Happy New Year, everyone! We’re back from a short publishing break, which means that there are only two weeks to check out the five items on this list.
I know that many people try to reinvent themselves in January, promising themselves health and wealth and happiness. Good for you. Seriously. When I put this list together, I thought maybe I’d frame it through the lenses of Dry January, or vegan January, but gluttony got the best of me, so this list isn’t really going to help you stay sober or low-carb, or free of animal-products. This list may help you save a few bucks — hooray for wealth and happiness. This is only a list of five things; obviously you will have ample opportunity during the 40 or so other mealtimes left this month to undo any damage these items may cause.
$5 Burgers | Hamilton Walker’s
Have you had a chance to try the burgers on our Top 8 list yet? If you haven’t had HamWalk’s lunch burger, this is your moment. To celebrate two years of being open, the restaurant is offering its lunch burgers for $5 this week only: January 14th 18th. Normally they’re $10 to $15, so this is quite the deal. (Note: It looks like the lunch menu burgers have been updated since the Editorial Board visited and reviewed the burger. There are now four burger options, all available this week for $5.) The lunch burger is number six on our BEST list and for good reason — it’s a ½ pound of steak meat, which makes it delicious and juicy. The steak fries are also delicious.
Yesterday I took my hubby to lunch and had the smoker burger, which comes with aged cheddar and a tomato-bacon-onion jam (I opted out of the chili seasoning; normally $13). It was fantastic. Look, this isn’t a light lunch, and you shouldn’t schedule any important meetings right after. But it is a great way to try a vetted-and-vouched-for burger without dropping $20 at lunch.
$5 lunch burgers January 14th through 18th
201 N Neil St
Opens at 11 a.m. M-F
Breakfast | La Mixteca
I’ve been on a La Mixteca fix this last month. I’ve had breakfast there twice now, and been more than pleased on both occasions. Though the food doesn't photograph all that well (it's messy and saucy), it tastes delicious. On the first visit I had the chilaquiles verdes with chorizo (and eggs, $9), and they were awesome. The chips were just the right amount of soggy, and that verde sauce is spicy and delicious. On the second visit, I had the huevos rancheros ($9) and my friend had the huevos divorciados (two eggs, one with red salsa, one with green; $6.75). Both were excellent. Both dishes feature eggs served on tortillas, with a savory tomato sauce on the rancheros, and red and green salsa on the divorciados. In addition to Mexican breakfast classics, there are also American breakfast dishes like pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs. It seems like you can get breakfast all day — just ask for the breakfast menu.
510 N Cunningham
8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Long Island Iced Tea | Alexander’s Steakhouse
Alexander’s is a strange place. It seems like a restaurant left behind in time: There’s a rather large poster of the Chief on one wall, the men huddle around the indoor grill cooking the $20+ steaks while the women sit at the tables. A steakhouse where you can cook your own meat? Not for me, generally. To say the restaurant makes me uncomfortable is an understatement. But — there’s always a but — Alexander’s serves a tasty AF $5 happy hour burger and makes some should-be-world-famous tasty AF Long Island iced teas ($10).
I first had the Long Island when we went to Alexander’s to try the burger for our BEST article, and we ordered one to share. Share, you ask? Yes, because this particular cocktail might contain an actual fuck ton of booze, and is certainly enough to get most people well above the legal limit for vehicle operation. The drink is surprisingly excellent — not too cloying or burn-y with booze — given how much alcohol and how little cola is in it. It is definitely worth the cost, as you will not need any other drink for the evening, even after consuming large quantities of meat.
Here’s my suggestion: Grab a few friends and head to Alexander’s for happy hour (4-6 p.m.) on a Thursday night. Sit at the bar, where the $5 bar specials menu is available. Order a burger or two and some potato skins, and one or two Long Islands to share. It’ll be a fantastic and affordable evening out with some buddies.
202 W Anthony Dr
M-Th 4 to 9 p.m.
F 4 to 10 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sushi | Moki Sushi
Arguably the healthiest option on this list, sushi can be as complicated as you like it. Moki’s menu is quite extensive, and good. There are plenty of vegetarian options, too, so if you are indeed avoiding animal products, you’re all set. The all-you-can-eat options are best employed at dinner. Sushi is wonderful way to treat yourself to a well balanced meal: the carbohydrate servings are relatively small, you can add in some veggie options, fresh fish is full of omega-3s and whatnot.
2017 S Neil St
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Restaurant Week | Champaign County
Visit Champaign County’s Restaurant Week is January 25th through February 2nd. There are two weekends for you to venture out to support your favorite local spot. I like going out during the week because it’s a fun way to get through the dark misery of a January work week; it’s a little bright spot during an otherwise frigid and desolate time of the year.
Additional Restaurant Week information is available on VCC’s website.
Photos by Jessica Hammie