Over the past few months I've had the opportunity to try a few new restaurants in the Champaign-Urbana area.
First on my restaurant tour is KoFusion. This restaurant is located in Downtown Champaign and is an Asian-influenced restaurant. During lunch, the restaurant has a smallish buffet with a variety of stir fry's, sushi and noodle dishes. This buffet isn't like your normal Chinese Buffet; the food is different each day and has a much smaller selection. I especially loved a Sweet and Spicy Chicken dish and the sushi available that day. The atmosphere at KoFusion was unique also; many fish tanks, dim lighting and many curtains all over the room. KoFusion has already been rated as the best place to get sushi in the C-U for many years now. They also have a dollar take-out sushi menu on their website. Check it out here: http://www.kofusion.com/
Courier Cafe, in downtown Urbana, is the next restaurant I've experienced over the last few months. The decor and atmosphere in this restaurant is extremely unique. The building is very old and the owners have used the age and natural history of the building to create a special dining experience. A special feature is the cash register dating back to the early 1900s. I chose a unique variety at Courier Cafe and opted for the salad bar and a small plate of the Skinny Dippers, which is pretty much home cut french fries loaded with toppings. The salad bar was different than most I've been to because they charge you by the ounce of food on your plate. It actually turned out being much cheaper than what I had expected (less than $3). The salad bar and Skinny Dippers were both delicious, creating a great overall dining experience. Learn more about the Courier Cafe on their website http://www.couriersilvercreek.com/couriercafe/
Esquire Lounge was another stop on the restaurant tour this spring. This restaurant is also in downtown Champaign. A co-worker compared Esquire to being like a "Cheers," where the food and beer are reasonably priced and everyone knows each other. The food wasn't especially spectacular at the restuarant, but they have a big selection, good prices and give you a lot of food. Esquire Loung Website
Last, but certainly not least, is Black Dog in downtown Urbana. A co-worker had been raving about the fabulous Bar-be-que at Black Dog for months. We had tried going there this winter, but didn't want to wait for a half hour to get a table. We were finally able to get in and eat this spring. The restaurant is very small and the reputation of great food draws many customers in each day, so a wait to get seated is normal at Black Dog. I ordered a pulled pork sandwhich with Georgia Peach sauce and baked potatoe casserole. The food was amazing. The restaurant has other sauces to choose from, but I've heard the Georgia Peach is one of the best. I've also heard the Burnt Tips are the must-have item on the menu. The day I had lunch at Black Dog the restaurant had already sold our of burnt tips at 11:30 A.M. Many people say Black Dog is the best place for Bar-be-que in the Champaign-Urbana area, and I would have to agree based on the huge wait, every day, for lunch at the restaurant. Check out Black Dog's facebook page to learn about their daily lunch special and more.