The best tradition that I created for our home in this pandemic was Friday date night. We always order takeout on Friday nights, and it is my favorite part of the week. Some weeks, it’s something cheap and quick. Sometimes it’s a splurge of dinner, drinks, and dessert.
We’ve had a lot of excellent dinners in our dining room with food I didn’t have to cook, and these five are some of my favorite dinner dates. Each of these dinners has an adult beverage pairing — because I’m an adult (and I believe in FriYay). You definitely do not have to have a drink with these dinners to enjoy them, but if you want to treat your date to something more than a glass of water, you’ll have plenty of choices from this list.
This restaurant is a Downtown Urbana legend, and Silvercreek’s dinner menu is worth a look. My date ordered the Southwest burger with fries ($18), and I ordered the six ounce filet mignon with roasted mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts with bacon ($39). We split the smashed burger sliders ($14) as an appetizer, and we split the dessert (we thought we ordered crème brûlée trio [$8], but we received a trio of sorbet [$7.50] — still good, just surprising). Silvercreek doesn’t have cocktails to go, but the staff who took my phone order did offer wine by the bottle, so I ordered a red for $24.
This meal was the fanciest thing I’ve eaten in probably a year; it certainly felt like a real date. The steak was perfectly medium rare as I ordered, and the seasonings seared on the filet tasted so fancy: just the right amount of salt and spices. The meat was tender, peppery, and expertly cooked. I stole a few bites of my husband’s burger (for work!), and that huge burger was also cooked to order (medium as requested). Stacked inside a soft bun, there was a giant sirloin beef patty with fried onion strings, fried pickles, melted cheddar, chipotle ranch, avocado aioli, tomato, and lettuce. The sides were all incredible but especially the truffle fries: salty, garlicky, and amazing. The truffle fries are a must have; do not pass these up on your Silvercreek order.
The appetizer burger sliders each had a beef patty with garlic aioli and onion rings and came with a side of fried pickles. These three sliders were great on buttery, grilled buns, and the fried pickle spears were a fun side. You can tell if your date truly loves you if they let you have the third slider.
If you want to impress your date with an elegant dinner in, offer to pick up dinner and drinks from Silvercreek. The quality of the food is definitely worth the price.
402 N Race St
T-Th 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. + 5 to 8 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. + 5 to 9 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This orange building at corner of Philo and Washington in Urbana serves up fantastic Mexican food. For our date night in, we ordered two orders of supreme tacos ($7.99 for three) and a large margarita ($14.99) to split.
I ordered al pastor tacos, and my date ordered ground beef tacos. You can choose from al pastor, barbacoa, carnitas, chicken, chorizo, ground beef, nopales, steak, or veggies for the protein on the tacos. The tacos come with lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, and a large dollop of sour cream. Our order included a bag of chips and our choice of salsa. We love the mild, medium, and green salsas, and Huaraches Moroleon provided all at no cost.
The large mango margarita was enough for four small drinks, and it was pretty sweet. There was a light tequila taste at the end of each sip, but the drink was mostly mango-flavored and boldly sugary. Up against the savory tacos, it was a great combination that gave me tequlia-induced heart eyes for the date across the table from me.
805 Philo Rd
M-Fr 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa+Su 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
I’m partial to the Urbana location of KoFusion because they offer a spicy Korean chicken dish ($10) that is one of my favorite foods. For this date night, we ordered two orders of the spicy Korean chicken and an order of the stir fry chicken udon noodles ($12). We paired it with some bubbly that we already had in the fridge, as KoFusion does not sell alcohol at this location.
The chicken was fried and tossed in a deliciously spicy sauce. Each order only has three pieces of chicken, so if you’re obsessed with fried chicken in a sticky sauce like I am, you want to make sure your date orders their own because one and a half pieces of this chicken is just not enough. The chicken is served with an ample amount of white rice to balance the heat. The udon stir fry was packed with veggies, chicken, and thick udon noodles. The sauce is thin, and they can adjust the spice to your liking. We couldn’t finish it all, but it heated up the next day just fine.
