With 50 Options, Champaign-Urbana Area Restaurant Week is Bigger Than Ever
Champaign-Urbana 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 Experience Champaign Urbana.
This year, Restaurant Week extends over a nine-day period, starting on Friday, Jan. 26 and going through Saturday, Feb. 3.
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-Urbana Area 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.
- Restaurant Week is for everyone — and has something for almost every budget. Donuts? Check out Industrial Donuts in Savoy or Ye Olde Donuts in Champaign — specials for half a dozen or dozen donuts. Ice cream? Main Street Scoop (Urbana location). Bakery? BakeLab in Urbana and Pekara in Champaign have your fix.
- A total of 50 — 50!!!! — restaurants are participating this year, across six cities/villages: Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, Rantoul, Paxton, and Mahomet.
- What’s new: Market Street Grill, Paxton; BakeLab, Urbana; Just Yolkin, Champaign; The Space, Champaign (downtown); Dee Dee’s Beef (operating out of Cracked, Campustown); Ye Olde Donuts, Champaign; Punch Bar & Lounge, downtown Champaign.
- Quell your travel bug by eating “around the world” right here in Champaign-Urbana. Filipino, Indian, Cambodian, Thai, Laos, Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian, and Zambian fare populate the menu options; there’s also farm-to-table food, soul food, and many more variations of American food.
- Vegan? Vegetarian? They have it all.
- If you want to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, we recommend snagging reservations when available.
- Love to Instagram your food? Share your pictures and experience with the hashtag #CURestaurantWeek for a chance to win a $100 gift card to a participating restaurant of your choice.
Champaign Urbana Area Restaurant Week Picks
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).
DATE NIGHT ON A BUDGET: Where can you get a three-course meal for $23 per person during Restaurant Week? No, this isn’t a trick question. Thank you Houlihan’s for showing us how it’s done. Chose a soup or salad; an entree; and a desert. Options include the famous Houlihan’s fish tacos. There is also a four-course meal being offered at $43 per person. There’s too many options to list here, so be sure to take a look at the full Houlihan’s Restaurant Week menu.
BURGER BONANZA: It’s fun to watch Smith Burger Co. continue to experiment and show that it’s not just another burger joint. What might be most surprising to some is that this burger joint isn’t just for carnivores. The restaurant’s gourmet vegetarian offering for Restaurant Week has us flat-out drooling: spicy black bean burger, sauteed mushrooms, bleu cheese, blueberry pepper jam on brioche with fries, all for $14.50. Another standout: fried chicken dipped in its Nashville hot sauce with housemade slaw, pickles, mayo, on brioche with fries. Only available at downtown Champaign location (not the truck). See the whole special Restaurant Week menu here.
FLIGHT OF CURRY: We’ve made it no secret that we are big fans of Sticky Rice in downtown Champaign. This woman-owned restaurant is one of the most underrated in town. Every year it offers something truly unique and different for restaurant week, and this year is no different. Guests are invited to get a “flight” of three curry dishes — pick from five options — that are served with steamed rice and sticky rice. Pair it with your preference of two Thai Iced Teas, Thai Iced Coffees, or both. Our personal favorite is a tossup between Panang and Mussamun. See the full Sticky Rice Restaurant Week menu here.
HAVE A DATE NIGHT/FAMILY NIGHT WITH PO’ BOYS: We’re sticking with this theme because we love seeing the Restaurant Week options for multiple household members — whether it’s family, framily, your work colleagues or a group of teenagers — these meals are meant for a group, and they are budget-friendly too. Choose from options for one, two, or four people. Here’s a sample for four: a 16-inch customizable pizza and breadsticks or a BBQ family pack (pulled pork, mac n’ cheese, kettle chips). Po’ Boys also might win for the most creative menu item: dill pickle pizza, anyone? See the full Po’ Boys (Urbana) Restaurant Week menu here.
