Smile Politely

Most visited articles of 2021

As we wind down another year of publishing articles written by you, written by us, written by any number of other people here in Champaign County, we’re grateful to be able to continue to provide such a space for all to engage with. We’re looking forward to continuing to push out articles and SPlogs into the Metaverse (ah shit, I am actually not ready for that, thank you, hard pass, Zuck) in 2022, but before we do that, let’s look back at some of the most visited articles of the year.

While we’ve always known this by looking at the numbers each year, you all really love Food + Drink. Like, a lot. Holy shit! More than anything we publish really, which is cool with us! We love Food + Drink as well, eating and drinking is truly one of our favorite things to do here in C-U, so that comes as no surprise. 

However, it is nice to see a collection of 20 articles and SPlogs that touch on all sections for the most part, ranging from political commentary to op-eds to tattoo artists to delicious looking kimchi and beyond. In the end, we hope that you remember you can write for us, and we welcome new writers all the time, so hit us up if you want to put something out there through our channel on the world wide web sometime. 

Thanks for reading and engaging.

— Patrick Singer, Executive Editor

Curious about most viewed of year’s past? Check out 2020’s, and our end of decade coverage for more fun.

A television studio set by WCIA, dimmed and fairly dark.

Photo from WCIA’s website.

20. WCIA and its influence in and beyond Champaign County

► Published July 22nd / 7:00 a.m. / Editorial Board

This is a hell of a way to start out our top 20 of the year, isn’t it?

With our Editorial Board chiming in weekly about varying relatant topics in the community, it was tough to approach the story about the death of Officer Oberheim this summer. There wasn’t much else to say that hadn’t already been said about the incident that left two people dead that night. It is awful, no matter which way you slice it.

However, a piece responding to the ethics and moral obligation that WCIA has to the community following their coverage felt like a more appropriate way to approach it. They have so much influence, and as a media source ourselves, we must recognize the power the media has, and how influential it can be to the people who exist in and around Champaign County.

If this wasn’t a wake up call for that station and its leadership, I don’t know what hope there is that the station would ever truly have a positive impact on our lives here as the leading source of news in Downtstate Illinois. (PS)

A brick building featuring a blue awning with C-U at Home's logo and

Photo from C-U at Home’s Facebook page.

19. Most of the staff at C-U at Home’s women’s shelter quit this week

► Published September 3rd / 12:20 p.m. / Julie McClure

We’ve had our share of criticisms of C-U at Home in the past, and when this happened last fall, it seemed worth bringing attention to. While there are a variety of services in our community for people facing homelessness, there are not many emergency shelter options. What C-U at Home provides is needed. They’ve asked for funding for two low barrier temporary shelters, which is a positive step after they made their current facility a sober shelter. The work at an emergency shelter is undoubtedly difficult; let’s hope that whatever issues precipitated the staff upheaval are being resolved. (JM)

Art Mart's signage visible outside of their store, a white sign with black lettering.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

18. Art Mart’s owners open up about the shop’s origin, pumpkin cookies, and effects from the pandemic

► Published March 15th / 7:00 a.m. / Alyssa Buckley

Art Mart is a gem, so I love to see it make the top 20. I made weekly visits to Art Mart in the thick of the pandemic. When I was worried about shopping indoors, Todd the wine guy would place my wine purchases in my trunk. However, for much of 2020-21, Art Mart was a place where I felt safe to browse. They have solid mask compliance and spacious shopping areas, and it was a little treat of an outing to myself every week. And yeah, those pumpkin cookies are pretty delicious. (JM)

A black graphic with white text on top with the words A TASTE OF BOTH WORLDS FILIPINO-CAMBODIAN FUSION in white

Photo from Taste of Both Worlds’ Facebook page.

17. Filipino and Cambodian fusion restaurant opens tomorrow in Urbana

► Published January 21st / 8:35 a.m. / Alyssa Buckley

Another restaurant opening! It’s great to have so many options at Broadway Food Hall, including A Taste of Both Worlds. (JM)

A diner plate of hash browns and eggs benedict.

Photo by Carl Busch.

16. Sammy’s Pancake House has generous breakfast options

► Published August 30th / 9:00 a.m. / Carl Busch

Sammy’s Pancake House is a not-so-secret secret, and probably among the closest thing we have to a traditional diner in C-U. The food is consistently good and plentiful. You all know what’s up. (JH)

A window neon for LIT & HOPSCOTCH.

