C-U restaurants prepared to feed


Beck Diefenbach

By Brian Mellen

As a college student spending most of your time in class rather than working a job with a paycheck, you often weigh the price of a meal over its quality. However, sticking to a small budget when eating out in the Champaign-Urbana area does not have to resign you to fast food. There are many places offering unique dishes for a reasonable price.

Watson’s Shack and Rail

I don’t know if I’ve met a person on this planet that doesn’t like a little bit of fried chicken. Dishes and ingredients go out of fashion — we’re looking at you, kale and fancy cupcakes — but fried chicken has been a crowd-favorite for literally hundreds of years.

The folks at Watson’s got the memo, and have been delivering incredible chicken at more than reasonable prices for almost a year now. A dark meat platter with one side will run you $11. While I won’t argue that the price point is close to a place like Cravings, fried chicken made by one of our best local chefs made with delicious, locally produced chicken is a steal at prices like those.

The restaurant is located on Neil Street in downtown Champaign and offers alcoholic slushies, sandwiches and an impressive list of side dishes to go with the fried chicken.


A staple of CU’s food truck scene, Cracked has been a great choice at both noon and midnight for many years.  Whether you’re a Vegasm lover or a Sloppy Jose fanatic, Cracked has plenty to offer to all. And, at about $6 dollars a sandwich, you don’t have to break the bank to get whatever you want.

Cracked also offers various types of tater tots, including parmesan truffle tots and sweet potato tots. Look out for the truck outside of Joe’s, on Goodwin and Oregon, and at Mathews and Springfield.

Big Grove Tavern

I know what you’re thinking: “Big Grove? Cheap? No freaking way.”

Well, we would argue that value is more than just the lowest number next to a dollar sign, it’s bang for your buck. And what a bang a brunch at Big Grove is.

Its reputation for quality, well-sourced food comes through in their unpretentious brunch menu that features comforting favorites like Chilaquiles ($12), Fried Egg BLTs ($9), and French Toast Bread Pudding ($9). And, for an added kicker, they also offer $8 all you can drink mimosas with the order of any entrée. Now that’s what we’d call bang for your buck.


Cravings offers exactly what a good low-dollar Chinese place should: lightning fast service, large servings of great food and, most importantly, a low price tag.

You want to talk value? How about a heaping pile of Mongolian beef and rice ($6.25) slung out in a matter of minutes?  Wham, get eating. Not in the mood for beef? How about some of that good Moo Goo Gai Pan? Oh yeah, the combo platter is only $6.50. Something else on the side today? Four crab rangoons? That’ll be $1.99. Thank you, and I know you’ll come again.

Sam is a junior in ACES.
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