Over the years I’ve hear a bit about this place. Some friends of mine have played here. It is known as the place Randy Travis got his start(plus washed dishes). That doesn’t even cover it. Live music all day and I mean really good live music.
It has a cool bar in the front with a small stage and dance floor. In the back is a LARGE stage and dance floor where they have bigger events. The front area is where I spent my time. Classic Nashville country cool. Pictures and posters from legends that have been there and all sorts of memorabilia. I’ll let the pictures speak in a moment (i’m not a great writer, just an old fighter lol). You can’t help but love the place. And it has great food.
We stayed across the road from it recently at Gaylord Opryland. Sandy had a healthcare leadership conference there and I was training fighters in the area(huge surprise). As I wandered in my downtime I decided to stop and have a beer (or more) and check the place out. I knew I had to take Sandy back for dinner. The bartenders showed me around and told me all about it. I was hooked! My plan was set and knew we were going back that night. Only a few people there in the afternoon yet a great musician on stage and great staff.
When we went back for dinner it got even better. More great music. Great and well priced drinks and awesome food. We both had the chicken on biscuits( I had the Nashville hot version). Sooo good. A really cool classic idea and well done. Also very cheap. I’ll let the pictures speak here for a bit. Talk after the jump.
This place gets my highest reference. Cool, classic and tasty. Just go here if you are in Nashville and give it a shot. Nothing but a good time!!
Yes I’m Talking about the one in tiny Leroy Illinois. I live about 20 Minutes away. Yes it is a world class experience, and that’s coming from a guy who has been all over the place. To put it in perspective, my wife and I once ate at Nobu, Jean Georges, Sushi Samba and Costa Di Mare in a four day period! We’ve been all over. This place is awesome.
I had been to the other places that were housed here but this group now has taken the food to a great level. It’s part of Epiphany Farms and the commitment shows. Great products and presentation In a cool, classic bank building. The service is great, the place is great to just look around and the food is hype worthy. Yes I’m an old retired fighter so my opinion may be suspect but I’ve got a bit of global experience.
Sandy had the wing special. Yes wings like a sports bar, but NOOOTTTT! The sauce was was out of this world. Trimmed with great local produce. A bit of Korean influence with the heat hitting you after it was in your mouth a minute. WOW!
I had the pork belly sandwich. First I don’t usually eat things that are fatty(too much weight cutting in the day so it stuck with me). Second I’m a bit of a snob on the bbq side of things as my family cam off the rez in Oklahoma and smoked everything. This was truly perfection in the world of pork belly sandwiches. Great produce and sauced mixed in with meat that was just right. Washed down with a great IPA from Destihl and it was a great night.
This place seriously went on our regular rotation list as well as our culinary faves list. Still stunned at the level here. Take a look at the pics and we will talk after the jump.
Go check this place out. Make a trip here just to go. It is absolutely worth it. Vibe and food. Vibe and food. Trust me.
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Awesome, authentic and incredible. Golden harbor is just a simple looking place. Lots of little group tables and a few large round group family style tables. The cool part is the signage. IN an age where most Chinese food places are basically Americanized fast food, this place caters to our large Chinese and Asian community here. Truly caters .If you are a real and truly adventurous foodie then it caters to you as well. A true food experience There is an American menu but the adventure starts with the Chinese menu. Broad and delicious. All the signs in Chinese and menus prove what I mean. Come here to eat and experience what the food of this beautiful culture has to offer.
Before my wide ranging career in martial arts, it was just the standard fare for me. Eating with people from all over th world, in their homes or guided by them in restaurants taught me so much more. Watching what they ate(rarely on the menu) to asking questions. That brings me to this awesome place. From unusual seafood combinations to tons of tripe dishes it is the real deal. Thai dishes and a large number of plates from Taiwan(not the standard fare).
Ill keep my bad writer review short here and talk with pictures. I had the Chengdu chicken and my wife had the Generals tofu. We also had vegetable dumplings. I’ve also had the baby squid here and a tripe dish that I can’t remember the name. All awesome. My dish had tons of peppers in it but strangely was not over powering in heat level. I love spice but like complexity. It had that on very level. My wife’s tofu dish was truly the best tofu prep I have ever had. Perfectly cooked. As a former pro fighter that has travelled everywhere, I have eaten lots of tofu. The BEST! The dumplings aere moist and yet done. No clue what they were filled with but it was delicious. I’ll let the pictures tell the story and we will finish up after the jump.
