Smile Politely

Five things to eat or drink in C-U this month: April 2023

A cropped photo of pizza from Pizzeria Antica in Champaign Illinois as part of Five things to eat or drink in Champaign-Urbana. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

How do you do this April, fellow eaters? I’m quite happy to see days of warmer weather, and I hope you are hungry for this month’s five things to eat in Champaign-Urbana. This April, I’m craving fun, and I want to munch and sip on foods and drinks that are little unique.

This month, why not eat pizza with pistachios on it? Pop into a campus building for a sit-down lunch. Drink a spring cocktail garnished with a baked potato. Eat a yummy fried fish sando from a burger joint, and perhaps pick up a sweet cannabis treat at a dispensary. Let’s go, April.

Alyssa Buckley

Fried Cod Sandwich︱Farren’s Pub & Eatery

There’s a lot of love for the burgers at Farren’s, but make room in your heart for this fried cod sandwich ($14). Three hand-breaded cod pieces had a crispy batter on a bun with a side of lemon caper aioli, lettuce, and onion. Three fish loins seemed like a generous portion for a sandwich — and that tracks with the restaurant’s reputation for towering burgers and great sandwiches. I could add as much of the toppings as I liked to customize the sando. The fried cod’s batter had a tasty seasoning, and inside, the fish was flaky and tender. The sauce was superb with the fish, and the batter stayed crunchy even under a cupful of aioli — don’t judge me! This cod sandwich totally satisfied my craving for fried fish.

117 N Walnut St
M-Th 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Alyssa Buckley

Pistacchio Pizza︱Pizzeria Antica

Pizzeria Antica, the tasty Neapolitan pizzeria in Downtown Champaign, serves a pistacchio pizza ($16) that is insanely good. Topped with fresh mozzarella, Italian mortadella, pistacchios, arugula, and Parmigiano Reggiano, the pizza had a great, puffy outer crust and a thinner middle with gooey mozz and fresh argula. The mortadella topping was like next level pepperoni: salty, porky, and slightly crisp on the edges like bacon, and the greens added peppery freshness to the pie. Big shavings of Parm went really well with the sprinkling of salted pistacchios; I fought my husband for any nuts that fell off, so I could put them on my slice because I loved the pistacchios’ salty flavor and crunchy texture with my cheesy pizza. Enjoy this nutty ‘za at Pizzeria Antica and linger over a bottle of wine with friends. Be sure to order gelato for dessert.

Pizzeria Antica
10 E Chester St
M-Th 4 p.m to 9 p.m.
F+S 11 a.m. to 10 p.m

Alyssa Buckley

You’re Turning Violet, Violet︱Punch! Bar & Lounge

These three garnished drinks are actually just one cocktail at Punch! Bar. Part of the seasonal cocktail menu, You’re turning violet, Violet is a cocktail in three courses, referencing the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory‘s inventive chewing gum with three courses of flavor. The first drink, inspired by the Wonka gum’s first course of tomato soup, was made with vodka, dried tomato, and ginger and had a tomato garnish; it tasted a little like a sweet bloody Mary. In the movie, the gum’s second course is roast beef with baked potato, so fittingly, the second cocktail mimicked the main with brown butter, rosemary, bay leaf, and bourbon with a mini baked potato on top. I absolutely loved the buttery, warm flavors of the bourbon and browned butter, and the little potato snack was amusing and also tasty with the cocktail’s rosemary. The final sip of the YTV,V cocktail was blueberry pie, and it was pretty sweet but right on the mark for a candy-factory dessert.

The Punch! bartenders can mix up any drink you could want (including amazing mocktails), but go for this three-course cocktail if you want to drink something unique this April.

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

An overhead photo of the beef pho at Y Thai on the U of I campus. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Beef Pho︱Y Thai

Please let me flex for just one sentence: I spent a week in Vietnam and had pho bo every single day. I very much love pho, and Y Thai’s beef pho ($12) was awesome. The bowl had lots of long noodles, thinly sliced onion, chopped green onion, and beef in broth. On the tray, a pretty plate held raw bean sprouts, basil, lime wedges, and jalapeño slices plus a spoon and a mini tray of sauces and chili. The pho spiced up with the jalapeño and tinged pink with some chili. The beef cuts were big and tender yet still chewy; simmering in the garlicky broth, the beef absorbed more flavor the longer it marinated in the soup. With aromatic basil on the stem, the onions and bean sprouts added delicious little crunches to the pho. The Y Thai’s pho lunch was totally delicious, especially as flavors continued to develop as I slurped the soup.

Y Thai is located inside the University YMCA building, so it’s not an easy restaurant to access, but this pho is worth the adventure.

Y Thai Asian Cuisine
1001 S Wright St
M-F 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Alyssa Buckley

Raspberry Sativa Gummies︱Wyld Canna

There are quite a few holidays in April, and one coming up mid-month is the cannabis celebration of 4/20. In a 10 pack, Wyld Canna’s raspberry cannabis-infused gummies ($25.93) each contain 10 mg of THC. The gummy’s flavor was just like a sugared red gummy worm, and the texture was soft. Since it’s infused with sativa, the general vibe will be uplifting and mood-enhancing rather than melt-into-the-couch indica options.

One day, I took two at noon and had a euphoric afternoon of completing chores and stopping to petting my own hair because it felt really nice. I was calm, like the kind of calm I aspire to be in stressful situations, and I took on stupid adulting like folding laundry and washing dishes with a really good mood. Wyld’s pretty packaging included a fact about raspberries that I didn’t know: each raspberry contains about 100 tiny fruits called drupelets. If you like the taste of drupelets, this is your gummy, honey. For more canna content, check out this, this, this, and this. This Wyld brand gummies can be found at most cannabis dispensaries in C-U.

nuEra Champaign
102 E Green St

nuEra Urbana
105 E University Ave

503 W Town Center Blvd

1704 S Neil St

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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