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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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).
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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