Smile Politely

Weekender: January 25-28

A beef and cheddar sandwich and cardboard tray with three goat cheese truffles.
Martinelli’s Market Bakery & Deli on Facebook

Thursday, January 25th

Alyssa Buckley

Eat kabuli pulaw, Afghan Cuisine Restaurant, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., $20.99

Afghan Cuisine Restaurant is a gem, and it’s definitely worth a try this weekend. Yesterday, Ayesha reviewed the new restaurant’s appetizers, chicken with rice, and dessert. I’m obsessed with the mantu (beef dumplings) here, but the kabuli pulaw (basmati rice, caramelized onions, and lamb with carrots, raisins, almonds, and pistachios) is great, too. The menu offers a variety of appetizers (including their amazing chicken and potato spring rolls), kebabs, rice dishes, eggplant, okra, and meat-forward entrees with lamb, beef, and chicken. (AB).

Work on the world’s largest puzzle, Ricker Library, 2 to 4 p.m., free

The University Library is taking on the challenge of putting together the world’s largest puzzle, a 60,000 piece beast featuring a map of the world. There are multiple opportunities to work on a portion of the project, which you can see here. The library will provide snacks and a hot chocolate bar to keep you motivated. (JM)

Three portraits of authors (l-r): Cynthia Pelayo, a light skinned woman with long, dark hair and red lipstick; a black and white photo of Taymour Soomro, a light skinned brown man wearing glasses; Emily Maloney, a white woman with short brown hair and an orange necklace.
L-R: Cynthia Pelayo, courtesy of the author; Taymour Soomro by Jorge Monedero; Emily Maloney by Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Check out Lions in Winter, Eastern Illinois University, 5:30 p.m. reception, with readings and Q&A 6 to 8 p.m., free

Lions in Winter, EIU’s annual literary festival, takes place Thursday and Friday. The event will feature three authors: Emily Maloney, Cynthia Pelayo, and Taymour Soomro. On Thursday, they will each read a short piece of their work and answer audience questions. Read my interview with festival organizer Dr. Colleen Abel for more information and what to expect. (JH)

Attend a benefit for a new queer space in C-U, The Space, 6 to 9 p.m., no cover

Back in August, we learned about a small group of community members working together to create a new queer space in C-U. The group and their mission are a bit more defined now, and they are hosting their first benefit to support EQ, “a hybrid bar, cafe, and event space designed to support the LGBTQ+ community.” There will be an art auction and variety show, featuring Spank Knightly. You can also meet board members and learn more about the endeavor. (JM)

A person is seated on a wooden floor, holding a cello between their knees and grasping the bow with their right hand. They are wearing a dark, form-fitting outfit with long sleeves. The cello case lies open nearby, and an array of electronic equipment including pedals and cables is scattered around them. The setting appears to be indoors with wooden flooring and plain walls, capturing an artistic atmosphere.
Shannon Hayden on Facebook

Hear and see classical music played in a whole new light, Illini Courtyard Cafe, 7 p.m. free

Shannon Hayden, a Central Illinois native, brings her unique fusion of classical and modern sounds to the Illini Courtyard Cafe. Her performance promises a mesmerizing blend of serene melodies and complex compositions, using a mix of traditional instruments and modern technology. This free event at the is a perfect opportunity for music lovers to experience Hayden’s innovative approach, and her mastery in creating a captivating musical narrative. (DP)

Friday, January 26th

Celebrate Restaurant Week, 48 restaurants, all weekend, prices vary

The annual celebration of local restaurants begins this weekend. Starting this Friday, 48 restaurants will offer special menus and dishes. Not sure where to go? Check out the menus here and watch for a preview of must-try bites for this year’s Restaurant Week that publishes later today in Food & Drink. (AB)

A circular tray with red and white checked paper, filled with two sliders, a pile of chips, and sandwich toppings.
Farren’s Pub & Eatery

Try a new lunch menu, Farren’s Pub & Eatery, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., $12

This week, Farren’s launched a new lunch menu in addition to their usual menu. Try burgers and sammies as sliders, pair mac n’ cheese with their tasty house salad, have a manageable portion of fish and chips…there are several great options. (JM)

Cozy up to soulful melodies at the Blue Velvet Couch Series, Gallery Art Bar, 7 p.m., free

Treat yourself to an intimate evening of heartfelt tunes and personal storytelling at the Blue Velvet Couch Series. With a lineup featuring Emily Anne, Fiona Kimble, Emily How, and Paul Kotheimer, this series promises a night of diverse musical expression and close artist-audience connections, all set in the inviting ambiance of Gallery Art Bar. (DP)

Theater stage dressed as a boxing ring, with a silhouetted crowd in the background. In the foreground are two Black men dressed as early 1900s boxers and a white man as the referee; he holds a red megaphone. Corrupt boxing promoter Max (David Stasevsky, center) engages Jay (Jaylon Muchison, right) and sparring partner Fish (Jamal Turner, left).
Darrell Hoemann

