These restaurants are going above and beyond to serve food – under the most unique of conditions – outdoors (but inside!) in Champaign, Urbana, and Rantoul
We know our readers are eager to support local restaurants. With help from our readers and other resources, we have put together this list of Champaign-Urbana area restaurants with heated outdoor seating.
We’ve revamped this list to include igloos, greenhouses, and heated tents – all very creative ways to keep everyone safe while still being able to go out to eat.
Please note, this information is subject to change without notice, just like the Illinois weather. We do our best to keep this info up-to-date, but restaurants often change course. When in doubt – call ahead before you go.
Thank you for your help — please email us if you know of an establishment with heated outdoor seating that we have missed, or if you can help us update any of the following information.
To combat the surge of COVID-19, the entire state of Illinois moved into Tier 3 mitigation effective November 20, 2020. No indoor service is permitted in bars or restaurants under Tier 3. When a temporary structure such as a tent is used for outdoor seating, “at least 50% of the sides [must be] open to provide adequate air flow,” and “Patrons inside a temporary outdoor structure must be seated, and tables must be spaced a minimum of six feet apart,” as well as other outdoor dining requirements spelled out in state Phase 4 guidelines.
Inclusion in this article does not constitute a guarantee that a restaurant’s outdoor seating meets current public health guidelines. Questions? Contact Champaign Urbana Public Health District.
A few tips before you go eat – whether it’s a heated tent or patio, igloo, greenhouse, or other
1. Many restaurants are now requiring reservations for igloos/cabins. Call ahead, because you don’t want to be waiting too long. We’ve tried to indicate which places require reservations.
2. Look at the menu before you go, and be prepared to order. Many restaurants have their menus online, or again, call ahead. Some restaurants are offering contactless menus. Because these outdoor locations are limited, some may have time limits for tables.
3. BYOB. In this case, bring your own (washable) blankets. Need hand warmers? Get them online in bulk.
4. Do you tailgate? Or sit outside at football/soccer/other athletic events? Outdoor dining isn’t much different. Approach your attire similarly. Wear layers if you don’t want to eat in your coat, especially if you are in a tent or a greenhouse. Some of the igloos do get pretty warm.
5. Here’s our biggest tip for spending extended periods of time outside: be sure to invest in a lot of cozy headwear and footwear this winter. Warm hats and socks will be key to staying comfortable.
6. Tip well!
Champaign-Urbana Area Restaurants With Heated Dining
Aspen Tap House 2001 S. Neil (former Scotty’s Brewhouse): Heated outdoor tent with TVs in there. Watch your favorite teams.
Aroma and Cowboy Monkey, downtown Champaign: Individual greenhouses seat up to four. They are heated and have outlets for your charging needs. Coffee, studying, or lunch during the day; at night get dinner and drinks.
Big Grove Tavern, 1 E. Main St., Champaign: Big Grove Tavern has always been one of our favorite places for outdoor dining, especially when the kiddos are around. Heaters plus a fabric screen to keep out wind and moisture. Patio seating is available from Thursday through Sunday.
Billy Barooz, 2521 Village Place, Champaign: Billy Barooz has put what it calls “cabins” outside for outdoor dining. Reservations are recommended a least 1-2 days ahead of time for weekdays and 3 days ahead for weekends. Hold up to six people. Open for lunch and dinner.
Black Dog, downtown Champaign: Has heated seating on a screened porch (windows open, radiant heaters) in addition to a few greenhouses. “In the interest of maximizing safety for our guests and staff we have recently installed new greenhouses outside as well as inside of our four-season open porch.” (See it at the link). No reservations needed; first come first serve.
Bunny’s Tavern, 119 W. Water St., Urbana: Bunny’s has a large tent with heaters for plenty of outdoor dining. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.
Fiesta Cafe, 216 S. 1st St., Champaign: “Fiesta Cafe permanently installed heat on their patio even before the pandemic.” “It was quite cozy even though we were outside. Extra bonus was that our food was served piping hot!” Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Guido’s, Downtown Champaign: Eight greenhouses are set up on the patio. No reservations are needed and sat by first come first serve. Seat four. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Hamilton Walker’s, 201 N. Neil St., Champaign. Hamilton Walker’s now has igloo dining for parties of up to six people, for dinner only from Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are required and seatings are limited, so make sure to do it in advance. (See photo above).
Jupiter’s At the Crossing, 2511 Village Green Place, Champaign. Heated patio dining.
Kofusion, 1 E. Main St., Champaign. Igloos available. We’ve heard they are pretty chilly, so dress warm. Call or reserve online. Open for lunch and dinner.
Nando Milano Trattoria, 204 N. Neil St., Champaign. Heated tent with limited seating available. Reservations required. Open daily for dinner only.
Sun Singer, 1115 W. Windsor Rd., Champaign: Don’t be confused if you pull up to Sun Singer and don’t see a heated tent. It’s behind the building. Open daily for lunch and dinner, and weekends for brunch.
Watson’s, downtown Champaign. Greenhouse available, with limited seating. Open 11 a.m. to 9 pm. Seats six. Reservations are required.
When indoor dining is again permitted by state and county public health, we know that many restaurants have been working to make their indoor dining rooms safer for both patrons and servers alike. Farren’s and Cafe Kopi, both in downtown Champaign, have installed UV air filtration systems, and other restaurants are updating their HVAC systems to improve indoor air quality.
A heartfelt shoutout to all the establishments doing this hard work to keep us well fed – and most importantly – safe.