Smile Politely

The 2021 PYGMALION food guide

This year, PYGMALION celebrates 17 years, and it’s all happening this weekend. Check out the schedule to see who is performing and where to catch a show. The festival is a celebration of live music, readings, comedy, technology exhibitions, art, and more. If you’re around this weekend, there is programming this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Urbana, and you should make plans to go. Check out the schedule here.

If you’re at the fest, you will definitely want to grab some food. This guide will let you know what restaurants are nearby, what’s on the menus, and what I recommend for your festival bites. 

Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of all of the eating possibilities in Champaign-Urbana. Check out the rest of Smile Politely’s Food & Drink section (restaurant and bar reviews, specifically) for a fuller picture of your options while you’re in town.


An overhead photo shows the author's bar food at Bunny's and two half drank beers. Photo by Jordan Goebig.

Photo by Jordan Goebig.

Bunny’s Tavern

This bar is right near the Rose Bowl Tavern and walking distance from Analog. I like the drinks at Bunny’s, and the service is great. It’s a basic bar, so no fancy cocktail menu. My go to is a Jameson and ginger, but they’ve got lots of great domestic and craft beers, too, on tap and in cans. More than just drinks, the burgers and anything fried on the menu is solid. I highly recommend the fried pickles, and you can’t go wrong with fried mac n’ cheese or Bunny’s porker burger. 

119 W Water Ave
Th 7 a.m. to midnight
F+Sa 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. 

On beige plates at a diner, there are pancakes, eggs with sausage, and more pancakes. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Courier Cafe

In Downtown Urbana near NOLA’s Rock Bar, you can find Courier Cafe, a restaurant with more than 40 years of history. Breakfast foods are the name of the game here, and if you like pumpkin, try out the seasonal pumpkin pancakes. Find omelettes, biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs, hashbrowns, breakfast sandwiches, French toast, and more on the breakfast menu. Lunch and dinner options include salads, soups, burgers, quesadillas, wraps, sandwiches, and desserts. If you go, try a chocolate malt shake and any of the pancakes.

411 N Race Street
Th-Sa 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (dine in)
Th-Sa 3 to 8 p.m. (carryout only)

From the street, the exterior of Crane Alley plus the alley beside is seen during the day. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Crane Alley

Also in Downtown Urbana, Crane Alley has been serving eclectic GastroPub style food since 2003. The restaurant is only open for dinner, but it’s a beautiful spot for outdoor dining. The drinks are great, and you should try the Pop Rocks martini which has pineapple vodka, coconut rum, peach snapps, and the rim has Pop Rocks candy on it. On the food menu, you can find pretzel bites, cheese fries, soups, salads, chili (and a vegan chili as well), burgers, sandwiches, veggie sandwiches, and dessert. I like the chicken nachos and The Blackbird, a fried chicken sandwich with pickle chips, coleslaw, and aioli on top.

115 W Main St
Th-Sa 4 p.m. to midnight

A side photo of the Maize truck has the logo diagonnaly as if taken from knee height. Photo by Maize.

Photo by Maize.

Maize Food Truck

Maize’s truck will be parked at the festival this weekend which means easy access to tacos for festival goers. I love tacos, and I am so excited that Maize will be serving tacos right at PYGMALION. This is going to be the best festival food by pure proximity, and Maize serves awesome food from their truck. I am obsessed with Maize’s burritos, but literally anything on the menu is great. The food truck menu includes tacos, burritos, quesadillas, sope, tortas, and nachos. Not sure what to order? I like Maize’s carne asada burrito and the volcan appetizer.

