Experience CU in a meal with your parents


Kenyon Edmond

Students eat at Merry Ann’s Diner located at 701 S. Gregory St. on Sept. 30. Merry Ann’s is a popular late-night destination.

By Rachel Spencer, Assistant Sports Editor

After move-in, it comes without question all the shuffling and unpacking can work up an appetite. While there’s nothing wrong with heading out to one of the many chain restaurants for one last meal with mom and dad before the start of the school year, it’s worth considering a few local Champaign-Urbana favorites at the end of such a busy day.

Black Dog Smoke & Ale House (Downtown Champaign and Urbana)

A local barbecue spot that’s even been featured on the Big Ten Network’s “Campus Eats” program, Black Dog is one place most UI students know and love. The Champaign location is especially unique, as it is located in a renovated train station. Because of its popularity, Black Dog can get busy on major days like move-in, but with its vast menu offering a wide array of smoked meats, sides and barbecue sauces, it’s a place that’s almost always worth the wait.

Pro-tip: If you want to try Black Dog’s famous burnt ends, try to get to the restaurant as close to five o’clock as possible; they go fast!

Destihl Restaurant and Brew Works (Downtown Champaign)

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    Another restaurant located in downtown Champaign, Destihl offers its patrons a wide range of options, stemming from its eclectic sandwich menu (this Illini highly recommends their Cuban sandwich) to signature pizzas, pastas and burgers. The menu isn’t for the faint of heart as the ingredients can get a bit adventurous, but for the foodie family, Destihl is a fantastic place to chow down at the end of move-in day.

    Pro-tip: If you like Destihl’s regular menu, try to go back on a weekend for their brunch; their chicken and biscuit is my personal favorite.

    Sakanaya (Green Street)

    If venturing into downtown Champaign seems a bit too much after moving in, Green Street’s own Sakanaya is another popular destination, especially for sushi lovers. The small restaurant tends to always be busy, which is a good sign if you’re looking for a good meal. 

    Pro-tip: Sakanaya can be a bit pricey, so keep that in mind when considering your dining destination.

    Merry Ann’s Diner (multiple locations)

    A Champaign-Urbana classic loved by current students and alumni alike, Merry Ann’s is a classic greasy spoon diner that serves up breakfast, burgers and sandwiches well into the early hours of the morning. If you’re moving into a dorm in Urbana, check out the location near the Krannert Center. For those living in Ikenberry Commons, the original Merry Ann’s on Neil Street is a short drive from the Champaign dormitories. While definitely not the most sophisticated spot on this list, Merry Ann’s is a great place for a new student’s first meal as an official Illini.

    Pro-tip: For the full diner experience, swap a water or a soda for one of Merry Ann’s hand-dipped milkshakes (this Illini personally loves their chocolate shake).

    Murphy’s Pub (Green Street)

    Another Green Street staple for move-in day food is Murphy’s Pub. Well-known for its French fries and well-loved booths and tables, Murphy’s is a popular destination for families, University faculty and, of course, Illinois students. Food options range from chicken tenders to burgers to their extremely generous “Irish nachos,” so Murphy’s earns a spot on this list not only for its convenient location but for its variety of pub food offerings.

    Pro-tip: Murphy’s ranch dressing goes well with pretty much anything on their menu; try it on fries or with their chicken tenders.

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