Can you believe that it’s already September? Welcome back to school, students. Goodbye, summer, hello autumn. Sort of. Early September is still technically summer, and as such, still has the potential to be hot as hell. There is still time to relish in the warm, sunny days, and cooler, darker nights. It’s possible to dine and drink on restaurant patios in the evening, after a morning of fantasizing about your first PSL of the season. In C-U, September also means the Pygmalion Festival, which will be two weeks this year and include a new food component. There are places to go, people to see, and things to eat and drink before we’re all bogged down by the weather or academic responsibilities.
What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink in town? Tell us in the comments.
Anything | Pygmalion Food Festival
September brings perhaps the most exciting of all C-U festivals: the Pygmalion Festival. (Full disclosure, SP and the Pygmalion Festival are owned by the same company.) Over a decade in the running, the festival brings together nationally and internationally known musicians and local musicians. In the past few years the festival has expanded to include Tech and Lit, and this year it brings Food.
Pygmalion Food will take place Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17th and will feature dishes made by five local joints: bacaro, Black Dog, Farren’s, Maize, and Watson’s. Each restaurant will set up shop in the parking lot between Jupiter’s and The Accord in Downtown Champaign, and offer two dishes at two different price points. Each restaurant will have to incorporate at least one local ingredient.
While the menus aren’t yet available, I’m certain that these places will deliver some damn good food: they’re among the best spots in town. Check out the new food festival and treat yourself to one or two new dishes.
Pygmalion Food takes place at The Accord Outdoor Annex (N Market and Neil, Champaign) from 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17th. More info is available here.
Beer | Riggs Beer Company
Have you been to C-U’s newest brewery yet? Although I haven’t been to the tap room yet, I have had the beer, and it’s delish. It’s available on tap in a few different places around town including, but not limited to: The Canopy Club; Fiesta Café; Barrelhouse 34; Big Grove Tavern; Buffalo Wild Wings Savoy and Champaign; and Bentley’s Pub. The full list is here.
Check out the list to see which places are serving Riggs, then pick the place with your favorite patio (including Riggs Beer Company itself!). Order, sip, and enjoy the last of summer.
Riggs Beer Company is located at 1901 S High Cross Rd, Urbana and is open Thursday and Friday, 3 to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
Turkey Tips | Wood N Hog
C-U is no stranger to barbeque, and you might even think that we have enough places for some smoked meat. Well, you’re wrong, unless you’ve had Wood N Hog. The barbeque is awesome. This new restaurant has a few tables, making it more of a take-out spot than traditional dining location. I recently tried the turkey tips, and they were freaking good. Turkey isn’t one of my favorite meats, but if turkey is prepared this way, I’m on board with that bird. The meat was smoky and tender. The barbeque sauce is a little sweet — but also available in spicy — and while tangy and tasty, not even needed, since the meat is so good. Oh yes, those are French Fries piled on top of the meat. They were still crispy. And they were delicious. Don't let my messy photo discourage you; this barbecue means business.
Do yourself a favor. Go to Wood N Hog. Get the turkey tips. Or the rib tips, which are also fantastic. Or just about anything. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Wood N Hog is located at 904 N 4th Street, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ice Cream | Snack Shack
I’ve been thinking about the Snack Shack’s ice cream since I had it at last month’s Taste of C-U. The lack of delicious, real ice cream in East Central Illinois is infuriating to me, so when I had Snack Shack’s creamy deliciousness, I was in heaven. According to the food truck’s Facebook page, the folks are in the process of making pints available to customers. (Dear Snack Shack, PLEASE DO THIS. Love, Jess.) In the meantime, look for the truck out and about town and do yourself a favor and try the ice cream. All the ice cream.
The Snack Shack serves all sorts of things in addition to ice cream. You can find its next location by liking its page on Facebook.
Apple Cider Cinnamon Muffin | Great Harvest Bread Co.
The final item on my list this month is one that should get you thinking about the fall, but it’s not pumpkin (that’s for next month, duh). Great Harvest Bread Company is looking to bring more local ingredients into its kitchen, and is starting with Curtis Orchard’s apple cider. These muffins will have an apple cider glaze on them, just in case there isn’t enough apple cider in the muffin proper. Even though these are typical fall flavors, it doesn’t feel quite as ridiculous as busting out a pumpkin spice blah-blah-blah right after Labor Day. It’s sort of like eating apple pie, right?
Great Harvest Bread Company is located at 2149 S Neil St, Champaign, and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also find the bakery at Urbana’s Market at the Square on Saturday mornings.