This small chain of diners based in Champaign, Illinois has something of an old-fashioned feel to it. Four locations around central Illinois, many featuring such things as an old-fashioned diner bar and lunch counter. An enormous Rosie the Riveter poster (holding a hamburger no less) looks on as you get seated to try the spot. Its menu an a la carte collection of different breakfast items and of course quarter-pound diner burgers with ketchup and cheese, sort of a mainstay of diners past. It’s a small business like this one that often forms the beating heart of a large town like Champaign.
A diner like this one is the perfect kind of spot for breakfast, whether you want eggs or hash browns, sausage biscuits or gravy. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could get a “Diner stack,” which is a biscuit topped with hash browns, eggs, sausage and gravy for good measure. It’s a combination of all of the best things in a breakfast, after all. The biscuits and gravy are fantastic, the biscuit extra buttery and the gravy very very thick. Could use more sausage of course but I do love a good gravy.
The hash browns are the best, for sure, browned on the edges nicely to a crisp and just about perfect for a compliment to other breakfast foods. The sausage is a sweeter mix which is also good, and the eggs are cooled simply. I wasn’t a fan of the coffee though, it’s a little burned, and it’s pretty basic. I’d suggest getting it some place else.
The atmosphere of the place is just great, it’s a bright concept very simple, with green and white trimmings and tables that connect directly to the kitchen bar. Food is fast, service is friendly, and at each location there seems to be a variety of visitors of all ages and groups that like the place enough to keep it going for breakfast and lunch.
The 24-hour diner in a college town is a magical thing. There are a hundred different scenarios to visit, at a hundred different times of the day. Central Illinois is served well by Merry Ann’s and I would call it a good experience overall.
- I like the place for breakfast, as it has a lot of very simple breakfast dishes for cheap.
- Lunch has fewer options, though there are a number of burgers that would be good to try.
- The diner is always open, too, if you happen to be looking for a late-night meal following the bars or studying.