Smile Politely

Even a reformed party animal can still enjoy late night food and drinks in C-U

Damn you, stupid COVID. I miss wild nights out with my people. Raging at Soma until 2 a.m. or nights out at Cowboy Monkey with my besties until the sun came up. Let’s be honest: I’m 43, so it’s probably time to calm myself down, but I still miss those crazy all-nighters. Thankfully, I don’t have to miss out on the delicious late-night C-U food scene. I recently discovered five delicious eats and drinks to enjoy for all those young (and hungry) at heart.

The pandemic may have slowed down the wild child inside me, but it definitely has not curbed my appetite for tasty, local late night eats. Whether you’re coming off a night shift or a fun evening out with friends, C-U has everything to fulfill all your hunger needs. These are just five of my new favorites, but I would love to know yours. Drop me a comment, so I can check out some new, fun food ideas in Champaign County.

In a paper basket, there are a lot of cheese curds. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Cheese Curds | Bunny’s Tavern

I feel like literally every dining establishment these days has their own version of cheese curds. Don’t get it twisted, readers: not all fried cheese is created equal. My visit to Bunny’s Tavern provided me with a unique spin on a classic: spice. According to our waitress, it is one of the most popular appetizers on the menu ($5.25).

The batter was light, and the cheese pull is fantastic. Plus, the ranch dipping sauce on the side provides the perfect amount of coolness to offset the zing. The cheese curd trail in this town is pretty extensive, but these just might be one of my new favorites.

Bunny’s Tavern
119 S Waters St
Su-Th 7 a.m. to midnight
F+Sa 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.

In a white styrofoam container, there is a huge burrito diagonally covering the whole container with a scoop of corn kernels and diced tomatoes on either side. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Steak Burrito | Burrito King

Okay, I’m just gonna say it. Mexican food is the only drunk meal of choice for me. Burrito King taught me why one random Friday night when I was starving after a wine extravaganza with my girlfriends. This burrito was life changing ($13.49). Ridiculously massive and filled with steak, rice, covered in queso plus a side of sour cream, tomatoes, and corn. I stuffed it in my face hole like it was my death row meal. I don’t usually use third party delivery, but when you are unable to drive (like me that night), sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Not only that, but I live in Mahomet, so good late-night food isn’t always an option. The extra fees were completely worth it.

Burrito King
408 E Green St
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

In a parchment paper lined tray, there is a fish sandwich with a fried piece of fish that extends past the tray it is so large. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Big Ass Fish Sandwich | It’ll Do Bar and Grill

Who doesn’t love an amazing fish sandwich? It may not seem like a late-night go to for the carnivore in some of us, but It’ll Do in Mahomet has turned this entree into a beauty. When they say “big ass fish sandwich,” they are not playin’. I could have made two sammies out of this bad boy ($8.25).

A massive piece of perfectly deep-fried white cod with every fixing imaginable definitely brought the wow factor. I dumped a fair amount of malt vinegar and tartar sauce as well as pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, and a side of waffle fries ($5.25) with cheese sauce, of course. I don’t know exactly how the cooks prepare the hamburger buns, but they are always warm, toasted, crunchy, and absorb the juices and sauces without becoming soggy. Don’t sleep on It’ll Do. It is a hidden Mahomet gem putting out some solid bar food.

It’ll Do
215 S Lake of the Woods Rd
Su noon to 8 p.m.
M 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
T-Th 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

On a gray counter, there is a yellow drink in a half tumbler with a lime garnish. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

White Russian Bars and Paloma | Punch! Bar & Lounge

My bestie and I hit up Punch on a dark, freezing cold, rainy Thursday night. In my attempt to pretend fall had not come with a vengeance, I chose a classic Paloma ($9) to brighten my mood and bring me warm and sunny thoughts. Cimarrón Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, demerara (basically sugar), topo chico, grapefruit juice, and salt comprised this light, tasty and potent cocktail. For sure, I could have had at least two more, but I was overly occupied with my dessert: The White Russian Bar ($8).

On a green plate, there is a Russian bar with layers of chocolate and a white frosting. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

The layers were as follows: chocolate cookie crust, espresso cheesecake, vanilla cream cheese frosting, and topped with cocoa powder. Yes, it is a bit dense but when shared with a dining partner, you can consume a few decadent bites that will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.

Punch! Bar & Lounge
217 N Neil St
Su-Th 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 4 p.m. to midnight

On a plate, there are two shrimp tacos and behind it, a plate of waffle fries at Seven Saints. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.

Shrimp Tacos | Seven Saints

For the record, late-night food doesn’t always have to mean cheesy, fried, greasy, or otherwise tummy-killing food. I mean, that’s what I prefer, but I have the gut of a predatory Viking who has just survived a harsh, Icelandic winter, so please do not follow my diet plan. I ended up at Seven Saints one night expecting to down several sliders and a massive plate of fried foods, but lo and behold, I ordered their shrimp tacos ($11.99). I also got a side of waffle fries ($3.49) with honey mustard.

These tacos were fantastic. With perfectly warmed corn tortillas that do not crumble and fall apart when you take a bite (a huge pet peeve of mine), sautéed shrimp, chipotle ranch, and avocado cucumber dressing, these taos were great. Delicious and light, I was beyond happy and full after this meal, and the service was excellent as always.

Seven Saints
32 E Chester St
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to midnight

Top image by Stephanie Wheatley.

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