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Miga announces new menu items starting tomorrow

Yeah, cold weather sucks. I still don't understand why I live where it hurts my face to go outside, but one of the better things about remedying this nasty weather is that gathering indoors to eat food is suddenly one of the best social options we have.

Luckily, Miga has unleashed a pretty sweet new menu that goes into effect tomorrow (December 15th, 2016), and features some sweet dishes like Apple Pear Beef Tartare (pictured above), Sticky Rice Gnocchi, Beef Tenderloin and a Yuzu Seafood Plate (all pictured below.)

For a full look at the new menu, check it out below:


Hamilton Walker’s is now open in Downtown Champaign

Yes, good people of Champaign-Urbana, Hamilton Walker's is now open in Downtown Champaign. We stopped in and grabbed a burger with gruyere cheese and a chopped salad with Green Goddess dressing for lunch today, and it was pretty tasty.

I'll refrain from diving into the specifics of the food, as Jess and Seth will have that covered, but until then, you can now go check it out for yourself.

In the meantime, check out our pictures below:


Sakanaya debuting Five Star Roll dish, other select dinner options at lunch, this Monday

I ate lunch at Sakanaya today, with the delicious ramen and sushi items they have, as always. I spoke with Jin Park, the owner, about some of their new menu items that are coming around next week. They're debuting this dish, Five Star Roll, on Monday, as well as the addition of a few of their dinner items to their lunch menu.

Five Star Roll, above, was absolutely awesome. It isn't on the menu yet, so I might've been one of the first people to eat this in C-U.

A new menu item that will debut on Monday's menu at Sakanaya:

Crab, cream cheese, spicy tuna, spicy crab salad mix, veggie crunch flakes with spinach, lotus flower root, roll deep fried


Portillo’s makes it official; opening in April or May

Before graduation in May, there is a strong chance you'll be able to finally get your Chicago-style food fix here in Champaign. 

Opening at the old Home Town Buffet space — they will raze the building and start anew — Portillo's is officially coming to Champaign. 

The News-Gazette got the scoop locally, while the Chicago Tribune got it up north. 

Some interesting points: 

  • Champaign's store will open before Normal's store, which is always
  • it will be styled as a 50's-era diner, and pay homage to Chanute Air Force Base, which was located in Rantoul
  • - rumor has it that they will also be serving some regional cuisine, in this case, the Horseshoe Sandwich; we are awaiting confirmation on that now  My Uncle Phil totally trolled me on this, and I felt the need to still publish it
  • I am in serious trouble, what with Giordano's opening a mile from a Portillo's, which are both a mile from my home, which is also a mile from Champaign's first true New York-style steakhouse, Hamilton Walker's, set to open next week

Here’s a sneak peek at the final Hamilton Walker’s menu (with prices!)

I had the pleasure of stopping by Hamilton Walker's tonight for a little preview, and was impressed. The restaurant is beautiful. But perhaps more importantly, I had the opportunity to snap some photos of the the final menu.

Those of you anticipating sky-high, big city steakhouse prices, fear not. Hamilton Walker’s won't be the cheapest spot on the block, but prices are in line with other fine dining establishments in Downtown Champaign.

All cocktails are $9, and you can see the full menu here. Wine is available by the glass ($9 and up) or bottle ($35 and up). 

Hamilton Walker’s will be open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday (for brunch and dinner), 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The restaurant opens to the public on Wednesday, December 14th. You can make reservations here

Here are the menus:





Hey, look, here’s Braid performing at Channing-Murray 20 years ago today

Braid frontman Bob Nanna tweets photos #thisdayin basically on the daily, and I stumbled across this one today. Pretty neat, 20 years ago, this rock show at Channing-Murray in Urbana happened, and the band is still slugging it out to this day.

That's it really, in terms of my rationale for posting.


The local GOP wants you to celebrate Hannukah at their Christmas party

I actually appreciate the local GOP. As far as it goes, what with their standard bearer being an outspoken petulant bigot who is set to lead us into a bowl of shit cereal over the next four years — these folks are pretty decent people. They've even started embracing diversity, where ever they can, despite all of the obvious hypocrisies. No harm in trying though, and it's never too little too late! 

Anyhow, here is a public invite to their "Christmas Party". But for all of its splendor, I think they might be confused about what being inclusive means. Or they simply don't know what they are celebrating?

