from the Sharon Harkness team of real estate experts

Champaign Urbana Restaurants

Food Trucks in Champaign Urbana

Champaign Foodies

So there is good news and bad news when it comes to food trucks in CU. Godd news is we have them just like on TV. And good news is both cities have passed ordinances to welcome them. And good news is they are on the street all year around pretty much.

Bad news is that they range in quality from just good to poor. Here is a brief review of three of them–and yes there are more. So comment and give suggestions and reviews of others. Or even tell us about great ones you have experienced in Chicago or Portland or Flatville (joke).

Here we go.

Cracked Egg

This one I would classify as good. Nice array of breakfast and other goodies. The Cracked Egg menu has sandwiches, wrap (even veggie), sides and some cool drinks. Generally the food is fresh, perhaps a bit oily, but very serviceable. One cool spot they often fill is a the farmers market in Urbana– makes a good late breakfast on a Saturday morning.

Food truck in Champaign

Cracked Egg selling it on the street in downtown Champaign

Food truck in Urbana

This one wins the prize for artwork.

Mas Amigos

I find the Mas Amigos food truck attractive but underwhelming food wise. In particular the meats are good flavored but the lettuce and other veggies on the burritos was stale. Good sized and reasonably priced but not “fresca”.

Burrito King

Ditto of Mas Amigos–sorry. The burritos are a smothered affair and fairly tasty. But with old lettuce they flop. Sauces and cheese are muy rica but the chips were refried refried- so tough and greasy.

Food truck in Urbana

This food truck in Champaign is fairly basic.

Food truck Champaign

The actual burritos are not bad–good cheese and sauce.

So…give us your feedback on these and other food trucks in the area.


Real Estate Open House in Champaign

1407 Waverly Drive, Champaign, Illinois

This home on Waverly will be open this Sunday, 2-4pm.

This home on Waverly will be open this Sunday, 2-4pm.

This luxury home for sale in Champaign will be open this Sunday and we welcome you to come by to see it bewteen 2 and 4pm.

This exceptional home is located near one of Champaign’s premier golf courses. It was completely remodeled in 1994 & 2nd remodel in 2005. The home features an open floor plan and this provides for plenty of space for entertaining.

There are hardwood floors throughout much of the home.

Come by to experience this lovely home.

Biggby Coffee on Mattis

There is a new coffee house out west in Champaign. Its another Biggby- the first was at MarketPlace Mall.

Bigby Ext

They had guys out on the street the past few days waving placards (a job I always wanted to try like for a day or so.

Bigby sign

I ventured in to try the brew and it is decent. Also the space inside is not at all crowded- a welcome change from some of the other java places around CU.

Anyone been there? Your opinion?

Closing Costs on Your Real Estate Deal

This great info comes from the newsletter of Diane Loomis, Keller Williams agent in Langhorne, PA.

The Scoop on Closing Costs

Are you a buyer preparing to close on a house? Now is a good time to refresh yourself on the most common closing costs.

There are more expenses to buying a house than just the monthly mortgage payment. More than likely you’ll need to come up with some cold, hard cash in order to finalize the deal.

Here are some common closing costs to consider:

  • Down Payment: Due to today’s economic climate, most buyers will need to put down at least 20 percent. This makes good financial sense. If you can’t afford to put 20 percent down then you probably can’t afford to buy this particular house.
  • Loan Origination: This is what the lender charges you to underwrite the loan, meaning what they charge for their time and all the paperwork they need to do.
  • Points: You’ll often see that different lenders have different “rates” and different “points” they charge. By paying points, you can receive a lower interest rate, but this means more cash at closing.
  • Credit Score: You can access your credit report for free at, however, in order to see your credit “score” — the magic number that lenders use to determine your interest rate — you’ll need to pay a small fee.
  • Home Inspection: You want to be sure, no matter if the house is new or old, that you get a home inspection by a qualified inspector. You may love the house and the price, but if you find out that a big ticket item needs replaced you will be able to renegotiate the price or decide to change your tune on buying the home. A typical inspection will run you from around $300 to $500.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): This is what a lender charges if you are putting less than 20 percent down on the cost of the home. It usually runs about .5 to 1 percent of the total cost of the loan and is simply a safeguard to protect the lender should you default.

Other Small Fees: Insurance escrow, property tax escrow, notary fees, land surveys, deed recording, etc. Be sure to ask your real estate agent which will apply to your contract and what the expected costs will be. Congratulations on the decision to buy! Owning a home can be a wonderfully fulfilling experience. Just be sure you’re ready for the closing costs coming your way!

Written by Carla Hill

Restaurant Week- Summer, 2012

Downtown Champaign

Restaurant Week 2012 is another way to get a Taste of Champaign Urbana.

This is one of the premier events brought to all of us who love downtown Champaign by the Champaign Center Partnership.

Here is what their site says about this culinary event:

Restaurant Week is back for our summer edition July 13 – 19, 2012.  Restaurant week features the best restaurants our center city districts have to offer.  Be sure to put Restaurant Week on your calender…you won’t want to miss it!  Check back for more details and a listing of restaurant specials.


Paradisio and Kopi- two beans in a pod

Caffe Paradisio truly has that coffee house feel.

We have a good smattering of the stock coffee places in Champaign Urbana including the world wide brands as well as a few good locals.

Two of the townies that are very good and very similar are Kopi in downtown Champaign and Paradisio on the east side of the U of I campus.

Kopi is good because it is convenient, it opens early, eats are decent, and bottom line the coffee is awesome. One nice option is to bring your own cup and only pay a buck- actually it recently went up to 1.25.

Caffe Paradisio is good for many of the same, but it is SO bohemian. Old hippies have to love it. They also feature live music mostly on weekends.

Both places will let you hang and have good plugins and wifi.

Black Dog or Smoke?

They pack it on at Black Dog and this is real BBQ!

There has been some flutter on Facebook about which of these Champaign Urbana BBQ places is better. Smoke is the new kid on the block having quickly taken over the nice space on Windsor first occupied by Ansun.

To me there is no comparison. Black Dog wins in almost every category:

-Flavor at Smoke is lackluster. I Did have a decent baked sweet potato. But here’s the deal: BBQ places are for carnivores ands should never be evaluated by the veggies or starch.

-Ambiance is a winner for Black Dog. The Smoke space is suburban and it doesn’t smell like smoke!

-Brews are cheaper at Smoke but the choice is limited.

-Buns. Now buns are a critical piece of the puzzle. Black Dog wins hands down.

Smoke is packing them in as it opens but my prediction is that they won’t last a year. You just have to put the meat between the bun to die for and they aren’t.