With 42 Options, Champaign County Restaurant Week is Bigger Than Ever
Champaign County Area Restaurant Week is the area’s best celebration of food and drink across the community. Restaurants opt in to participate to this special event, which is organized each year by our friends at Visit Champaign County.
This year, Restaurant Week extends over a nine-day period, starting on Friday, Jan. 27 and going through Saturday, Feb. 4.
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. And we did the work to make sure you can make the most of this special foodie fun.
Before we give out this year’s picks … here’s some tips and tricks to getting the most out of Champaign County Restaurant Week:
- 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). Of course, you don’t have to order these items when you go out during Restaurant Week … but the special deals are part of the main draw.
- A total of 42 restaurants are participating this year, across five cities/villages including Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, Rantoul and Mahomet.
- What’s new: Martinelli’s Market, Champaign (downtown); Forage Kitchen, Champaign (Campustown); Cafe Sababa, Champaign (inside Illini Hillel, Campustown); Chophouse on Main, Mahomet; Homegrown, Urbana; Les Gourmet Cuisine, Urbana (Broadway Food Hall); 83 Vietnamese Cuisine, Champaign (Windsor at the Crossing); Cracked, Champaign (Campustown); Seven Saints, Champaign (downtown); and Cowboy Monkey, Champaign (downtown).
- Quell your travel bug by eating “around the world” right here in Champaign-Urbana. Filipino, Indian, Cambodian, Thai, Laotian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian, and Zambian fare populate the menu options; there’s also standard American food, soul food, and many more variations.
- There are tons of vegetarian options, and not just at the vegetarian restaurant (Red Herring); vegan options are available too.
- If you want to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, we recommend snagging reservations when available.
- Yes, Restaurant Week is for EVERYONE! Restaurant Week is not limited to traditional sit down restaurants. There’s specials for donuts (Industrial Donuts) and ice cream (Main Street Scoop in Mahomet). There’s also a few of our favorite food trucks participating.
- Love to Instagram your food? 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.
Champaign County Restaurant Week Picks: A Top 10 (Plus one)
Below we’ve highlighted our Top 10 options for restaurant week. 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! We also wanted to ensure we highlighted options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert/bakery; we even found some standout cocktails.
(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).
Martinelli’s Market and Bakery, downtown Champaign: There’s been a lot of hoopla about the opening of this unique new food destination on the northern edge of downtown Champaign. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, the Restaurant Week offerings are a great opportunity. Get a sandwich, pickle, and iced tea for $12 – your choice of three options: fried mortadella, fig and prosciutto, and a vegetarian option. Sandwiches are made with premium ingredients and bread from Central Illinois Bakehouse.
Sticky Rice, Champaign: One of the most unique offerings of all the Restaurant Week menus, Sticky Rice wants its guests to do more than eat — it wants you to be part of the experience. Sticky Rice is offering “make-your-own” spring rolls, complete with standard ingredients (rice noodles, cucumbers, carrots, etc.) for $12. An array of proteins (pork, shrimp, tofu) come with the “kit.” This woman-owned restaurant is one of the most underrated in town.
Baldarotta’s, Urbana: Typically we are captivated by Baldarotta’s sandwiches, but we can’t stop thinking about its Restaurant Week craft cocktails ($6.50 each), highlighted by the Blood Orange & Honey ‘Rita (silver tequila, blood orange puree, lime juice, honey syrup, lime and blood orange wedge.) Of course we plan to nab a sandwich too, and the one that caught our eye is the Melanzane Polpette alla Parmigiana (eggplant meatballs, mozzarella, provolone, basil, roasted tomatoes, sundried tomato pesto, seeded hoagie). Top it off with your choice of five different cannoli options, below ($3.50 each).
The Ribeye, Champaign: There are few restaurants that are more classic Champaign-Urbana than The Ribeye. And there are few things more classic at The Ribeye than steak. Celebrate Valentine’s Day a few weeks early (or just enjoy a night on the town with your partner, bestie or other loved one) with this steak dinner for two option: 16 total ounces of hand-cut ribeye shared just as you choose, with unlimited trips to the salad bar, fresh baked bread, and choice of baked potato, rice, broccoli, or steak fries for each of you, and a half carafe of table wine to share. There are also options to upgrade. Bon Appetit!
The Literary, downtown Champaign: There are few things I find more indulgent than savoring a robust breakfast (that I didn’t have to make), and reading a good book while drinking my coffee. So it only makes sense to head over to The Lit during Restaurant Week. The breakfast item that tops my list is the Hop Breakfast Sandwich and a Drip Coffee. Get an egg souffle, herbed cream cheese, sharp cheddar on brioche bun with your choice of veggie sausage or bacon. Served with a side, for $12.
Have a date night/family night at The Main Scoop, Mahomet: The Main Scoop gets its customers. Getting ice cream is certainly a group sport (just our opinion, not that you can’t go solo.) Its menu options won’t break the bank, either. Get a soda float for two for $13, or an ice cream sampler for $11; another option is a pint of ice cream and four waffle bowls plus gourmet popcorn for $18.50. Flavor pick: Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel with Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Lovely melding of sweet and savory.
A Taste of Both Worlds, Urbana: Serving hearty, full meals, A Taste of Both Worlds doesn’t disappoint for Restaurant Week. Get a hearty portion of your choice of meat with rice and cucumber salad for lunch or dinner.
Hamilton Walker’s, Champaign: Downtown Champaign’s steakhouse is offering $32, three-course meals, which is a price point hard to beat for the value. There are two entree options: steak tips or grilled shrimp. Both are served with peppercorn cream sauce, roasted garlic sautéed green beans and smashed potatoes. For dessert — one of our family favorites, bread pudding. We are big fans of the HamWalk experience.
Homegrown, Urbana: As we mentioned, Homegrown (located in Urbana at Stone Creek) is one of the new kids on the Restaurant Week block, and it brought its A-game to the menu. The options for the $32, three-course dinner offering literally has us salivating (see below). Prairie Fruits Farm cheese tasting appetizer? Cabernet Braised Beef Brisket? Pan Seared Salmon? Homemade mushroom and garlic soup with local ingredients? SIGN US UP. The desserts are made in-house, and are not to be missed. Good thing that’s part of the package.
Neil St. Blues, Champaign: What keeps us going back to Neil St. Blues? The food and warm environment. This year for Restaurant Week, Neil Street Blues is focused on dinner options. The menu presents three options at different price points, from $22 to $44 per entree. Options include Cajun Shrimp & Scallop Seafood Alfredo; Braised short ribs; or smoked half chicken. Sides are included; portions are generous!
La Paloma Food Truck: Taco Tuesday, here we come. My version of meal planning is planning to take advantage of the Family Pack from La Paloma Food Truck, one of the friendliest trucks in town. This includes 6 Regular Tacos, a Burrito, 2 Cheese Quesadillas, and Chips with Guacamole all for $39.99. Have a smaller crew or appetite? There are options for them, too.
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