Best off-campus dining destinations for Dad

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Esquire Lounge

106 N Walnut St., Champaign

From pool tables to scattered peanut shells on the floor, Esquire is one of the best off-campus bars and a staple of downtown Champaign. It’s a great place to watch sporting events while enjoying reasonably priced, good food. Besides its warm and welcoming ambiance, the thin-crust pizza is terrific and, if you’re over 21, I’ve heard their pineapple margaritas are excellent. Service is always friendly, and what is more fun than eating free peanuts and throwing the shells on the ground?

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    113 N Walnut St., Champaign

    One of the finest restaurant in Champaign-Urbana, Bacaro’s contemporary and minimal interior brings the big-city vibe to downtown Champaign. With a full service wine bar and sleek lounge, Bacaro is in a league of its own, and has been featured in Bon Appetit Magazine , La Cucina Italiana and Midwest Living . If you’re a fan of fine dining and dishes incorporated with locally grown produce, Bacaro is the perfect place for a Dads Weekend dinner.

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    The Blind Pig Co.

    120 N Walnut St – The Blind Pig Co.

    120 N Neil – The Blind Pig Brewery


    The Blind Pig Co. and The Bling Pig Brewery are perfect representations of a quality English pub. Lacking televisions and typical bar accessories such as pool tables and gaming systems, the two bars focus on its extensive beer selection and wooden English interior aesthetic. Named one of the top 50 places to drink beer in the U.S., according to Beer Advocate, and one of America’s top 100 bars, according to Imbibe Magazine , you won’t be finding Blue Guys or sticky floors here (just great beer and good company).

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    Jupiter’s Pizzeria & Billiards

    39 E Main St., Champaign

    If you’re in the mood for thin-crust pizza and pool, Jupiter’s is the way to go. A Champaign-Urbana favorite that has been around for years, townies know that if you want a good time and the thinnest of thin pizza, this is the place that will live up to your expectations. With another extension located in southwest Champaign, this location is much closer to campus in the heart of downtown. Besides the great pizza, the building itself sets the tone for comfortable ambiance, which is a nice change of pace from crowded and loud campus bars.

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    Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works

    301 N Neil St., Champaign

    A newer addition to downtown, Destihl is a great brewery that also offers a large, diverse menu. From salads to burgers and excellent appetizers, Destihl is a great place to go if you want to remain casual but enjoy some good food and fresh brews. This restaurant can accompany any type of outing, so you can hang out at the bar or enjoy a nice dinner with a larger group.

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    Big Grove Tavern

    1 E Main St., Champaign

    Big Grove Tavern is definitely one of the more beautiful restaurants in Champaign-Urbana, with an upscale atmosphere and an awesome bar. Besides the gorgeous ambiance, what makes Big Grove unique is its complementary flavored popcorn that is served to each customer. With a creative menu and microbrew selection for the legal drinkers, Big Grove Tavern is a perfect Dads Weekend choice.

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    Seven Saints

    32 E Chester St., Champaign

    Seven Saints takes the cake for dining and drinking with a trendy burger bar with a specialty in sliders. This dark and wooden Wicker Park-esque Champaign staple has a well-stocked bar and a menu selection that can appeal to any individual’s palette. With an extensive slider selection, great salads and awesome waffle fries, Seven Saints will be the perfect place to enjoy some burgers and beers with Dad.

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    Black Dog Smoke & Ale House

    201 N Broadway Ave., Urbana

    Named second best BBQ hot spot in America by Maxim Magazine , Black Dog is a barbecue lovin’ Dads Weekend dream. From its wings to the highly sought after burnt ends, this off-campus gem attracts meat eaters from all over the country. There aren’t enough synonyms for “fantastic” that could describe your experience here, and many people feel the same so make sure to get there early. This small, wooden interior smoke house is a great place to go with friends and enjoy some of the best food that central Illinois has to offer.

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    Tumble Inn Tavern

    302 S Neil St., Champaign

    One of the best-known dive bars in the area, located just between downtown and campus, you’re sure to be in good company if you stop in for the next Illinois game. This true bar, as some locals would say ‘tumble in and stumble out,’ is nothing short of a great time. With an outdoor patio that is enjoyable even when the weather isn’t, this is a great Dads Weekend destination.

    Frances is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected].