Eichelberger Field – Urbana, IL

30 03 2009
  • 1201 W. Florida Avenue
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217)
  • Website
Eichelberger Field on the campus of the University of Illinois

Eichelberger Field on the campus of the University of Illinois

Nothing like getting up early on a Sunday morning to drive in blizzard like conditions to a softball game.  That was how my day started. 

After getting rained out Saturday at Illinois Field, I made the trek back to Champaign/Urbana from my parents house for a softball game between the University of Illinois and Michigan State University.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t want to cooperate.

The University of Illinois softball team plays their home games at Eichelberger Field in Urbana.  It’s actually just a few hundred yards from the men’s field, but the city limits for the two towns lie just outside the center field wall at Illinois Field.  Even though the street addresses are different, they’re on the same street. Read the rest of this entry »





Niro’s Gyros – Urbana, IL

28 03 2009
  • 1007 W. University Avenue
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217) 328-6476
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Niros Gyros on University Avenue in Urbana.

Niro's Gyros on University Avenue in Urbana.

The Italian beef craving set in again.  I’m just not going to go back to Illinois and not get one.  I left Illinois Field on my lunch break and headed towards Green Street to get lunch like I always do.  Problem is, when I got there, everything was closed.  U of I is on spring break and everything closed up with them.  I panicked a little.  Where else was I going to go?  I was driving around and I came up to University Avenue.  Then it clicked.  There was a little Greek place up the road where I could get my Italian beef.

Niro’s Gyros is located on University near Lincoln in Urbana.  Niro’s has several locations in the Champaign/Urbana area and there are even stores that I know of in Bloomington, IL.  I have no idea why Greek places tend to have Italian beef in Illinois, but it’s fairly common.  Places like Niro’s are almost cookie-cutter to the extent that you know what’s on the menu before you get there.

There’s not much to this Niro’s location.  There’s a drive thru which I should have used and a walk up window.  There’s no seating inside.  They have some concrete tables outside, but that’s it.  When you walk in, there’s just enough room for a menu board and a window. Read the rest of this entry »





Antonio’s Pizza – Champaign, IL

19 02 2009
  • 619 E. Green Street
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 365-9500
  • No Known Website
  • Menu
Antonios Pizza on Green Street in Champaign, IL

Antonio's Pizza on Green Street in Champaign, IL

You should know me by now.  When I’m on the campus of a large university, I go looking for pizza-by-the-slice.  I was in Champaign to witness one of the worst basketball games I have ever seen.  If you happened to watch the Penn State vs. Illinois basketball game, you know what I’m talking about.  Before that atrocity, I needed to find dinner.  Most of my co-workers went to a Mexican place, but I wanted pizza, so I headed to Green Street and started walking.

Antonio’s Pizza is in the 600 Block of Green Street which is U of I’s big restaurant district.  They’ve got everything from Asian to chains to bars to pizza.  I walked by a few places that looked good, but didn’t do anything for me.  From the corner of 6th and Green, I could see a green, white, and red striped awning.  I knew it had to be a pizza place, soI crossed the street and kept walking. Read the rest of this entry »





Urbana Garden Family Restaurant – Urbana, IL

22 12 2008
  • 810 W. Killarney St.
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217) 328-1514
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Urbana Garden Family Restaurant in Urbana, IL

Urbana Garden Family Restaurant in Urbana, IL

It’s always fun when you’re in a strange city to go out to eat with the locals. I was working at Assembly Hall for a University of Illinois basketball game with a few other guys who live in the area. I’m somewhat familiar with the Champaign/Urbana area, but not nearly as familiar with the local joints, so I was happy when one of my co-workers took the lead and suggested we go to Urbana Gardens for dinner.

Urbana Gardens sits near Interstate 74 in Urbana a few miles from campus. It’s one of those down home, friendly restaurants where it’s more about having a good time than white table cloths. Five of us left the arena together for lunch. When we showed up at Urbana Gardens, we were relieved to see the holiday shoppers didn’t make it down this far. The place was pretty empty for a Saturday night and we were seated at a table together. I sort of felt sorry for the other patrons. We were loud. The guys I was with all have a sarcastic sense of humor and the waitress was playing along, so things got a little noisy. The table sitting next to us didn’t seem to mind as eventually, they started asking questions about our line of work.

