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The Hub provides new spot for dining, nightlife

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A burger at the new gastropub, The Hub near campus.

A burger at the new gastropub, The Hub near campus.

A burger at the new gastropub, The Hub near campus.

By Isabella Jackson, Supplements editor

The Hub, a new restaurant and bar, opened on the corner of First and Healey streets in September.

Located on the first floor of Healey Place, a new apartment building that started leasing in fall 2016, The Hub successfully combines a fun atmosphere, great food and an extensive list of beers and cocktails.

My mom was in town for a short visit on Saturday and I wanted to try someplace new for lunch. The Hub was a great decision.

The exterior of the building looks very similar to other apartment buildings in the area — boxy, silver and towering over most of the other buildings on the block — but upon walking inside, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bar and dining area complete with multiple televisions and a second level with additional seating overlooking the restaurant.

The menu was not overwhelmingly large, and offered everything from burgers to salads to sandwiches to mac and cheese. The menu also featured an appetizer list, called “shareable,” and five other entree options. I tried the Mushroom Swiss burger, and my mom ordered the Siracha Chicken mac and cheese

All of the burgers are served with a knife stuck through the middle of the bun which makes for a unique but practical presentation. The knife was sharp enough for me to cleanly cut my burger in half, without dragging any of the toppings out onto the plate.

It was clear that the Mushroom Swiss burger was very fresh and well-prepared. The toppings were flavorful without overpowering the burger itself, and the arugula kept the cheese from turning the bun soggy. The Hub Sauce was flavorful, but muted enough not to detract from the other toppings.

The burger was good, but the Siracha Chicken mac and cheese blew me away. The dish combines grilled chicken, bacon, broccoli and a lot of cheddar cheese for a spicy, rich flavor. Also on the mac and cheese menu are The Uptown, which combines ricotta, a cheese blend and tender short rib, and the Hub Favorite, with pepperoni, sausage, bacon and cheddar cheese.

The mac and cheese options are served in a skillet. Considering how rich the dish is, the portion is very large.

The cocktail menu contains colorful drinks with memorable names, such as the brilliantly purple Prickly Pear Margarita or the Fighting “Illini” Mojito.

The food is a little pricier than most other campus bars and burger joints — most items, including the burgers and mac and cheese run between $9 and $12. With some dishes, the mac and cheese in particular, the portions are rather generous. My mom took home enough of the mac and cheese for a second lunch, which she generously donated to her hungry college student. It was just as delicious reheated.

Parking for the restaurant is located south of the building with just fourteen spots. For those coming from campus, it would probably be easier to walk to the restaurant.

On its website, The Hub expresses that it wants to be the place students come to hang out after class or a game or “to just get away from the daily grind for a bit.” By staying open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on Saturdays, The Hub may become part of the Champaign-Urbana nightlife.

Isabella is a junior in LAS.
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