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Shawarma Joint’s Urbana location opens this month

Shawarma Joint, the Campustown restaurant known for excellent shawarma, will open a second location in Urbana on University Avenue this month. The halal restaurant confirmed on the phone that the Urbana location's opening date is expected to be Monday, August 22nd. 

The new Shawarma Joint will have a similar set-up to the original Green Street location: fast casual meals assembled-to-order like Subway or Chipotle. The new location is large with indoor booth seating in addition to patio tables with umbrellas. Plenty of parking is available in front and on the side of the restaurant. The new Shawarma Joint is located in the same plaza as Po' Boys and Rainbow Garden near the intersection of Five Points in Urbana.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Check out my review of the Campustown Shawarma Joint's falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouli salad, gyro pita meal, and a chicken shawarma bowl here.

Shawarma Joint
102 E University Ave
Suite B
Urbana

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

 

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Try gyros and wings from new food truck Marrakesh Grill

There's a new food truck in town called Marrakesh Grill serving gyros, grilled chicken pitas, veggie pitas, wings, fries, and gyro cheese fries. I found the truck parked beside Flour & Fire Pizza food truck in Downtown Champaign yesterday and tried some of the food.

An overhead photo shows the author's lunch. On the left, a parchment paper lined styrofoam container has fried chicken wings with fries and a side sauce of honey mustard. The right has pitas over wrapped gyro meat with two cups of gyro sauce. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I ordered the six wings ($6.99) and the double gyro ($11.99).

The fried chicken wings from Marrakesh Grill have a golden airy batter in front of a pile of fries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The wings came with fries, packets of ketchup, and a choice of dipping sauce. You know I love chicken wings, so my expectations were high, and honestly, these little wings delivered. They were mini wings, but they were meaty with fall-off-the-bone juicy chicken fried to order. The airy batter tasted like a tempura batter (similar to Sakanaya's wings that are no longer on the menu, RIP). The main flavor was simply well-seasoned chicken, not spicy or herby at all. The fries were solid especially with the dipping sauce.

An overhead photo shows a half container of gyro meat with pitas blistered with brown spots, a few slices of tomato, and a few slices of white onion. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The double gyro came with two toasted pitas, two portions of gyro meat, tomato, onion slices, and two sides of the gyro sauce. When I asked the person taking orders what her favorite was, she said, "Definitely the gyro!" The gyro meat was just amazing, cooked on a vertical rotisserie for many hours. The tender meat had a developed herby flavor and was chopped to bite sized pieces, easy to add to a pita. The gyro sauce was insanely good with a cold cucumber freshness and a milky consistency. I liked that it was a build-your-own set up, so I could decide how much of each ingredient to put in my pita. There are options for a single (or triple!) gyro portion lunch as well. 

The truck offers both Pepsi and Coke cans as well as water, juice, and Gatorade. Check out the food truck's posted menu. 

The white menu is posted on the red food truck. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Find the gyro truck at lunchtime around Champaign-Urbana. Watch Marrakesh Grill's Facebook page for details about where in C-U the truck will be serving lunch.

Marrakesh Grill
M-F 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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Horsch Radish is now open, and here’s the menu

Horsch Radish, the new farm-to-table German restaurant in Gibson City, is now open. The restaurant had a soft opening last weekend and is taking reservations for this weekend.

Here's a photo of the menu (which is also available online).

The menu from Horsch Radish is on a wooden table beside silverware. Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.Photo by Xiaohui Zhang.

Keep an eye on the restaurant's Facebook page for photos of the food. I am particularly interested to try the pretzel appetizer.

Many made-from-scratch pretzels are stacked in a metal pan in the kitchen of Horsch Radish. Photo from Horsch Radish's Facebook page.Photo from Horsch Radish's Facebook page.

Horsch Radish
209 N Sangamon Avenue
Gibson City
Th-Sa 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. + 4 to 11 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Top image from Horsch Radish's Facebook page.

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Ashanti Files among 2022 American Poet Laureate Fellows

The Academy of American Poets has announced its list of 22 2022 fellows and Ashanti Files is among them. This fellowship will allow Files, the second Urbana Poet Laureate, to continue the Writers of Oya program, and to offer free fall classes at the Urbana Free Library, the Champaign Public Library and the Cesear Chavez Library in Arizona.  Get more information here

Photo from the Academy of American Poets Facebook page. 

