DUO sits in the location of the former restaurant Butcher Boys Burgers and Pies, and they have incorporated items from their menu with two Rantoul-based food truck restaurants that now also inhabit the brick-and-mortar space: TK’s Cheesesteaks and Tia’s Chicken Box.
Ephemera from all three decorate the space so as not to lose any of their identities, and the thought of all these businesses joining together to survive the pandemic, making sure to preserve each one’s individual identity, filled me with all the feels. And the thought of Philly cheesesteaks, fried chicken, and burgers all in one location — and perfected by three separate restaurants before coming together — made my mouth water in anticipation.
Rantoul is about halfway between my parents’ home and mine in Urbana, so they met me for a late lunch recently. DUO has made some excellent accommodations to their space for the pandemic. They have seating in the restaurant, outdoor seating, and also a large, enclosed area with additional seating.
Their buffet is only accessible on the staff side and has plastic shields preventing customers from touching the utensils or breathing on the food. Customers who order the buffet ($7.95 for lunch/$8.95 for dinner) walk down the line with a worker filling their plate from the staff side.
The food is packaged and bagged in to-go containers, so customers can carry it to any seating area (or home) easily. Sanitized condiment bottles and salt & pepper shakers are housed together for customers to grab to take to their tables. All silverware is disposable and individually wrapped in plastic. I was happy to see all these precautions in place, especially given that the two people working behind the counter and in the kitchen were unmasked when we walked in.
At DUO, you order at the counter and wait for your receipt number to be called. They have Pepsi products, and you are handed an empty cup to serve yourself from the fountain.
I ordered DUO’s Friday special: a two-piece fried catfish with two fried chicken wings and fries ($10.59). I opted to have the lemon pepper seasoning and both mild and hot sauces for no additional cost.
The fried feast was served as fried things should be: on top of a piece of white bread. The fish was crispy and flaky, and the chicken was crunchy and juicy. The lemon pepper was a wonderful zesty, salty addition to the whole meal.
My mother ordered a Philly cheesesteak ($6.09) with fries and a drink ($2.99). The cheesesteak came with the traditional onions and green peppers but also less common ingredients like mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce. The cooked lettuce wasn’t a welcome addition. Overall, it could have used a bit more cheese, but the meat was very tender and the mushrooms worked well in the sandwich. Next time, I would order it without the tomatoes and lettuce and ask for extra cheese.
My father ordered a double Butcher Boy’s burger ($2.69) with mayo and onions and added on fries and a drink. The burgers are smash-style, a favorite of my dad. The burger was cooked perfectly, and the fries were hot and delicious.
We took a piece of coconut cream pie ($3) home. This flavor was the only kind they had available at the moment. The pie was delicious: the meringue just right. The filling was sweet and creamy, and toasted coconut topped it all off. I’m often not a fan of coconut desserts because I don’t enjoy the texture of shredded coconut, but I couldn’t resist the sweet perfection of this coconut cream pie.
DUO is perfect comfort food, reminding me quite a bit of Windy City Express in Urbana. The prices are unbeatable, especially for their burgers and buffet, and who doesn’t love supporting three businesses in one great location?
722 S Garrard
M 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
T-Sa 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.