Find the way to curb that food truck craving in and around Champaign-Urbana
Year after year, Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding communities are home to some of the area’s best food trucks. Featuring unique food finds and specialities, these food trucks offer variety and combinations that please kids and adults alike. Residents flock to social media and food truck websites in order to find out when and where to find their favorites.
Some of these trucks are gleaming and shiny while some are older and faded. However, one thing is consistent — passion.
During the pandemic of 2020, food trucks have been popular, but also have had to deal with many cancelations of area festivals and special events. That means food trucks have changed their “habitats,” and fans have had to be creative in their searches for long-time favorites and newbies alike.
Some food trucks are now staking out “permanent” locations rather than being mobile. Others have found new outlets in Champaign-Urbana away from the “usual” places, while others have been going around to smaller towns in the the county — and even further.
Typical food truck haunts include area farmers’ markets (when in season), such as The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market (Neil and Washington parking lot on Tuesdays from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.), Urbana’s Market at the Square (Lincoln Square Mall parking lot at 301 S. Vine St. on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon); Rantoul; Mahomet, and Homer.
Other places trucks hang out: Riggs Beer Company in Urbana, Triptych in Savoy, downtown Champaign, and the area around Prospect/Bradley in Champaign. On campus, a prime location is Springfield/Mathews Avenues in Urbana, as well as right in front of the Krannert Center.
This has also been a season of change for some local food trucks; in September, longtime favorites Dragonfire Pizza and Cracked made announcements that they were leaving Champaign-Urbana and headed north. A few others have announced brick-and-mortar locations (see below).
We also haven’t seen a few food trucks around lately, so we’ve only included those on this list that we know to be active in summer/fall 2020. Of course, we’re not omniscient — if we missed one, let us know.
Here’s a list, in alphabetical order:
This farm-to-table themed truck serves food harvested from Hendrick House farm. Its menu focuses on burgers and sandwiches. Want something lighter? Try the vegetarian option made with edamame burger with sweet Asian slaw. Some version of Betsy’s Bistro can be found inside Parkland College and within the Carle Administration Building, Betsy’s Bistro @ The Fields. Find the rolling Betsy at various locations including downtown Champaign, Home Depot and Sportland Motorsports / BMW Motorcycles of Urbana (mainly in the summer).
Brien’s Bistro Food Truck: This new food truck hit the streets over the summer, launching in early June 2020. Based in Mahomet and a staple at its market on Saturday mornings, you can also find Brien’s Bistro all over the county – from Riggs Beer Company in Urbana to St. Joseph to Triptych Brewing in Savoy. A popular menu item: Jayla’s Nachos. Made with Fritos, pulled pork, Mac ‘n cheese, and three cheese blend.
There’s nothing like beans, meat and cheese wrapped in a handy tortilla. You’ll find these portable creations in the Burrito King Food Truck. The truck was born from the popular Green Street establishment. It’s been fairly adventurous this summer, making regular stops in Tolono, Philo, and Sidney – as well as hanging out at various Carle locations for lunch. It also spends a lot of time at the Marathon Gas station on Philo Road in Urbana. See its hangouts on Instagram.
C&C Kitchen specializes in “creative and colorful Southern Inspired American cuisine.” What we love about this truck is that it has mouth-watering options for hardcore meat eaters and vegetarians alike. A typical menu includes catfish, BBQ chicken, rib tips and vegan empanadas, but it changes daily. The truffle mac and cheese is also a favorite. Chefs Cameshia and Curtis McGhee are now doing cooking classes (virtual) with the Urbana Park District. How cool is that??? Find them often at 708 E. Main Street in Urbana, but check Facebook for updates.
Come and Get This Food Truck
This truck serves traditional fare such as burgers and Vienna beef hot dogs, and one unique item not seen on many food trucks – central Illinois horseshoes. We recently had their veggie burger and give it a thumbs up. Find them hanging out at Bradley/Prospect and sometimes at Riggs Brewery in Urbana.
Cool Bliss Popped Bliss
This business is focused on its storefront location at 1506 S. Neil St. in Champaign. Visit, YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT :-). 17 flavors of popcorn, tons of shaved ice flavors and handmade confections for purchase.
All-beef hot dogs are served with all the goodies that make a Chicago dog (minus the tomato) from a trailer. These condiments are included in the $3 per dog price, or you can get two dogs for $5. In addition, Dave serves nachos, brats and pulled pork with chips and drinks. If the students are in town, you can find the simple concept across from Joe’s Brewery on Fifth/Green Street. If not on campus, he’s often at Riggs Beer Company.
We haven’t seen this truck on the streets this year, other than delivering orders. If you miss the rolling empanadas, they can still be found in a storefront on Green Street in Campustown. Who wouldn’t like dough stuffed with a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables? Try specialty combinations like the ham and cheese or spinach and feta.
Fernando’s Food Truck
Folks rave about Fernando’s! Burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tacos—Mexican style. For $2 even you can try an authentic taco on a soft-corn shell. They also have breakfast burritos, if that’s your jam. The boss is committed to serving authentic Mexican street food because he has strong roots in Mexico City. Find the truck in downtown Champaign or rolling at Riggs Beer Company.
Hunger Force Mobile Kitchen
This truck debuted in 2018 and recently raised concerns when it was on hiatus. Here’s the good news: HFMK announced on Oct. 4 it will be opening in Urbana’s Broadway Food Hall. HFMK serves authentic Filipino street food, something you can’t find anywhere else in Champaign-Urbana. They have dishes such as pork sisig & chicken sisig tacos; Ginisang munggo; Pork adobo & fried rice; dessert egg rolls and more. “Stay tuned for opening dates. And everyone can still message me for tray orders or catering.”