Seriously, if you are anywhere near this part of America check this place out. Heck message me here and we will hang out! I like it that much. Ok now the standard business. If you want a link or ad on here we can do that. Want live tweets and pr from our large twitter following? We can do that. Think radio remote but cooler, cheaper and more effective.On location or just ads. Facebook, twitter and blog features. Email email@example.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter. Hit me up at Bob Tompkins on FB.
Go here now!!!!!!
This building has changed over the years. As a bar or restaurant it started as The Blind Pig about 25 years ago. A small little quirky club. The owner went on to open a very cool brew pub in town and sold this place. After a couple of different things, The Cowboy Monkey moved in. It is so cool and much larger now ( heck I remember when this space was the kitchen for a big Chinese restaurant). Inside it is both early 20th century retro and hip modern at the same time. Outside is even cooler. A large beer garden type area that is open with people walking back and forth to other bars surrounding it and often live music in the streets. Downtown Champaign has a very cool and lively atmosphere and yet not rowdy.
The menu is hip as well. Its jazzed up tex/mex with a touch of baja and carribean. Served in an always visually appealing way and it is delicious! The whole place just gives you a relaxed vibe but also a visual experence that always kind of refreshes me. A great beer list. A fantastic cocktail list with lots of new hip twists on classics. For this meal i went with the great Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. A good crisp beer with the hoppiness i like but not taking away from the food. My wife had a pomegranite margarita. Gorgeous looking and she said it was great.
Im going to mostly let pictures do the talking here, especially abut how gorgeous the food is. First the food. I had the capistrano tacos. Three corn tortillas with spicy chicken,cheddar cheese with salsa and guacamole. It also comes with a dish of pickled red cabbage. Just finishes it perfectly. Truly a great dish. Sandy had the baja steak tacos. All the same except with great steak and chihuahua cheese, roastec red pepper/cilantro. Also fantastic. Check out the pictures and we will talk after the jump.
I travel all over and eat all over. Im blessed to do so but this place in my backyard is way up on the list. Cool, fun and delicious. Come check it out.
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The awesome Cowboy Monkey
The coolest western lifestyle store out there
First, this place isn’t what you would expect. Then again it also is exactly what you would expect. Huh? Remember you’re reading a blog from a guy who used to get hit in the head for a job! In all seriousness that’s true though. Courier is both diner and upscale experience at the same time. Hip and in a historic building but has died chicken and a salad bar like my farm town roots. How does that work. First we will talk about the area and building .
In 1837 a man named William Tompkin purchased the land where it is. Im told that it is likely a relative even though there is no s on the end. Lots of spellings and my family came off the oklahoma native territories ( called reservations elsewhere) to Illinois in the late 1930’s so who knows. My dadand siblings didnt have birth certificates!! ( Common in native families at the time). The lad was sold to the well known farming/banking Busey family. Eventually it became the Courier newspaper building in the early 20th century. It closed in 1979, and yes i well remember that happening. In comes Alan Strong!
When i was a kid there was a cool deli on the UIUC campus called Bubbie & Zadies. I was a small town kid dreaming of travel and loved going there. It floodec to the point of no repair once and a few years later he opened the Courier Cafe.
Downtown Urbana where it is located is an eclectic place. Decades before farm to table was chic, urbana was that place. It annoys me and I love it at the same time lol. I mean Urbana,the Courier is always cool.
From breakfast, to burgers and sandwiches. From fried chicken to unusual mixes and steaks. The place is part of a bygone era where you could have a broad menu but it was all REAL FOOD! I travel all over for fights and pr work and it is a rare institution.
On this trip I had the Hammerhead with fries. Excellent roast beef and swiss soaked in red wine Au Jus served on a Bubby Bun. A couple of Domain Du Page beers from Two Brothers Brewing and it doesn’t get much better. My wife Sandy had the fried chicken with baked potato ( always mashed but the waitress said no longer available??!!) And the awesome salad bar. Survey says?? Awesome all the way around!!! Check out the pics( why you reall read this blog!) and we will talk after the jump.
