The carousel ride that is the restaurant scene in Champaign-Urbana shows no signs of slowing down. But it seems as if new eateries are opening with regularity in C-U. So here’s our latest update on the comings and goings (mostly comings), minus Campustown. (Add your two cents in the comments.)
(Check out other recent comings and goings here.)
What happened: The owner retired after more than 25 years in the business.
Who will miss it: Yellowfin had a loyal following among devotees of sushi and Japanese cuisine. Somewhat hidden in the plaza across the street from Custard Cup, it was an “our-little-secret” gem among C-U foodies.
Any hope for the future: No
Local openings (or coming soon):
Who: The Himalayan Chimney
When: May 9
Description: Its Facebook page says it is a “local Indian bistro serving a variety of delicious menu items ranging from the pristine Himalayas to the warm tropical south.”
Kids menu? No indication yet.
Where: 134 W. Church St., Champaign, in the space formerly occupied by Nitaya Thai.
Why we’re excited: Too early to say for certain, but it appears to offer a unique menu for Central Illinois palates.
Who: HuHot Mongolian Grill
When: May 8
Description: A national chain that features the typical fare of a stir fry Mongolian grill. We reviewed HuHot shortly after it opened.
Kids menu? Yes
Where: 902 Meijer Drive, Champaign.
Why we’re excited: When Flat Top Grill closed recently, it left 301 Mongolia as the city’s only stir fry specialist.
When: Mid-May (soft openings this week)
Description: Portillo’s is a favorite of Chicagoans, known for its Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and chocolate cake.
Kids menu? Not specifically, but the menu is so wide-ranging that kids likely won’t have trouble finding something to eat.
Where: The distinctive building is on the site of the former Hometown Buffet on North Prospect Avenue in Champaign.
Why we’re excited: Many from Chicago swear by it. We’re eager to see if the reputation holds true among Central Illinoisans. Read our Sneak Preview.
Who: Taco John’s
Description: It’s a fast food chain specializing in burritos, nachos and — you guessed it — tacos. Serves breakfast.
Kids menu? Yes
Where: 902 Meijer Dr., Champaign (adjacent to AMC 13).
Why we’re excited: We’re told people love the hot sauce.
Who: Star BBQ
When: Late May
Description: Korean food with a wide menu that features a variety of meat dishes. As is traditional in Korea, each table has its own grill and you’ll cook the food, with the assistance of servers.
Kids menu? Unavailable
Where: 1209 Savoy Plaza Lane, Savoy (next to Goodwill, in the space formerly occupied by Babyland).
Why we’re excited: Star BBQ has the same ownership as Star Karaoke, located across the plaza next to Dairy Queen. The new place has a a beautiful, modern decor, and the menu includes Korean wine and beer. We’re mighty intrigued.
Who: Caribbean Grill
When: May 30
Description: The Caribbean Grill food truck is now opening a restaurant for carryout and dine-in. More details about Caribbean Grill are in our Champaign-Urbana Food Truck Guide.
Kids menu? Yes
Where: 2135 S. Neil St., Champaign (in the Shoppes of Knollwood, next to Suzi Davis Travel).
Why we’re excited: Already with a catering business and food truck, Caribbean Grill is making a commitment to expanding in a way that should allow many more customers to enjoy great access to its food.
Who: Maize Mexican Grill
Description: The Mexican restaurant has a wildly popular following at its “micro” restaurant — if you’ve been there, you know what we mean — on Green Street in Champaign.
Kids menu? No
Where: 100 N. Chestnut St., Champaign (site of the old train station)
Why we’re excited: The original location is expected to remain open. Much like Black Dog, it’s hard to imagine Maize’s expansion not being a big hit.