After being closed for some time, the small but mighty watering hole known as The Icehouse on North Prospect between Vine and Maple has reopened under new management. Though it sits on one of the busiest streets in town, it would feel perfectly natural to walk up, down, or across town to this local tavern, as it is smack dab in the middle of a residential area. However, should you choose to drive over or take a Lyft, there are plenty of parking spots available around the building, plus a few extra just across the railroad tracks at Maple Street.

I called on a few people to help me get to know this local bar with a long history. I wasn’t sure what to expect and since I usually prefer a cocktail over beer, I was pleased to see that they had their own drink specialties, on top of being able to provide the usual fare from a full bar. A few examples of some of their specialty cocktails were a Birthday Cake martini, a Cheesecake martini, a Bramble, and a Matador, which ranged between $7 and $9.

We rolled up around dinnertime on a Friday night and were some of the only people there, at least at first. The bartender was a very friendly woman who would chat with patrons as they came in. We started with some beers and a vodka tonic. One of my friends ordered a Blue Moon ($4) and it arrived with a huge orange slice. Bonus: the orange slice was fresh and juicy. My vodka tonic with lime ($5) was mixed well, neither too strong nor too weak.

Between rounds of drinks, we ventured outside (where there is extra seating with umbrellas and tables), since we were excited to see the Smoked food truck parked next to the building and that it would be serving food while we were there. The new ownership team has astutely chosen to make use of some of the lot for this purpose. Smoked BBQ & Tacos, one of two known trucks owned and operated by some of the new management of The Icehouse, did not disappoint. (As of this writing, I have learned that the Fired food truck is not serving very often and that its sister truck, Smoked BBQ & Tacos, is the one that is frequently out and serving around town. No complaints from my party.)

After ordering some food and chatting with the owner of the truck, we got a few more drinks. I tried a Rickey with vodka, strawberry, and lime for $7. Others ordered Bud Light ($3.50) and an Old-fashioned ($7). Our food arrived by this time, and although this isn’t an official review of the Smoked food truck, it paired perfectly with our libations. The poutine is the most delicious hot mess of fries, pork, cheese, and gravy you’ll ever try. The tacos also hold their own — I ordered one chicken and one brisket. The meat is juicy and well cooked and each came with particular toppings. If you want to keep it simple or just plain vegetarian, you can’t go wrong with the beer-battered fries, either.

While The Icehouse is on the smaller side with only a couple of tables up front, the bar with stools, and some tables in the back, its coziness invites you to chat with others. Huge perk for me and those I was with: the music is kept at a reasonable volume and you can actually carry on a conversation without having to yell. I didn’t leave feeling hoarse, which was incredibly refreshing.

 

Before we left, when the place had filled up considerably, I tried some of a chocolate martini. It was served ice cold with a nice kick of chocolate and booze ($9 and the most expensive drink any of us ordered). I was told the old-fashioned is delicious but extremely strong, if you like nursing a drink. Our tab for nine drinks among all of us came out to under $48 — shockingly affordable.

Whether The Icehouse is in your neighborhood or not, you won’t regret popping in for a drink and some friendly faces.

The Icehouse
703 N Prospect
Champaign
Su-Th 4 to 11 p.m.
F + Sa 4 p.m. to midnight