Smile Politely

Five things to eat or drink in C-U this month: May 2017

After last week’s miserably depressing weather, I considered rewriting this article to include winter comfort foods such as pot pies, creamy soups, and lasagna. I thought better of it, and figured that the weather would surely have to improve? Spring will roll right into summer, and we will all laugh at having had our heat on in early May. Right?

If you’ve been reading these articles, it’s clear that I strongly connect what I’m eating with the weather. I’ve been thinking about warmer weather, and the things I like to eat in the warmer months. Included on this list are such items, with one or two atypical additions. May means saying hello to the farmers’ markets and grilled food.

Is there something you love, or want to see featured in the future? Leave us a note in the comments.

Nachos | Maize, Huaraches Moroleon, Black Dog, Crane Alley, Fernando’s, Dubin O’Neil’s, Red Herring, etc., etc., etc. 

As the editor of the Food and Drink section, I spend a lot of time reading about and looking at photos of food. I’m not generally too susceptible to insane cravings as a result of my work; if I had to have whatever was pictured each week, I’d be broke and struggling with weight and health problems. 

But when food writer Merry Thomas submitted her article, “Nacho Adventures,” my craving for nachos kicked in with a seriousness of purpose, and I’ve been craving nachos since. I’ve tried to appease this obsession — the following week I had Black Dog’s nachos. They were great, as usual, but my desire for nachos has not yet subsided. I worry that I won’t be satiated until I’ve had all the nachos in town. My mission this month is to have as many nachos as physically possible and socially acceptable, and I encourage you to do the same. If you’re content reading about them, check out the first installment here, and check back at the end of the month for a follow up article. 

Photo by Merry Thomas. Nachos from Maize. 

Oysters | Watson’s, V. Picasso, Sun Singer

It seems like more restaurants have been adding oysters to their menus of late, though I’m not sure if that is actually true, or if I’m just noticing it now. It doesn’t matter. I think you either love to hate these little briny mollusks — they are certainly an acquired taste. Nevertheless, they are tasty if well sourced and prepared, and make for an entertaining dining experience. Watson’s has had them on the menu since the restaurant opened, V. Picasso currently has them on its seasonal menu, and Sun Singer is trying to implement a monthly “Oyster Week” to celebrate all things oyster. (I don’t think that includes oyster crackers, though.) This month Oyster Week is May 15th through the 20th, 4 p.m. to close, while supplies last. Reservations are recommended. 

If you’ve never had one, I encourage you to try one. Don’t know how to eat a raw one? Check out the video below. Or, just eat it however you like, because does it really matter? You do you.

Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Burger | Farren’s

May is generally a little warm, and sunny, a lovely amuse-bouche for early summer. You might be a little slow to break out your grill and, if you’re like me, forgetful when it comes to replenishing your propane or charcoal. It’s in these situations that a trip to Farren’s is a good idea; burgers and fries meet the desire for charred meat, and Farren’s tasty salads offer crisp, fresh veggies as an appetizer, side dish, or entrée. There’s something for everyone. Pro tip: order your burgers with a side of the fresh fried chips.

Farren’s is located at 308 North Randolph Street, Champaign, and is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m. 

Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Ice Cream | El Oasis

For those of you keeping count, you’ll notice that I included El Oasis on last May’s Five Things article. The ice cream and popsicles at El Oasis are incredibly delicious. C-U has no other true ice cream shop, save for El Oasis (even though the ice cream is not made in–house). My go-to flavors are mamey, avocado, and gansito (strawberry and chocolate). El Oasis also offers sorbet in a variety of flavors. If you’re looking to challenge your tastebuds, consider the chamoyada, a combo of sweet and spicy sorbet topped with fresh fruit and some chili powder. 

El Oasis is located at 510 North Cunningham Avenue, Urbana, and open daily, noon to 9 p.m. 

Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Popsicles | The Pop Stop

Speaking of frozen treats…

May marks the start of the outdoor farmers’ market season, and that means The Pop Stop will be out and about serving up refreshing and flavorful frozen yummies. The Pop Stop is almost always at the Tuesday Champaign and Saturday Urbana markets. I really love the fudgsicle, and the fruit flavors are bright, sophisticated, and subtly sweet. On more than one occasion I’ve had a popsicle at the Saturday morning market; it’s breakfast, people, especially if you order a fruit or cereal/cereal milk concoction.

Follow The Pop Stop on Facebook for details on locations and flavors.

Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

Related Articles