Or their graphic designer has been crushing the bong recently. Which is probably the best explanation, even if it's not true. 

If it's a Christmas party, that's totally cool. But don't bring the menorah. At least, bring some latkes. Those are always a party favorite. 


Bacaro hosting wine duel tonight

What's a wine duel, you ask? Imagine a football game, but instead of watching people try to beat one another into a concussion-induced state, you will experience two wine masters facing off to try to find the best pairings for a seven-course tasting menu. Much less painful, and much more enjoyable.

The duel kicks off tonight at 6:30 PM, and tickets, as well as the menus, are available below

From Bacaro: 

Wine Duel?

The first in a series of dinners that will pit two wine experts against each other in selecting the best pairings for a tasting menu created by BACARO. Each wine expert will handpick six wines to complement a seven course tasting menu.  Join us and decide for youself who's pallet reigns supreme.

Monday, December 5th

6:30 Arrival - 7:00 Dinner
140$ per person
includes tasting menu and pairings

Limited seating available.

To make a reservation, please call Bacaro at 217-398-6982
or email Chef Drew Starky at


Secrets of Kopi, revealed

Though Cafe Kopi has been running for over 20 years, the building it occupies was erected c. 1910. These old structures are generally musty and inefficient, but they can hold some curious secrets. There’s the old elevator shaft in the basement, and occasionally I find evidence that the space once housed Sandwell’s Paints in the ’40s. Similarly, Kopi itself has several hidden features you probably pass every day without thinking twice.

Notes in Drawer

A couple of the old tables in the dining area are fitted with drawers, one of which has amassed several hundred notes left by customers over the years. The quotes, doodles, confessions, or just greetings to future guests, have become the equivalent of our own Post Secret. The drawer was stuffed so full, we had to move the excess to a drawer in the other room.



Paper Cranes

When we expanded our seating seven years ago, the son of a designer asked to christen the new room with a mobile of paper cranes. The seemingly simple origami has special significance in the East, being a symbol of luck, longevity, and fidelity, and we hope to embody this symbol for some time.



Trappings from Bali

The original owner used to travel to Indonesia for her import business, so the café was inspired by motifs of the island nation (“Kopi” means coffee in Bahasa), and from her collection we inherited many relics of Balinesianf art. Some are on permanent display while others come and go when we transition artist shows. The cherub by our tea menu is the most visible, but also notice the fabric hanging above the food area, the wood plaque above the gateway to the green room, and the shuttered mirror in the rear of the orange room.

Paris Painting

For years, customers have admired the painting of a fin-de-siècle Paris street scene in the women’s restroom.  People ask me, “Is it a Gideon?” and I couldn’t honestly say. We’ve had offers to purchase the piece, but I’m reluctant to lose a part of the Kopi mystique that has reached Legend status. 

These are the highlights, and I fear I’m forgetting some others I take for granted. I suspect we are all surrounded by hidden treasures every day if we would only make the daily effort to recognize them. Of course, I recommend doing so with a coffee in hand.

- Paul West (Cafe Kopi)


The City of Champaign’s Parking Enforcement vehicle is crazy efficient

If you're like me, then you're far too familiar with the sight of the City of Champaign's Parking Enforcement vehicle. Whenever I see it rounding the block where I am parked, fear is struck deep into my bones.

The good news, however, is that after further inspection, the Parking Enforcement department has been using an electric car over the past couple of years, increasing the sustainability of their operation. In fact, the cost to operate their electric Nissan Leaf was only $71 for an entire year of almost daily use in 2015.

I, for one, am happy to live in a city that is as committed to reducing emissions and fuel intake as Champaign is, even if it has to do with giving me a parking ticket or two. For more information, check out what the City had to say on the subject:

The City of Champaign purchased a Nissan Leaf in mid-2014 to replace a small hybrid SUV used by one of the Parking Enforcement Officers. The Leaf is driven daily (except vacations, sick days, snow and ice duties, etc.). The other five parking enforcement vehicles are Ford Rangers. The hybrid SUV (still in use as part of the City's pool cars) when it was part of parking used about $1,800 per year in fuel costs. The Ford Rangers use approximately $2,000 per year in fuel. The cost to charge the leaf in 2015 was $71. We are currently at $52 for 2016.