Champaign-Urbana Loves Its Burgers
Food is one of our favorite topics – and we know it’s one of our readers’, too. Our Champaign-Urbana ice cream trail, which debuted in 2017, spawned its own Facebook group. The Champaign-Urbana pizza trail followed in 2018; with the Champaign-Urbana BBQ Trail not far behind. Someone suggested we make a t-shirt to celebrate anyone who completes the Champaign-Urbana area donut trail. And we think our Champaign-Urbana Area Cheese Curd Trail post speaks for itself. (A new wrinkle: Champaign-Urbana Cocktail Trail ‘To Go’!)
While it might not be good for our waistline, we can say definitively that we’ve eaten at a great many of the most well-loved burger places in the Champaign-Urbana area.
We recognize that burgers are mainly the stuff of carnivores. For the purpose of this list, we’ve listed mainly places that have great beef burgers – as well as turkey burgers.
So we’ve compiled our take of Champaign-Urbana area “bucket list” burger joints, compiled from our “experts” on the Chambanamoms staff and input from our readers. Several of these places are not in Champaign County. (For the purposes of our Trail, we avoid chains with 10+ locations.)
Farren’s Pub & Eatery: Don’t just trust us: in 2018, the wise guys at USA TODAY named Farren’s the best burger joint in the STATE. That’s right, the entire STATE of Illinois! We certainly concur. The move to a larger downtown location in the summer of 2019 means that one of our favorite Farren’s options is on the menu daily: the turkey patty. Another one of our orders: the bacon burger. Even if you don’t like burgers, there’s plenty at Farren’s to love.
Burgers and Beer: Dear Burgers and Beer, please come closer to Champaign-Urbana. While we like your Gibson City location, we’d selfishly love to have one in town. If that’s too greedy, please know we’re part of your fan club. Love, us. OK friends, if you haven’t been there yet, Burgers and Beer is a “make-your-own” gourmet burger joint that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is seriously delicious. It has a kids menu with grilled cheese, home style mac and cheese and more. Located in downtown Gibson City, it’s about 30 minutes from Champaign-Urbana. (We’ve also been to the Kankakee location!)
Billy Barooz Pub & Grill: A reader favorite, this Southwest Champaign sports bar and gastropub always seems to draw a good crowd. Our readers singled out the California burger as being particularly tasty. We also like the chopped steak burger, which takes a little longer to prepare but is worth the wait. Located at the Crossing, the retail center at the corner of Windsor and Duncan.
Just Hamburgers, Paxton: This place is legendary for being a bit quirky, a bit inexpensive, and way more than a bit delicious. Mainly a carry out, you can sit outside at Just Hamburgers when the weather is good. Oh, and bring cash. Beware: closed on Sundays. Located in downtown Paxton, about 30-35 minutes from Champaign-Urbana.
Crane Alley, Urbana: If creativity was the deciding factor, Crane Alley would win hands down. Its menu rotates in a burger of the week; for example “The Angry Bee. A half-pound beef patty coated with our Cajun spice blend, served on top of honey infused caramelized onions and topped with white cheddar.” One of the most underrated food establishments in Champaign-Urbana, in our humble opinion. Located in downtown Urbana.
Hamilton Walker’s, Champaign: In terms of the quality of beef, it is hard to top Hamilton Walker’s steakburger. But we also like that you can get pretty much anything on top of it — bacon, fried egg, and a half-dozen other things. Any place that fancies itself as having a good burger needs to be willing to stack anything on top of it, and Hamilton Walker’s does. We also really like the toasted brioche bun. Located in downtown Champaign.