Hello, July. This month, I'm bringing you five delicious things to eat or drink that really just bring comfort. Things are hard right now, and a therapist friend of mine said that now's the time to lean on our coping mechanism to cope with all that's happening. So, let's eat and drink our feelings this month.

I rounded up a hearty lunch option, a fruity beer, a big ole burger, a delectable pantry good, and a treat-yo-self dinner. Check it out. If there's anything you think I should try, send me a recommendation at alyssabuckley@smilepolitely.com or leave a comment on social media.


In a white styrofoam divider container, there is a chicken curry with large chunks of potato over brown chicken with a yellow sauce. In the top left divider, there are very dark brown fried plantains. In the top right divider, there are light brown rice with dark red kidney beans. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Curry Chicken Lunch Special | Caribbean Grill

This delicious lunch special ($10.99) from Caribbean Grill is a must eat. The special includes four pieces of bone-in, skin-on marinated chicken slow cooked in a yellow curry sauce over island style rice ‘n peas (red beans and rice). You can choose two sides, and I chose fried plantains and more rice ‘n peas.

The chicken is so tender that the meat just fell off the bone. I was able to bite all the meat off the bones; they were clean bones, not by my skill, but by the incredible slow cooking to get the meat that tender. The yellow curry sauce was light and not soupy (like most curry I've had); it was just enough sauce. The flavors were mild and not spicy, so I could really indulge in the light cumin flavor of the sauce with big forkfuls. There were also some potatoes that melted in my mouth with the same divine flavors from the yellow curry. The fried plantains were delicious, especially on bites that had both crispy, carmelized edges and the soft plantain middle. The rice ‘n peas is my favorite thing: the island seasonings, the rice, and beans; it's fantastic.

You can only get this on Thursday, so ask Siri to set a reminder for Thursday at 11 a.m. so you can put an order in for this.

Caribbean Grill
2135 S Neil St
Champaign
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 

A tall beer glass is full of a pinkish purple beer with an inch of foamy head on a black table next to a dark blue can of Blueberry Lime IPA. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Fruit Aisle: Blueberry Lime Triptych | Triptych Brewing 

This deliciously refreshing beer comes in a 12 ounce can for $4.50. It is a sour IPA which I’ve never had before. I’ve had a sour, and I’ve had an IPA, but a sour IPA might be my new jam. It is a slightly sour, fruity beer. Definitely more IPA than sour, Fruit Aisle has a lot of fruity flavor with strong blueberry notes and a sour lime finish. The pinkish purple color looks like a sour, but it’s not very sour — it’s refreshing. I could grab one from the fridge on a hot day, and it would be perfect.

Triptych Brewing
1703 Woodfield Dr
Savoy
Th to Sa noon to 8 p.m.
Su noon to 6 p.m.

On a white plate, there is a giant cheeseburger with two slices of bacon sticking out several inches next to a pile of shaved Brussels sprouts. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Bacon Burger with Frizzled Brussel Sprouts | Hamilton Walkers

Look at this bacon cheeseburger ($14). The bacon is obnoxious: both thick slices of bacon sticking out on both sides, but if you’re gonna add bacon to a burger, I want to see that bacon. This burger was perfection on a summer night. A thick, eight ounce steak burger patty cooked to your preference; I prefer my burgers medium rare, and this burger was seared on the outside and an expertly medium rare on the inside. I loved how thick and juicy this burger was.

The aged cheddar was thick and melting down the sides of the meat. Every bite was a mouthful of cheesy, meaty goodness. The bun was toasted but still soft. I made a mess, but I have no regrets. Get this burger with a side of frizzled brussel sprouts. I have no idea what frizzling HW did to these sprouts, but I am here for it; they were so good.

Hamilton Walker's
201 N. Neil Street
Champaign
W+Th 4 to 8 p.m.
F 4 to 9 p.m.
Sa 4 to 8 p.m.

Mini Bottle of Balsamic Vinegar | Grovestone

If you’ve been making salads at home (hello #quarantine15), I bet your olive oil has nothing on this olive oil. With a strong olive flavor that definitely tastes expensive, this oil takes my sad lettuce to fine dining lettuce when I make a dressing with it.

Better than the olive oil, this ultra premium balsamic vinegar is insane. Like how can a vinegar be this good? I don’t know, but it’s from Moena, Italy, and I’m going to buy the big bottle. This ultra premium balsamic vinegar is a reduction without any added sugars. It is a fancy balsamic vinegar with traditional balsamic flavors with a slightly sweet, fruity finish. I seriously could drink this stuff from the bottle. I put it on everything: pasta, pizza, salads, eggs, steak, chicken, fish, roasted vegetables, a plate of tomotoes and burrata. If no one is looking, I’ll lick it off my plate. It’s that freaking good.

You can try the tiny bottle for $6.95 to check it out. If you like it, there’s options for 250 milliliters ($17.95), 500 milliliters ($28.95), or the big daddy 750 milliliters ($39.95). You can also buy a set of four mini bottles for $17.95 in the Tuscan Collection which includes (my favorite) ulta premium balsamic vinegar, Tuscan herb olive oil, fig balsamic vinegar, and lemon olive oil.

Grovestone
1707 Kirby Ave
Champaign
M-Sa 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

An overhead shot of many dishes. There are two miso soups in circular plastic containers, two side cups of dark brown sauce, two small cups of a light orange sauce, and a small side salad. In the center, there is a black plastic container holding skinny fresh fries with shaved parmesan on top. One divided black container has filet mignon on one side and hibachi vegetables on the other. The other black divided container has steak on one side with two large scallops on top of hibachi vegetables on the other. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Hibachi | Miga

When you want to treat yourself, treat yourself to Miga’s new hibachi. You can choose from a variety of proteins: chicken, New York strip steak, shrimp, filet mignon, sesame crusted tuna, salmon, sea scallop, or lobster tail for your hibachi — there's also a vegetable only option. My husband ordered the filet mignon hibachi ($24), and I ordered the scallop and NY strip combination hibachi ($25). Each hibachi meal comes with miso soup, side salad, hibachi vegetables, and fried rice. Because we love Miga’s crunch fries ($4), we got those, too.

The filet mignon and the scallops were easily the best thing I’ve eaten this month. The filet was marinated and bursting with flavor. It was so tender and practically melted in my mouth. The scallops — even in a takeout order — were so good: seared to perfection on the outside and delicate on the inside. Miga's scallops are huge (which I love) and have a light sweetness to their salty flavor.

The soup, salad, and fried rice were delicious and, in true Miga fashion, elevated versions of the dishes. I especially enjoyed the hibachi vegetables and the two dipping sauces: a thin, dark brown ginger sauce, and a yummy, creamy orange sauce. If you want to impress the person you’re living with — or if you want to treat yourself to something special, you need to check out Miga’s menu and see what speaks to you. You made it this far in a pandemic; you deserve to treat yourself.

Miga
301 N Neil St
Champaign
M-W 5 to 9 p.m.
Th 5 to 9:30 p.m.
F+Sa 5 to 10:30 p.m.