It’s Your Thing | Get Ready for Restaurant Week | Restaurants

La Bahia Grill participated in the annual Champaign County Area Restaurant Week for the first time last year, a nearly brand new Mexican restaurant in downtown Champaign.

Wait until you see what owners Magely Azila and Leonel Carmona have in store for their second participation in Restaurant Week – coming up on January 17th. 27th to February 4th.

Azila said they are still finalizing the menu, but the plan is to offer two starters, two main courses (one of which is new) and two desserts.

This will be the seventh annual Restaurant Week, a nine-day celebration of what restaurants throughout Champaign County have to offer – including the Philippines, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Mexico, Caribbean, Italy, Zambia , vegetarian, vegan, soul food, farm-to-table and standard American fare, according to Visit Champaign County.

Terri Reifsteck, vice president of marketing and community engagement for Visit Champaign County, said more restaurants are participating every year, so expect the tentative list of participating restaurants released by the agency to grow next month.

La Bahia Grill at 132 W. Church St., C tentatively plans to offer nachos supreme and papas locas as an appetizer, Azila said, which features mixed seafood and house-made sauces, as well as an as-yet-unnamed brand new dish (But probably Volcan, says Azila, meaning volcano in Spanish) Two entrees with fritters and fried cheesecake (chimichanga style) for dessert.

LaBahia Grill recently added breakfast to its menu. The restaurant is open for breakfast from 7am to 3pm, lunch from 11am to 3pm and dinner from 3pm until closing.

Restaurant patrons who would like to participate in Restaurant Week can view a list of participating restaurants at, then make a reservation or view delivery options.

And for a chance to win a $100 gift card to a Champaign County restaurant of your choice, share your dining experience with pictures with #CCRestaurantWeek.

Vacation Grant from Ameren

Ameren Illinois announced a donation of $120,000 through its Ameren Cares program to 12 nonprofit organizations in its service area.

Two recipients of local $10,000 grants include Well Experience in Urbana and the Survivor Resource Center in Danville.

game day special

Where will you be watching Illinois vs. Mississippi State on Monday morning?

The folks at Aspen Tap House in Champaign want you to drop by.

Manager Rachel Rosenbaum said the restaurant/bar will open an hour earlier at 10am on Monday, ahead of the 11am game.

“We want to give Urbana-Champaign the best possible chance to see all the games,” she said.

During the game, she said, the burgers would be buy one get one free.

Rosenbaum said she didn’t know how many people would be in attendance. It will be a Monday morning when there will be a lot of people working. She also said that many people are still on winter vacation.

“But we’re planning for a large group,” she said.

Locally made artisan chocolate

Introducing Chikondi Craft Chocolate, the new joint venture of Miranda Church and Shawnae Cook in Savoy.

The chocolate is described as a “bean to bar” using single-origin cocoa beans, with “high-quality cocoa” as the main ingredient.

According to the business website, Chikondi sources fair-trade cocoa beans from tropical countries and uses a process that involves hand sorting and carefully roasting each batch “to bring out the unique flavor profile of the region of origin.”

“The beans are winnowed to remove their husks, then stone ground with organic cane sugar and cocoa butter for at least 24 hours before being concocted into bark and other Chikondi sweets,” it continued.

The cocoa roaster is the husband of the two owners, Dan Church and Phillip Cook.

According to Dan and Miranda Church, the chocolate is made in a commercial kitchen in Savoy and sold online in three-ounce packets of chocolate bark.

The company also offers pop-up markets and classes.

One upcoming event: Artisan chocolate and whiskey pairing at The Venue CU at 51 E. Main St., C, scheduled for Jan. 27.

It will include a brief history of the chocolate-making and artisan techniques used in Chikondi and an overview of the various whiskeys, followed by samples of various chocolate and whiskey pairings.

Chikondi’s Chocolate Sips, a dessert drink, are currently available at Maize Mexican Grill’s Maize at the Station, 100 N. Chestnut St, C., Miranda Church said.

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