Smile Politely

Five things to eat or drink in C-U this month: July 2018

This month marks the halfway point of the year. It’s easy to makes plans around eating and drinking; the summer months bring food and drink festivals. This month’s list includes one of those, as well as something new to check out during a recurring monthly event. You may have already seen our posts about our quest to find the best burgers in C-U. Since burgers are on my mind (and I’ve been eating a lot of them), I encourage you to find and enjoy your favorite burger in the area. Finally, I’ve included a few sweet treats — no need to worry about a beach body when there’s no beach nearby, right?

Craft Beer | Midwest Beer Fest

The third annual Midwest Beer Fest is Saturday, July 14th in Downtown Champaign. Hosted by Cowboy Monkey, it takes place outdoors in the PNC/Cowboy Monkey parking lot on Main Street in Downtown Champaign. The event has been successful in years past, and each year things are tweaked to make it better, which means organizers actually care about it. There will be 12 brewers on hand serving up 50 different beers. The event is family-friendly and free, though beer tastes obviously cost ($1/ticket). Cowboy Monkey’s entire menu will be available, and Dave’s Dogs food cart will be on hand with hot dogs.

Midwest Beer Fest
Downtown Champaign
Saturday, July 14th 4 p.m. to midnight

Fried Rice | Hunger Force Mobile Kitchen

Hunger Force Mobile Kitchen is a new food truck serving up Filipino food. The standard menu is straightforward — egg rolls, fried rice, pansit (fried noodles) — with specials offered fairly regularly. The truck itself is funky and cool looking, which makes getting the food a little more fun. The chicken fried rice was fantastic, and the large meal comes with an eggroll, which was also fantastic ($7.50). Follow the truck on Facebook for locations, or plan on grabbing some lunch on the last Tuesday of the month at Urbana’s Food Truck Rally in Downtown Urbana.

Hunger Force Mobile Kitchen
Follow on Facebook for locations

Oatmeal Fudgie | Art Mart

I’m a sucker for a good cookie bar, one that really is a cookie, and not a gooey thing like a lemon bar or gooey butter cake bar. I like something a little more crumbly, something that has a slightly salty-sweet thing going on. Art Mart’s oatmeal fudge bar hits all the spots for me — it’s a little crumbly but not too dry, there is chocolate, but not too much, and it’s just chewy enough. It’s not too messy, so you can eat it on the go without worrying about slopping crap on your shirt. It’s a little rich and indulgent; I usually break it in half and make two treats of it. At $2.48, it’s not going to break the bank.

Art Mart 
1705 S Prospect Ave
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Burgers | Your favorite local spot

You’ve probably seen our teaser posts on socials about our forthcoming burger rankings article. We’re working diligently on trying just about all of the burgers C-U has to offer. It’s an intense task, but one we’re more than happy to take on. Given all this burger porn on our Instagram feed, I encourage you to go out and do some burger taste-testing of your own. Which local joint has your favorite? Are you into the thicker, gourmet burgers, or the thin smash burgers?

Double cheeseburgers from Krekel’s

Paletas | El Oasis

Good grief it’s hot out. The humidity is absolutely unnecessary; I shake my fist at it everyday. The paletas — popsicles — at El Oasis offer the perfect amount of refreshment from the absurd heat and humidity we’ve been enduring. Some are milk-based, but I prefer the water-based, fruity ones. They are indeed refreshingly cold, but the fruitiness and lack of milk doesn’t leave you feeling too full or gross. There are plenty of choices, so no doubt you’ll find something you like.

El Oasis
510 N Cunningham Ave
Noon to 8 p.m. daily

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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