The building at 407 West University Avenue has sat empty for years. When I saw the sign that Fyrefly Grill and Subs would soon be taking over the building, I was excited for a new restaurant to breathe life into the space — and hopeful that it would survive the pandemic. If the quality of their offerings is any indication, they will be successful on both fronts.


On a wide bricked concrete wall, there is a black grill attached to the wall. Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.

I entered Fyrefly Grill on a slow weekday around 5:30 in the evening. My eye immediately went to the grill and accessories hung on a brick wall as art. I was then greeted by a friendly, masked worker who asked if it was my first time. Since it was, they explained how to order with handy screens on the wall displaying the menu and images of the deliciousness to come.

At Fyrefill Grill in Urbana, there is an empty counter with small individual bag of chips in front of a clear case similar to Chipotle style counter service. Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.

Fyrefly Grill offers grilled meats and bánh mì in a Chipotle counter order fashion. First, customers choose between a grill tray or a sandwich. Next, customers choose a protein:  pork, beef, or chicken. Then, it's time to choose the sauce: original, sweet teriyaki, red chili pepper, mango habanero, or hickory smoked BBQ.

Fyrefly doesn’t offer curbside pick-up at the moment since they don’t have an online ordering system set up yet, but you can call ahead to pick up your order in store or eat in the comfortable atmosphere of the restaurant.

A plastic cup with a cover and a straw sits on a table inside Fyrefly Grill. Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.

Ordering a to-go order took about 20 minutes for it to be prepared, and I ordered an iced house milk tea ($2.99) with boba (an additional $0.50) to sip on while I waited. The tea was strong and creamy, just how I like it, though I don’t think the boba added much in this instance.

The author's lunch order of grilled pork on long skewers with sliced bread and pickled veggies. Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.

I ordered the original pork grill tray ($7.49) which came with sliced bánh mì bread and a choice of pickled veggies or cole slaw. I chose the pickled veggies at the recommendation of the staff, and I loved the light, vinegary crunch that it added to the meat. The pork was served on three skewers, and it was perfectly cooked and tender. The original sauce was well seasoned and had a very mild flavor. In the future, I would order a stronger flavored sauce for a grill tray, though I think it would a delicious choice for a sandwich.

There is a banh mi sandwich from Fyrefly GRill with chicken tossed in a chili sauce with all the toppings. Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.

I also ordered a sandwich with red chili pepper chicken ($6.49). Customers can choose to add jalapeños, cucumbers, and pickled veggies to the sandwich as well. I opted to have it all. The chicken wasn’t as tender as the pork, but the red chili pepper was my favorite sauce. It had a sweet, tangy heat that could be amped up with the jalapeños for the spice lovers out there. This sandwich was by far the messiest of the options I had, though I always say that any food worth eating is worth wearing.

A dark sauce covers pork on a banh mi sandwich from Fyrefly Grill. Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.Photo by Elisabeth Paulus.

My final selection was a sandwich with hickory smoked BBQ beef ($6.49). This might have been my favorite meat and sauce combo of the three I tried. The sauce was smoky and accessible, something that any unadventurous eater will recognize and enjoy. I opted to have the jalapeños, cucumbers, and pickled veggies on this sandwich as well, and the jalapeños in particular added a delightful, sweat-inducing heat to the BBQ flavor.

I look forward to returning to Fyrefly Grill and trying all the different combinations they have to offer. I hope this delightful new restaurant is here to stay.

Fyrefly Grill and Subs
407 W University Ave
Urbana
M-Sa 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.