Posted this to the Chicago board earlier in response to a young chowhound at the U of I... it may be of interest to others...
Not sure how familiar you are with good eats in C-U off campus, but as an alum I can definitely give you a few chow - worthy destinations that you should be able to convince pretty much anyone to go to.
-- Li'l Porgy's ("Tastes so good 'cause we cook on wood") at the corner of University & Broadway in Urbana. I know this is a bold statement to make, but I think that this is the BEST barbeque I've had in my life. People (especially from Texas) give me funny looks or laugh out loud when I tell them that the best BBQ in the country is to be found in Central Illinois... until I bring them samples of the fabled sauce!
-- The Seaboat on the corner of Bradley & Market in Champaign. Great seafood po'boys & probably the best southern/soul food you'll find in town
-- Dos Reales on Prospect, just south of I-74. Hands down the best Mexican in town. A HUGE fajita quesadilla (the best item on the menu IMHO) will set you back $6.
-- Bacaro on Neal, just north of University. C-U's most innovative upscale restaurant. Modeled on Chicago's Blackbird, they have the same commitment to serving fresh seasonal foods. The menu changes seasonally. A certain friend of mine once declared their mascarpone cheesecake with maple topping to be "better than sex" . Hmmm.
Other places to check out: Cafe Kopi (next to Bacaro), Papa Del's pizza (Green & 2nd), Jarlings Custard (State & Kirby), Silvercreek Sunday brunch (Race & University), Farmer's Market on Saturdays in the Lincoln Square parking lot...