Whether you live here or you want to take a destination restaurant road trio, Courier Cafe fits the bill. It is historic, architectually profound and foodie paradise at the same time. Check it out. Heck, call me and we will go with you.
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Well, over the 23 years since I moved to this little town this location has had a ton of restaurants in it. Mostly family style diners. The first one I loved. Great salad bar and a cool view out over the highway in its back room. The ones after it were terrible until Los moved there. Now it’s a regular stop for my wife And I. It’s a quick little vacation for the evening. Kitschy cheese master decor with classic Mexican dishes. Its just a cool break and doesn’t feel like the zillion Mex places in the area.
I’ll make this part quick and easy to let the pictures do the talking. That always seems to be better, probably a statement about my writing!!! I love their salsa. We both do. We slow down on Friday night getting there. Grab a beer for me and a margarita for her. Relax and go over the menu while enjoying chips and salsa! I most often get the chicken flautas and she gets the burrito deluxe or some version of that. Both awesome. This time we both got combination dinners. We each had some mix of burrito and enchilada with rice and beans. Very good. Classically done. Tons of food!!! That said, I prefer the chicken. The ground beef is a tad salty for me. She said it was perfect so it’s obviously a personal taste thing. In any case it was all over good! Take a look at a the pics including some menu snaps and we will talk after the jump.
If you’re in this central Illinois area, then check this place out. Right off I-74 so if you’re traveling across Illinois/Indiana/Iowa it’s perfect. Take short little vacation here. It’s fun and delicious.
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the Esquire is one of the oldest and in the Chambana area. I started going there with my Dad decades ago. It was tiny then. Classic little bar. A grill right in the window, the cook took your order and served you. Back then you could get like 3 things.
Today it has expanded quite a bit. Two separate bars in two rooms. Lots of windows looking out on to the growing downtown area. It’s become a but if a tech hub around here and that has really helped our downtown become quite cool. The Esquire has changed but stayed the same. Exposed brick walls. Lots of pool table,gaming and juke boxes. I’ll post some pics of the menu and some other things and we’ll talk a bit more.
The menu is bar/bistro but pretty wide. They have good individual pizzas as well. The bar/beer list is great. The prices are great. I’ve tried a lot of it but I kind of go back to my two favorites. A cheeseburger and fries with a Domain DuPage from Two Brothers Brewing. The burger is great, and they have the coolest fresh condiment bar. That makes the difference!! Plus that is an awesome beer. I normally lean toward IPA or similar but if a place has this French country ale I get it! Very smooth, doesn’t bomb your senses or stomach and it’s made here in Illinois.
It’s great place to relax and just enjoy spending time. It’s family friendly, clean and just one of those rare places I look for in my travels. Fortunately this one is right here for me. If you like classics come check this place out.
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Just for fun and something different, I thought I’d do a food/travel piece like that. A tiny description/thoughts on a place with a couple of food/drink/ambience pics. Let’s face it, you come here to read my goofy statements and see some pictures! I’ll never win any awards for this but you guys just keep showing up lol! Let’s do this.
First Nobu at Caesars in Las Vegas. As with every in Caesar’s, it’s great. Cool look with open modern area and skirted off private booths. Sushi,sushi,sushi!
Murphy’s Pub on the UIUC campus in chambana. A classic bar with great burgers. A nice dive that isn’t a dive.
Mama Sherry’s in Destin Florida. Pizza, wings and other great things. Great food at great prices in an area where food isn’t always cheap. Beer and wine specials, just an overall vibe that feels like vacation.
Jean Georges in Aria, Las Vegas. Beautiful, world class Steak house. Stunning selection of meat and seafood with great servers. The wine list and staff Aline make it worth a visit. Expensive but worth it. One of my favorites.
Black dog Smoke and Ale House in Champaign. Great BBQ in a cool old railyard building. Listed as one if the BBQ places in America. Great sides and a fantastic bar list. The ambience is with the trip alone.