HAVE A DATE NIGHT/FAMILY NIGHT OF ICE CREAM: We agree with the Main Scoop, ice cream knows no season in our house. And what’s more fun than getting the gang together for a family or date night out for our favorite frozen treat? We love these budget-friendly options: 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 $19.50. Flavor pick: Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel with Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Lovely melding of sweet and savory. See the full menu for the Main Scoop, now open in Urbana (Restaurant Week menu available at all three locations — Monticello and Mahomet too).
TRY THE NEW GUY ON THE BLOCK: We’ve been itching to get to Market Street Grill in Paxton ever since we got a sneak preview a few months back. And we have to say, the Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad is certainly worth the drive to Paxton. Trust us. We know our chicken salad. (Other options include a $7 Bloody Mary. COUNT ME IN!). See the full menu for Market Street Grill.
SOUPER DUPER SOUP AND MORE: 83 Vietnamese Cuisine is beloved in southwest Champaign for a reason — it’s the homecooked flavors and friendly hospitality that keep guests returning. This isn’t a cookie cutter restaurant in any way, as the owners ooze authenticity. The special soups on the Restaurant Week menu appear to be perfect for a cold winter’s day. Try traditional pho, Crab/Pork Tomato Soup, “an undiscovered traditional Vietnamese dish that you will not find in most restaurants,” as well as chicken rice soup, a traditional Asian comfort soup. See the 83 Vietnamese Cuisine restaurant week menu here.
TOP NOTCH DINNER VALUE: Hamilton Walker’s, Champaign: Every year we RAVE about the Hamilton Walker’s Restaurant Week experience, and this year doesn’t disappoint, either. Downtown Champaign’s steakhouse is offering $33, three-course meals, which is a price point hard to beat for the value. The first course is choice of soup or salad (three different salad options). There are two entree options: 6 oz. Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewer or 6 oz. Grilled Atlantic Salmon. Both are served with 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.
SOUL FOOD FEBRUARY (AND JANUARY): Soul food definitely hits the spot in winter, and it’s a perfect way to celebrate the days getting shorter. The delicious food and warm environment keep us coming back to Neil Street Blues, which offers several different price points for its Restaurant Week dinner offerings. 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! See the Neil Street Blues Restaurant Week specials here.
TACO TUESDAY HERE WE COME: My version of meal planning during Champaign-Urbana Area Restaurant Week is planning to take advantage of the Family Pack from La Paloma Food Truck, one of the friendliest trucks in town. This includes 10 regular tacos along with chips and guacamole, for $43. Have a smaller crew or appetite? There are options for them, too. See the full options online here for Restaurant Week.
Looking for more food options around Champaign-Urbana?
- Where to Eat Sushi in Champaign-Urbana
- Pie Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Cookie Trail Around Champaign-Urbana
- Hot Chocolate Trail Around Champaign-Urbana
- Nacho Trail Around Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Find the Best Cinnamon Rolls in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- The Best Cheese Curds in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Taco Trail Around Champaign-Urbana
- Best Places for Coffee around Champaign-Urbana
- The Best Brunch Spots in Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Find the Best Chocolate Desserts around Champaign-Urbana
- The Best Mac and Cheese in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Best French Fries in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Best Barbecue in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- The Best Burgers in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- Where to Find the Best Pretzels Around Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana’s Favorite Thai Food
- Where to Find the Best Pancakes in Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Eat Healthy in Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Get the Best Iced Tea in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana’s Favorite Mexican Food
- Champaign-Urbana’s Favorite Korean Food
- Where to Find Boba Tea Around Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana’s Favorite Chinese Food
- Champaign-Urbana Area Ice Cream Trail
- Donut Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Pizza Trail around Champaign-Urbana (And Beyond)
- The Best Places For Gluten-Free Food in Champaign-Urbana
- Cookie Trail Around Champaign-Urbana
- Wing Trail: 30 Places to Eat Chicken Wings In Champaign-Urbana
- Soup Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Grilled Cheese Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Salad Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Slushy Cocktail Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Guacamole Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Hot Dog Trail around Champaign-Urbana
- Donut Trail around Champaign-Urbana