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Explore African American oral histories at the Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive this month

Presented in partnership with the Museum of the Grand Prairie, Champaign County African American Heritage Trail, and the Champaign Park District, Exploring African American Oral Histories will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, as part of C-U Days in the Park. This opportunity to explore the Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Archive will dive deep into "the lived experiences of African Americans in Champaign County." Community leaders will be on hand to share conversation and help contextualize these historical treasures. Find out more here.

Photo from the Champaign Public Library Facebook page.

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You need to go see this new mural in person

Urbana's mural game has been strong over the last several months, and the newest one by Rafael Blanco is stunning. Blanco recently completed a mural on the Urbana Adult Education Center, before moving on to the Smile Student Living property at 804 Illinois Street. You may have seen photos making the rounds on social media, but it's worth driving by to see the vibrant colors up close and personal.

A brightly colored mural covers the entirety of the side of an apartment building. It features a woman in baggy pants and shirt and tennis shoes dancing. Photo by Julie McClure.Photo by Julie McClure.

A brightly colored mural covers the entirety of the side of an apartment building. It features a man in khaki pants and white shirt tipping a hat and dancing.Photo by Julie McClure.

Top photo by Julie McClure.

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Beckman Institute announced the winners of the 2022 Research Image Contest

Each year, graduate students, post doctoral researchers, and staff members submit images from their research for the Beckman Institute Research Institute Contest. The walls of the Beckman Director's Conference Room are adorned with past winners. Now, there are six new images ready to be added. The above image is from the winner in the post doctoral/staff category: Noel Naughton, Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. It's the "muscular organization of an octopus arm in 3D." The winner of the graduate student contest is Shensheng Zhao, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering. His image shows "two ultrasound imaging techniques used to visualize tumor microvasculature in mice."

Two ultrashound images of a tumor, they are lit in orange and yellow. The top image is somewhat blurry, and the bottom image has defined vascularture. Photo from Beckman Institute website.Photo from Beckman Institute website.

Three people are seated in chairs, and three others are standing behind them. They are placed in front of several images on easels. Photo from Beckman Institute.Winners from the Research Contest: (top row) Matthew Lowerison, Noel Naughton, Shensheng Zhao; (bottom row) Sepehr Dehghani-Ghahnaviyeh, Alayt Issak, Elizabeth Bello. Photo provided by Beckman Institute.

The current winners will be on display in the Beckman Atrium throughout the month of August, alongside winners from 2021 who didn't get an opportunity for their images to be viewed in person. 

Top photo from Beckman Institute website.

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Station Theatre announces its 50th season lineup

The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre recently announced its 50th season lineup and it's full of productions you won't want to miss. Whether you're looking to mark your calendar for theatre dates or prepare for upcoming casting calls, you'll definitely want to check the list out here

Top photo from the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre's Facebook page. 

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Crystal Lake Park Art Fair is happening on August 6th

Crystal Lake Park Art Fair is happening on Saturday, August 6 and you'll want to be there. One of my favorite outdoor art events, the fair boasts a wide range of artists in a tree-shaded location. Stop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., chat up the makers and support local art. Find out more about this year's lineup here

Top photo from the 40 North Facebook page.

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Here are the 2022 artists of The Great ARTdoors

40 North has shared the list of artists and locations for The Great ARTdoors 2022. The following information comes directly from that news release.

Vivian Krishnan | Masi in Nature - Chief Shemauger Park, Urbana

Jason Rackow | Eye Look Around - Victory Park, Urbana

Michael Darin | Unhappy Heater/Sad Calefactor - Crystal Lake Park, Urbana 

Sierra Shaw | Moth - South Ridge Park, Urbana  

Jason Mack | 1,000 Year Old Flower - Lierman Neighborhood Community Garden, Urbana

Gary Keeler | Hardened and Tethered - Beardsley Park, Champaign

Carol Alison | Harmony Spire - Hedge POP! Park, Champaign

K Hieronymus W | Crash - Randolph Street Community Gardens, Champaign 

EKAH | Guardians of Memories - Skelton Park, Champaign 

Nathan Westerman | Dipole Column - Douglass Park, Champaign 

Kathy Micek | Patterns | What's This? | In the Garden - Urbana City Building

The Great ARTdoors is organized by the Spurlock Museum, the Urbana Park District, the Champaign Park District, the Urbana Arts and Culture Program, and 40 North.

Get more information about The Great ARTdoors here, and enjoy a gallery of photos here.

Top image courtesy of 40 North.