With the recent announcement from the Illinois Public Department of Health, restaurants will not be allowed to offer indoor dining at this time. This makes things harder for our C-U restaurants, and if you want to support your favorite restaurants, now is the time to do so. You can order carryout from many restaurants in town, and if you can get your order to go, that's the safest way to enjoy restaurant food in a pandemic.

If you're itching for a meal out, lots of our restaurants are offering outdoor dining options. Julie wrote about patio dining options in C-U here.

As the weather turns from pleasant to colder temps, heated outdoor seating will become a hot commodity. I set out in search of the great (warm) outdoors in our town and found that there's quite a few options if you're looking for warmth while you enjoy outdoor dining — even on a chilly evening.

An outdoor photo of the exterior of Baxter's American Grille. The patio is set up with tables spaced far apart with tall metal heaters spaced throughout. At one table, two diners enjoy wine in glasses. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Baxter's American Grille

On Neil Street near Kirby, you can find Baxter's American Grille. They have a fireplace and four propane heaters, so you will definitely be warm if you can score a spot near them. Tables are spaced far apart, much farther than six feet, outside the restaurant. There is ample parking available in the lot right in front of the chophouse.

Check out the menu here. If you want to learn more about Baxter's, you can read this interview we had last year with a manager at Baxter's.

Book your table online here

Baxter's American Grille
100 Trade Center Drive
M-F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa+Su 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

An exterior photo of Black Dog Champaign's four seasons porch. There is a male diner at one of the tables inside with the windows open on a dark night. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Black Dog Champaign

If you're looking for a good place for outdoor dining, Black Dog Champaign has you covered. They have this brick four-season porch to the restaurant with open air from the large windows and radiant heating units as well. Black Dog keeps the windows open to allow airflow, but they crank the heat, so you can dine and feel toasty even on a cold, Illinois night.

Inside of Black Dog Champaign's four season porch during the daytime, there are several tables with bench seating on a concrete flooring with overhead radiant heating. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo from Black Dog Champaign Facebook page.

This is what it looks like inside. Lots of spacing between the tables and lots of tables available. Check out their menu here.

Black Dog Smoke & Ale House
320 N Chestnut
11 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily

Big Grove Tavern at night features tables spaced far apart and flame heaters interspersed. Diners sit at tables at night with string lights overhead. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Big Grove Tavern

Big Grove Tavern has many tall, fire heaters set up for outdoor guests. Tables are spaced more than six feet away from each other on both sides outside of the corner restaurant in Downtown Champaign. Under the awning, there is additional seating which has heating from above. These heat options will keep diners pretty warm, even in the winter months.

Outside of Big Grove Tavern, there are tables set up spaced apart and a row of lighted flame heaters. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I mean, look at those flames. On their Facebook page, Big Grove reminds diners, "Please remember to wear your mask when not eating or drinking." You can call 217-239-3505 to reserve an outdoor table.

Big Grove Tavern
1 E Main St
M-W 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

An outdoor photo of the exterior of Fiesta Cafe in Champaign, Illinois. The pink building has arched entryways and arched windows into the outdoor, covered patio. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Fiesta Cafe

Fiesta Cafe has been offering heated outdoor seating for a long time, even before the pandemic. The restaurant has a covered patio with plenty of tables in addition to the outdoor tables at the front of their parking lot. Overhead radiant heating keeps diners under the covered patio warm while they get their taco fix.

You can read our recent interview with Fiesta Cafe here and find their menu here.

Fiesta Cafe
216 S First St
11 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily

KoFusion at night in Downtown Champaign has tall metal heaters among the metal table and chairs outside. There is a wonky string light attempt on the left where many string lights come together in a disorganized way. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.


KoFusion in Downtown Champaign has tall heaters spaced around their outdoor tables. Tables are spaced far apart on the patio outside of the restaurant. There are so many heaters outside Kofusion that it looks near impossible to get a table without one nearby. They will keep you warm while you dine, especially if you order a hot sake at arrival.

KoFusion offers both sushi and a fusion of Asian and American cuisine with an extensive beer and wine menu in addition to sakes and house cocktails. Here's a link to the menu at KoFusion.

1 E Main St
T-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F-M 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The exterior of Lodgic Community in Champaign's Everyday Kitchen Restaurant is lit up from the inside at sunset. Outside, there is a giant white tent with panoramic windows on the left and tables spaced apart on the patio. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Everyday Kitchen Restaurant & Bar

Part of the Lodgic Community, this restaurant offers outdoor tables in a tent or on the patio. There are heaters inside the tent. The restaurant also has blankets and handwarmers available for diners. The tent has sidewall panoramic windows to allow in natural light and sunshine.

On a square table, there is a champagne glass of bubbly with a sparking water bottle and a Moscow mule in a copper cup with a black straw. Each chair at the table has a blanket folded over the chair. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo from Everyday Kitchen Restaurant & Bar Facebook page.

This what it looks like inside the tent. It looks romantic and beautiful to me. Tables are spaced far apart, and there is a wooden half-wall with greenery for ambiance. You can check out the menu here.

Everyday Kitchen Restaurant & Bar
1807 S. Neil St
M-F 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Punch! Bar in Downtown Champaign at night has diners on the outdoor tables, spaced far apart from other tables. Behind the table of four diners, there is an open flame heater. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Punch! Bar

Punch! opened last year in July and specializes in a great drink menu. On Neil Street in Downtown Champaign, Punch! has two tall, open-flame heaters available for outdoor dining guests. There are not very many tables available, so do call ahead or go early to secure a table.

Sharable bites like charcuterie board, seasonal popcorn, beer cheese dip, and more are on the menu

Punch! Bar
217 N Neil St
T-F 4 to 10 p.m.
Sa noon to 10 p.m.
Su noon to 6 p.m.

The brick building of Aspen Tap House at night is pictured with a large white tent on the left, held sturdy by hay bales in parking spots. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Aspen Tap House

Scotty's Brewhouse closed, and Aspen Tap House took over the space. On Neil Street in Champaign, this new restaurant has a giant tent with side panels that have arched windows. The tent is heated, so you'll be safe from the wind and the cold inside. There is also an open-air fireplace room that has windows open to the outside if a tent isn't your thing.  

Aspen Tap House offers burgers, nachos, and lots of beer, wine, and cocktails. Check out the food menu, the drink menu, and beers on draft

Aspen Tap House
2001 S Neil St
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.