Get some tickets to theater and arts events this spring, your computer or phone or tablet, all weekend, prices vary

This January has been a slog, and it’s been hard for me to get myself in gear to see what sort of arts events are on the horizon. I’ll be doing that this weekend, and I encourage you to also. Check out what Krannert Center for the Performing Arts has on offer through May; look for local theater production schedules like Parkland, the Station, and Twin City. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Ebertfest and Boneyard, too. (JH)

Saturday, January 27th

Stock up on seasonal coffee, Columbia Street Roastery, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., $7.15-$8.15 per half pound

Honestly, this is mostly a reminder to myself, because I’m out of my Columbia Street Coffee stash. Also, I love when new seasonal flavors are released. This batch has mostly Valentine’s themed items — a little Chocolate Seduction perhaps? My go-to winter choice is Fiesta Fudge. You can also grab some holiday themed flavors on sale. (JM)

A pineapple margarita slush with a wedge of pineapple sits on a concrete ledge in Downtown Champaign outside of Esquire Lounge. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Go nuts for pineapple at Pineapple Fest, Esquire Lounge, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., prices vary

The annual Esquire pineapple event is back this weekend. After all that freezing cold weather, we might could go for something tropical on Saturday. The Downtown Champaign bar will have food and drinks specials as early as 9 a.m. The famous pineapple margarita is a must. The drink uses house-infused pineapple tequila and is available on the rocks, frozen, or in a growler size. (AB)

A Birds Eye view of a orange indoor track with a group of women running hurdles. There are spectators on each side of the racers.
Women’s Track and Field

See the number one track and field team in the nation, U of I Armory, 10:30 a.m., free

The woman’s track team is ranked number one in the nation for the first time ever and I can’t think of a better way to support them than by cheering them on at the armory this weekend. Saturday and Sunday you can see them in action (along with the number 10 ranked Men’s team) at the Illini Challenge. The meet goes all day with field events first followed by track events. (LKG)

The salmon puff pastry at Tenkyu in Champaign.
Alyssa Buckley

Try salmon puff pastry, Tenkyu Izakaya, 4 to 11:30 p.m., $36, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

This salmon puff pastry at Tenkyu was absolutely incredible. Inside buttery, flaky pastry, there was a layer of wilted spinach above a filet deliciously salty salmon. The fish was perfectly cooked, and that side sauce with garlic, onions, roe, and mint was yummy. I’d never had salmon wellington before, and eating the delicate dish with chopsticks was a totally cool experience. Opening this week, the brand new upscale Japanese restaurant will be a good spot to eat on Saturday. (AB)

Show off your spelling skills, Urbana Free Library, noon to 2 p.m., free but registration is required 

Are you an e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t speller? Test your skills against other people who believe the same about themselves. I will not be joining you in this contest because I have become dependent upon spell-check, but I will be cheering for you! (JH)

Sunday, January 28th

A snowy, ice coated river with a blue sky visible through the trees. Around the trees on the river, the ice has created shelves of ice with icicles hanging down into the water.
Peter Carlson

Get out, do something, shake off the bad-weather blues, all weekend, wherever your feet or car take you, prices vary

Winter weather that traps you in the house is cute for one day. Then it’s not cute, especially when you’re trapped in the house with other people and an under-stimulated and exercised pet. Get out (alone, with family) and do something. Go to the Saturday market. Head to a park and walk around. Drive to a fast food restaurant on the edge of town. Make a day trip to Bloomington-Normal or Danville (Royal Donut!). Put the pup in the car and drive around in circles. Have I been stir crazy? Yes! So give me a wave when you pass me driving around town this weekend. (JH)

Play some games, Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, 1-3 p.m., free

Spurlock Museum of World Cultures is celebrating all types of family togetherness by setting aside time to play some games. The museum will be supplying their own amazing collection of games, but attendees are also invited to bring their own if they want. Recommended for ages four and up. (LKG)

This photo is a photo-realistic image of a drummer playing a drum set in a dimly lit bar. The drummer is wearing a maroon shirt and is playing a drum set with a snare drum, cymbals, and a hi-hat. There is a drink in a plastic cup on the drum set. The background consists of a brick wall with graffiti on it and a cymbal.
James Mauck’s Forebeat on Facebook

Experiment with your ears, Rose Bowl Tavern, 5:30 p.m., no cover

James Mauck is a percussionist extraordinaire with a long list of local acts he’s drummed with, but Forebeat is his solo project, and it’s like nothing you’ve heard before. Come watch Mauck saturate the Rose Bowl air with his traditional drums playing along side several electronic instruments as well. (DP)

All event information is accurate to the best of our abilities, but sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes event information, times, prices, etc., change after we look them up. Whenever possible, we’ve provided a link to the original event page; you should always double-check the source before you make any firm plans. Thanks for your understanding.

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