I hate to be a party pooper, but it’s August, and summer is slipping away. (Though it could just be that the sweat pouring off my body in this ridiculous humidity loosens my grip.) U of I students return to campus later this month and that means some food and drink locales become more inconvenient to access, and food trucks return to campus parking spots. I definitely feel the urge to have all the campus eats before they return. This month’s list includes some takeout and quick bites; Taste of C-U happens in the late-middle part of the month, and that’s always a nice event to break up the monotony.
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Your favorite thing | Green Street
In the past I’ve received some flack from readers when I’ve proclaimed the end of summer happening in mid-August. I understand that it is not the actual end of summer; rather it feels like the end summer because schools start up and C-U resumes its academic calendar hustle and bustle. U of I students move in August 24th (some even earlier). The already congested and messy campus/Green Street construction cluster will be even more so with the addition of minivans, Uhauls, and other oversize vehicles manned by emotionally exhausted parental units dropping their wee babes off at the big college for the first time. All of this is to say, go get your campus area eats before August 22nd while traffic is light and parking is ample. There are new places to try (Ozu Ramen, Salad Meister, BrewLab Coffee), and old favorites (Sakanaya and Cracked). Need some more suggestions? Check out this Date Night article from earlier this year.
Tastes | Taste of C-U
This year marks the 47th annual Taste of C-U. Forty-seven years! That’s pretty impressive. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the event, and have concluded that if you frame it as something to do that celebrates the community, it’s successful. If you’re thinking that you’re going to discover the hottest new food trend to hit Central Illinois, you’re in for some disappointment. Hope for good weather. Invite some friends. Give yourself a budget: $10, $15 per person. Get some tastes (1-2 tickets), grab a beer, enjoy the local performers. Look for a restaurant you haven’t tried, or get food from your tried-and-true favorites.
The 47th annual Taste of C-U is Friday, August 18th (5 to 11 p.m.) and Saturday, August 19th (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.). More information is available here.
Peking duck or BBQ pork | Fresh International Market
There aren’t all that many places (or any?) to get Peking duck in C-U. Fresh International Market opened up not too long ago, and in addition to a vast array of packaged foods, the selection of fresh meats and fish is truly impressive. In the prepared foods section you’ll find salads and sushi, but the real stars are the Peking duck and the roasted barbecue pork. The roasted duck hangs whole and is sliced to order (by weight). It’s hot, fresh, and super delicious. You can indulge alone, or impress your friends; I bet it’d be a pretty good dish to bring to a potluck. There are plenty of other things to eat at Fresh International Market, so if you haven’t been yet, check it out.
Fresh International Market is located at 505 South Neil Street (or at the corner of East Healy and Randolph), and is open Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tandoori Triple Play | Himalayan Chimney
Himalayan Chimney is Downtown Champaign’s newest Indian restaurant, and it’s serving up some good food. The interior of the remodeled restaurant is incredibly well done, contemporary, and chic. It’s a place you can have a nice meal and stay for drinks after, or just meet your crew for drinks. Himalayan Chimney’s menu is more or less what you can expect to find at most Indian restaurants, with a few things not readily available around here. The Tandoori Triple Play ($19.99) includes kebab, chicken, and shrimp. It’s the perfect meal-sized sampler (note that it comes with a salad, not rice or naan, so plan accordingly). It’s also plated beautifully, which always makes eating a little more pleasurable.
The Himalayan Chimney is located at 134 West Church Street, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.
Something, anything, all the things | Hopscotch Bakery + Market
Have you heard? Hopscotch Bakery + Market is now open at its John Street location (just east of John and Prospect). The space is gorgeous, and the baked goods are still delicious. Now there are even more options available, and you can wash it all down with a hot or cold (de)caffeinated fancy drinks. Call your best friend, meet up for treats. Or just stop in and eat all the treats by yourself. Live your best life.
Hopscotch Bakery + Market is located at 802 West John Street, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.