Smile Politely

Head to Da Shark for tasty food for a great price

The building at 2312 W Springfield has been many things. When I first moved to this side of town in the early 2000s, it was El Torero, the original Fuentes family restaurant. Once the new El Toro was built just down the road, it became My Thai, under the same ownership as Siam Terrace. Our family loved My Thai. Out here in West Champaign, there are a lot of fast food chains, so having a place where we could get sushi and drunken noodles (pad kee mao) so close to us was wonderful, and we mourned its closing in 2019.

After being inhabited by Cao’s Chinese Restaurant for a couple of years, Da Shark opened in October 2021. Da Shark features fried chicken and fish as well as sauced wings, gyros, and Chicago-style sandwiches, with some soul food side dishes as well. The new owners haven’t done much to alter the interior or exterior, but they are definitely churning out some delicious food.

There are several booths and tables for seating, but I ordered online then took my lunch to go. I live quite close, so the fried items stayed nice and crispy during the journey. My spouse and I ordered a variety of items so we could get a good taste of what Da Shark had to offer.

A white styrofoam take out container is filled with french fries, three pieces of breaded fried chicken chicken, and a long piece of breaded fried fish. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

First up, Da House special. For $9.99, you get three whole wings, one piece of fish, fries, and a can of soda. I was prompted to choose a sauce, and I chose lemon pepper and jerk thinking I’d get sauce containers on the side. It turns out these were actually seasonings, so we had double seasoned chicken and fish. It didn’t end up being a problem; these flavors actually complemented each other well, but good to note for the future.

The breading on both the wings and the fish were delightfully crispy and flavorful. It wasn’t too thick so as to overpower the meat. The wings were meaty and juicy, and the fish was perfectly flaky. The type of fish was not specified when I ordered, but they have perch, tilapia, and catfish. I’m fairly certain we were eating catfish. The fries were solid: crispy and well-seasoned.

A white styrofoam take out container with thinly sliced gyro meat in a foil pouch on one side, and sliced white onions and red tomatoes on the other side. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

To get a taste from a different part of the menu, we ordered the double gyro plate. It’s basically a double portion of gyro meat plus fixings (tomato, onion, lettuce, and gyro sauce) and two pitas. You can add cheese if so desired. This was a substantial amount of food for $10.99. We each filled a pita, and there were at least two servings of meat left. Gyro meat has the potential to be too dry, but this was not. The pieces were extremely juicy and full of that distinctive gyro flavor. The pitas were warm and soft. I’m not sure if you could request extra pitas for an additional charge, but it’s something I’d consider the next time.

A small white cup filled with macaroni and cheese with large elbow macaroni and orange cheese. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

The entrees were definitely the stars of the show. We ordered a couple of sides, mac and cheese and okra, and they were tasty. They didn’t command our attention as much as the wings, fish, and gyros, but they did the job. The mac and cheese ($2.99) was creamy and well sauced. Not my favorite mac and cheese in town, but it was good.

A red and white cardboard container is line with wax paper and filled with small bites of breaded and fried okra. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

The okra ($3.49) was just what you’d expect from fried okra. I was impressed with how much we got for that price, and the leftovers heated up well in the air fryer! I think I would’ve liked some sort of dipping sauce to accompany them.

A round clear container filled with light yellow pudding. Three light brown circular wafer sit on top of the pudding. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

I hadn’t planned on dessert, but when I picked up my food I saw a countertop case filled with cheesecake slices and banana pudding cups. There are very few places around here to order banana pudding — and I love it — so I added that impulse buy to my order. It’s $3.29 and topped with vanilla wafers. Even though I was awfully full, I tried a couple of bites then put it in the fridge for later. It was creamy and banana-y (I know it’s not a word). I’m happy any time I get to eat vanilla wafers.

I really hope Da Shark is able to stick around for a while in a location that doesn’t seem to be very sticky. It was a very reasonably priced lunch even when ordering way more food than we really needed for one meal. I’m looking forward to trying more menu items as well as experimenting with their seasoning flavors. 

Da Shark
2312 W Springfield Ave
M-Th 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
F 11 a.m. to midnight
Sa 12 p.m. to midnight

Top photo by Julie McClure.

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