Maize Food Truck

On a wooden table, there is a black stone bowl with bibimbap and Cass beer poured into a beer glass. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Masijta Grill

Beside the parking lot for the Rose Bowl Tavern, you’ll find this little Korean restaurant. Masijta Gril offers Korean barbeque on your table, so if you want to grill meat and get the whole Korean BBQ experience, this is the place. There are also options to order individual dishes. The food is pricey, but it is wonderful. You can read Mayank’s review of her dinner at Masijta Grill and my review of the different Korean drinks offered at the restaurant. Check out the menu here. I can’t get enough of their bibimbap in a stone bowl with bulgogi beef, and I’d recommend that with a Cass beer.

202 N Race St
Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

An overhead photo shows pad Thai, dumplings, chicken teriyaki, and a chocolate lava cake. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Siam Terrace

This Thai restaurant is a popular Downtown Urbana spot. Shrimp pad Thai is a signature dish at Siam Terrace. The crab rangoons here are arguably some of the best in town. You’ll find plenty of yummy apps like spring rolls, potstickers, fried tofu, and chicken satay. There’s salads, soups, ramrong, Thai noodle dishes, fried rice, stir fry, curry, vegetarian dishes, and dishes with fish, duck, shrimp, scallops, beef, pork, or chicken on the menu. Check out the whole menu here. I’m a fan of Siam Terrace’s pad see you and the spring rolls myself.

212 W Main St
Th+F 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. + 5 to 9:45 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.

On a dark brown table, there is a blue plate with three tacos on it. Photo by Carl Busch.

Photo by Carl Busch.

Tres Napoles

This new restaurant is also in Downtown Urbana, and it would make a great affordable spot to grab a bite. You’ll find tacos, burritos, taquitos, quesadillas, nachos, pozole, enchiladas, fajitas, tamales, chimichangas, and tortas on the menu. Check out Carl’s recent review of the Mexican restaurant and see why he recommends the tortilla soup and the chicken burrito.

114 S Race St
Th-Sa 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 5 to 9:30 p.m.


An overhead photo of eight mini cups of gelato of varying flavors. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Baldarotta’s Porketta & Sicilian Sausage

Located in the Lincoln Square Mall, this restaurant has great sandos and awesome gelato. We’ve covered the sandwich shop here and here. Check out my review of eight flavors of gelato. Read the sandwich menu and the gelateria menu. I would definitely get the gelato brioche which is a gelato sandwich on a brioche bun. Baldarotta’s gelato brioche comes with your choice of two different flavors of gelato and three toppings. The dark chocolate and caramel gelato brioche with crushed pistachios is one of my favorite bites in all of Urbana. Eat it in the restaurant or order it to go. 

300 S Broadway Ave
Th+F 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is a huge dining hall with oversized lampshades on the ceiling, silver chairs, and long wooden tables. There are no people in the room. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Broadway Food Hall

This huge dining hall has five different restaurants under one roof. Broadway Food Hall is great for groups because there are so many options, and it’s all very affordable. Find El Paraiso, a Latin American food paradise, with fantastic flautas, mofungo, turon, and more. Taste of Both Worlds has great spicy foodexcellent fish, and a superb bánh mì. La Royale has pastrami on point with loaded pastrami fries, burgers, onion rings, wings, and pastrami sandwiches. Muchacho offers build-you-own rice bowls. You pick your rice base, protein, and top with fresh and pickled veggies. King Kuma has signature poke bowls and build-your-own poke bowls customized to your liking. Bonus: there’s a small bar if you want to wet your whistle.

401 N Broadway Ave
Th 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
F 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On a light wooden table, there is a sandwich on white bread cut diagonally in half and a pizza on another white plate. Behind the two plates are two hot coffee drinks in to go orange paper cups. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Common Ground Food Co-op

This cooperatively-owned grocery store sells a variety of organic produce, snacks, ice cream, juice, coffee, local cheese, and more. In addition, the cafe in the back of the store offers coffee, tea, and customizable sandwiches and pizzas. Check out the cafe menu here. I recommend the hazelnut latte and a build-your-own sandwich with lots of veggies because the veggies are so good here.

