Readers, it’s about to be the holiday season. Just the other day I was in Target looking at discounted Halloween things and all of the Christmas stuff was out and ready for purchase. November always seems to go by in a flash, and with Thanksgiving late this year, I hope I don’t get caught in the trap of procrastination that leads to last minute cramming. Let this article serve as a reminder to get yourself prepared early for however you do or do not celebrate Thanksgiving. (Also, take a minute to read this month’s Culture events article, because it asks you to do a little learning about this holiday called Thanksgiving.) And when you’re too tired to host or cook or you need to treat yourself to something, consult this list (or all of our previous ones) for a little inspiration.

Thanksgiving foods | Black Dog, Common Ground, your favorite bakery, etc., etc.

Have you ordered or purchased your turkey yet? If not, you better figure that out. Common Ground is selling turkeys from Triple S Farms. Orders are due by November 10th, and require a $20 deposit. After you’ve done that, you can check out our guide to roasting your bird.

If you’re really in a pinch, Common Ground turns the salad bar into a Thanksgiving buffet on Wednesday, November 27th from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Get there early to get exactly what you want.

Image from Common Ground's Facebook page

If you’re not feeling like roasting a turkey, order a smoked one from Black Dog. I’ve written about this many times before, but it’s a delicious, fully cooked turkey that you pick up on Thanksgiving. It’s well worth the cost to have free oven space and a fully cooked, juicy and delicious turkey for you and your guests. While you’re at it, consider ordering some sides, too. No one said you have to make every single thing on the table.

What about desserts? There are a whole bunch of places to order pies, so pick your favorite and go forth. Not into pies? Consider cakes! There is no wrong answer for Thanksgiving desserts.

Common Ground Food Co-op
300 S Broadway
Urbana
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

Whole Milk Ricotta | Harvest Market

Do you now how hard it is to find good ricotta around here? It’s damn near impossible. I stumbled upon Harvest Market’s house made whole milk ricotta just a few weeks ago (I think it’s a relatively new offering; $4.99/lb), and haven’t looked back since. In fact, I’ve been trying to find more recipes featuring the delicious milky cheese. I’ve made pasta with lemon, peas, and ricotta, and pizza with ricotta. I eat it on toast (with some fruit and/or honey), I eat it off the spoon. It’s so good. I will most certainly be using this in my Thanksgiving feast, somewhere, somehow. Get some for yourself, and you’ll never go back to mass produced, part skim yuck.

Harvest Market
2029 S Neil St
Champaign
6 a.m. to midnight, daily

Grilled Filet | Everyday Kitchen

I recently had a very delicious meal at Everyday Kitchen. I ordered the grilled filet (7oz, $28) and was not at all disappointed. Eating a poorly cooked piece of steak is terrible, but to eat a poorly cooked piece of filet is just the worst. But this steak was perfectly cooked, and the mashed potatoes were rich and delicious, and the green beans were crisp-tender. There is also a rib eye on the menu if you want something with a little more fat, as well as a whole bunch of other tasty and seasonal items. Don’t skip a cocktail and/or dessert. Treat yourself.

Everyday Kitchen
1807 S Neil St
Champaign
M-Th 11 a.m. to  2 p.m. + 4 to 9 p.m.
F 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. + 4 to 10 p.m.
Sa 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. + 4 to 10 p.m.
Su 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. + 4 to 9 p.m.

Chicken with garlic sauce | Super Wok

It had been quite a long time since I’ve eaten at Super Wok, and I was pleasantly surprised by my meal. I had the chicken with garlic sauce combo platter ($7.85), which comes with the entrée, pork fried rice, and an egg roll. The egg roll was quite good, too, and greasy in exactly the way I expected it to be. Usually when I see the little spicy icon next to the chicken with garlic sauce on a Chinese food menu, I roll my eyes and think, “Yeah, okay.” But Super Wok’s garlic chicken actually did bring a little bit of heat, though it wasn’t going to burn anything (inside or out). The ratio of chicken to vegetables was spot on. Give Super Wok a try next time you’re craving some Chinese take out.

Super Wok
Old Farm Shopping Center
1737 W Kirby Ave
Champaign
M-Sa 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Combo platter | El Rancho Grande II

El Rancho Grande II is the new Mexican restaurant located in Savoy, just behind the Aldi and the Sonic. The second location for this restaurant (the first is in Villa Grove) seems to already be well received in this community. I was there the weekend they opened and it was packed. From what the restaurant is posting on Facebook, it looks like a lot of people are going there to celebrate their birthdays.

The menu has a long list of combo platters (about $10), so I chose one with chile relleno, chicken burrito, and beef enchilada. The chile relleno was nicely done; I really liked the sauce. The burrito wasn’t what you’re thinking of—it was grilled chicken wrapped in a flour tortilla and covered in a savory red sauce. It was quite good, too. The beef enchilada was covered in cheese and a different type of red sauce. All of the flavors were good, but next time I’d opt for a different meat. I don’t particularly care for very finely ground beef.

The combo platters are an easy and affordable way to get a lot of food at a low price, and to try a bunch of different things on the menu. I’m looking forward to going back to try some other things, especially some things on the dessert menu and the margaritas I keep seeing in my Facebook feed.

El Rancho Grande II
M-Th 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie