. It was a wonderful evening, as always at bacaro. Note also that it is open until 11pm - making it one of the few places in Champaign where you can get a good diner after 10pm - you can eat at a table (more romantic?) or at the bar (lots of fun with friends!).
Favorite Dish: I love the risotto - it is not expensive (see their menu at http://bacaro.thadmorrow.com/), deliciously creamy and filling and changes all the time. At the moment you can get a truffle risotto as I mention above!
Oftentimes I just go for desert and desert wine. Deserts are in the $5-$6 dollar range and if you know of some where that does better deserts please tell me!
The coolest coffeehouse in Champaign-Urbana serves, along with an amazing variety of gourmet coffee drinks, a great selection of handmade chocolates and pies. This is a favorite hangout in Champaign - the plush couches and armchairs are always filled - but a little overpriced.