300 S Broadway
Th-Sa 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

On a dirty white table, many small cherry tomatoes wait to be sold. Behind, there is a farmer in overalls gathering tomatoes for purchase. Photo by Tias Paul.

Photo by Tias Paul.

Urbana Farmers’ Market

On Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, there is a great farmers’ market in Urbana in the parkng lot of the Lincoln Square Mall at Illinois and Vine. You can find a lot of farmers selling fresh produce in addition to bakers, Stango Cuisine (get the beef pie!), jam makers, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery cheese. Look over our monthly Market Watch column to learn what you can expect to find in season.

Corner of Illinois + Vine
Sa 7 a.m. to noon

An overhead photo of Wood N' Hog's lunch with fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and a lot of sides. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Wood N’ Hog

This is probably the farthest I would walk from the festival, but it’s just past Broadway Food Hall right before you reach University Avenue. If you are hungry for barbeque and you smell the smoke, Wood N’ Hog is where you want to be. The pulled pork sandwich is on special on Fridays for only $5.99 with fries, so if you want a great, filling cheap meal on Friday before shows, this is worth the walk. There’s also ribs, hot links, fish, fried chicken, rib tips, jerk tips, turkey tips, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and lots of barbeque sides on the menu. Your choices for barbeque sauce are mild, hot, or mixed, and I love the mixed sauce: it’s perfectly spicy.

101 W University
Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


The exterior of The Bread Company has a burgundy awning with the restaurant's name on the light brown stucco outside with long wooden tables out front. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Bread Company

This restaurant offers some of the best sandwiches in town for lunch, and at dinner, you can order entrees like pizza, pasta, salads, fondue, and small plates. Here’s the menu. There is seating outside and a large dining room where you seat yourself. My favorite is the fried goat cheese croquettes and the red sangria.

706 S Goodwin Ave
Th+F 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Inside Espresso Royale, there is a black board of drinks and prices in addition to a cold case with sandwiches and pastries. Photo from Espresso Royale's Facebook page.

Photo from Espresso Royale’s Facebook page.

Espresso Royale

If you want some coffee or a little pastry, Espresso Royale is a great spot to pop into. It’s right near Canopy Club. You can get coffee, tea, lemonade, soda, cookies, scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and other treats. The menu includes sandwiches like tuna melts and turkey pesto, wraps, and salads. I recommend Espresso’s bourbon maple latte for a pick me up.

1117 W Oregon
Th+F 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A sandwich on wheat is sliced diagonally in half on a clear plate. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Intermezzo Café

Inside the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, you can find red pepper and gouda soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, cookies, and coffee with many items sourced from small family farms. The cafe has indoor seating, or you can order your food to go. Peep the menu here.

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
500 S Goodwin Ave
Th+F 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Two full pan pizzas are side by side. One has dark sauce and no cheese, and the other is pepperoni with lots of cheese. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Manolo’s Pizza & Empanadas

If you love pizza, you will love this pizza. I love this pizza so much. Order one of the restaurant’s signature pizzas like Spotted Goat which has spinach, mushroom, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, and goat cheese with both roasted garlic alfredo and red sauce, or create your own by selecting the sauce and toppings exactly how you like. You can also order pizza by the slice. They also serve empanadas in many flavors, and my favorite is empanada G with corn and cheese. You can order in advance if you want to skip waiting at the restaurant. My favorite topping is Manolo’s seasoned bread crumbs, and it goes well on any pizza.

1115 W Oregon St
Th 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

On a wooden table, two bun sandwiches sit beside rotini pasta. Photo from Red Herring's Facebook page.

Photo from Red Herring’s Facebook page.

The Red Herring

The Red Herring is a vegan restaurant just around the corner from Goodwin and Oregon. Enter through the basement to the restaurant. The Red Herring serves salads, wraps, soups, cupcakes, nachos, and weekly specials. This place is only open until 1:30, so catch it earlier in the day rather than later. There is outdoor seating available, or you can take your food to picnic somewhere nearby. Any cupcake they make is worth getting!

