- 1 E. Main Street
- Champaign, IL 61820
- (217) 531-1160
- No Known Website
5:30 AM is still too early for me. I was up at this ungodly hour because I had to be in Champaign by 7:00 AM for a basketball game. My parents live a little over an hour away, so the alarm was set for just before 5:30. Since the game was at 1:00, it meant lunch was actually going to be breakfast, so on my way in to town, I started scouting out breakfast joints. I wasn’t having much luck until I had to detour off of Neil Street (the main artery of Champaign and the road that runs through downtown) because of construction. I turned down Main Street and like a golden beacon, a simple sign that said “diner” jumped out and I found my breakfast spot.
Merry Ann’s Diner is located in the One Main building which is a development companies’ prototype for downtown buildings. I know they also built a “One Main” in Normal, IL near Illinois State University even though the street is not Main Street. The “One Main” name comes from the address of this original building.
I was not aware that there was a second Merry Ann’s in Champaign. I had eaten at the location farther down on the corner of Neil and Kirby Streets near the University of Illinois (review HERE). I was surprised when I actually saw the name of the diner on Main was Merry Ann’s.
I got back downtown just before 10:00. The diner isn’t very big and it’s set up pretty much the same was as the diner on Neil Street. Most of the booths but up to the “kitchen” with little cutouts for the waitress. This way, the waitress never has to go out into the dining room….unless you happen to be sitting at the two or three tables near the door which are separated from the counter. The diner is setup with a row of booths, a lunch counter, and another row of booths. When I walked in, I wasn’t sure there was any available space. All of the booths looked full. I thought maybe there was one down at the end, so I started walking that way. That’s when I noticed the stools at the counter, so I just sat down there.
There were a couple menus already sitting out, so I picked one up to look for food. The waitress came over with silverware and asked about drinks. I just got a Pepsi. Before she left, she asked if I knew what I wanted. The menu isn’t very big, so it wasn’t hard to decide. I put my order in for the #2 breakfast meal which was two eggs, choice of meat (I chose bacon), and toast.
The neat thing about both of these diners is the ability to watch the cook work the flat tops. My seat was directly in front of the cook and watching him cook eggs was pretty impressive. I”ve never worked in a restaurant myself even though I have a desire to open one one day. Watching him make omelets was interesting and gave me some ideas for ways to improve my omelet’s making at home. I always wondered how restaurant omelets always looked so perfect.
After about five minutes, the waitress set my plate down in front of me. There wasn’t a ton of food and it wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it was good, quick diner food. Exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I expected. There were four pieces of wheat toast, four super crispy pieces of bacon and two perfectly cooked eggs.
It didn’t take me long to polish off my breakfast. The waitress came and took my plate and asked if I wanted another Pepsi, but never brought the check. I sat there for a few minutes while she took care of a couple of regulars thinking should would eventually come back, but when she started folding napkins, I knew she forgot. Lucky for me, she had set my ticket down on the counter near where I was sitting to add it up. I reached over and grabbed it, threw a couple bucks down for tip then went to the counter to pay. My bill was just over six bucks.
Other than the little snafu at the end of the meal where the waitress forgot about me, Merry Ann’s Diner provided just what I wanted. Merry Ann’s is a great place downtown and is open 24 hours. They’ve got some interesting “hangover” specials. There’s nothing better than a big greasy dinner after a night out drinking. Merry Ann’s does the diner thing well and it’s an asset to the Champaign/Urbana communities.