New to Champaign-Urbana? Whether you're an Electrum tenant or are just new to the neighborhood, here is some insider information collected from sixteen years of tenant questions to make your move a little easier!
Electrum tries to encourage patronage at the shops in our neighborhoods. Where possible, we’ve suggested not only the best places for what you need, but also those that are within walking distance from many of our locations. First, a brief introduction to the commercial districts in the area. Below that you'll find specific recommendations for where to find what you need.
Commercial districts. Champaign-Urbana has several:
1) North Prospect area. The largest commercial area. Take Springfield or Church street West through Champaign to Prospect (about 1 mile West of Campus town). Head North (right) on Prospect for about 2 miles. Pass over Interstate 74, and the North Prospect district lies before you.
2) Downtown Champaign. Champaign's downtown has experienced an amazing resurgence in the last few years. It's loaded with some great clubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes, as well as boutique clothing, galleries, and art house movies. It's been compared to Chicago's Randolph Street. Somewhat undefined, the heart can be found on the block bordered by Chestnut on the East, University on the South, Church/Main on the North, and Neil on the West. Take Springfield about a mile west of campus, turn north (right) on Neil, veer right on Walnut when Neil splits.
3) Market Place Mall. North Neil street. About a mile East of the newer North Prospect area. Market Place Mall is a traditional large indoor mall, with clothing stores, shoe stores, a few department stores and general mall offerings.
4) Campus Town – Essentially Green street, stretching from 2nd to Wright. Mostly fast food, some clothing, Illini-related merchandise.
Where to get what you need...
Benders Mattresses Factory. Mattresses and box springs. We’ve found their quality to be very good, and they produce everything they sell in-house. If you’re looking for an inexpensive bed, you might try them first. Plus they deliver for free! (1206 N. Cunningham Ave, U.)
Furniture Row. Oak Express, Sofa Mart, Denver Mattress. (North Prospect).
Meijer. In addition to groceries and household goods, Meijer sells some furniture. Low end but attractive computer desks, tables, chairs (North Prospect).
Target. Medium range chairs, end tables. No couches. Also toiletries, electronics, clothing, household items (North Prospect).
This is it Furniture. Not heirloom quality, but durable enough to last for a few years. Couches, love seats, tables, lamps, etc. (245 S. Mattis, C).
CVS (formerly Osco). General cleaning supplies, drug store, some food (Campus town. 107 W. Green Street, C.)
Walgreens. General cleaning supplies, drug store, some food (Campus town. 407 E. Green Street, C.)
Target. General household goods and supplies. Clothing, some furniture (North Prospect).
Wal-Mart. Your basic superstore. (North Prospect).
Market Place Mall: Macy's, JC Penny, Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie, etc. Many shoe stores and several more specialized clothing retailers (Market Place Mall).
County Market. Complete 30,000 sq ft grocery store. Also coffee shop, sandwich shop, pizza joint. (corner of Springfield & Fourth, C.)
Strawberry fields. Natural foods, vegetarian and vegan fare. Organic produce, vitamins, and an excellent deli. (306 W. Springfield, U.).
World Harvest. Foods from around the world. Excellent cheeses, olives, canned goods, etc. (Campus town. 519 E. University, C.).
Meijer. Complete grocery and household superstore (North Prospect).
Am-Ko. Primarily Asian (Campus town. 101 E. Springfield, C.).
El Charro. Primarily Mexican and South American (Campus town. 55 E. Green, C.).
Mirabelle Fine Pastries. Outstanding fresh baked breads and desserts. Highly recommended. (124 W. Main, U.).
And you might also want to try the "Market at the Square" behind Lincoln Square in Urbana every Saturday morning mid-May through early November. A pretty good sized farmer's market featuring as many as 100 local farmers, bakers, and craftspeople offering all sorts of locally grown produce, baked goods, etc.
There are supposed to be more restaurants per capita in Champaign-Urbana than in most of the country. But it takes some experience to pick out the gems from the average and ordinary. Some of our favorites:
Fiesta Café. Mexican. Inexpensive. Casual, with large portions. Full-service bar. The best part is that it is located about a block from our 205 E. Stoughton and 206 E. Springfield locations (Campus town. 216 S. First, corner of First and White, C.).
Courier Café. Sandwiches, salad bar, sundaes. Inexpensive. Casual. (111 N. Race, U.).
Siam Terrace. Thai. Good portions and reasonably priced. Casual. (212 West Main, U.).
Jerusalem. Middle Eastern. Huge portions. Inexpensive. Casual. (Campus town. 601 S. Wright, C.).
Rainbow Garden. Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin and Szechuan). Inexpensive. Casual (Close to campus, 1402 S. Neil Street, C.)
Bread Company (a local place--this is not part of the Panera chain). Freshest ingredients used to make French/Swiss-inspired "peasant food". Moderate. Casual. (Campus town. 706 S. Goodwin, U.).
KoFusion. Asian-European fusion (fresh seafood, pastas, sushi) in a very cool and trendy atmosphere. Expensive. (Downtown. 1 East Main).
Radio Maria. Upscale nouveau American. Trendy and cool. Expensive. (Downtown. 119 N. Walnut, C.).
Silvercreek. Traditional American. Steaks, seafood. Expensive. (402 N. Race, U.).
Assorted North Prospect "fern bars". We don't recommend them, but if you like them, or if you're entertaining less adventurous friends and family: Chili's, Ruby Tuesday’s, Applebees, etc. Also Outback Steak House, Red Lobster. (North Prospect).
An enjoyable diversion into the community's dining establishments can be found at the Champaign Taste blog site.
Café Kopi. Champaign's best coffee. Sandwiches, salads, some liquors. (Downtown. 104 N. Walnut, C.)