We love to go up and hike Starved Rock State Park as well as stay at the gorgeous lodge there (see a previous post).We always go into Utica to wander as well. A quant and picturesque place that is rare anymore. Great little bars with awesome food and a great winery (See our earlier post on August Hill). Great little trading post style shops, galleries and whisky tastings. It is just a really interesting and fun place to hang out. We travel all over but it is still a favorite to wander. Take a look at the pictures, see or other posts and comment with any questions. Glad to help. Also follow us on twitter @combatsportlife (where we are most active)
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)
My wife and I travel to the Starved Rock area in Northern Illinois quite often (see previous articles). It’s gorgeous and great room/cabins in the grand lodge in the park. We also love to go in to the quaint town of Utica. Historic town with so many cool things to see but always relaxing.
This was our first chance to stop at August Hill. The winery itself is a few miles away but the tasting room is right downtown. It is amazing. A beautiful mod feel that would fit in anywhere in a huge metro or Napa. Still it is in a tiny town.
A fantastic tasting setup in a stunning room. You can get small plate food items hand carried into the gorgeous lounge area if you wish to buy wine by the glass or bottle and relax. Plus wine! Guess what? The wine is excellent as well. Often not true of these smaller Midwestern wineries. This is outstanding (and yes I’ve been all over the world as a fighter/travel writer). I love the Chambourcin (in fact there is a bottle staring at me in my office!) Try it. Now check out the pictures and enjoy. Talk after the jump.
I can’t say it enough. Come to this area and definitely come to August Hill when you do. Trust me. I travel all over and it’s world class yet warm and classically Midwest. I should add that the staff was amazing. Great service. Great knowledge. Go!
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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.
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
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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Check today’s links and sponsors.