Now that we’ve reached the dead of winter, it’s time to find some comfort food and beverages to get you through until warmer weather arrives. This list is a mix of new and old, healthy and indulgent, but all are some of my personal favorites. A couple of these are specials that will not be around forever, so if they pique your interest, now’s the time! 

Have something that gets you through the winter doldrums that you’d like to see featured? Leave a note in the comments! 

Poke Bowl | King Kuma at Broadway Food Hall

Broadway Food Hall follows the big-city trend of many small restaurant stalls in a large-format space. One of the stalls, King Kuma, serves fast, fresh build-your-own poke bowls. Bowls come in two sizes with ingredients that you select yourself: a base of rice or greens, a variety of veggies and other toppings, sauces, extras (i.e. avocado, for an upcharge), and either tuna or tofu. Ingredients are very fresh and well proportioned. Check out Broadway Food Hall’s instagram featuring beautiful poke bowls and several other offerings and head over for lunch, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., or newly added Friday dinner from 5 until 8 p.m. Poke bowls start at $7.50.

King Kuma
Broadway Food Hall
401 N Broadway
Urbana

Baby Back Ribs | Black Dog

If you live in C-U and haven’t been to Black Dog, you’re missing out. A mainstay of their meat selection is the sparerib cut smoked ribs, available every day. Recently, they’ve added a new Friday night special: smoked baby back ribs. Baby back ribs are generally thicker as they have more meat between each rib, and tend to be leaner than spareribs. If you are a rib lover as I am, these are not to be missed. This is not currently a regular menu item, but they will be a Friday night special for the foreseeable future. They are $14.95 for a half slab platter and $21.95 for a full slab platter, both including two sides. A little bird also told me that Black Dog will be testing deep fried baby back ribs but with no set day or time, so check Facebook!

Black Dog
302 N Chestnut
Champaign

Fried ribs photo courtesy of Black Dog

Flavored Ground Coffee | Columbia Street Roastery

Columbia Street Roastery is known around town for supplying some of the best coffee to area restaurants and businesses. CSR ground coffee is available in pound and half pound packages for retail as well. In addition to whole bean and non-flavored coffee, their available flavors change with the seasons (think Spooky Spice in the fall and White Christmas around the holidays) but there are several year-round flavors like peanut butter cup and hazelnut. My personal favorite is Jack Frost mocha, a winter seasonal with notes of peppermint. A half pound of ground coffee runs approximately $6 and Columbia offers a punch card for “buy ten, get one free”. Head over to Columbia Street, the smell of ground coffee alone will be worth it.

Columbia Street Roastery
24 E Columbia Street
Champaign

$1 Macaron Wednesday | Hopscotch Bakery + Market

French macarons are delicate and difficult to make. They require lots of patience to get the consistency and presentation of the shell just right. It’s an exciting thing when you find a good one, let alone a good one for $1. Hopscotch advertises $1 Macaron Wednesdays on Facebook and Instagram each week, and has a rotating variety of flavors available. Pictured above are chocolate ganache, lavender-rose, and salted caramel. Satisfy your inner Francophile with these Hopscotch macarons that won’t break the bank.

Hopscotch Bakery + Market
802 W John St
Champaign

Buttermilk Pancakes | Courier Cafe

Pancakes? I bet you’re wondering why you’d rush out to get plain old pancakes. These are the best pancakes I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot. Courier has been around for 38 years and since then, they have been a consistent staple in the CU breakfast scene. A stack of (huge) buttermilk pancakes are served with creamy-yet-salty whipped butter and warm maple syrup. You can get two for $4.80 or three for $6.25. Personally, I’ve always gotten two and slipped into a nice food coma afterward. Courier can get pretty crowded for breakfast and brunch on the weekend, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to greatest pancakes in town.

Courier Cafe 
111 N Race St
Urbana

Photo from Instagram

Photos by Jessica Walker, except where noted