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Here’s a festive photo of Campustown circa 1940

The Urbana Free Library digital collections are kind of a fun place to spend some time, especially when you are procrastinating doing something else, and especially if you're into the nostalgia thing. 

Here's a cool snapshot of the 600 block of East Green Street, which seems to be looking east toward the corner of Green and Wright. Also, it kind of looks kind of like Bedford Falls or maybe the town from A Christmas Story. 

Photo from Urbana Free Library Digital Collections

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Consider these fish-free options at Moki Sushi

Moki Sushi, the newly opened sushi bar in Champaign, offers more than sushi. Sarah reviewed it last month, focusing on the all-you-can-eat sushi (lunch, $19; dinner, $25). 

I had lunch there yesterday and tried a few non-fish menu items: chicken yakitori, vegetarian sushi, and beef teriyaki. I ordered the all-you-can-eat lunch, which includes appetizers, soups and salads, and sushi. Note that you'll be charged for any unfinished sushi. At dinner the all-you-can-eat option includes dessert. I very much enjoyed the vegetarian sushi, and the yakitori. The beef teriyaki was good, but at $18, it's not something I'd seek out. 

The non-fish options are limited, but they are available. The restaurant is pricey; with tax and tip it was just under $50. That's not very reasonable for lunch, though you can certainly order within your budget. The all-you-can-eat option is certainly a better value if you're ordering fish. 

Chicken yakitori, $3.99

(L-R) Sweet potato roll, $6.99; Oshinko roll, $3.25; Futo Maki, $5.99

Avocado roll, $3.25 (comes with six pieces, but I was hungry)

Beef teriyaki, $17.99 (served with rice)

Moki Sushi
2017 S Neil St
Champaign
M-Th 11 a.m to 9:30 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Su noon to 9 p.m.

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You should be eating this at La Mixteca

Have you been to La Mixteca yet? It's amazing, and you should. The food is seriously good. Look at what my spouse and I ate yesterday:

Enchiladas verdes (with chicken), $11.99

Caldo de res (beef soup), $12.99

Everything was absolutely delicious. Technically, the beef soup is a special, but because it's winter, they have it pretty much everyday. You can also find pozole on Thursdays, and menudo on the weekends. I'm looking forward to going back soon. 

La Mixteca
510 N Cunningham Ave
Urbana
8 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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It’s a pho day

I've been on a soup kick, as you may have noticed. Yesterday I had lunch at Xinh Xinh; I ordered the pho bo vien ($8), pho with meatballs. It's a massive bowl of delicious broth and noodles and scallions and onions. I added in some basil and fresh jalapeños (sprouts available, too). It was great. And huge — I will be eating the leftovers for lunch today. My dining partner ordered the pho tai bo vien ($8), which comes with thinly sliced round steak and meatballs, and she, too, had leftovers.

The spring rolls were also delicious ($2).

Xinh Xinh Cafe
114 N Vine
Urbana
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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Champaign Outdoors has your hi-tech hook up

Champaign Outdoors has upped their technology game as they've settled into their new space at 2017A South Neil, and they will be showcasing it this Wednesday at their Custom Tech Showcase from 4 to 7 p.m. I got a chance to check out how they are using technology to enhance your experience as a customer.

First up, a custom kiosk that allows you to completely customize every detail of your down jacket or vest. This was seriously impressive. You can choose every last detail from the color of the zipper to the amount of down fill to what type of fit you would like it to have, and it's all done through the touch screen from start to finish.

They are also showcasing their Tecnica shoe technology. This device will help design a hiking boot that forms perfectly to your foot, no breaking in needed.

If you're bringing the kids along, this last piece is really fun. Champaign Outdoors is working with Google to develop content specifically for use in their store. Their touch screen allows you to explore Google Earth, take quizzes about natural wonders, learn about sustainability, and even explore Champaign Outdoors/Rugged Outdoors websites. 

This technology is available in the store all the time, but be sure to swing by Wednesday because they are offering discounts, and if you design a jacket you'll be entered into a drawing to win it for free. And these are high quality items that you could compare to a North Face or Patagonia and the like, so that seems worth a trip.

You can find all of the event details on the Facebook event page.

Photos by Julie McClure

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How to eat your veggies at Watson’s

As a human in this world, I find the inundation of food-shaming at this time of year unbearable. I'm not immune to it, and the other night I found myself dining out at Watson's, fretting over the calories I'd consume by ordering what I really wanted, a Nashville hot chicken sandwich with potato wedges. 

