Buzz Picks: Hidden Gems of CU

By Matthew Novelli

Huaraches Moroleon

Tucked away deep in residential Urbana, far from the eyes of casual campus eaters, Huaraches Moroleon embodies the hidden in hidden gems.  Right on the intersection of Philo and Washington streets, Huaraches is unassuming as it is delicious. There’s not a bad choice on their menu, but their namesake dish is a must try along with their ridiculously good margaritas.  And, as an added bonus most of their dishes hover around the $7-9 range, more than reasonable for the best Mexican food in town (sorry Maize).

Caribbean Grill

The story of Caribbean Grill is a story of hidden potential.  Chef/owner Mike Harden didn’t come from a traditional foodservice background, graduating with a BA in business and then his MBA, both from the University of Illinois. After realizing his love of cooking and entertaining, Mike started Caribbean Grill in 2010. After 5 years of doing catering and doing weekly meals out of the Refinery (talk about hidden), Caribbean Grill’s food truck burst on the scene with an incredible showing at the 2015 Taste of Champaign, and has seen steady growth since. It’s still not a household name, but with their food, we doubt they will be hidden much longer.

Sushi Kame

If you want the best sushi in CU, look no further than Sushi Kame. A little out of the way of the main stretch of major restaurants in downtown Champaign, Sushi Kame has been a secret well kept by townies for years. Sushi Kame offers all of your basic sushi restaurant dishes, but the quality and value outpaces some of the flashier sushi joints in town.  On top of that, the chef’s specials are always inventive and novel and the service is excellent.

Fusilli Tony’s

A rare bird to see on campus, Fusilli Tony’s is known for their unfussy Italian-American fare including Italian beefs, pasta, and their specialty: the “Sloppy Giuseppe.” You have to be vigilant to snag yourself any of Fusilli Tony’s food, the truck does most of its business at events like the Food Truck Rally and the Champaign Farmer’s Market, with the occasional stop in downtown Champaign or by Carle. So, keep your eyes on their Twitter and Facebook for a chance to steal a bite.