The Nation's Health + recipe

Favorite Restaurant Review: Champaign-Urbana

As I prepare to leave this place I've called home for the past three years, I thought what better way to commemorate on a food/nutrition blog than by remember some of the meals along the way. For those living in CU or anyone visiting in the future, health conscious can find good eats in the midst of fields of corn and soy.

The Bread Company
One of my favorite places (potentially the favorite - probably for fantastic people I'm here with so often), on or off campus. It could be the fact it was steps from my office or the summer evenings just sitting outside with a glass of sangria, but this place ranks high on my list. They also have a completely separate vegan menu, and even though I'm not vegan, I like the opportunity to branch out.

The traditional fare is sangria, yep just hand over a full pitcher and we'll be here for a while. For food, I've jumped from "favorite" dishes here, but some that stand out are: grilled cheese with pears, strawberry salad, grilled vegetable plate with bread, buffalo tofu with spring greens, goat cheese with strawberries and honey, and the most current regular - grilled portobella salad with goat cheese and red pepper puree.

Portobella Salad with Red Wine Sangria - perfect regular Thursday evening.

It's only been open for a little over a year, but is definitely someplace I'd recommend and one place my entire family likes to eat when they come to visit. I will admit I haven't branched out as much here, that is probably because I found a favorite and only stray occasionally. I've tried a variety of the appetizers and a few bites of various desserts, but the main entrees that stick out are: salmon on a cedar plank, swordfish tacos (not on the regular menu, but ask for them), and my favorite beyond favorites - warm potato salmon salad - with mustard dressing on the side or else the dressing covers up all the rest of the flavor.
Warm Salmon and Potato Salad - my favorite on their menu. (Dived in before I could get a picture.)
Grilled Swordfish Tacos with Ancho Rice and Beans (listed on the gluten-free menu)

Prairie Fruits Farm (not really a restaurant)
I've had my share of breakfasts on the farm and shared them before, so here is just some recaps:
Stuffed French Toast, tomato feta hand pie, spinach pancake with eggs, and the best oatmeal I've ever eaten. They are "open" for breakfast on the farm Saturday mornings during the spring before the farmer's market is up and running. If you live in CU, definitely try this at least once.

How do I begin? Maybe somewhere around the fact that I did not like Mexican food until I ate at Maize. Not joking - I could eat it, but it was never my first, second, or even third choice... until I met Maize. This is how non-American-butchered Mexican fare is supposed to taste. Their pastor is spicy, sweet, and do I detect a hint of cinnamon(?), pumpkin flower wonderful, and tortillas hand made - super fresh. My favorites are definitely the pork burrito (I can get two meals out of this) and the grilled pumpkin flower quesadilla.

Black Dog Smoke and Ale House
How do I not have pictures of here, yet? This is (in my opinion) the best BBQ/smoke/grill place around. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't enjoy the food here, even one of my best friends who is a vegetarian found a good sandwich here. My usual go to is a pulled pork or chicken sandwich with the vinegar slaw and South Carolina Red BBQ sauce (more of a vinegar base). I don't eat beef, but I've been told the burnt ends are also incredibly good.
Every time my family has come to visit we go here at least once (finally someplace everyone is happy!). My advice is get there early - because there is always a line, or call ahead for take-out if you don't feel like waiting.

Crane Alley
Even though I live fairly close, I'm here all that often, unless it's the summer and I can sit outside. I honestly don't have a favorite here, everything is pretty good - they used to have a beet chip and goat cheese sauce that was a usual order for a table (but I didn't see it last time on the menu). I would however, recommend their bread pudding - in the few times I've had or tried it, there was no disappointment.

Side Salad with Falafel and Curry Vegetable Soup
The Red Herring
This is the only vegetarian/vegan exclusive restaurant on campus. I don't have any pictures because I will usually run here to grab a quick lunch if I didn't pack anything or it's Tuesday night and I'm attempting to clear my head of life worries and focusing on an enlightening topic of the week - for spiritual life discussion time. However, I will recommend their BBQ seitan, falafel, and corn muffins.

Seven Saints
This is a favorite I haven't been to in some time and I can't really figure out why. It has nice summer outdoor seating and cozy booths inside... and the menu is pretty spot on for what I'd want in terms of bar/grill type food - half soup, salad, sandwich combos! My favorite for cooler days is the grilled ham and cheese with a cup of tomato bisque. Their strawberry walnut salad is also something that can never go wrong.

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