Smile Politely

Huber’s is the place you want to be

Some call it a neighborhood bar. Some like to refer to it as their local dive bar. And according to their Facebook page, they call themselves a sports bar. Whatever you want to label it, Huber’s has been a local favorite since 1918 when it was just a corner convenience store. If you’re looking for low key digs, friendly folks, and some pub grub fried to order, Huber’s is the place you want to be.

Huber’s is located on the west side of Champaign on Church Street and is right across from Eisner Park. It’s easy to find and there’s a decent sized parking lot on the side of the building. Immediately upon walking in we felt at home; the atmosphere is comfortable and cozy. Lots of old photos and memorabilia adorn the walls. I know that over the years there have been some updates, but the bar still looks old (not sure if it’s original?) thanks to the dark wood molding, large mirror, and charming light fixtures.

As we saddled up to the bar, with its lovely brass top, we were quickly greeted by the bartender. Two big ‘ol mugs of PBR on draft ($3.75) and the menu, please. With the titles suggested above, one can assume that you will not find any fancy microbrews or mint mojitos at a place like this. They have a decent draft selection (decent as in more than three options because there are definitely those with far less) like Bass, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, and Guinness. There’s a good liquor selection and a lot of white wine was being poured as well. We could tell almost immediately who the regulars were, which is such a nice thing to see. I think deep down everyone wants a “Cheers” bar they can call their own.

For our meal we went with the mini corn dog appetizer ($3.50), pork tenderloin sandwich ($4.25), and the 1/3 lb cheeseburger ($4.25). I can’t remember the last time I had a corn dog and those little mini poppers came out piping hot and fried to perfection. My inner child was satisfied. If you’re looking for condiments, there is a table set up in the other room with all the fixins’ you need: lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, all kinds of mustards and hot sauces, and of course, mayo and ketchup. After we devoured our appetizer, we continued to sip our beers and fall in and out of idle chit chat with the bartender and fellow patrons. I love that there is still a little window at the front of the building where kids can buy candy, and even puppy dogs get treats! They might have to just wait a few minutes for the bartender to catch up on slinging drinks inside till they can indulge their sugar craving. Keep in mind that no matter where you sit you’ll have to place your order at the bar.

Our sandwiches came out quickly. All the daily specials come with chips, but there are fries listed under appetizers if you want to add those on. It was everything I’d hoped it would be: simple, cheap, fast, and tasty. The bun was fresh and I added lettuce, tomato, and mayo to my sandwich. The burger was just as good as well. There were no complaints on our end and combined with the beer, I was pleasantly full.

There were card games being played at large round tables and what sounded like some heated dart matches in the back room. It was pretty full for a week night, which is always a good sign. There’s also outdoor patio seating, but again, keep in mind there isn’t always table service so you’ll need to hit up the bar when you want to place an order. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for upcoming dates for bands/musicians to be playing. You can find these events listed on their Facebook page.

As with any dive bar like this, if you have realistic expectations then you’ll rarely be disappointed. More often than not you’ll encounter some really friendly people (or at least really entertaining!) and classic bar food. Heck, you might even find that you’re becoming a regular yourself! Personally, I just love hearing stories from those that have been coming to the same place for years. Champaign-Urbana has a lot of neighborhood bars like this. Tell us what your favorite watering hole is and stay tuned for more in this series in the upcoming months!

Huber’s is located at 1312 West Church Street, Champaign, and is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday noon to 11 p.m.

All photos by Bobbie Bonebrake

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