I found a compromise that made me feel better, even if in reality the net calories were equivalent: Share an order of fried okra ($7), and get the Nashville hot chicken on top of a salad ($14). 

Okra might be a vegetable I am basically only interested in eating when fried, but it's a vegetable all the same. The bounty salad is made of lacinato kale, roasted zucchini, onion, slow roasted tomatoes, and sunflower seeds — all excellent sources of vitamins and fiber. The Nashville hot fried chicken is my favorite, and it rounds out the salad to make it it a meal. 

I've also had the Nashville hot chicken on the house salad ($13, picture at top), and it's equally delicious. 

Watson's
211 N Neil St
Champaign
T-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (kitchen closed 2-4 p.m.)

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Hey look, you can find Plant Mode at Espresso Royale on Oregon

While at the Espresso Royale on Oregon yesterday, and noticed this lovely display of succulents and cacti from Plant Mode displayed for purchase. After investigating a bit I found out that it's been there since the end of August, so guess it's been a bit since I've been in that particular Espresso. Anyhow, now I'm sharing this knowledge with you. 

I'm a fan of making my holiday shopping as "one-stop-shop" as possible, so here's a great opportunity. Grab an Espresso Royale gift card or perhaps some beans, and throw in a unique plant from Plant Mode. 

Photo by Julie McClure

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Do you need a Cuban sandwich today?

If so, you're in luck: Black Dog's Wednesday special is the Cuban, and it's really quite tasty, and it looks nice, too.

It's been suggested to me that you sub in Milo's Mustard; I guess I'll have to go get a sandwich today to test this out. 
 
Black Dog Champaign
320 N Chestnut St
Champaign
 
Black Dog Urbana
201 N Broadway
Urbana
 
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
 
Photo from Facebook
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Champaign City Council approves preliminary plan for Plaza Park

As Seth made mention yesterday, the City of Champaign City Council met last night, and one of their agenda items was to discuss the future of the Plaza Park project, which has been in play for quite some time now. Last night, the City Council approved the preliminary plan proposed, which you can read about over at the Gazoo.

However, it doesn't exactly look like what we posted about yesterday, which was this:

New renderings showcase a row of parking spaces that sits between the Plaza Park and the businesses that face it. See that rendering below.

There are definitely some concessions the planners made with the business owners that were upset about parking being completely eliminated in front of their place of business. 

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City Target rumors (sort of) confirmed for 6th and Green

We'd heard rumors, and known that it was a possibility for months, and while the developers still can't confirm it officially, it seems pretty clear that the new tower developed by Core Spaces at 6th and Green will include a City Target

The News-Gazette got the scoop by being good sleuths on the internet, and Core Spaces admitted that these renderings shouldn't have been on there, but hey! it's the internet and this is nature of how social media is going to end everything, once and for all. 

Personally, I can't wait for that. The end will be good. 

Until then, I'll take a City Target in Campustown for sure. I mean, that's better than a City Walmart by a longshot, and in the end, it's the sort of anchor to a building that helps attract the right kind of attention to a competitive campustown. The building will replace a number of prime campustown buildings, including what was Clybourne and Firehaus

Also, there's going to be a Jimmy John's, which you might be surprised to learn actually makes a decent sandwich, and whose corporate headquarters are located close by in Champaign. 

Also, it's worth noting that Core Spaces is who developed "The Whopper" on 4th and Green, which remains the only decent and attractive "skyscraper" in Campustown. So, it's good to have them back in the game here, as opposed to the other developers, who basically built Soviet-era housing projects with hipster names. No ill will, but you know, that HERE building makes me want to cry. 

Images from Core Spaces Website

Photo / Word

Explore the photography of place with Jason Reblando at Giertz Gallery tonight

Award-winning photographer Jason Reblando will speak at Parkland College's Giertz Gallery tonight as a part of Locale, the gallery's annual "State of the Art" national art invitational.

Locale, curated by Chicago photographer and educator Christopher Schneberger, explores the layers of power and meaning that  location brings to an artist's work. 

Reblando will be taking the audience through, Lathrop Homes — "an examination of race, space, and nature amidst the unending and uneven development of cities," taken at the Julia C. Lathrop Homes, built by the Public Works Administration, on the North Side of Chicago.

Locale

Giertrz Gallery at Parkland College
2400 West Bradley Avenue
Champaign
Lecture with Jason Reblando, Tuesday, November 27, 6:15 p.m.

Locale will run through Saturday, February 2, 2019

Top photo of Girl on Rollerskates, courtesy of artist Jason Reblando and Giertz Gallery