Just Bee Acai
Just BEE Açaî (above) is a vintage 1963 Shasta Compact Camper that has been restored into a mobile food emporium. So what do they serve? Superfoods. This woman-owned truck is all about fresh, wholesome and local foods including on-the-go açaí bowls, loaded toasts, oatmeal bowls and hand-crafted drinks. You can find it on campus, at special events such as Urbana’s Market at the Square, and much more. BE PREPARED to wait in line, this place is the definition of popular.
This owner is busy. He owns the aforementioned Empanadas House truck and the popular Green Street establishment Jurassic Grill, and now he is taking the Jurassic Grill menu to the streets. You’ll find a similar menu of dino-themed burgers, french fries and hot dogs. We really like the veggie burger.
Kona Ice of Champaign
A refreshing twist on the food truck, or rather a modern version of the old-school ice cream truck, Kona Ice is a rolling shaved-ice Kona Entertainment Vehicle (KEV). You may have seen (or heard) the colorful vehicle rolling through your neighborhood this summer playing tropical tunes. Choose from dozens of flavors like strawberry daiquiri or banana-colada. Prices range from $2 for a kid’s cup to $5 for a color-changing cup. Kona Ice also offers flavors geared towards adults. Try the blackberry mojito, sangria and white wine spritzer. (Sorry, they DO NOT contain alcohol).
La Paloma Food Truck
Friendly service that can’t be beat. Grab a taco bowl with avocados, beans, cheese, shredded lettuce and sour cream. Or, whatever you want, says the owner of the authentic Mexican food truck. They’ve posted their current schedule on Facebook, which includes stops at Triptych in Savoy, Riggs in Urbana and late nights on campus.
This is another taco truck, which is to say, taco trucks rule. The one parks daily in the Hunter’s Haven and Bargain Bins lot on Bloomington Road in Champaign, Monday- Saturday. The menu includes the typical taco truck fare: tacos, burritos, nachos. Something a little different: you can find a breakfast burrito here. For an in-depth review, head over to our friends at Smile Politely.
Mamma D’s Smokehouse
Oklahoma native Sharon Davis-Devine created a mobile, condensed version of her popular Weldon, IL restaurant on weekends. Some favorites include the beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, gourmet macaroni and cheese or Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings. The dumplings are crescent-wrapped apples baked with sugar, cinnamon, butter, two secret ingredients and Mountain Dew! This truck mostly sticks to the Dewitt-Piatt County area, look on Facebook for updates.
This unassuming truck is located on the corner of North Prospect and Bradley Avenues in Champaign (the Boost mobile parking lot), which has been home to amazing tacos and burritos for many years. Also on the menu, quesadillas, tortas and nachos. Open daily, this place gets rave reviews for its al pastor.
NitroCup is a great way to enjoy (locally roasted) high-quality coffee, fast. FROM A BIKE! Their bike is equipped with stout taps and a cooler. They can pour icy Nitro coffee on the spot. Their brewing process cuts all acidity and bitterness from the brew. They add nitrogen to give a creamy mouthfeel—like Guinness and stout beers. No cream or sugar necessary. The cold brew is available in 12 and 16 ounces. Find NitroCup at Urbana’s Market at the Square.
Oh, Honey Pie
This duo is fulfilling the dream of a vintage pie shop. They serve pies 4-inch pies (available in four-packs for variety, too) and standard 9-inch pies. This year, they’ve been doing as many savory pies as sweet ones. Look for the salted honey pie; this old-fashioned recipe is made with local honey. Generally they are at Urbana’s Market at the Square. You don’t have to wait to find them; you can also pre-order online, which is highly recommended.
This doughy delight is perpetually sold out—everywhere. Get in line first and fast! Pandamonium bakes both cake and yeast style using fresh, real (organic if at all possible) ingredients with vegan options available. Try the cookie dough, banana split, orange creamsicle or the popular strawberry slider. The flavors vary, and they bake small batches in limited numbers. This sweet panda has a permanent home in the same strip mall as Sun Singer Wine and Spirits and due to the pandemic is currently hanging out there.
Piato To Go
The popular Urbana-based, catering kitchen, Piato, does not shy away from change and reinvention. Offering catering and food nanny service—they do it all. Try the Hawaiian nachos topped with Modelo chicken, pineapple salsa and Hawaiian BBQ sauce for $8. All sauces are handmade. Their food truck is a regular at Urbana’s Market at the Square, and can also be found all over the county. Check Facebook for the schedule.
Sidney Dairy Barn Moo Mobile
If you can’t make it to Sidney to visit the Sidney Dairy Barn, a Chambanamoms C-U Essential, you can stop by the “Moo Mobile.” Try a cup for $3.50, a tornado (ice cream with candy mixed in, usually cookie dough) for $5, an ice cream sandwich for $3. On occasion they serve a non-dairy Italian Ice option. The “Moo Mobile” carries around many flavors of ice cream. It has been making appearances at Riggs Brewery and other places in a more limited fashion this year.
This family-owned truck specializes in delivering fresh-to-order Mexican food right to your door. But, you can find them sitting outside of La Morenita Mexican store at 607 N. Cunningham in Urbana, too (right by McDonalds). Best known for traditional tortas (sandwiches), they have a full menu of all the favorites including nachos, tacos and burritos. Great lunch specials. See the menu on Grubhub.
This truck is in limited service now, but the good news is you can find their food at Duo in Rantoul. When it is on the road, try their Philly Cheesesteak. The owner uses a 6-inch hoagie roll, American/Swiss cheese, green pepper, onion, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mushrooms. When they do come to town, typically they can be found at Rigg’s.
OTHER TRAILS IN OUR SERIES:
Did we miss any other food-on-wheels in the area? Send us an email: email@example.com.