I love doing these random walk pieces as it shows my readers what a place really looks/feels like, not the glossy or pr stuff ( don’t get me wrong I love doing our reviews and pr work for travel companies/hotels/restaurants). These are just fun and real.
We go to Chicago often. From fighting events and martial arts tournaments to my days in the trading world. Also healthcare conferences for my wife and often just to hang out. We love it and have been over a good portion of the whole Chicagoland area. This pictorial is mostly shots of River North and the walk as well as some Mag mile. Also the awesome Eataly. I’ll do a separate piece on it all by itself. Amazing experience. Gourmet grocery, multiple restaurants plus wine and craft beer!!! Trust me. Also some shots from a great dinner in the classic O’Callaghans Pub. Great experience. Check out the pics and enjoy(ps if you want us to come to your place hit us up here or on twitter @combatsportlife to set something up. Great pr for your place. Twitter is our primary so check it out)
I didn’t get a chance to do a full review of this great place since my wife started to feel the effects of too much sun when we go there. I’ll definitely be back to do a full write up but wanted to show it and say just a bit.
First thing to say, Super Cool! McGuires has a great look and an awesome menu. It is quite large and there are so many things to look at. I love places that are visually stimulating and fun. This place hits it. Add to that there awesome craft brews and you just can’t beat it. The food was great. The beer was even greater. I also have to say that the service was excellent. Since Sandy didn’t feel well, our waitress go our stuff wrapped and ready to go at warp speed with a smile. Incredible.
Take a look at the pictures of our stop at the Destin location. Talk after the jump.
If you are in Destin Florida, check this place out. I mean it. So cool, so good and so fun! Want us to come to your place and live tweet or write about it. Get in touch. Email email@example.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter!
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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This place has been around for awhile. It was one of the early restaurants/bars to start when downtown Champaign began to makes it’s come back. They also have a much larger one at the edge of downtown with a huge arcade and multiple levels. It is very cool but for Sandy and I these days (kids all grown up!) the downtown location is more our speed. It’s a great weeknight stop for us.
They have a large menu but known for thin crust pizza. Tuesdays are half price pizza night! A great deal to have a couple drinks and an inexpensive and excellent pizza. When we stopped recently we had both endured crazy days so I didn’t get as many pictures for the usual post but the point is give it a shot. Lot’s of pool tables, video poker/slots and a cool old building. It’s quiet and lively at the same time but that feel that only comes from being in a place in a very old building.
Before the pictures let me just say the Pesto Margherita was an excellent choice. My wife is more of a thin crust person than me but I loved it. Mozzarella, provolone with romas and basil! A couple of Half Acre IPA’s and the night was perfect. No matter how many luxe places we travel to in our crazy life, this kind of thing is still my favorite.
If yo are in the area check this place out. Just enjoy a nice relaxing evening. Can’t beat it. A few minutes from the University of Illinois campus and in the heart of the tech / gaming offices in the downtown. It’s worth a trip.
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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.
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!!!!!!
When I say hideaway I mean it in a very cool way. Off the street in an alley but right downtown. Think speakeasy but cool and clean lol. It truly is a destination location and one you should go to! You will see when I start posting pictures in a minute.
I know the Farren family personally as our daughters danced together on a comp tem and we travelled all over the country. They also keep horses at the stable my son owns. They are really cool and unusual people. It makes them great restaurant owners! Actually I have been going here though long before I knew them from those activities. Pretty much since it opened and I found it on accident. An awesome accident.
Years ago I think it was storage for another set of restaurants nearby (ill have to ask Carolyn). It gives it that hideaway warehouse feel with a cool ambience. On to the food though! Year after year they win the best burger award in all the local media. The burgers are awesome but there is so much more. Thinks bistro hip foodie while maintaining a cool bar food pub stance. You will find tech hipsters , finance people and older folks after a college football game. Heck, obviously you also find old retired fighters lol.
On this trip I go the Sante Fe chicken sandwich. Full disclosure, I often get that. A great chicken breast on fresh bread with an awesome pesto. A bit of peppers and cheese and it is perfect. It just has the right amount of pop with creaminess, flavorful without being heavy. Sandy had the mushroom and cheese and it was perfectly done. Too rich for me but right up her alley! Add in a great beer from Triptych ( another of our great local craft brewers ) and the meal was just awesome. Always is. Check the pictures and we will talk after jump.
If you want to get great magazine foodie level food at bar prices, check this place out. It is worth the trip. I might be a regular but you should try it at least once. If you are in central Illinois you should be a regular!
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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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Todays links ( be here for a very affordable rate!!!!!)
The title doesn’t cover it! Tractors. Implements of all kinds. Music. Demonstrations. It’s huge! Amazing food everywhere in the middle of nowhere. It is one of the coolest things you can see. Farming drives much of America and the world. A fact that I’m proud of as a kid who grew up tossing hay bales and walking beans. I live in the heart of it. I may have been all over to fight, teach and travel but I’ve always called this home.
The show is run by and held on the grounds of the I&I tractor club in Penfield IL. Penfield is tiny, the grounds are huge. The old school is now a museum for the club and the grounds make a state fair location blush. Besides people bring stuff the club itself has amazing equipment it has restored. This includes a Hart Part steam tractor that they place on loan to The Smithsonian most of the year. Yep, that big of a deal. Full disclosure, we have been involved in this for for about 13 years. My dad and son decided to start restoring small hobby farm tractors and got involved. This got me involved lol. Even though my son his own home, there is still a project here in my shop!!! ( a Roof 60 if you’re interested in that type of thing).
We love going. It’s not a far trip for us but it’s an annual family adventure. Food and farms! Geographically the area might ring a bell. It’s about 7 or 8 miles from Gifford IL which became famous on CNN a few years back. Devastating tornado, which sadly is a bit normal where we live.
I’m going to let pictures ( a bunch of them) do the talking for a bit. Talk after the jump.
As many pictures as i posted it doesnt even cover a quarter of it. Bbq, fried things and true americana. There really isnt anything like it to show you what rural ag life means. Parades, music and real farmers who know how to work on their own equipment.
This is in the heart of Illinois. If you take my advice and make this an adventure next July there are things close by. Two hours from chicago and indianapolis both. Besides that it is 35 minutes from Champaign/ Urbana ( uiuc campus) so plenty of places to stay! Give it some thought. If you have questions on the pictures, comment here and ill answer as best i can. Follow @combatsportlife on twitter and email email@example.com for ad/ sponsor info.
Check out the clubs website