September might be the best month of the year around here. It’s still warm (or hot), though fall is right on our doorstep. Summer-y produce is still available at the markets, and some fall-y produce starts to make an appearance, so it’s pretty much the best of both worlds. It’s totally socially acceptable to have warm/hot beverages all day, as well as cocktails that might seem a little too heavy for summer. The Pygmalion Festival returns in the second half of the month, and this year’s food component is sure to be better than last year’s. It’s a time to wear shorts and long sleeves, or light jackets and sandals. I’m into it. If you’re new to C-U, welcome. Take some time to sift through this list for dining suggestions, and go back in time to read about other things we love.
Put your favorite things in the comments.
Wine | Krannert Uncorked
During the academic year, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts hosts a Thursday evening mingle with wine and music called Krannert Uncorked. It’s free to attend, and at 5 p.m., so you can walk in right after work. Stage 5, one of KCPA’s bars, features half price wines. It’s a pretty chill event, and a nice way to win(e)d down theweek. September’s Uncorked is Thursday the 7th.
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is located at 500 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana. Krannert Uncorked is Thursday, September 7th at 5 p.m.
Vegan Fusion Cuisine | Red Herring
The Red Herring is one of the oldest restaurants in C-U, and in recent years the restaurant has gone completely vegan. Each Wednesday night during the academic year, Red Herring offers “culturally inspired” vegan dinners for $9 per plate. This month’s menu includes Italian (6th), Soul (13th), Turkish (20th), and Costa Rican (27th) food. The serving size is hefty — you’ll likely be satisfied with one plate — and the price is right (though drinks and dessert are extra). The atmosphere is friendly and laid-back, which makes the dining experience all that more pleasant.
The Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 1209 West Oregon Street, Urbana. Wednesday night fusion dinners are 5 to 8 p.m. More information is available on Facebook. Image from Facebook.
Conifer | Bentley’s
Does Bentley’s have the best cocktails in town? I suppose that’s a subject for another article, but I will say that my new favorite drink is the Conifer: Letherbee gin, Moonlight Meadery fling, Jack Rudy's elderflower tonic, and soda ($7). It’s delicious. Don’t be turned off by the mead (or the gin, for that matter); this drink is earthy and herbal and refreshing. Go get one. I'll see you on the patio while the weather's still nice.
Bentley’s Pub is located at 419 North Neil Street, Champaign, and open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Anything | Pygmalion Food Festival
The Pygmalion Festival kicks off on September 20th, and with it the second year for a food component. Unlike last year, this year’s food will happen concurrently with the rest of the festival’s goings-on. Vendors will offer dishes at two price points, $4 and $8. This year’s vendors are Big Grove Tavern, Black Dog, Columbia Street Roastery, Farren’s, Maize, Papa Del’s, Pekara, The Pop Stop, Watson’s, and Triptych Brewing. The food festival is free to attend, and assuming that a handful of adjustments are made from last year’s event, this year is bound to more delicious and entertaining. You can check back in with SP for menu announcements soon. In the meantime, read the review of the inaugural Pyg Food.
PYGMALION takes place September 20th through 24th. The food festival is September 22nd (5 p.m.-12 a.m.) and 23rd (12 p.m.-12 a.m.) and free to attend, but tickets are required for most musical performances. More information is available here.
Something new to you | Here are suggestions
Golden Harbor, duh
Are you a new student, or University employee? Did you just move here a couple of weeks ago? There are plenty of you out there, and I bet you’re wondering where you should go for some good food and drink. In fact, I know you’re wondering where to go, because when I meet new people and tell them I’m the editor for this section, they ask me where they should eat, and what my favorite restaurants are. Smile Politely’s Food & Drink team has pretty good taste, in my humble opinion, so we have plenty of suggestions for you. We’ve written about quite a lot of restaurants and bars, and you can use the handy navigation tool at the top of the screen to scroll through restaurant reviews, places to get brunch, lists of the best fries, nachos, wings, and salads, as well as ideas for your date nights. Looking for something specific? Search for it.
I encourage you to try something or some place new to you — even if you’ve been in C-U for some time, there is almost certainly a restaurant (or bar) you haven’t tried yet.
Photos by Jessica Hammie, except where noted.