My friend and I took a visit to Urbana's Espresso Royale, located on the corner of Gregory and Oregon. I've visited the location several times before, but this time I decided to go for breakfast. Depending on the day, time, and customer flow, the amount of pastries offered varies. When we arrived around 11 a.m., there was a pretty big selection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches. The cafe also switches up different food options during the day, offering more lunch-appropriate sandwiches. The drink menu stays consistent.
There was a pretty long line of people waiting to get their coffee. The counter is right by the door, so that could be part of the reason for a little jam as I walked in. My friend ordered a plain croissant ($2.70) and a vanilla latte ($3.80 for a medium). I ordered a plain croissant ($2.70), a seasame seed bagel ($2.50), cream cheese ($0.50), and a peach iced tea with black tea ($2.25 for a large). Other times, I've ordered several different sandwiches, all of which are very tasty. Once we got our drinks and food, we headed to the center island in which there are straws and lids, silverware, cream, sugar, and several different kinds of milk. There's also a small station for food with a toaster, microwave, and several types of condiments. I toasted my bagel and grabbed a knife while my friend put a lid on both our drinks.
The seating area is very large at this Espresso, and because we were there early, we pretty much had our selection of any table we could want. Later in the day, the cafe fills up and can get pretty crowded and getting a good table can be very difficult. There are three seating areas at this Espresso. The first is the area where you walk in. This one is a little louder because of all the orders being taken and drinks being made. There are counters against the windows, and big comfy chairs as well as tables. There aren't a lot of outlets there, though, so it isn't the most ideal spot for studying.
The next area is just through some archways. There are booths in the back and tables scattered around. There are a lot of outlets here, and this area is much quieter than the previous one. People sit quietly and read, study, or have quiet conversations with friends.
The next area is upstairs, and can easily be reached from the second area. There are very few outlets up here, but it is the quietest environment. Here, most people read or study, with very few hushed conversations, if any. My friend and I sat here to study and eat. I'd had the peach iced tea before, and when I don't want all the caffiene in coffee, I order this. It's sweet and the aftertaste is quite distinctively peach. It reminds me of summer, and is great for warm days. My friend had had the vanilla latte before as well, but she enjoyed it a lot. The coffee taste is robust, but the vanilla syrup makes it not as strong and helps eliminate coffee breath. It's great in both hot, like she got, and iced.
Next, we tried our food. We both bit into our croissants. They were flaky and yummy, but we both agreed that they would be incredible heated up. Since only a microwave and toaster were available, it wasn't possible to heat them up at Espresso, but popping them in the oven at home for a little bit would really make them great. My bagel was good, nothing too spectacular, but not the worst bagel I'd ever had. They're slightly thinner than storebrand bagels, so they get nice and crunchy in the toaster. I was also given a large helping of cream cheese and had plenty left over. Overall, I would eat both the croissant and the bagel again.
Visiting Espresso Royale is something that I have done many times before and don't plan on stopping. They serve great coffee, yummy pastries, and delectable sandwiches. They're quick and efficient, and their locations are scattered all throughout C-U. I'd recommend Espresso to anyone wanting a good coffee, a snack, or a spot to read and study.
Espresso Royale is located at 1117 West Oregon Street, Urbana, and is open daily from 7 a.m. to midnight. Find additonal locations here.
All photos by Kristin D'Antonio.