Regional food specialties
- Student Favorites in Champaign-Urbana
University of Illinois homecoming weekend is near. I'm not an alumni but I live in Chicago so of course I know quite a few who are. So I figured today was as good of a day as any to share three popular spots of the U of I dining community. Unfortunately one of them is no more but I will commemorate it's existence by sharing my experience there from a few years ago. Maybe it'll return one day. Let's roll.
I'm not sure if it still holds true but at one point the University of Illinois was home to the country's largest student body from China. Anyone that's been down there in the last couple years can figure this out just by driving around the town and noticing all of the Chinese related businesses. Restaurants like Golden Harbor aren't catering to the longtime locals. They draw in the students studying in Champaign from China. Golden Harbor has a menu that stretches across the entire wall.
The menu for Chinese students
They also have a menu in English but one cant help but wonder if everything available is on it. It's probably best to go into Golden Harbor with an idea of what it is you want to order otherwise the menu might leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed. My visit came more than a year ago but we went in with the intention of trying a few of the student / yelpers favorite dishes. The most mentioned of which is the Crispy Tofu. I'm not usually one to order the tofu but there were so many mentions of it on yelp and instagram we had to see what was up. Pretty good. Definitely best for a large group. We also got the Taiwanese Stir Fry and Salted Pork Belly w/ Basil. I preferred the stir fry as the pork belly was more like thick slices of extra smokey bacon. So it was good but more so in small doses.
Crispy Tofu at Golden Harbor
Taiwanese Stir Fry at Golden Harbor
Crispy Pork Belly at Golden Harbor
Fans of Midwestern tavern thin pizza aka "the other Chicago style" will like this next stop. Timpone's has been a part of the area since 1986. It's the type of place that students take their parents to when they're in town. Hey free pizza and pasta is loved by people of all ages. But if your parents aren't there to foot the bill I still recommend you go to Timpone's for their excellent tavern thin sausage pizza. They may not be a pizzeria but this one size only pie is the best thing on the menu if you trust those in the know. It's cut Quad Cities style but everything from the fennel sausage to the crunch is classic Chicago thin crust aka tavern thin. I'd put it among the best pizzas in the state for this style.
Sausage Pizza at Timpone's
Seaboat Tasty Fish & Chicken (RIP)
I went to the Seaboat a handful of years ago. I was saving it for a yet to be completed Illinois fish sandwich post. Despite not being on the ocean and only a small part of the state being on water - Illinois has a deep love for fish sandwiches. There are lots of spots downstate where they specialize in them. Seaboat was popular among the African-American community of Champaign. Their famous fish sandwich reminded me a lot of Dock's Fishwich in Chicago. Actually the entire Seaboat operation was similar to many Southside businesses specializing in fish and chicken. These day's I hear you can score a great fish sandwich in Champaign on Friday's at the likes of Legends Bar. It sits in the space of the now gone DeLuxe Bar which was once famous for their fish sandwich.
Fish Sandwich at Seaboat (RIP)
See ya next time @chibbqking
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