Smile Politely

Five things to eat or drink in C-U: January 2020

Happy New Year, friends! January is the month that so many decide to radically change their lives, as if change isn’t absurdly difficult and slow. I have reached a point in my life where I no longer make any diet related resolutions; let’s just say it hasn’t really worked out for me. More power to those who can pull it off!

In the spirit of honoring those who are doing new diet things, I’ve organized this month’s list around common dietary changes. Of course, there are many, many more options for each of these categories, so feel free to chime in on socials, or to email us some suggestions for future columns.

“I’m vegan now”
Anything | Dancing Dog or Red Herring

Image: A photo of a veggie burger and a garden salad. The salad is on the left of the image, and slightly out of focus. To the right is a veggie burger on a large bun, with tomato and lettuce. Photo by Sean Hartin.

Dancing Dog and the Red Herring are Urbana’s two vegan restaurants. Both are very accommodating for other dietary restrictions (i.e., gluten-free), too. Since all items are vegan, you won’t need to worry about random bacon bits or stray pieces of cheese all up in your meal. Even if the menu item suggests chicken or burgers, those are all plant based. Even if your plan is to only be vegan for one month, maybe you’ll try out some new dishes and incorporate that into your regularly scheduled programming. Read our reviews of Dancing Dog here and here, of The Red Herring here and here, and other vegan delights around C-U in our column Vegan Ease.

Dancing Dog
126 W Main St
Su + T 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Red Herring
1209 W Oregon St
M-F 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
W 5 to 7 p.m.

“I’m vegetarian now”
Greek Salad | Seven Saints

Seven Saints serves some of my favorite salads in C-U; there are a pretty wide variety of flavors and textures. As far as veggie-heavy salads, the Greek at Saints is among the best. It’s a standard Greek salad with a whole bunch of veggies, including lettuce (duh), artichokes, tomatoes, pepperoncini, cukes, onion, and olives, as well as feta cheese that offers a little bit of protein and a nice salty bite. The Greek salad (and all the salads at Saints) is consistently good, and will actually leave you feeling full.

Seven Saints
32 E Chester St
Su-T 11 a.m. to midnight
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

“I’m practicing dry January”
Edibles | NuMed or Sunnyside

Image: A large group of people standing in a line outdoors. Behind them is a billboard that reads “Inspire Kids. Spark doing. Inspire kids at” There is a white tent on the right. Metal fencing keeps the line organized. Orange banners that read “Sunnyside* A new kind of cannabis shop” are attached to the metal fencing. Image from Sunnyside Dispensary Champaign’s Facebook page.

Just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean you can’t eat weed. Now that recreational marijuana is legal, you can pop on over to one of our two dispensaries: NuMed in Urbana, or Sunnyside in Champaign. The demand for recreational items is currently very high, so check each dispensary’s Facebook page for updates on availability, pricing, and wait time.

105 E University Ave
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su noon to 5 p.m.

1704 S Neil St
M-Sa 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I’m learning a new language”

Image: The Chinese menu wall at Golden Harbor. The wall is red, and long, rectangular black tabs hang from nails. On the tabs are menu items written in Chinese. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

But this isn’t something to eat or drink, you say! Technically that is true. But is there any better way to learn about language and culture than through food?

We have an incredible international community here in C-U, with many cuisines represented in our dining scene. Often times, especially in our East Asian restaurants, the menu items are listed in the native language and in English. Why not try your hand at some basic conversation in a language you’re learning — assuming, of course, you’re dining at a restaurant whose cuisine is from the area/country/language you’re learning. Don’t be the jerk who goes into Café Kopi ordering in French, you know? And also, please don’t assume people speak languages based on how they look or where they are working. Maybe you can begin by asking your server if they speak that language.

“I will change nothing”
Champaign County Restaurant Week

Image: A poster for Champaign County Restaurant Week. The background is horizontal wood grain, with a very faint, light gray circle with a fork in the middle. Champaign County Restaurant Week 2020 is in white text, with three small, separate red circles with a white fork, spoon, and knife in each. Image from the Visit Champaign County website.

If it ain’t broke, right? To celebrate your flexitarian, I’ll-eat-whatever diet, spend some time (and money) at your favorite restaurants. Visit Champaign County’s Restaurant Week is happening January 24th through February 1st. This year 30+ restaurants are participating; some menus are available now. Lunch options are $9; dinner options are $19, $29, and $39. We’ve covered past RWs a whole heck of a lot, and you can read the highlights from 2019, 2018, and 2017 to get a feel for the event. We’ll have more coverage at the end of the month.

Additional information is available at the Visit Champaign County website.  

Top photo: The Chinese menu wall at Golden Harbor. The wall is red, and long, rectangular black tabs hang from nails. On the tabs are menu items written in Chinese. Photo by Jessica Hammie.


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