KoFusion also offers dollar sushi, sushi rolls, ramen, curry, and more on the menu. You can place your order online and pick it up curbside, and then arrive home to your date with an armful of Asian cuisine at a pretty affordable price — even if your date insists on an extra order of Korean chicken.
KoFusion on Campus
701 South Gregory
M-F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa+Su noon to 8 p.m.
This upscale restaurant (previously in Downtown Champaign, now sharing a location with NAYA) is a great place for a date. The hibachi dinners on the menu at Miga are an excellent carryout option for a date night in. Everything is packaged separately, and there is a lot that comes with the hibachi dinner. You can choose from a variety of proteins: chicken, New York strip steak, galbi, filet mignon, bulgogi, tuna, shrimp, salmon, sea scallops, or lobster tail, and there’s also a vegetable only option. My date ordered the filet mignon hibachi ($24), and I ordered the scallop and NY strip steak combination hibachi ($25). Each hibachi meal comes with miso soup, side salad, hibachi vegetables, and fried rice. Because we love Miga’s crunch fries ($4), we got those, too.
The filet mignon and the scallops were fantastic. The filet was bursting with flavor, and it was so tender that it practically melted in my mouth. The scallops — even in a takeout order — were so good: seared to perfection on the outside and delicate on the inside. Miga’s scallops are huge (which I love) and have a light sweetness.
The soup, salad, and fried rice were delicious and — in true Miga fashion — elevated versions of the dishes. I especially enjoyed the hibachi vegetables and the two dipping sauces: a thin, ginger sauce and a yummy, creamy orange sauce. If you want to impress your date with a special date night in, you need to check out Miga’s menu and see what speaks to you. They offer yaki udon, gyoza, fried calamari, bulgogi beef buns, and more.
We paired this dinner with a bottle of Cuvée Manekineko brut sparkling (Crémant d’Alsace) from Art Mart recommended by Art Mart’s wine expert Todd Fusco, and it was lovely. Something about Miga’s food (and a bottle of bubbly) makes an evening feel romantic.
212 E Green St
M 5 to 9 p.m.
T-Th 5 to 9:30 p.m.
F+Sa 5 to 10:30 p.m.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for pizza (who isn’t?), and I want a damn good one. Pizzeria Antica specializes in Neapolitan pizza, baked at 800 degrees in huge Italian wood-burning, hand-built ovens that were delivered to Champaign from Naples, Italy. Using Caputo Blue Tipo 00 flour, Pizzeria Antica makes their dough daily and proofs it for 48 hours. There are 17 pizzas on the menu in addition to salads and drinks.
We ordered the bianca pizza ($16) which had fresh mozzarella, chevré, ricotta, and pecorino cheeses. It was the perfect white pizza: creamy and cheesy. Some bites had melted mozzarella, and in other bites, crumbly ricotta would dominate. The simplicity of this pizza was its perfection.
We also tried the pistachio pizza ($16). With flavors and textures I’d never had on a pizza before, this pizza was wild. Topped with undressed arugula, this pie had several large slices of mortadella that were charred from the heat of the oven and tasted like bacon. There were pistachios on the pizza (obviously), and they were delightful flavor bombs. The crunch and saltiness of the pistachio matched the pistachio in the mortadella. I’d never had nuts on my pizza before, but I liked it. I would recommend this pizza for its novelty, but also for the geniunely good taste.
We also ordered a bottle of Minabrea Ambrata ($6). This Italian red lager beer was amber in color, slightly hoppy, and very cold which made for a classic pairing of pizza and beer. I prefer red wine with my pizza, so I also ordered a Red Aglianico Bottle ($25). Aglianico is a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy, known to make full-bodied red wines that have musky berry flavors with firm tannins. My bottle was Torrebruna Sangiovese Annata 2016, and it had a light beginning with cherry notes that had a full mouth finish. It was a robust red with silky tannins and an aroma of vanilla. It paired well with the mortadella on the pistachio pizza, and it was lovely to have an Italian red to go with the pizzas.
I know pizza and beer made my date happy, and it might be cheesy, but if my date is happy, I’m happy. This pizza date night in satisfied us both.
10 E Chester St
M-Th 4 p.m to 8 p.m.
F S 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.