When are not traveling, we love to relax in Downtown Champaign. Great bars and restaurants and a cool place just to wander around. As i’ve said before, traveling to all the places we do actually helps us look for more treasures in our own area.
Great burgers, pizza and drinks from two great places. Guidos has a great menu and bar. Lots of screens, cool look and great outdoor seating. It also has a gorgeous downtown view especially when it is snowing. I’ll do a piece on that this winter. The esquire is a classic old school bar with a broad age range and fantastic food. They also have great outdoor seating. You can’t go wrong with either one.
Check out the pictures that also include the awesome Ten Thousand Villages store and just street shots. Talk after the jump.
Get yourself down in this area if you live nearby or if you are just visiting. Take advantage of the cool things, culture and food we have here. It’s a great place to just enjoy yourself!
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Check out the very cool champaigncenter.com for more info on the area.
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
We had eaten here shortly after it first opened but I didn’t have time to take pics and think about writing on it. First, it’s a true cool destination location restaurant. Our downtown area has become quite hip, and is often referred to as micro urban. I should say that it’s close to where I live but I’m 15 min away in a tiny town. Champaign has about 100k people which is still small to many folks. My town has less than 8k lol. So I often refer to Champaign places as home to me.
OK on to the fun stuff. First, if straight dominoes, papa John’s etc is the only thing you like, don’t go! I love all pizza but this is wood fired gourmet rustic. Great locally sourced meats and cheese’s plus produce. Lots of olive oil and charred edges on the crust. Very good, and the place is a true experience. It’s in an old publishing building and very industrial looking. I love that! You can stand and Look at the specially made ovens which came from Naples Italy. Heck you can see the woodpile!!
A few pictures and then we will talk about the meal after the jump. Enjoy.
To start of I had a great Morreti Rossa and my wife had the house Chianti. We ordered the cheese plate for a nice start. Great local area cheese’s that were fantastic as well as olives/sweety drops jam and bread. It was very good. Not too heavy or much but classically excellent. Artisan local cheese can’t be beat for an experience.
For the main we had the pizza pomodorini. Fresh mozzarella and fresh cherry tomatoes plus prosciutto Di parma/parmagianno reggianno and fresh arugula. Excellent. Fresh and nice charcoal edges. Again if this isn’t your thing it isn’t your place. Give it a try though. I’m a Giordano’s and Filippo guy but I love this stuff as well!
It was a great meal in a very cool place. Made for a nice and different experience in our area. The only downside was service this time. I never complain about that but she disappeared! Dropped off the pizza and never saw her again. We really wanted more drinks (especially me!). Gone. We have fun wherever we go and laughed about it but it wasn’t great. Nobody seemed happy to be there. I hope it was a one off as I really like the place and will return, but that needs work. We travel often, eat everywhere and pay well as a general rule. This was off.
Again, it’s a great place and we had a wonderful time. Check it out if you’re in the area. If you’d like to be part of our sponsor/ad/ ambassador program email us. From inexpensive links to features or social ads/spokesperson work. Hit firstname.lastname@example.org today. Also follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
Today’s sponsor is the awesome Westbrook Stables. Get a great riding and training experience in a Western family oriented environment! https://m.facebook.com/westbrookstable/
A link to today’s restaurant