Smile Politely

Look no further than Murphy’s Pub for great food, memories, and nostalgia

A burger from Murphy's Pub in Champaign is uneaten beside fries. Photo by Stephanie Wheatley.
Stephanie Wheatley

It’s 1995 in a dimly lit pub on a formerly dank Green Street (if you know you know), and the character? An 18-year-old girl eating delicious bar food and drinking lite beer on someone else’s fake ID — the good old days, as I like to call them. Twenty-eight years later, I’m now a legal adult, and Green Street is shiny, flashy and fresh faced, but Murphy’s Pub hasn’t changed much at all. From its iconic sign, etched wooden tables, and great bar food, Murphy’s will always be a great place to enjoy time with family and friends.

My girlfriends and I decided to have lunch at Murphy’s on a Thursday afternoon. Parking was basically impossible, but if you’ve been around here long enough, you realize that this is no surprise when attempting to do anything on campus. I eventually found a metered spot about a mile away, but it was a freakishly nice day in March, so I didn’t mind the walk. Murphy’s wasn’t very busy, so our party of four just grabbed a table on our own. After perusing the menu, we were told to order food and drinks at the bar. The bartender was so friendly and chatted with us about our weekend plans. Once we found out it was Unofficial weekend, our old asses knew we would be staying far away from campus for the next two days (again, if you know, you know).

We were given an order number that would be called on the intercom when our food was ready. There aren’t “servers” at Murphy’s, so as long as you’re prepared to put in foot work, pick up your own food, and bus your own table, you’re pretty much good to go. The pick-up area has various types of condiments, utensils, and napkins to grab and go on the way to your table. 

While some people (ok, me) may not like having to go to a pickup window to get your entrees, you don’t have to wait on a server, so our food was fresh and piping hot when we brought it back to the table. We started out with a few appetizers including fried mushrooms, spicy fried pickles and the Irish nachos.

Stephanie Wheatley

The breading on the mushrooms ($8.79) was light, and the taste of the mushroom came through nicely as opposed to being overwhelmed with fried breading.

Stephanie Wheatley

The spicy pickles ($8.06) were super thin, lightly breaded and crunchy, and came with a side of spicy ranch dipping sauce. I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by the spice or flavor, but I love fried pickles, so I absolutely had to try them.

Stephanie Wheatley

The star of the appetizer show had to be the Irish nachos ($12.17). Seasoned waffle fries smothered in cheddar jack cheese, bacon, tomatoes, jalapeños, black olives, and served with a side of ranch and salsa, they were a big hit amongst the table. While writing this article, I learned that what makes Irish nachos Irish is that they are prepared with fries or potatoes instead of chips. So, I guess slap me with a lucky doubloon and change my name to O’Sullivan because I’m on board with this delicious mess.

Stephanie Wheatley

For my main entrée, I decided to go with a basic, grilled chicken sandwich ($9.60). There wasn’t much of a description on the menu, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it ended up coming with cheddar cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato. The chicken patty was quite big and very flavorful. The Kaiser bun was lightly toasted which was fantastic, so I didn’t end up with a soggy mess of a sandwich by the end. Personally, I would have preferred raw onion if that was an option, but my friend said the sweet grilled onions were “a nice surprise.” I loved the seasoned fries on the side. They had a good solid crunch and a great flavor to accent my sandwich.

Stephanie Wheatley

My other two dining partners chose a burger as their entrée. If you have ever dined at Murphy’s, you know the cheeseburger ($8.63) is always an excellent choice. Same toasted Kaiser bun, fresh crunchy veggies on top, yummy melted cheese, and those great fries made for two very happy people. We had one small mix up when my friend received a chicken sandwich instead of the burger she ordered, but the staff acted quickly. One of the employees brought out her burger personally and was so kind and apologetic. Little nuances like this really make this dining experience stand out from other establishments. 

Murphy’s Pub will always and forever be an institution in C-U. It’s been one of my favorite bar and restaurants in the area since the 90’s and will continue to be so for many years to come. The way I’m living, it will probably only be a solid seven to ten more, but we’ll worry about that at another time. I can’t wait to create more memories here with my rapidly growing kids. Cheers to my fellow alumni and all those to come after us. 

Murphy’s Pub on Facebook

Murphy’s Pub
604 E Green St
11 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily

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