Watson’s Shack & Rail debuts new food truck at Rose Bowl Tavern


Photo courtesy of Watson's Chicken

The Watson’s Shack & Rail sits on Wright Street in front of the Career Center building. The truck had its big grand opening at the Rose Bowl Tavern.

By Isabelle Bertolini, Staff Writer

On April 2, Watson’s Shack & Rail had the grand opening for its food truck at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana. 

Watson’s is known for its Nashville fried and rotisserie-style chicken. Its shack bar and restaurant in Champaign is now six years old and unique to the Champaign-Urbana area. In celebration of its journey, Watson’s announced the addition of its food truck. 

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The event started at 7 p.m. with the band Wildwood opening. Later, around 8:30 p.m., the band Chain Station performed live. Chain Station is a group of four from Denver, Colorado. It sound checks all the boxes of a successful bluegrass band, picking songs that ranged from lightning-fast to mountain mellow — the perfect atmosphere for fried chicken.

The food truck was in the parking lot next to the Rose Bowl, and the menu boasted a few of Watson’s popular sandwiches, a variety of tender options and sides. 

Watson’s offered five different sandwiches, all served with waffle fries, along with options to add sorghum-glazed bacon, American cheese or pickles. Each meal option came in a white rectangle box with a red-checkered paper lining.

Watson’s food truck workers recommended trying the Buffalo Starchild. The $14 sandwich included a fried chicken thigh, buffalo sauce, bacon, black pepper ranch, blue cheese crumbles and lettuce. 

Personally, the Buffalo Starchild exceeded my expectations. That being said, I’m an avid fan of blue cheese — which in my opinion, is the glue of the sandwich, but I understand that may not be up everyone’s alley. Regardless, the sauce, to bacon, to cheese, to chicken ratio was mouth-wateringly delectable. The brioche bun was an excellent choice for the savory chicken and sauces.

Not only that, but the waffle fries that came with the meal had the perfect balance of soft and crunchy that were seasoned superbly. 

Vegan options were also included on the menu, such as the Popcorn Tofu Po’Boy, which is made of battered and fried organic tofu slices on a hoagie roll with mixed greens, red onion, pickles and vegan remoulade.

Included as well were: the Watson’s Hot, which includes a fried chicken thigh, Watson’s hot dip, brioche bun, coleslaw, pickles and comeback sauce for $14, the classic chicken sandwich, which features crunchy fried or grilled chicken tenders with herb mayo, dill pickles and mixed greens on a brioche bun for $12, and finally, Watson’s Hot Fish, which consists of fried perch dipped in Watson’s hot, served on a hoagie roll with creamy coleslaw, dill pickles and comeback sauce for $13. 

For side options, the truck offers waffle fries, creamy coleslaw and mac and cheese, as well as green chili queso for $3.50 each.

Additionally, for those who don’t enjoy sandwiches, the truck offers an assortment of chicken tender options of fried pickle-brined white meat that come with sauce options — black pepper ranch, carolina gold, comeback, buffalo and honey mustard.

Watson’s also has its own hot dip, as well as extra heat choices for a little more of a kick. For an additional $2, customers can smother their baskets in green chili queso.

The atmosphere at the Rose Bowl was amazing for the food truck extravaganza and was perfectly timed for Moms Weekend. The grand opening turned out to be a success, the Rose Bowl was packed throughout the night. 

As Watson’s joins the line of restaurants who have also opened food trucks in Champaign-Urbana, it is bound to be a success. Its food truck schedule is updated weekly and available on its website and social media.

If you’re looking to check out more of Watson’s Chicken, take a look at their website at watsonschicken.com or its Instagram @WatsonsChicken.


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