If we’re being honest, we’re here to tell you that Restaurant Week in Champaign County is pretty amazing. Frankly, we’re wishing it was MUCH LONGER THAN ONE WEEK. (Hint, hint).
For those who aren’t familiar, Champaign County Area Restaurant Week is back for its fifth year. It’s actually over a nine-day period, starting on Friday, Jan. 29 and going through Saturday, Feb. 6. It is happening this year in spite of COVID-19 — but with a few tweaks.
Takeout is the theme of the pandemic, of course, and as such Restaurant Week will highlight that feature this year.
Since we have to pack in SO MUCH EATING in such a short order of time, we figured we might do our research in advance and plan out how we want to attack.
A few tips:
1. One of the highlights of restaurant week is the special deals and menu items at each participating establishment. (All menu offerings are located on the Restaurant Week website).
2. Love to Instagram your food? Or maybe Twitter is more your cup of tea. Regardless, share your pictures and experience with the hashtag #CCRestaurantWeek for a chance to win a $100 gift card to a participating restaurant of your choice.
3. A total of 27 restaurants are participating this year, across five cities/villages. What’s new: Aspen Tap House, a new version of the former Scotty’s Brewhouse; A Taste of Both Worlds, which just opened a few weeks ago but is the former Hunger Force Mobile Kitchen food truck.
4. There are TONS of vegetarian options, and not just at the vegetarian restaurants.
Champaign County Restaurant Week Picks
We’ve highlighted nine options for restaurant week, one for every day of the event. There are so many delicious items to choose from, but these were ones that stood out to us for a variety of reasons – value; ingenuity; or both! (DISCLAIMER: Of course our taste buds may be limited. Don’t forget to look at the broader list of Restaurant Week options for more ideas).
A Taste of Both Worlds, Urbana: Full disclosure: We’re not an expert on Filipino or Cambodian food, but luckily for us, A Taste of Both Worlds is! The Cambodian menu options piqued our interest, especially the stuffed chicken wing meal — wings with steamed rice, stuffed with ground chicken, lemon grass and bean thread noodles — for $9. Pickup is in Broadway Food Hall.
Baldoratta’s, Urbana: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Restaurant Week is only for dinner. We’re planning our lunch budget around the Baldoratta’s sandwich specials (they are open for dinner too, FYI). Their signature Porketta sandwich ($13) is on special for Tuesday, but we’re most looking forward to the chicken parmesan sandwich ($11) on Thursday — “Breaded chicken breast, fresh basil, mozzarella, provolone, and our family marinara, all sandwiched between a ciabatta bun.” They deliver, too.
Dish Passionate Cuisine, Urbana: Dish has done a great job of flexing its catering muscles for smaller groups during the pandemic. It also is offers many gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items, making it a great spot for Restaurant Week. What caught our eye: Dish Passionate offers six family style meals ($11 for individuals, $40 for families) that include a main dish and sides. (Someone in our household can’t wait for the Tilapia Fish Tacos Dinner with cabbage slaw and chipotle cream, black beans, Spanish rice, chips, salsa and guacamole.) For dessert, we’re already licking our lips for the mini peanut butter cup brownie cheesecakes.
Farren’s Pub & Eatery, Champaign: A Champaign-Urbana favorite, Farren’s is offering a different burger for each day of Restaurant Week. We’re marking our calendar for Wednesday, which features the California turkey burger, a half-pound of ground turkey topped with bacon, Swiss cheese and sliced avocado.
Hamilton Walker’s, Champaign: Downtown Champaign’s high-end restaurant is offering four family meals for $75 each — the blackened salmon option sticks out to us — but there’s also a couple of dinner-for-two options for steak lovers. One features filet mignon, the other ribeye. In either case, however, the package includes a dessert that we’ve had before and simply can’t wait to enjoy again: a baked s’more pie (see photo below). Thank us later.
La Paloma Food Truck, Champaign: We are big fans of the friendly folks at La Paloma, and we were delighted to see this amazing family pack offering for Restaurant Week. For $39.99, get eight regular tacos, two burritos, two quesadillas, chips and guacamole (with your choice of meat, from all the traditional favorites). WOW! Pick up at the truck at 3rd and Green, or get delivery.
Neil St. Blues, Champaign: The Cajun Brined Smoked Turkey Legs served up at this downtown Champaign gem have to be one of the most unique dishes on any menu in Champaign-Urbana. Offered for a limited time, they tell you to get yours before they run out – and they MEAN IT. Served a la carte, as a basket with one side or as a dinner with two sides. $12-$20 depending on how you order.
Esquire Lounge, Champaign: We’ve always considered Esquire’s pizza to be one of its most under-appreciated offerings and, lucky for us, the restaurant/bar is providing a great opportunity for Restaurant Week. A take-and-bake pizza meal for $25 includes up to four toppings or specialty pizza, a side salad, a quart of chili and two chocolate chip cookies. All items are take-and-bake except the cookies.
The Stuft Bird, Champaign: Opened in 2019, the Stuft Bird is a family owned restaurant that specializes in chicken wings with an infusion of flavor. Its signature sauces are “injected into seasoned wings.” Open for lunch and dinner, The Stuft Bird offers a variety of size options for wings along with homemade sides like Grandma Alma’s Fried Corn. Count us in! (If you like wings, don’t miss our wing trail.)
Wood N’ Hog BBQ, Urbana: We’re always game for some good barbecue, and Wood N’ Hog certainly fills that bill. Our order is likely to include the turkey tips, “slowly smoked, grilled and cooked evenly through for a moist and flavorful bite.” It is served with a choice of homemade dressing, collard greens or mac and cheese. $18.
(OK, we couldn’t keep this to just 9. In case you were counting.)
Looking for more food options around Champaign-Urbana?
- Champaign-Urbana Area Ice Cream Trail
- Donut Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Pizza Trail around Champaign-Urbana (And Beyond)
- Cookie Trail Around Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Eat Sushi in Champaign-Urbana
- Wing Trail: 30 Places to Eat Chicken Wings In Champaign-Urbana
- Soup Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Taco Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- French Fries Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Chocolate Dessert Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Hot Chocolate Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Grilled Cheese Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Salad Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Mac and Cheese Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Slushy Cocktail Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Pie Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Guacamole Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Cinnamon Roll Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Nacho Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Hot Dog Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Pretzel Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Cocktail Trail ‘To Go’ around Champaign-Urbana
- Cheese Curd Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Burger Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Donut Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Barbecue Trail around Champaign-Urbana