Farren’s Pub and Eatery was a suggestion I got from a poster over at Chowhound. I wanted to find some of the harder to find places in Champaign/Urbana and I definitely did with this place. I spent all morning at Memorial Stadium getting ready for tomorrow’s U of I/Eastern Illinois game. By the time our lunch break rolled around, I was starving. I left the stadium and headed back towards downtown. Farren’s sits on Randolph Street which is a one-way a few blocks west of Neil which is the main business district. My GPS was telling me I was there, but I wasn’t seeing it. As I was driving by, the sign jumped out at me at the last second. I had to go up to the next street and turn around. The only parking around Farren’s is street parking and since it was 3:00, I didn’t have any trouble finding a spot in front.
The main entrance sits quite a ways off of the road. I wasn’t quite sure which door to go in. The only sign is the one out front at the road. There are no markings on the door or windows that frame the door. I pulled on it and it opened so I figured that was it.
There’s not a whole lot to the pub but what is there is gorgeaous. You walk down a ramp that reminds you of a wheelchair ramp to get into the space. There are just a few tables and the bar in the dining room. There was only one other table being used when I got there. I grabbed one close to the bar/kitchen to make it easy on the waiter/bartender.
The menus were on the table so I was ready to order by the time the waiter came for my drink order. Alongside the Pepsi, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries. Fries were a buck extra, but the menu said they were fresh cut, so I thought that would make it worth it. I got there at about shift change, so the morning cook started my meal and the evening cook finished. The kitchen is open and sits right next to the bar. There’s just enough room for the flat top, a couple microwaves, and a deep fryer. It took about 10 minutes to cook my burger and fries which was good because I was pressed for time.
The waiter brought it out and asked if I needed mayo, ketchup, or mustard. No way. I want to taste the meat. A good burger doesn’t need condiments and this was a good burger. I’ve read some reviews about Farren’s having one of the best burgers in town. I’m no expert in the Champaign/Urbana area, but I can see how people can say that. The burger was nice and juicy. I’m sure it was fresh. The bacon was deliciously crispy and the bun was just a little toasted. The fries were not like a lot of fresh cut fries I get. These were much smaller and very, very crispy. They were a little greasy though which isn’t bad when it comes to taste, but it is pretty bad when we come to calories. Even being greasy, they were really, really good.
While I was sitting there, a lady came in with a delivery of garlic and tomatoes. These weren’t from a mass producer, but from a farm somewhere in the area. She brought them in a box and let the cooks look over them to make sure they were good.
My meal was delicious. When it came time for the check, the waiter just stared at me. Another guy had just come in the bar and he must be a regular. The waiter stayed at the bar cutting lemons and talking about the price of stamps. I sat there….and sat there….and sat there…and even made eye contact a couple times. I looked at my watch and realized this couldn’t keep going. I needed to get back to work, so I got up and went to the bar. He still just kind of looked at me like he didn’t know what I was doing. Finally I just said, “Can I have my check?” and something clicked with him. He started apologizing and grabbed the bill which came to ten bucks even. I paid and got out of there hoping I’d make it back to the stadium in time.
Farren’s was delicious. The atmosphere is great and the space has a unique interesting design. You won’t be able to squeeze a lot of people in for dinner and I’m sure things pick up on weekends when the Fightin Illini are in town. Farren’s is a place I never would have found on my own. I’m glad I got the recommendation because the meal was worth it and up until the end, the service was really good. The waiter just got sidetracked when that other guy came in. I would most definitely recommend you find this place when you’re looking for good food in Champaign.