Courier Café is a Downtown Urbana institution. Open since 1980, Courier is arguably one of the best places to get breakfast. And like all good diner-like eateries, that also means it’s a great place to grab a late night bite.

On the savory side, Courier is solid. It’s not fancy, the food isn’t fussy. The Skinny Dippers ($6.25)? Delicious. 

skinny dippers won't make you skinny

Lately, though, I’ve been visiting Courier for dessert. And I’ve not been disappointed.

The dessert menu at Courier is pretty simple, and the desserts are pretty cheap. Ice cream is available in a few forms: milkshake, pie topping, sundae. The desserts generally have press-inspired names, a nod to the Courier’s history as a local newspaper.

I think most folks — especially locals, or those who’ve been here for some time—will speak fondly of the Brownie Special ($4.50). This delight is an ice cream sundae sitting on top of a chocolaty, chewy but not too much so, brownie. There’s even hot fudge on the side. It’s a huge portion, so if you’re looking to share with someone, that can be done. Or you can just eat it yourself and call it a day. Alas, I have no photo to show you, as I generally inhale before photographing. So you’ll just have to go and order one yourself.

Those delicious brownies are often available to go as well, and you can even buy the crispy end pieces. There are cookies, muffins, brownies, and other pastry available at the check out counter.

If you’re looking for a milkshake that is delicious, and not handed to you through a window, Courier is where it’s at. There are a variety of flavors, and you can even mix and match a few. A friend and I shared a chocolate banana milkshake — the staff were gracious enough to split the shake into two glasses, each with whipped cream and a cherry. If you’re ordering solo, the extra milkshake is served in the stainless steel mixing cup. The milkshakes I’ve had have all been wonderfully satisfying. Courier’s shakes are thick and ice creamy — since the ice cream is hand scooped and mixed to order, there’s a homemade goodness that is simply unbeatable.

My go-to, though, is the Red Hot Story ($3.95): a hot fudge sundae with sliced bananas. This is the best. Really. It’s amazingly perfect.

The hot fudge sundae (the Headliner, $3.75) is also delicious.

Because a sundae should have hot fudge, not cold fudge, and that’s the truth.

House made pies ($3.50; with ice cream, $4.25) are always on the menu, too. I’ve sampled the peach pie on a couple different occasions, and while it was good enough, it was clearly made with canned peaches, and that was just too bad (particularly when peaches are in season). Check out that whipped cream topping, though. Generous doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Toffee cheesecake was the recent cheesecake special ($4.25), and even though I’d go so far as to say I’m a cheesecake skeptic (it’s so easy to screw up), I went ahead. I was thoroughly impressed with this cheesecake: it was creamy, the toffee was a sweet and crunchy compliment to the soft cheesecake, and the chocolate cookie crust was buttery and firm. I’d order it again, any day.

Pie and cheesecake flavors change regularly, but the ice cream desserts are always the same. At very affordable prices, it’s easy to treat the entire family. These desserts are really quite generous and sharable, in most cases, but it’s probably best to order your own.

Courier Café is located at 411 N Race Street, Urbana, and is open Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to midnight. For more information, check out the new and improved website.  

All photos by Jessica Hammie.