Photo by The Literary.

15. Here’s a look at the breakfast menu at the Literary & Hopscotch in Downtown Champaign

► Published September 24th / 8:06 a.m. / Jessica Hammie

One thing that’s clear from these end of year lists is that you, dear readers, are eager to know where and when new (and old) restaurants are opening. The Literary isn’t a wildly new concept (bookstore and café), but it joins something new with something beloved — Hopscotch Bakery — in a very gutted Downtown Champaign. Plus, brunch! (JH)

Two Korean women smiling at the camera in front of San Maru's storefront.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

14. San Maru’s owners bring kimchi, galbitang, and Korean food goodness to Champaign

► Published March 30th / 7:00 a.m. / Alyssa Buckley

C-U is a rich hub for so many different cultural experiences, especially when it comes to food and drink. Korean restaurant San Maru is really a hidden gem in southwest Champaign, and Alyssa’s feature took a deep dive into their offerings and the backstory to how it all came to be for Shinhee Cho and Deni Jung. All of this talk of Korean food is making me hungry, so I need to get myself over to the restaurant ASAP and enjoy the robust offerings. (PS)

A brick building with a red awning for THE RIBEYE in white text.

Photo by Sean O’Connor.

13. The Ribeye has reopened

► Published October 1st / 1:22 p.m. / Alyssa Buckley

But do we know for certain that it actually closed in the first place? There are no windows! (JH)

Two white women standing outside of a storefront, one to the left with her arm extended in the air.

Photo by Carlie Upchurch.

12. Champaign’s newest tattoo spot is also making waves in the arts scene

► Published August 3rd / 11:00 a.m. / Claire Katz-Mariani

First, the sadness: There’s a lot to be disappointed about in Downtown Champaign’s steady decline when it comes to arts and cultural engagement compared to five or ten years ago when it was chock full of music venues, had multiple gallery spaces, and just was crawling with things to do outside of visiting a bar or a restaurant. All of that stuff was basically wiped away by the lack of giving a damn by city leadership when it came to protecting those spaces. The end!

OK, now the good stuff: When The Recreation Club opened earlier this year, it was really an exciting venture to see spring up from the ashes of that decline. A space for gathering, art, tattoo work, and tons of other creative people and things on display seems somewhat miraculous these days Downtown. Carly Benjamin and Carlie Upchurch are to thank for this, and don’t seem to be waiting for anyone to tell them what they can or cannot do. They are just doin’ the thing, and that’s awesome. Bravo to that duo. (PS)

A fried fish sandwich, open faced, sitting in a basket with wax paper

Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

11. Five fish for Fish Fridays in Champaign-Urbana

► Published March 18th / 9:00 a.m. / Anthony Erlinger

You all found this article very helpful during the Lenten season. (JH)

The Illini Basketball team with their hands in the air celebrating, wearing tournament championship hats

Photo from Illinois Men’s Basketball Twitter.

10. The Illini basketball team is an incredible gift. What if this is our year?

► Published March 17th / 7:00 a.m. / Will Leitch

We are incredibly grateful to have Will Leitch writing hit the digital pages of this magazine from time to time, so every word we are able to publish of his feels like a gift. This piece on last year’s Illinois basketball team felt like a moment where all of our heads were in the clouds, dreaming about what could’ve been. Even though it was sadly not to be, it was nice to feel as though we were almost there, right? It has been a while since we’ve felt that. (PS)

The exterior of Alexander's Steakhouse, featuring their neon signage lit up

Photo by Patrick Singer.

9. Alexander’s Steakhouse is closed until 2022

► Published November 2nd / 8:02 a.m. / Alyssa Buckley

Now that we are almost two full years into the pandemic, a pandemic that isn’t ending anytime soon I’m afraid, though our behavior and how we deal with the pandemic most certainly changes all the time. Restaurants and their ability to keep staff on board has been such a polarizing discussion because of the ongoing living wage debate, and perhaps Alexander’s closing for the year (until further notice, probably?) is a showcase that running a restaurant is extremely difficult no matter which way you slice it. The comments throughout the Facebook thread for this one makes it no surprise that it hit the top 10 in visits this year. (PS)

A view of the outside of Kofusion, painted white, with a black sign on the side with the name of the restaurant.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

8. Kofusion’s new location on Main Street is open, and here’s the menu

► Published October 6th / 9:45 a.m. / Alyssa Buckley

Kofusion, a much-loved mainstay in Downtown Champaign, has moved across the street with promises of new adventures in ramen and sushi. (JH)

An overhead view from Google Maps of the nuclear reactor in Champaign.

