First of all, I just want to say welcome and congrats to the class of ’25 admits! You are in for a very exciting next four years.
One of the best parts of our campus, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is the food scene! U of I has so many unique restaurants on and around campus that you’re bound to find something tasty no matter what you’re craving.
I’m gonna share some of my favorites in a couple different categories so you can start to build your list of places to try when you can join us on campus!
For the most important meal of the day (breakfast, of course!), there are lots of different options! Slightly off campus in Champaign, there’s Merry Ann’s Diner. In normal times, it’s open 24 hours, which is great for your late-night cravings. For now, they have takeout available 24 hours a day. For something a little closer, there’s Cracked on Green Street. My favorites are their Build-Your-Own-Breakfast Bowls! If you’re looking for something in Urbana, go to Courier Cafe. While I do recommend their amazing lunch items, their breakfast is just as fantastic. While you’re there, don’t forget to walk through the graffiti alleyway right outside.
When you’re looking for a massive slice of pizza, head on over to Manolo’s in Urbana. They also have quite the assortment of empanadas, which are just some little pockets of goodness. Speaking of pizza pockets, DP Dough on the edge of Green Street has fantastic calzones! Every time my family has been on campus, they request them. Also, Mia Za’s right on Green is perfect for a picky group. With customizable pizza, pasta, and salads, there is something to satisfy everyone!
Now, I’m not very well-versed in Chinese food, but I do have a couple of recommendations. I’ve recently tried Cravings at the beginning of Green Street, which I had heard lots of great things about. They have quite an extensive menu with lots of excellent things to try! My next suggestion is my absolute favorite restaurant on campus: Chopstix. I have eaten here more than every other restaurant combined. Chopstix is toward the end of Green Street, but with delivery until 3 a.m., you can get your hands on some delicious fried rice while burning the midnight oil.
These two Mexican restaurants are also conveniently close on Green Street. Maize’s burritos are worth every penny. They also have some unique vegan and vegetarian alternatives (I really recommend the zucchini blossoms). Burrito King has a pretty wide variety of menu items as well; it’s hard not to find something you’ll like!
Desserts and Treats
Whether you need to satisfy your sweet tooth or you’re trying to cool off, there are so many great dessert and specialty drink options. For the frozen yogurt fans, Cocomero on Green has an adorable interior and lots of toppings. Although it is a little bit of a trek off campus, Jarlings is easy to reach by the CUMTD. It has seemingly endless custard combinations and lots of outdoors seating. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of boba, but I have heard rave reviews for Tenko Tea in Urbana. They’re relatively new but are loved by many.
These recommendations don’t fall into any of the previous categories, but they’re too good not to mention. Although lots of the restaurants I’ve already mentioned have fantastic vegan and vegetarian options, The Red Herring in Urbana is specifically geared toward a vegetarian diet. If you’re looking for some Thai food, Basil Thai in Urbana has you covered! If greasy bar food is your thing, Seven Saints is the spot for you in Champaign near the Illinois Terminal.
These are just my recommendations based on what I personally have tried. There are so, so many places I have yet to try, but I’m eagerly looking forward to doing so.