1209 W Oregon St
Th+F 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

On a white plate, a pasta dish with red sauce is topped with grated parmesan. Photo by Rebecca Wells.

Photo by Rebecca Wells.


This upscale campus restaurant is only open for dinner and serves Italian fare like antipasta, salads, pizza, pasta, salmon, mahi mahi, and more. Check out the full menu here. Any of the pizzas and definitely the orange honey crème brûlée are my picks here.

710 S Goodwin Ave
Th-Sa 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Spicy, saucy Korean chicken is on white steamed rice. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Gregory Place Restaurants

Just a half a block down Oregon Street from Manolo’s, Gregory Place features quite a few different eateries on one very small block — it’s incredibly convenient. My go to is the campus Kofusion’s spicy Korean chicken. It’s hot in temperature and in spiciness, and it’s served over steamed white rice. It’s simple but so dang good. Kofusion also sells sushi by the roll and by the piece.

Basil Thai is the place for fast-casual Thai food. Bab+ serves Korean food like fried rice, bibimbab, bulgogi, soon doo boo, and more. Caffe Bene serves delicious bubble tea, coffee drinks, tea, smoothies, gelato, sandwiches, and desserts. Rosati’s has pizza and other Italian delights in a dine-in setting (but carry-out is also available). Tenko Tea sells boba tea, black tea, oolong tea, jasmine green tea, and fruit slushies.

701 South Gregory


If you’ve got access to a car and you’re wanting to explore more restaurants in C-U, here are a few that I’d recommend.

A large thick burger with melted yellow cheese is next to fries in a basket lined with red and white checkered parchment paper. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.


This is a bit of a drive from the fest, but the restaurant is a beloved burger place for more than 20 years. Their location in Downtown Champaign has plenty of seating inside and on the patio. Favorites from the menu include the burgers, the grilled scallop salad, and the non-burger options as well.

309 N Randolph St
Th 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A photo of a full table at Golden Harbor with dishes with a spoon in each for family style sharing. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Golden Harbor

This is one of C-U’s best restaurants. With a menu of more than 1,000 items (someone even made a cheat sheet), you can always find something tasty to eat. Go with a group, so you can enjoy a variety of dishes. Check out some of Jess’ favorites from Golden Harbor and Jess’ tips for eating at Golden Harbor. Read the humongous menu here. My personal favorites are #1583 kung pao pork, #973 spicy green beans, and #1505 fried veggie dumplings.

505 S Neil St
Th-Sa 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. + 4:30 to 8:45 p.m.

There is an order of chicken fajitas in a cast iron cow pan ith a side of rice and beans and flour tortillas in tin foil. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Huaraches Moroleon

Not too far from the festival in Urbana, there is a small Mexican restaurant with big portions and incredible flavor. The menu has burritos, chimichangas, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, churros, and more. The free chips come with five different salsas, and the green salsa is my favorite. Anything on the menu is tasty, but I like to order chicken fajitas and a mango margarita.

805 S Philo Road
Th 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

There are two pizzas, uneaten, and a basket of fries on a dark table. Photo by Sarah Meilike.

Photo by Sarah Meilike.

Jupiter’s Pizzeria & Billiards

This pizzeria has been in Champaign for more than 20 years. If you want a relaxed place to drink and share pizza, Jupiter’s in Downtown Champaign is it. There are pool tables and plenty of seating indoors and outside. Thursday specials are on drinks ($2 Bud Lite drafts and $5 bestie bombs) and on Friday and Saturday, large pizzas are $6.99 off after 10 p.m. at Jupiter’s. Find pizza, salad, and grinders on the menu; read the whole menu here. Go for the BBQ pizza and any of the beers on draft.

39 E Main Street
Th-Sa 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

You can also read our PYGMALION food guides from 2018 and 2019.

Top image provided by PYGMALION festival.

Food + Drink Editor

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