PYGMALION 2022 starts tonight and runs all weekend. Want to know what to do during this three-day event? Read our Music, Arts, and Culture recommendations for the weekend. During PYGMALION, you'll want to eat. We all got to eat. I've broken it down with options for low cost, mid-range, and pricier dining for each day of PYGMALION 2022.

If you want to drink during PYGMALION anytime, the place to go is the host venue Rose Bowl Tavern which has an extensive bar inside. The drinks here are cheap — and they have it all: beer, wine, cocktails, shots, hard seltzers, CBD seltzers, non-alcoholic beer, sodas, fruit juice, and coconut water.

Check out the full PYGMALION 2022 schedule and buy your tickets for the weekend.


Photo by Tayler Neumann.

Thursday

PYGMALION kicks off today, September 22nd with music performances. Grab dinner in Urbana where all the Thursday night action is. For a low cost meal, eat at Bunny's Tavern just steps away. I love Bunny's fried pickles, the porker burger, and how close it is to the Rose Bowl's stages. For a mid-level price point, check out Siam Terrace, a Thai restaurant on Main Street. Siam Terrace has pad Thai, heaven duck curry, summer rolls, and panang salmon. If you want a classy dinner somewhere, make a reservation for Silvercreek which offers beautiful fine dining like Caprese stuffed chicken with fingerling potatoes, potato-crusted Michigan whitefish. coconut shrimp salad, or filet mignon with a mushroom demi glace and au gratin potatoes.

Photo by Carl Busch.

Friday

If you're looking for somewhere for lunch on Friday, drive into Champaign-Urbana to explore farther eats. Load up on bacon and pancakes at Sammy's Pancake House in Champaign. Head over to Five Points in Urbana to eat at Po' Boys, a barbecue place that serves terrific food like smoked wings, barbecue sandwiches, pizza, and the best breadsticks of my life — make sure you get the garlic butter dip. People 21+ can visit NuEra to buy edibles and other cannabis products in Urbana or at the Champaign location.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

On Friday night, Tamino performs at Nola's Rock Bar and Peteysuper talented music artist famous on TikTok, has a show at the Rose Bowl Tavern's outdoor stage, so plan to hang the whole night in Downtown Urbana. From 4 to 9 p.m., eat fried chicken from Watson's food truck which will be parked onsite at the Rose Bowl. Watson's fried chicken sandwich and chicken tendies are delish. Splurge for some dipping sauces like the housemade black pepper ranch and Carolina gold for the fries.

For mid-level eats on Friday night, I recommend bringing in takeout. Outside food is allowed, so it's totally fine to show up with pulled pork (with mix sauce) from Wood N' Hog or an Italian beef sando from Baldarotta's in the Lincoln Square Mall. If you want to eat something fancier, sneak away for a chic sushi dinner at Sakura just around the corner on Main Street.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Saturday

Before Made Fest begins at noon, check out Urbana's farmers' market which is open from 7 a.m. to noon. You'll see vendors selling produce, baked goods, flowers, art, cold brew, kombucha, and more. Check out Ri-Popped It, a popcorn stand with cool flavors like cinnamon roll, white cheddar ranch, dill pickle, unicorn cotton candy, and banana pudding. If you like sweets, pick something from Six Red Chairs' selection of baked goods (pictured above); I like the French baker's kouign amann or the molasses spiced cookies. Look for flavored croughnuts, a cross between a doughnut and croissant, from Central Illinois Bakehouse, or enjoy breakfast tacos from La Paloma's food truck.

For lunch, head over to Krannert Art Museum on the U of I campus where you'll find The Stuft Bird food truck from noon to 4 p.m. Order the macaroni-stuffed chicken wing. It's the truck's specialty — and it's so good. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

On Saturday afternoon, Black on Black on Black on Black, a collaborative exhibition by faculty artists Patrick Earl Hammie, Stacey Robinson, Blair Ebony Smith, and Nekita Thomas, opens at KAM. The celebration of Black creativity will include interactive programming by Black faculty artists in the School of Art & Design in addition to featuring food catered by Black-owned business Neil St. Blues, a fantastic Southern-style restaurant in Downtown Champaign. The public reception will be from 4 to 6 p.m.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

For dinner in the the Krannert area, grab a slice from Manolo's Pizza & Empanda's which makes New York style sourdough pizza. Step up your budget at The Bread Company, a cosy Swiss restaurant with excellent sandwiches and a great dinner menu. I like The Bread Company's appetizer #4: fried goat cheese croquettes. If you want to eat at a campus institution, dine at the Italian restaurant Timpone's which has outstanding crab cakes, pasta, and dessert.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

If you're attending shows, readings, or anything PYGMALION in Downtown Urbana on Saturday night, the best place for food is Maize's taco truck which will be parked at the Rose Bowl from noon to 10 p.m. I love Maize's tacos de loma, Mexican style; the flavor of the ribeye is definitely worth the upcharge. If you're a weirdo who doesn't like tacos, this is a good night to get some takeout from Broadway Food Hall which houses A Taste of Both Worlds. The Filipino-Cambodian restaurant inside BFH makes a damn good bánh mì and a tasty turon dessert. If you want to get a little fancier, walk just across the parking lot to Masijta Grill for Korean barbecue or a stone bowl bulgogi bimbimbap.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Sunday

PYGMALION shows end on Saturday night, but you might be in need of grub the next morning. Finish your weekend with a trip to Downtown Champaign for Sunday eats; parking is free on weekends. For something low cost, go (with cash!) to Sam's Cafe where the French toast is legendary. If you want brunch, there's the aforementioned Neil St. Blues which offers a buffet brunch with fried chicken, fried fish, cornbread, and all kinds of Southern goodness plus a menu of adult beverages.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

If you want a savory lunch, try Black Dog Smoke & Ale, a barbeque favorite serving up the most amazing burnt ends, slabs of slow-cooked ribs, twice-baked potato casserole, and more. The restaurant has plenty of seating, but expect a wait. The food is worth it.

If you're around on Sunday afternoon, eat at Stango Cuisine, now located in Downtown Champaign, which boasts as the first and only Zambian restaurant in North America. The kitchen opens at 3 p.m., and I recommend the yummy beef handpies, saucy Zambian-spiced wings, or Emma's platter. If you want to end the weekend with an upscale meal, check out Hamilton Walker's for fine dining. The steakhouse is only open for dinner, and the lamb chops are to die for.

Get your tickets for PYGMALION weekend here.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.