Costa Di Mare in Wynn Las Vegas. One of the most knowledgeable staffs I’ve ever been around. I got a lesson in fish, and sourcing it from unusual places. Prep and cooking. Wine etc. It was amazing. Truly like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Like everything at Wynn, it is first class, and expensive.
Look for more in depth reviews of some these at another time. Just wanted to whet your appetite a bit, and entertain you. Yes a bit all over the page but so am I ! Burgers to sushi from a guy who likes to fight and write.
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For those who follow me you already know why I do these pieces. New people? It’s all about learning what an area is like when you go there. Not the glitzy fake shots but what it looks and feels like. Yes I get paid to Promote some places, but I always tell you what it is like. Really Iike! While I have been all over and treated to an incredible life, I’m a normal guy. I grew up throwing hay and hunting. These posts are how I show my kind of people what they should look for.
So in the continuing series of this kind of post please enjoy my thoughts, opinions and pictures on the area. Before I start the pictures which I will kind of put into areas and ideas ( I’m an old fighter not a journalist!!) Let me say that I LOVE!!!! Destin!!! The water is as gorgeous as anywhere I’ve been in the world. Great restaurants from gourmet to bar food ( my fave). Sugar sand beaches and great shopping. Above all, it has these things in a relaxed southern environment!!!! So let’s get ready to see what it looks like.
I’m going to wander a bit in these pics with a short description overall. First up some random beach shots, mostly down near embassy & the beach hut but a few other shore shots. The water here is gorgeous and some of the cleanest softest sand I’ve been on.
There are many great restaurants and bars in the area from casual Beach places to chef driven Culinary masterpiece spots. Take a look at some food and spots.
There are some very cool shopping spots from tourist kitsch stores along the beach drive (Alvin’s island) to the awesome Destin Commons.
Destin is gorgeous and relaxing with world class food and shopping. I had a great time here and look forward to sharing more about it with you. A couple more random shots just for fun
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Let me start with a couple of short statements. I’ve been going to this place with my wife since she was my girlfriend ( A loooong dang time! ). We don’t get there as much because of my travel schedule but this meal reminded me I need to change that! Awesome!! Second, at some point I’ll do a full review and the inside pics. We ate al fresco and it’s true Street side cafe experience. Love it, but the inside is so very cool that I feel almost criminal not showing you. I’ll have to make that happen. So now on to the thoughts on food and the pictures!
The place is known for its bread obviously, and rightfully so. If you love the classic euro/Swiss feel and food this place is truly a destination for you. They are also known for fondue and it is wonderful. This time we changed gears and tried things there we had not before. As is normal for us, we just kind of ordered several things and ate whatever. And fed each other lol. Almost 50 and together for over three decades and still like young daters lol.
Besides all the bread they brought us first, we had the crab cakes ( my wife’s true love! ). Served on a bed of greens they were outstanding. Obvious use of proper breading made in house. We also ordered a pizza margherita. Let met say I am not a crispy crust guy. This was great. It had that just scorched edge to it. We both loved it.
We also had the fried goat cheese. Again an obvious perfect use of bread crumbs that just happened to be available in a place famous for bread. Perfectly crisp with creamy melting goat cheese inside. Served with a plated bed of honey and strawberry. Simple yet perfect.
Beverages you say??!! Why yes we might have. They carry a few JT Walkers beers and that makes me happy. JT’s is literally walking distance ( done it!! ) from my house. Maybe a mile. I love the Hail To The Chief IPA. It’s one of my go to beers when I’m around here. So of course that’s what I had. Fabulous as usual. My wife had the sangria. She is a sangria snob. Orders it often. Rarely impressed lol. She liked this one!! I have to guess that’s a good sign. Take a look at my usual random picture set and we will talk location ( and advertising/sponsorship). Take a look at things we love as well Things we love
The restaurant is located in what we use to call the Tbird plaza. Why, because it used to house the third movie theater and tbird pizza. The theater is now the famous canopy club! This is all on the UIUC campus on the Urbana side. Right near Krannert Center. I know we are rural farm folk ( which I love ) but I’ve traveled the globe for fighting and marketing work. This area is truly world class. Take a trip and enjoy it. If you’re from the Chambana area and haven’t been here, I’ll be coming for you!! Seriously though go enjoy this place and this area.
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