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Eat your broccoli

Containing fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium, broccoli is good for you, but are you a fan? I do actually like the taste of broccoli — when it is cooked well. I hate unseasoned, steamed broccoli, and I loathe frozen broccoli boiled to mush. 

There are lots of ways to eat your broccoli, and you can find the cruciferous veggie on restaurant menus all over town. Here are five broccoli bites that you’ll definitely want to try.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Lemon-Parm Broccoli Salad | Baldarotta’s

Baldarotta’s broccoli salad was banging. Made with lemon zest, shaved Parmesan, yellow bell peppers, carrots, a few very thinly sliced red onions, and Caesar dressing, the broccoli salad ($3) has a wonderful bright acidity. The broccoli was fresh and super crunchy. There were lots of shredded carrots and a peppery spice that I just loved. This creamy side salad let the broccoli shine. When I’m ordering one of Baldarotta’s meaty sandos, sometimes I skip the fries and order a broccoli salad — with a cannoli or a scoop of gelato for dessert, of course.

This side salad is served cold and packaged to go, so it’s just as good to take home as it is in the Lincoln Square restaurant. Order online here or order in person at the sandwich shop.

Baldarotta’s Porketta & Sicilian Sausage
300 S Broadway Ave
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su noon to 3 p.m.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Spanish Omelette | Courier Cafe

The Courier Cafe is a very cute place to grab breakfast, and last week, I ordered a Spanish omelette ($10.25) with my cup of chocolate almond coffee. The omelette came with chorizo sausage, chihuahua cheese, jalapeño peppers, and onions, but you can add broccoli for 75 cents — and you should. The broccoli was chopped bite-size and cooked perfectly: tender crisp and well seasoned.

There was an amazing cheese pull each time I forked a bite, and the mild chihuahua cheese blended and melted well. The omelette was folded over a few times, with layers of thin (but still fluffy) eggs. Inside, diced onions and jalapeño peppers gave a nice crunch, and the crumbled chorizo had a seriously delicious flavor without being oily or greasy. The salsa added a mild peppery flavor. My coffee was great, too. It was served with an adorably tiny pot of cream, so I could add as much or as little as I liked to my coffee. Service was wonderful, and prices were affordable. Dine in at The Courier or order takeout after 3 p.m.

The Courier Cafe
111 N Race St
T-Su 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
W-Sa 3 to 8 p.m. carryout only

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Fried Broccoli | The Esquire Lounge

This appetizer is best enjoyed at night with some adult beverages. I’ve eaten the fried broccoli app both at The Esquire and to go — and I can tell you it’s great either way. Esquire’s fried broccoli ($6.75) has a huge portion of deep-fried breaded broccoli. The green veg was visible through the golden breading, and the broccoli itself was cooked soft contrasting the crispy breading. Each piece of broccoli had a very thick batter which might or might not balance the health benefits of eating the vegetable. This app was yummy, salty, and served with a side of ranch.

Visit the Downtown Champaign restaurant to get the fried appetizer or order food to go.

The Esquire Lounge
106 N Walnut
11 a.m. to midnight, everyday

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

#943 Broccoli with Sliced Beef, Jalapeno Stir Fry | Golden Harbor

The broccoli with sliced beef, jalapeno stir fry ($22.99) is one of my favorite dishes at Golden Harbor. #943 had a lot of vibrantly green broccoli, sliced into big bites with a little crunch at the center. The florets soaked up the amazing sauce, becoming flavor bombs. The sauce had fresh minced ginger and thinly sliced garlic both of which packed a powerful taste. The jalapeño pieces themselves had a heat, but the dish altogether was mild. The beef was flavorful and tender. Some pieces were large, some were smaller. Some were fatty and rich which tasted really good with the veg. It was a gigantic portion of the dish, and the broccoli was the very best part of it.

The ordering process is unique at Golden Harbor. There’s a table with menus, notepads, and pens where I wrote down what I wanted (use the numbers) and took it to the cashier to pay. They gave me a number, and I sat at a table. A staff person delivered my order served with white rice, chopsticks, and a fortune cookie. The restaurant accepts carryout orders, delivery through various apps, or you can dine in.

Golden Harbor
505 S Neil St
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. + 4:30 to 7:45 p.m.
Su 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. + 4:30 to 7:45 p.m.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Pad See You | Siam Terrace

Pad see you ($11.90) is my go to dish at Siam Terrace because it’s awesome. There are options to order it with just vegetables or add a protein like chicken, beef, pork, tofu, shrimp, seafood, or mock duck. I ordered the chicken version, but I think the protein isn’t as important as the broccoli in this dish. The broccoli in this is insanely delicious. The pad see you sauce absorbed into the flowering heads of the broccoli bites making each bursting with flavor. I could eat bowls and bowls of this broccoli.

The rest of the dish was good, too. The noodles were wide, flat noodles cooked soft, and they contrasted the texture of the broccoli and chicken. The cooked carrots in this dish were cut beautifully and had a natural sweetness. The bits of egg throughout the dish were very small and well salted. Siam Terrace’s pad see you is a warm, filling Thai noodle dish with some amazing brocc. Get it for carryout or delivery or eat in the dining room at the Downtown Urbana restaurant. 

Siam Terrace
212 W Main St
M-F 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 5 to 10 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su noon to 9 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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