August always feels like the last chance to enjoy summer dining: lingering over dinner, drinks on patios, fresh produce, meeting up with friends. Of course, you can enjoy those sorts of situations well into September, but the countdown to the start of the schools makes me feel pressure to squeeze out all I can from August.
This month, I’ve included items that will allow you to do those things.
Tastes | Taste of C-U
Taste of C-U has been running for more than four decades, and has been revitalized in recent years. There will be plenty of opportunities to sample food from your favorite restaurants, as well as try some things from restaurants you haven’t yet tried. This year’s festival includes an amateur barbecue competition on Saturday, meaning you’ll have a chance to sample some food and show off your skills. Entry is free, and tickets for food are a dollar each, and every food vendor is required to have at least one “taste” portion for one or two tickets. Read our previous Taste of C-U coverage here, here, and here.
Taste of C-U
August 16th + 17th
Sour Key Lime Pie Party Meme Shake | Triptych
The other day I went to Triptych to do work. It’s a nice place to do so in the afternoon, and a couple of four-ounce pours (about $2 each) are the perfect companions to writing. They provide a little taste, a little writing lubricant, without leaving you too tipsy or full. Bring a snack or two and it’s a perfect work session.
My favorite of the afternoon was the sour key lime because it was most pleasantly sour. It was a tiny bit sweet; it tasted like actual key lime pie. I found the tartness to be quite refreshing, but it wasn’t pucker-inducing. It was a very smooth drink. I’m looking forward to going back for more soon.
1703 Woodfield Dr
M-W 3 to 10 p.m.
Th + F 3 to 11 p.m.
Sa noon to 11 p.m.
Su noon to 8 p.m.
Pad Kee Mao | Thara Thai
Thara Thai serves some of my favorite Thai food in C-U, and it’s the perfect place to meet friends for a meal. Even though there’s no patio seating, it still feels like an excellent summer dining experience. I love eating spicy food when it’s hot outside, and Thara Thai doesn’t mess around with heat. Make the most of your visit by ordering an appetizer, a few dishes, and a dessert — share all of them. Or, I suppose you could always get take out and go to your friend’s house for dinner. You know, the one who has the best outdoor dining setup? Yeah, their house.
The pad kee mao ($13.99) is incredibly delicious. The basil in the dish provides that fresh, herbal quality that Thai cuisine can do so well. I like it with chicken, because it’s a blank slate for absorbing all that tasty sauce. It’s a little spicy, but very savory and flavorful. The big, fat, chewy noodle is totally fun and satisfying to chew. It’s currently my favorite dish to eat.
912 W Bloomington Rd
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Su noon to 9 p.m.
Ice Cream | Dewey’s Drive-In
Dewey’s is not in C-U, so technically I’m cheating by including this one the list. But I promise you’ll find the 30 minute drive to Farmer’s City to be worth it. The burgers at Dewey’s are fantastic, so don’t overlook that part of your eating experience. I’m most interested in ice cream, because it’s my favorite food of all time. Dewey’s has some really great soft serve, and I say go for classic vanilla with hot fudge (ahem, as it should be) or sprinkles. Live your best life and order the large ($3). I mean, you drove 30 minutes out there and have to drive 30 minutes home — wouldn’t want to get hungry on the way back.
620 E Richardson St
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Your favorite things | Green Street restaurants
The University of Illinois students return the week of August 19th. If you haven’t checked out some restaurants on Green Street, now’s the time to do so. I like to use this time of year as an opportunity to revisit some of my favorite places in the area (Sakanaya, Bangkok Thai, Cocomero), and try some new-to-me restaurants and dishes.
My favorite dinner-dessert combo is Sakanaya-Cocomero. Sakanaya is an excellent date night choice (romantic or platonic), and who can resist the call of taro froyo? You could even get your froyo to go and do a little walk around the quad, if that sort of thing interests you.
Photos by Jessica Hammie