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So you want to Thanksgiving in Champaign-Urbana

Thanksgiving plate of turkey plus sides.
Alyssa Buckley

Thanksgiving — arguably the greatest food holiday — is just around the corner in two weeks on Thursday, November 23rd. Nobody has a holiday gift wish list beside a whole feast of food. If you suck at cooking or just want ideas for more delicious food to add to your Turkey Day spread, shops and restaurants around Champaign-Urbana have some great specials. And if you want to go out to eat on the holiday, you’re covered there, too. I’m sure there are more Thanksgiving things than these, but these are the ones I thought sounded like hits for 2023.

Pre-Orders for Thanksgiving

Cakes, Pies, and More ︱ The Cake Artist’s Studio

The Cake Artist’s Studio in Champaign is offering a pre-order menu of desserts of cakes, pies, cake pops, decorated shortbread cookies, cookie bites, and a crowd-pleasing, four-layered fall festival cake. The cake flavors sound really good (vanilla maple walnut, brown sugar oatmeal, autumn apple cider, pumpkin vanilla, and carrot cake), but I want the pies with hand-rolled crusts. There are four pie options this year: pumpkin, pecan, coconut cream, and Grandma’s chocolate. Dessert pre-ordering ends on Saturday, November 18th, and pick up is all day Thanksgiving Eve.

Full Turkey (not cooked) ︱ Cheese & Crackers

If you want to cook the bird, consider pre-ordering a turkey from Cheese & Crackers in Champaign. The sandwich shop and deli offers fresh, free-range turkeys raised by Slagel Family Farms in Fairbury. The turkeys are $6.99 a pound and are available in several sizes. Order by emailing the shop.

Common Ground Food Co-op grab and go case of food
Alyssa Buckley

All The Things ︱ Common Ground Food Co-op

Thanksgiving is the most wonderful time of year at the Co-op because the grab-and-go case overflows with all the best Thanksgiving foods. There’s turkey and savory seitan, but the sides are everything. Go for the Urbana store’s from-scratch gravy, garlicky mashed potatoes, or pumpkin dinner rolls. The pie selection is awesome with apple, traditional pumpkin, peanut butter pie, cranberry key lime, and a (vegan) wheat-free pumpkin pie. Check out the grocery’s post on Facebook which lists all the options or just swing by the grab-and-go cold case and see what looks appetizing.

Catered Meal ︱ El Paraiso

El Paraiso, a Latin American restaurant in Downtown Urbana, is offering a catered dinner for $20 a person, with a minimum of five dinners. The holiday special includes one entree off the regular menu, one additional side, and a dessert per person. Message El Paraiso on Facebook or Instagram to order.

Po’ Boys on Facebook

Pies ︱ Po’ Boys

The Urbana barbecue restaurant Po’ Boys makes really delicious pie. This year, the restaurant will have all of their fruit pies available for pre-order including apple, cherry, peach, and blueberry (choice of traditional pie or crumble). Other pies that can be ordered include double chocolate mousse in an Oreo crust, coconut cream, banana cream, pumpkin, pecan pie, and chocolate cream in a traditional pie crust (not Oreo crust). Pie pickup is Wednesday, November 22nd. If pie is needed sooner, and then the second option for pick-up is the Sunday before. Message the restaurant on Facebook to order.

Full Thanksgiving Dinner ︱ Sooie Bros Bar B Que

Sooie Bros, the barbecue restaurant at the corner of Kirby and Neil, is offering a full Thanksgiving dinner. The special include a whole cooked turkey plus sides of macaroni and cheese, greens, corn bread, baked beans, and banana pudding for $175. Availability is limited and will no doubt sell out soon. Call the restaurant at 217-607-1479 to order.

Tarts ︱ Tasty Tart

I love the tarts a la carte at Tasty Tart, and the Champaign’s tart shop is offering some delicious Thanksgiving flavors for the tiny pies. This year, the seasonal options include pumpkin (of course), caramel pumpkin, maple cheesecake, and raspberry lemon. The caramel pumpkin is totally amazing, and I will be adding it to my tart pre-order. Pre-ordered Thanksgiving tart pick-up is Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, but the Neil Street store will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for last minute tart needs.

Thanksgiving Day Meal

50th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner ︱ Urbana High School

On Thanksgiving Day, join others for a free dinner hosted by Urbana High School Student Council in the high school Commons. The sit-down dinner will be from 4 to 6 p.m., and everyone is welcome to attend. Those who would like to donate can send donations to UHS c/o Student Council. Learn more about the holiday event here.

Neil St Blues chicken header cropped
Alyssa Buckley

Thanksgiving Buffet ︱ Neil St. Blues

For a from-scratch holiday meal at a place with good vibes, Neil St. Blues is it. On Thanksgiving Day, the Downtown Champaign restaurant is offering a feast of Southern cuisine and Turkey Day classics. The Thanksgiving Day buffet will have Cajun-brined smoked turkey, baked chicken with dressing, honey-glazed ham, baked macaroni, and more. The Turkey Day buffet will cost adults $35 and kids $15 — and nobody is on dish duty. The meal is a brunch or lunch situation with service ending at 3 p.m. See more details about the event on Facebook.

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