The waitress came with drinks. I ordered a Coke. We also had one coffee, a Sprite, an iced tea and two Arnold Palmers. The waitress looked at the first guy that ordered it and said, “you’re going to be surprised I actually know what that is.” I had no idea, but after a quick Internet search, I now know it’s half iced tea and half lemonade. The waitress had a system when it came to keeping track of orders and she wasn’t about to let anyone mess it up. She started with the first guy to her left. He asked what the specials were and eventually decided on chicken fried steak. He asked if it had mushrooms and if so, to keep it off. The waitress asked if he was alergic and just didn’t like them. He said he didn’t like them. She said she would have to check if it even had mushrooms because the gravy was already made and if he was alergic, she’d pick them off….if he didn’t like them, he’d just have to deal with. That sounds mean, but she was being sarcastic and messing around with him. It was all in good fun and I don’t think she would have actually made him eat them. Read the rest of this entry »





Assembly Hall – Champaign, IL

22 12 2008
  • 1800 S. 1st St.
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 333-5000
  • Website
An empty arena at the Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois

An empty arena at the Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois

Until last year, even though I lived near it all my life, I had never been to Assembly Hall in Champaign for a basketball game. Heck, until earlier this month, I had never even been to a college basketball game tha wasn’t for work. The same is still true in Champaign.

I spent another Saturday night in Illinois working. Assembly Hall isn’t the most modern arena in the Big Ten, but it does have it’s charm. The arena looks like a giant UFO. It must be a thing with Illinois arenas. I used to go to events at Assembly Hall when I was younger. We went to many Ice Capades in Champaign, but like I already mentioned, last year was the first time I had been there when the basketball floor was set up.

When you walk in to Assembly Hall, you come into a concourse level. You have to go up a series of ramps on the outside to get to the main gates. From the concourse level, you can enter the arena and either go up or down. Most of the day of sales tickets are up. Like most college basketball arenas, season ticket holders get the lower bowl while every one gets up in the B and C levels. There are portable bleachers in each end zone. The side near the tunnel and Illinois’ bench is for family and the band. The other end is for the Orange Crush (Illinois’ version of the IzZone.) Read the rest of this entry »





Blues BBQ – Urbana, IL

5 09 2008
  • 1103 W. Oregon St.
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217) 239-9555
  • Website
  • Menu
Blues BBQ on Oregon St. in Urbana, IL near the University of Illinois

Blues BBQ on Oregon St. in Urbana, IL near the University of Illinois

I made a mistake.  I had planned on going to grab a couple slices of pizza after I got off work from a pizza joint that gets rave reviews.  Instead, I chose to go get BBQ.  That in itself is not a bad choice.  The restaurant I chose was the bad choice.

I noticed Blues BBQ last night when I went to Manolo’s (review HERE) to get pizza.  I almost went there then because it *looked* like a neat place.  When I left Memorial Stadium tonight about 8:00, I headed back to the area to get some Q. 

Blues BBQ is located in a little shopping district on the campus of the University of Illinois.  From the outside Blues looks like an upscale BBQ place.  It’s not the roadhouse you think of when you usually think of BBQ.  This should have been a huge warning sign.  When you walk in, again, you’re met with an upscale, eclectic feel.  There are a handful of tables in the dining room.  Most of them share seats with long, red benches.  There’s a bar that runs along the windows which is about the only thing in here that you would find in a typical BBQ place.  Read the rest of this entry »





Manolos Pizza & Empanadas – Urbana, IL

4 09 2008
  • 1115 W. Oregon St.
  • Urbana, IL 61803
  • (217) 365-0110
  • Website
  • Menu
Manolos Pizza & Empanadas near the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana

Manolo's Pizza & Empanada's near the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana

Traveling has really wore me out….and made me hungry.  I’m sitting in my hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign and even though I’ve had two meals, I’m hungry.  I get on my laptop and do a search for pizza joints that sell pizza by the slice.  That’s what I really love about college towns.  You can usually find a pizza place open late.  My hotel is pretty close to campus, so I figured there would be one close and of course, there was more than one. 

I chose the one that wasn’t quite as close to Memorial Stadium…I think.  I went to the area I wasn’t familiar with tonight so I could stop by the other one after I get done with work tomorrow evening which I believe is closer.  I’m probably wrong, but oh well.  The one I chose is called Manolos Pizza & Empanadas and it sits right next to popular the night spot The Cannopy Club.

There’s not much to Manolos.  Just a glass case with already made pizza, a cash register and a bar along the back wall should you want to stay an eat.  There’s no seating, but their website says you can dine in at the Canopy Club.  I would assume that means you’ve already got tickets to a show and they just serve pizza in there.  Read the rest of this entry »