If I said, let’s get dinner somewhere on Five Points, would you know what that means?
Five Points is the nickname for the intersection of University Avenue and Cunningham/Vine in Urbana. According to localwiki, “it is called Five Points because it used to be a five-way intersection. However in the early 1970s, blocks of University Avenue were redesigned, eliminating the fifth point of Five Points. The intersection is still at a strange diagonal and locals still refer to it as Five Points.”
Not to be confused with the intersection in Urbana by Huaraches Moroleon where Philo Road, Washington, and Poplar all come together — to what I used to think Five Points referred. How silly I was.
Now that we’re clear about Five Points, you need to know that I love this area. There are so many great restaurants (and a dispensary!) all conveniently located at Five Points, and I’m sharing five good eats you can find near this Urbana intersection.
Nacho Burger | La Mixteca
I love nachos, and I love burgers, so when I saw the nacho burger ($7.99) on La Mixteca’s menu, I was so down. This burger was topped with jalapeño jack cheese, jalapeño, chipotle ranch, lettuce, tomato, and onion, and served with fries. This was a super spicy burger (I had to take some of the jalapeño off to find my spice level) that was so good. I like spicy food, and if you like really spicy food, this burger will make you feel the heat.
The one patty was well-cooked and a little pink in the middle with melty cheese all over it. The nacho flavor came through with the orange sauce and cheesy threads on each bite. The fries were basic, so I’d recommend adding a side of La Mixteca’s fresh fried corn chips to go with it, but the burger itself was fire. If you like nachos and you like spicy, this burger will be right up your alley. Call in your order to 217-552-1544, or enjoy indoor dining at their location.
510 N Cunningham Ave
Su-Th 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Po’ Boy Pizza | Po’ Boys
There’s a long history with Po’ Boys, but just off the corner of Five Points, this Urbana restaurant is serving up barbecue, pizza, pasta, and handmade pies. The Po’ Boy pizza ($19.50 for 12 inches) comes topped with your choice of Po’ Boy original BBQ sauce mild, medium, or hot, or thick barbecue sauce mild, medium, or hot; and choice of pork or beef. I chose Po’ Boys original BBQ sauce, medium, with pork for my thin crust pizza.
This pizza was perfectly cooked: browned and piping hot. The BBQ sauce replaced marinara on the pizza, so the flavors of the sweet and spicy sauce were the main attraction. The crust was nice and thin with a crisp bite, and the pizza had a lot of meat. It tasted like a pulled pork sandwich — but pizza. The smoky, slightly spicy pork was abundant. The last bites of each pizza slice were my favorite: a crunch from the crust and a crunch from crispy pork, caramelized in the sauce. This pizza was everything. You can call your order in 217-367-2255 or place an order online here. Do not forget to add Po’ Boys’ breadsticks; they are seriously life-changing.
202 E University Ave
W-Su 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Barbecue Pork Lo Mein | Rainbow Garden
The Urbana Rainbow Garden location is right off Five Points beside Po’ Boys. The barbecue pork stir fry noodles ($9.95) are one of my favorite things to get from Rainbow Garden. The noodle dish can be made with pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, veggies, or soy bean paste. I am obsessed with the pork in this dish because it was so tender, sliced and prepared with Chinese spices and slow roasted. The pork literally melted in my mouth.
The long, thin noodles were soft and yummy, and throughout the dish, there were julienned carrots, thinly sliced cabbage, bean sprouts, and green onion in the savory sauce. But the pork. I swear, this pork was something else. The pork was meaty, sweet, and smoky. You could get another protein mixed with your stir fry noodles, but I highly recommend the pork. Order here.
202 E University Ave
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Su noon to 9 p.m.
Rib Tips | Wood N’ Hog
This little building off University smells good even from the parking lot. These rib tips ($8.99 for a small) made my car smell like barbecue, and I wasn’t mad about it. The rib tips came covered in sauce (choice of mild, hot, or mixed), topped with fries and a slice of white bread. I dumped it onto a plate and dove in.
Sweet mother of sauce, this pile of barbecue goodness was as delicious as it looks. The rib tips were charred and smoky like Wood N’ Hog’s slogan, “All smoke and no joke.” Rib tips do have some small bones and cartilage, but with meat this tender, avoiding them was easy because the meat literally fell off the bones. The thick barbecue sauce covered everything: the ribs and the fries — which I loved, but if you don’t, just ask for sauce on the side.
Get a pile of napkins because this is a messy meal. I ordered mine with mixed sauce because I think it’s a great balance of heat and sweetness, and I liked how the peppery spice in the sauce lingered. Every bite was saucy and smoky, and I thought the small was a good size for one person. If you want more, there is a medium ($10.99), large ($14.95), and jumbo ($17.95) size available. Call 217-367-1018 to place your order for pickup, or enjoy indoor dining, sit by the window, and watch the vehicles driving past Five Points.
Wood N’ Hog
101 W University Ave
M-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Arepas | El Paraiso
Tucked just off University on Broadway Avenue, Broadway Food Hall boasts many different vendors serving up good food. El Paraiso’s arepas ($5.50) are worth a try. Two corn patties were fried and held together a giant serving of chicken and avocado filling atop undressed iceberg lettuce. It was a great Latin American sandwich that filled me up. The maize “buns” were crispy in parts and, in other bites, soft like a pita. The middle reminded me of chicken salad: a cold and creamy shredded chicken filling. The filling was made with mayonnaise, onion, and avocado as well which tasted great and had a silky texture. The flavor was mild: not spicy or too much seasoning, but the texture of the corn cakes against the smooth filling was extraordinary.
You can call 312-971-7149 to put in an order, or you can order in person at Broadway Food Hall. El Paraiso is the first vendor when you walk in, and the staff were friendly and able to answer any questions about the menu.
401 N Broadway Ave
T-F 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sa+Su 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.