Next door to Dawson Lake and just 35 miles north of Champaign-Urbana sits an American food oasis. Moraine View Restaurant and Kayak Rentals changed ownership over a year ago, and with that came a major renovation of the food and ambiance. The restaurant’s modern website invites curious adventure-goers to come for the food and stay for the boating (kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and paddle boats are available).
Moraine View offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Eggs, pancakes, and bottomless coffee are offered from 7 to 11 a.m., before switching to their afternoon menu, served until 7 p.m.
Family-run, the menu is a mix of American diner classics like the bacon cheeseburger, Chicago-style hot dog, chicken melt sandwich, and milkshakes, with additional vegetarian options like a cheese quesadilla, veggie spring rolls, and fruit. A Kid’s Corner sits on the menu for tiny eaters.
After talking about it for a few months (and hearing positive reviews from others), my husband and I drove out there and decided to make a daytrip out of our experience, which is something any family can easily do fairly cheaply. We rented a double kayak online a few days in advance — $20 for one hour, a timeframe we felt was sufficient since we wanted to get some hiking in. Before setting off on the lake, we needed to fuel up.
I ordered the breakfast burrito (added tomatoes for $1 more) which comes with a side of potatoes or fresh fruit ($7.50). I opted to up my carb intake with potatoes, a buttery, crisp, delicious choice. My husband got a half order of the biscuits with sausage gravy ($3.50), and bottomless coffee ($2).
The burrito boasts a 12” tortilla with four scrambled eggs, cheese, and a side of the chef and owner’s homemade green salsa. Grilled perfectly, loaded with cheese, and light, fluffy scrambled eggs oozing out, it’s no surprise I overheard a regular say to her partner, “I don’t know why I even look at the menu anymore, every time we come here, I know I’m going to order the breakfast burrito.” The salsa verde was unforgettable: Tangy, sweet, and with a depth of spice that kicks in at the end. We were scraping the bowl for remnants.
A half order of biscuits and gravy consists of a large single biscuit absolutely covered in gravy. The biscuit was surprisingly light and covered in a delicious and creamy homemade sausage gravy. If you’re brave or hungry enough to go with the full order, just be aware that you might sink your kayak.
The restaurant’s location is conveniently located directly next to the boat docks, and kayaks await you. While you eat your meal, you can sit in one of their three seating areas: inside, on the back patio that directly overlooks the lake, or the dog-friendly front patio.
Lunch for our duo included the Grilled Chicken Pita ($8), the Grilled Cheese ($3), the Garden Salad ($5), a small order of fries ($2), a hand-packed Vanilla Milkshake ($2.75 for 16 oz.) and a fountain soda ($2). We were hungry.
The grilled cheese was stacked. White cheese melted out, and luckily, we got another side of salsa verde (it, along with a side of cucumber dressing, came with the pita), which I fervently dipped my sandwich into. The garden salad was fresh, the romaine chopped and covered with a generous layer of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and croutons. The vanilla milkshake was much-needed after a few hours in the sun, and a solid sidekick to dip your fries into.
The chicken pita comes stuffed to the brim with crisp lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and a hearty portion of savory grilled chicken. A refreshing and creamy cucumber sauce comes on the side (just pour the whole thing over your pita, trust me). A hefty portion of golden, salted fries was a great addition to the pita (and would be for any other meal probably).
The staff was welcoming to our small group, seeking us out to provide food as we wandered around taking photos. The wait time for ordering and food was short. The tranquil, outdoor atmosphere on a spring-like Illinois morning was a welcome escape.
Moraine View Restaurant and Kayak Rental
27374 E 900 North Rd
M-F 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Park hours: October through December, 7 a.m. to sunset
Photos by Jordan Goebig