Out of all of the bar and grills out there, I feel like there is none as iconic and Illini-proud as Legends Bar and Grill. Not only do they have the colors, blue and orange, of the Illini, but also they have one-of-a-kind memorabilia that tips their hat to those “legends of yesteryear.” Pictures of such names like Dick Butkus, Harold “Red” Grange, Dike Eddelman, lettermen, sweaters, and other sports memorabilia are strewn throughout Legends. I have been to Legends before with a few friends, and I do have to say that going to Legends with cohorts is a start to a good night. Not only do they have daily deals on domestic drafts and imported brew, but they also have specials on mixed, specialty drinks. If you pair that with the local apps of Hooked or PocketPoints, you can score a low priced deal for a table full of food.
When you first enter Legends, the lengthy bar, stocked with all sorts of liquor, greets you immediately. The on-tap draft station reigns as the centerpiece, lined with their drink menu just above. There are two high-definition big screen TVs and ten other TVs placed around the different areas. Booths line the walls, giving plenty of space for either smaller or larger parties. Tables are placed intermittently to give even more seats. Close to the back are pool tables and the kitchen. Legends has three pool tables that are free to use and even has a dedicated poolroom, in case the games get a little loud. The kitchen has an open window pass-through where you can see the cooks preparing your meal.
Let's get to the brass tacks now: Food and brew. Luckily for some friends and I, Legends had a deal that if you ordered a drink, you would receive 50% all burgers. So all five of us ordered different burgers, some with fries, some with chips, and one with a side salad. While I was the only one to order a brew (Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat, $2.50), the other patrons did state that the specialty drinks were surprisingly smooth and tasty for their low price. From "Sweet Tea Vodka" ($2) to a "You Call It" (3 Olives Vodka, Sailor Jerry Rum, and Bacardi, $4), Legends offers really unique cocktails, specialty drinks, and a variety of beers.
While I will be writing about these burgers, keep in mind that Legends brings a lot of bar food choices to Urbana-Champaign. I am be excited to come back and try the Loaded Fries ($7.76), the BBQ Chicken Pizza ($8.22), and the Sticky Burger ($9.36). As for the burger ate on my visit, I went with the "Pig Out Burger," ($9.59) which is topped with ham, bacon, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and a melty slice of Swiss cheese. Before I get to how it was, I have to mention that you put on all of the other toppings you want. A side bar, next to the pick-up window, contains lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and other condiments. So once I actually sat down and looked at my burger, it was massive with all of my toppings. This burger was a complete surprise to me: super juicy for a thin patty, hot and salty bacon and ham, tart and sweet BBQ sauce, and a wonderful bite with the added hot sauce. I could NOT put down this burger at all...mainly because I felt that if I did, it might all collapse without me holding it together! The fries were some of the best I have ever had at a bar. They were piping hot and crunchy outside with a soft inside—basically, The Perfect Fry. Some people like fries that have that extra oil, and that's fine by me, but a fry should be able to hold the dollop of ketchup you dip it in.
I do have to say, Legends always surprises me. For the amount patrons pay to get the amount of food you get, the atmosphere and experience Legends offers it is the place to go for good burgers and brew on campus. When you go, make sure to bring along those apps to get even more deals paired with their daily specials.
522 E Green St
11 a.m to 2 a.m. daily
Photos by AJ Taylor