Esquire Lounge is a bar in downtown Champaign, Illinois, primarily serving the students and sports fans of the nearby University of Illinois both as a sports bar with some simple bar food and as a pool hall. This spot has been around for close to 40 years and maintains the air of a very simple kind of destination that fills up fast on the weekends and serves free peanuts for its variety of patrons. The food is as simple, and overall it wasn’t a bad place to call a Friday night.
The bar has a very simple menu, a variety of pizzas and some sandwiches and burgers. I most recommend the pizzas, in particular I was a fan of the “Greek pizza,” though I expected it to have lamb it was actually a red pepper, olive, and sausage piece with a few artichoke hearts and mozzarella cheese to top it off. Good stuff. The crust is a thin creation with just a little bit of crunch to it, and the sauce is a sweet and fruity option. Not at all like the style made up north, but it’s still an interesting dish regardless.
I found the other options about average, about what you’d expect from a low-price bar. The BLT is good, the bread toasted lightly and topped with mayo and a decent five pieces of bacon, lettuce and four slices of tomato. It’s good, but about what you’d be able to make at home. The fries are from a freezer bag. I tried the cheese sticks, and they’re also from a freezer bag. Not to say the place is bad, the price point is always going to attract college kids, but it’s not anything worth a special trip. It might be better thought of as a place you go to see people or play pool, and the food is an interesting side option.
Esquire gets packed with college kids and alums pretty quickly, and they will always fill a business, especially with four pool tables and $2 gin-and-tonics. I wouldn’t call it my first option for dining in town, though.
- The pizzas are the best thing on the menu, I’d give one of the signature pies a taste before anything else.
- Drinks are cheap, and that’s always a good component when picking a bar.
- Also, there’s a cheap set of surf and turf options made into sandwiches. How else could you get a $7.50 Ribeye steak?