Restaurant Week 2020 is officially underway, and with over 30 restaurants participating, you’ll have to narrow down your choices. Many restaurants are offering both lunch and dinner options, and you’ll even be able to find some breakfast specials, too.
Visit Champaign County's Restaurant Week runs January 24th through February 1st. Some menus are prix fixe, others are a la carte specials. Lunch will run you about $10, though there are several restaurants offering $19 menus, which seems a little steep for lunch, unless it’s your big meal of the day. Dinners are upwards of $19; most of the dinner options are $29 or $39. There are a couple of shareable options — Bread Co. is perhaps the most notable, so grab a date who you don’t mind double dipping in the cheese.
We’ve put together a list of menus and items that entice us the most; consider these suggestions to help guide you on your Restaurant Week journey. Reservations are encouraged; don’t wait until the last minute to get your act together.
Watch this space next week, as we'll have reviews of individual restaurants publishing everyday. Oh, and don't forget to use #CCRestaurantWeek on socials for a chance to win a $100 gift card to your favorite participating restaurant.
— Jessica Hammie, Food & Drink Editor
Baldarotta's, Cubano Italiano w/ house made fries, $9
My love affair with Baldarotta's is running deep these days. I am a Cubano junkie, and have been waiting for someone to do it in a classic Miami style here in Champaign-Urbana. This sandwich won't be that, but Chef Jordan's take on it appeals to me nonetheless. Banana peppers, when used properly, can make a dish sing. I expect it to be absolutely delicious. (SF)
Image: A view of the Courier Cafe's salad bar. On the right, a large metal bowl of salad mix sits in a trough of ice. Above and to the left of the bowl are many other small bowls with salad fixings and dressings. All small bowls contain silver spoons. Ice is packed around all salad bar items. Photo by Rob Schaffer.
Courier Café, Lunch for two, $20; Dinner for two, $35
Courier is definitely on my list for this week. Their menu is offering me the excuse to add on all the things I usually don’t when I go on a regular occasion. Salad bar with my sandwich and side? Awesome. Cherry milkshake or misprint sundae with my dinner? Sign me up. YOLO, amirite? (JM)
Crane Alley, Bacon Wrapped Poblano Mac Stuffed Chicken Breast, Dinner for two, $39
I’m a Crane Alley fan in general, so not much arm twisting is needed for me to hit them up during Restaurant Week. They’ve got some great entree choices for dinner, but what caught my eye was the Bacon Wrapped Poblano Mac Stuffed Chicken Breast, with herb panko and accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes haricot verts. Am I reading that right? Poblano mac and cheese stuffed in a chicken breast and then wrapped in bacon? That just seems very indulgent and over the top and I am here for it. I also appreciate that it’s not on their regular menu, therefore making it worth the special RW trip. (JM)
Everyday Kitchen, Braised Beef Goulash, $29
I'm really looking forward to eating this dish at Everyday Kitchen, not just because their offerings are solid, but the weather is terrible and I want something that's gonna warm me up. There's really nothing more that I want to eat besides a stew in January. (PS)
Hamilton Walker’s, Dinner, $19
The best deal to be found amongst all of the Restaurant Week menus is for sure at Hamilton Walker’s. Being a steakhouse, you are easily spending $50+ for dinner, and it adds up even more if you order booze (which you should because they have a great cocktail menu), or dessert, or anything extra. During RW, Hamilton Walker’s offers a three-course meal for just $19, including soup or salad, choice of beef tips or salmon, and chocolate tarte. That’s pretty damn amazing, and I am looking forward to enjoying a solid meal for not many dollars. (JM)
Nando Milano, Ravioli di Zucca, $39
When dining at Nando, I know I'm going to get fresh, in-house made pasta. The last time I went to Nando, I tried some of my friend's ravioli and it was excellent, so this is why I'm going to take this opportunity to take on an entire ravioli dish while I go to dinner there. Indeed, the price point is a bit higher, but Nando is delish and I'll be happy to spend a few more bones to enjoy this one. (PS)
Neil St. Blues, Parpadelle pasta with blackened chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp and lobster for two, $39
This is the sort of family style pasta dish that really speaks to my sensibilities dining out. Shareable meals, served up in massive portions, filled with all the good stuff people generally crave, is the path to my heart. Here, Neil St. Blues is taking their Creole identity and mixing it up with a classic Italian dish and serving it up for two. It's a pricey item; after tax and an honest tip, you are looking at $55 without drinks, but it does have a lobster tail as part of the dish, so I think it's worth the cost this time. (SF)
Image: Three beignets from Stango Cuisine sit in a square, white styrofoam container. The beignets are golden colored and generously dusted with powdered sugar. Photo by Jessica Hammie.
Stango Cuisine, Dinner $19 or $29
“All served with beignets.”
Do you need any other reason? Okay, fine, let me help you. First, the food is awesome. Even though I’ve already tried most of these dishes, it’s the type of food you’re ready to eat again and again. Second: There are meat, fish, and vegetarian options available. Can’t say that about all of the participating restaurants. Three: All. Served. With. Beignets. Those beignets are among the best desserts in town, no question. (JH)
Sticky Rice, Laap Kai w/ sticky rice, seen savahn, fried pork skins, and dipping sauces, $19
One of the reasons I am excited about this offering at RW is that the actual "sticky rice" they serve is being offered as part of the meal. This salad looks to be a profile in all of the things I love about the restaurant, so it's a good chance to try a few things out in one shot. (SF)
The WheelHouse, Dinner, $29
Just the other day, when I was looking over the menus with my spouse, an enthusiastic meat eater, he exclaimed, “Roasted curry cauliflower at the WheelHouse!” Who knew vegetables could be so thrilling? Learn something new everyday, they say. But seriously — I’m excited that he’s excited about eating roasted curry cauliflower, and I am also excited to eat roasted curry cauliflower (among other things), so that’s what we will do. We both really like the WheelHouse: the food is consistently delicious, and their dessert options are always fantastic. The other RW menu options (all served with a starter, entree, and dessert) are root beer braised short ribs and house made fettuccini with crab. Sounds like hubby and I will need to find at least one other friend to dine with us so we can try all the dishes on the RW menu. (JH)
Seth Fein, Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer contributed to this article.