October just may be my favorite eating month of the year. I admit December and November were in the running, but in the end, October food and drink won out. The chill in the air prompts us to begin cooking hearty meals and searching for fall flavored treats at our local farmer’s markets and stores. The start of the colorful falling leaves and the smell of bonfires, entices us to boil brats outside, and spice up those old chili recipes from childhood. As the sweaters and coats are freed from our closets, so are our desires for fall comfort food and drinks. We here in the Midwest love this time of year; it means harvest. Although it was a warm fall season to start, eventually everything must be picked before the frost. Soon, if not now, local produce will ripen to the height of perfection. The fall harvest delights us with bushels of apples, pumpkins from the patch, fresh herbs, and squash from the garden, just to name a few. Everywhere you turn in C-U you can find a fall festival or new fall themed menu about to be released. Here are a few of my local autumn favorites.
Autumn is a celebration of harvest and family gathering together to eat and drink in celebration. Our community is in full fall swing! I can’t wait to see and taste what other fun foods and festivals I may discover this month. I would also love to hear some of your favorites. I’m always looking to add to my list of fall food and drink spots. Leave your fall favorites in the comments.
Spiced Cider and Donuts | Curtis Orchard
Stop by our beloved Curtis Orchard for a warming mug of their seasonal spiced cider along with a fresh cinnamon-sugar donut. It honestly is the perfect cold weather combination! The spices of the cider warming you as you crunch into the sugary crust of the warm apple donut are enough to lift even the lowest spirits.
Curtis Orchard and Pumpkin Patch is located at 3902 South Duncan Road, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Beer and Brats | C-U Oktoberfest
The 5th Annual C-U Oktoberfest is Saturday, October 7th in Downtown Champaign. Enjoy local and domestic beer, sausages, pretzels, and live polka music. At last year’s Octoberfest celebration I especially loved the savory brats washed down with a stein of Desthil’s delicious Hefeweizen. (You can read last year’s review here.) The entry fee is only 5 bucks, and it benefits the Developmental Services Center. This year there will be the second annual Dirndl Dash 5K Run & Walk; you can register for that here.
C-U Oktoberfest is in Dowtown Champaign Saturday, October 7th from 3 p.m. to midnight. More information is available here.
Pumpkin Cookies | Art Mart
Do your sweet tooth a favor this month and drop by the Art Mart cafe for a scrumptious iced pumpkin cookie. These cookies smell like fall and pumpkin spices through and through. They’re soft and pillowy and the thick sweet icing melts into the tender cookie as you eat it. These autumn delights won’t last long, so come and grab one, or a dozen, before they’re gone.
Art Mart is located at 1705 South Prospect Avenue, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Grilled Cheese and Beer Chili at Bunny’s Tavern
The delicious deal of the month goes to Bunny’s Tavern for their Saturday grilled cheese and cup of soup deal that costs only $4.50 — yes, you read that correctly! Get a golden brown grilled cheese and hot cup of soup every Saturday for just $3.50. I recommend the award-winning beer chili.
Bunny’s Tavern is located at 119 West Water Street, Urbana, and open on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Photo from Facebook.
Seasonal Tea | Kopi Cafe
For a taste of — or in this case a drink of — the season, visit local coffee shop Cafe Kopi for a decadent chai latte. It’s also known to some as a “pumpkin pie in a cup,” because of the delicious warming spices. Also be on the lookout for chamomile and jasmine tea to make an appearance on the drink menu as it gets colder.
Cafe Kopi is located at 109 North Walnut Street, Champaign, and open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Photos by Rebecca Wells, except where noted.