May feels brighter this year. Maybe it's the vaccines available (and all my friends getting their second jab), or the longer, sunnier days. I am always on the hunt for awesome foods and drinks to try in town, and if there's something that you think I should try next month, share in the comments.

This month, I'm sharing four notable foods and a tasty drink from great restaurants. A donut, a tart, a cocktail, a pasta dish, and a soul food dinner: I want you to try these five foods this May, okay?


A white cream filled powdered donut is cut in half showing the white cream center. The donut is on a white square plate. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Angel Cream Bismarck | Royal Donut

Located in Danville, Royal Donut has many options on the menu of donuts, but this angel cream bismark ($1.93) is what's up. The angel cream bismarck was a powdered sugar yeast donut with a white filling. The filling tasted a lot like birthday cake frosting, and there was not too much of it. In fact, I could have enjoyed more, but should I really? Royal Donut knew best, and they kept it to a reasonable, responsible serving. The powdered sugar on the outside was quick to fly away on an exhale, and the donut itself was a great, fresh-tasting donut.

You can find all sorts of donut options on the menu at the Danville donut shop including classics like glazed yeast donuts or chocolate glazed cake donuts and also specialty donuts, cinnamon rolls, and brownies. Call 217-443-1441 to put your order in advance or just order at the shop.

Royal Donut
911 N Vermilion St
Danville
Su-Th 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A lemon tart sits on a white circular plate with a silver border. The crust is a light brown and the interior is a bright yellow with greenish zest in the center. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Lemon Tart | Tasty Tart

This lemon tart ($3.49) is so puckering good. This lemon tart is sold as one of the regular menu flavors at Tasty Tart, the little tart store on Neil Street. As one might expect, the very tart, super sour lemon essence was the main flavor. It had a lovely creamy, sweet taste similar to lemon meringue pie filling. The tart crust was dense like a shortbread cookie and crumbly, buttery, and so good. On top, there was a small amount of zest. The citrus center was viscous, and I quickly finished the tart. The tart itself had a straightforward homogenous texture and lemon flavor, but if you love sweet lemon treats, you will absolutely love this tart.

You can order your lemon tart (or a variety of tarts) from Tasty Tart here.

Tasty Tart
405 S Neil St
Champaign
T-Su 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On a beige plate, there is a pile of fettuccine noodles with a light bolognese sauce topped with thin ribbons of basil and grated cheese. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Linguine Bolognese | The Bread Company

On a date night (three cheers for being full vaxed), I enjoyed this bolognese pasta ($15) from The Bread Company as we sat tucked away in the back dining area. I usually opt for sandwiches or fondue, but my stomach was hungry for pasta. Now that I've had this bolognese, I don't know if I can go back to anything else on the menu — it's that good. This pasta dish had fettuccine with a hearty sauce topped with grated cheese and thin ribbons of basil as garnish. The pasta tasted so fresh; the fettuccine noodles were soft and delicate. The sauce was just insane. Made with carrots, tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, olives, and ground beef, the bolognese sauce had basil and pepper notes, and just so much flavor.

I honestly considered getting another order of it because I was sad when it was all eaten. At this time, The Bread Company is offering indoor dining in a self-service way. All cups, plates, cutlery, and napkins are available for diners to get themselves, so get all that before your food is delivered to your table, so you're not rushing to find forks and napkins. Remember to clear your plates, cups, and utensils as well. The Bread Company is also still offering takeout if that's more your jam.

The Bread Company
706 S Goodwin Ave
Urbana
M 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
T-F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 4 to 8 p.m.

On a wooden table at Watson's Shack & Rail in Champaign, a reddish cocktail sits on a table in a pint glass with a black straw. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Howling Owl | Watson's Shack & Rail

When the weather is nice, I like cocktails al fresco, but when it's rainy, I want to be inside. This Howling Owl cocktail ($11) was made with mezcal, rye whiskey, cassis, lime, tamarind, ginger, and garnished with a lime. It was delightful with a brilliant flavor from the ginger and tamarind. The lime gave a tartness that paired well with the whiskey and mezcal. I also liked how big the drink was because your girl is thirsty.

There are a lot of drinks on the menu at Watson's, and each one I've tried has been banging. This one was particularly fun to drink with the ginger spice, and if you want something new to sip on, this cocktail is worth a try. Make a reservation here or put in your order for takeout by calling 217-607-0168.

Watson’s Shack & Rail
211 N Neil St
Champaign
T-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Su 4 to 9 p.m.

An overhead photo shows three chicken legs covered in gravy over rice in a styrofoam takeout container. There are three sides below: a white bowl of creamy coleslaw, a square of cornbread on white parchment paper, and a bowl of beans. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Soul Food Plate | Wood N' Hog

I am a huge fan of soul food, so when I heard about Wood N' Hog's new Wednesday special, I had to try the soul food plate ($17.99). First, you pick your meat; I chose three chicken legs. Then, pick two sides. I tried to pick rice as my first side, but the amiable staff said it was included already. Next, I picked cornbread as a side, but he told me that the soul food plate came with cornbread included as well. So, I picked coleslaw and beans which brings the soul food plate to three giant chicken legs, a lot of gravy, and four freaking sides. 

The legs were battered, fried, and drowning in the most amazing savory, creamy dark brown gravy, and beneath was a (huge) bed of rice that soaked up the gravy which was expertly seasoned and wonderfully peppery. The chicken was piping hot (even after my drive home), and I was a glutton for the crispy skin softened with that damn good gravy. The cornbread at Wood N' Hog has a sweeter, less dense consistency that is really good. The beans were basic, but I still enjoyed them. The creamy, saucy coleslaw was a yummy addition as well.

This soul plate is only available on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and only at the Downtown Champaign location. The regular menu is available as well. Order online for delivery, call 217-607-0120 to place your order for pick up, or enjoy distanced indoor dining at the Champaign location.

Wood N' Hog
500 Walnut St
Champaign
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.