Photo from Google Maps.

7. The U of I’s Micro-Modular Reactor should be in another location

► Published October 15th / 9:00 a.m. / Bruce Hannon

It’s clear that you, our readers, are very interested in learning more about micro reactors and the micro reactor project at the University of Illinois. For the last year, we’ve published a handful of essays about this, mostly as a series of responses from writers who are concerned community members and scientists. This mini series epitomizes exactly what SP is about: interesting people with compelling thoughts and opinions responding to something happening in the community they love. You can read all of the articles, in chronological order, here: December 2020; January 2021; October 2021; November 2021. You are welcome to email us if you have something you’d like to add to this conversation. (JH)

A person holding a syringe containing a vaccine, the person is wearing blue latex gloves.

Photo from AP Photo/Hans Pennink via Illinois Public Media.

6. If you are 18 or older you can go get vaccinated in Vermillion County right now

► Published March 23rd / 9:48 a.m. / Julie McClure

Remember when vaccine appointments in Champaign County were filling up in a matter of minutes? And we were willing to travel to Vermillion County (because people in Vermillion County weren’t really interested in getting vaccinated) so we could get vaccinated as soon as possible? Good times. (JM)

A burned interior of a restaurant, featuring mostly brick walls.

Photo by Tom Bruno.

5. Li’l Porgy’s suffered terrible fire damage

► Published April 3rd / 8:05 a.m. / Patrick Singer

This was such an awful thing to happen to this C-U staple, especially since it’s now the only Porgy’s in town — just a dagger in the midst of a pandemic that was already making life difficult for restaurants. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending and Porgy’s was restored and back to serving up their delicious bbq in September. (JM)

A sandwich and fries sitting on top of a wooden table.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

4. Five filling lunches in Champaign-Urbana for less than $10

► Published May 24th / 7:00 a.m. / Alyssa Buckley

Food and Drink Editor Alyssa Buckley provides us with all of the important C-U food info. If you’re going to be springing for takeout or dining out for lunch, why not get the most bang for your buck? (JM)

Two images combined into one, left featuring the exterior view of Bobo's, the right featuring a chalkboard sign.

Photo from Spotted in Chambana.

3. That’s enough from you, Bobo’s

► Published March 22nd / 10:21 a.m. / Patrick Singer

Listen, I don’t have a vendetta out against Bobo’s. I hear that their burgers are actually pretty good. It just is a bummer that you can’t respect people, and that’s a deal breaker for most I’d say. It is for me, and clearly a lot of other people that were disturbed by the constant reminder that we live in Central Illinois, full of people who still think Trump is President. I hate to put people like that in the same camp as someone who writes what you can read above on a board in their restaurant. I’m tired of having to talk about that god foresaken sign that hangs in Bobo’s that has some ignorant bullshit written on it time and time again. (PS)

The inside of Suzu's bakery, featuring owner Jennifer Gunji, wearing a mask and apron, and holding two hands in the air with a peace sign.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

2. Made-from-scratch Japanese desserts at Suzu’s Bakery

► Published May 21st / 7:00 a.m. / Matthew Macomber

Suzu’s is a much-welcomed addition to Downtown Champaign. It’s clear that we were all really interested in a place like this, and curious about a new eatery that opened during a pandemic that limited our get-to-know-you visits to quick pick ups.  C-U doesn’t have any other Japanese bakeries like Suzu’s, and frankly, I don’t think we need any more. Suzu’s makes wonderful and unique treats, but my favorite is the shokupan. This Japanese milk bread is light and fluffy and ever-so-slightly sweet. I think it would make amazing French toast, but there’s never any left for that. (JH)

A moron in a mostly white room smiling, wearing headphones and a red MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat.

Photo from YouTube.

1. Insurrectionist Thomasboro mayor must resign

► Published January 12th / 11:00 a.m. / Chris Powers

After learning about newly elected IL-15 Rep. Mary Miller giving her “Hitler was right about one thing” speech on January 6th, we began to hear about other area elected officials who attended the insurrection. Tyler Evans, the mayor of Thomasboro, gleefully shared videos on social media about his attendance, where he claims not to have seen any violence and bragged about relieving himself on Capitol grounds. Super classy. (JM)

Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer contributed to this article.

Top image by Smile Politely.

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