Date night done right


By Alice Smelyanksy

After three weeks of staring anxiously at the cutie in your economics class, you finally muster up the courage to ask him or her out on a date. As if that part wasn’t hard enough, it’s time to pick the perfect place, and you have no clue where to go. 

Whether you’re willing to wine and dine your date or are just craving a good burger, narrow your options with these restaurants in Champaign-Urbana.

Big Grove Tavern
One E. Main St.

If you’re willing to spend a bit on a unique dining experience, this is the place to do it. With a farm-to-table approach, Big Grove Tavern’s menu is full of innovative takes on classic American dishes. Fairy lights, cozy booths and an earthy feel give this restaurant just the right relaxed vibe for date night.

Dish to try: Pan Seared Salmon

Black Dog
201 N. Broadway Ave.

Eating ribs on a first date might seem a little daunting, but if you’re okay smothering your face in BBQ sauce, look no further than Black Dog. While the beef brisket, burnt ends and ribs are what the restaurant is known for, the menu also contains “not burgers,” a selection of yummy vegetarian options. Either way, this local joint has plenty to offer.

Dish to try: Burnt Ends Sandwich

Farren’s Pub & Eatery
308 N. Randolph St.

There’s no better place to get some good, old-fashioned American grub than at Farren’s. Though your date might wonder what could possibly be served in an underground basement, they’ll be in for arguably the best burgers in Champaign-Urbana. And if you’re of-age, you can pair your burger with a selection of micro-brewed beers, too.

Dish to try: The Russell

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant
1209 W. Oregon St.

If your date has dietary restrictions, this restaurant is a safe bet. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to enjoy the healthy and wholesome food. The place has been a C-U vegetarian staple for years, but in addition to its enduring presence, it’s a great place to grab casual lunch and chat.

Dish to try: Falafel Pita Sandwich

Radio Maria
119 N. Walnut St.

Though their dinner tapas and entrees are some of the best you’ll find anywhere near C-U, you can’t beat Radio Maria’s brunch menu. From classic egg dishes to sandwiches, salads and more, your date will surely find something tasty from the expansive assortment. And if you get to a dull in conversation with your date, discuss the original artwork created by restaurant owner David Spears that adorns the interior.

Dish to try: Torta Maria

Alice is a senior in Media. 
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