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Taps: 27 / Bottles: 70
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
119 N Walnut St
phone: (217) 398-7729
Monday: 5:00pm - 2:00am
Tuesday - Friday: 4:00pm - 2:00am
Saturday & Sunday: 10:30am - 2:00am
(Place added by: siodhachain on 12-28-2006)
Ratings & Reviews
« first ‹ prev
| Reviews: 16 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Went here to get some food and ordered off the tapas menu. They had Rogue Charlie 1981 on tap (in nonic pints), which I hadn't seen elsewhere in town. The beer list was well rounded with tasting notes and ABV listed. While not huge, it showcased many quality brewers, such as 3 Green Flash (Le Freak draft, West Coast IPA, Hop Head Red) and Boulevard Smokestack options (Double Wide, Saison, Tripel), and the only place in town I saw Bam Biere listed. Current online taplist is also nice to see.
The interior was artsy and unique, with paintings on the walls and contrasting textures all around. Wood floors and beams, with large front windows facing the street. The back bar (and bar itself) were pretty funky with colorful backlit squares, and the doors in back had portholes in them. Empty KBS and Dark Lord bottles decorated one little cubbyhole high on the wall. The hostess station was an old streamlined radio cabinet. These creative touches gave it a modern bohemian type of vibe. We opted to sit outside, and had timely service, though it felt a little routine and not really genuine. The food was creative and of good quality. Four small plates for 2 were a little over $20, not too bad, but maybe pricey for the area. The specials and entrees leaned more to the high end, but you get what you pay for here.
It was a fun place to visit, though I don't know i'd come here every night after work or anything, it's good for a special occasion. The low reviews here strike me as odd, and more critical of the crowd than the establishment and the actual beer that flows here. It's a beer bar and restaurant, which isn't exactly a novel concept. Drag your knuckles elsewhere if it's too upscale for you, this is nothing compared to most high end restaurants.
09-08-2009 17:08:56 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
The third and last stop in our beer tour of Champaign, Radio Maria turned out to be our favorite spot. The place is spacious and cool, with an industrial-loft feel to it and lots of art (mostly paintings) on the walls. This is more New York than Central Illinois, so the wife and I felt at home.
Selection is pretty outrageous! 27 taps with a bit of everything, including Founders Expedition Stout, Sculpin, Southern Tier Choklat, Old Rasputin (nitro), Stone Levitation, Founders Curmudgeon and Dirty Bastard, Petrus Oud Bruin and other rare Euros like Samichlaus, plus handles from Ommegang, Left Hand, Two Brothers and even the Struise/Stillwater Outblack collaboration (priced at $10, though, so imagine the price of that keg!).
On my second visit I found Moylan's Hopsickle, Southern Tier Cuvee 3, New Holland Imperial Hatter, Die Du Ciel Aphrodite, Southern Tier Creme Brulee... taps rotate constantly here!
Beers are all available in full serving or 4 ounces, don't you love that! Their tap system deserves a mention- circular like a communal shower at a boy-scout camp, it was designed by the bar's owner, who used to be a sculptor.
Their bottled beer is also outstanding, with Founders KBS, Old Rasputin XII, Mikkeller Beer Geek, Devil Dancer...
Menu is damn nice, with some inventive choices. We opted for the roasted goat cheese medallions appetizer, which turned out to be gigantic and enough for a family of ten Somalis. Perhaps a little too... much, but tasty. On our second visit, we had a much better food experience, with an awe-inspiring duck breast and smoked-pork tacos. The mushroom crostini and pork-belly arepa are also delicious. Small portions, sure, and pricey, but killer food!
Service is good and friendly, although the bartender was a bit hurried at first despite the place not being busy at all (on our second visit, the dude behind bar was extremely efficient and knowledgeable). Price overall is a bit higher than what you might expect from Champaign, but totally worth considering the quality of the food and taps.
They have a cool thing called "The Wheel": 4 ounces of each of their 27 taps for $40 (not valid if you puke!). I may try it one day...
All in all, this place is a winner and I look forward to coming back again soon (and then walk across the street to Blind Pig!)
Note: the few reviews of this place here that are very negative are all from users who have not logged on in years or whose accounts have been deleted. Take it as it is.
07-21-2011 02:06:30 |
More by DoubleSimcoe
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
This is a unique bar in downtown Champaign. I am not really fond of the strange lighting, loud music, and a hiippster kind of feel that is prevalent here. Though the service and selection are hard to beat, and they have a nice area to sit outside. Right across the street from the Blind Pig Co. The first thing as I walked in the door, I grabbed a beer menu. The menu had a brief description of each beer on tap. Very informative. As I was looking over the tap selection, the bartender came right over and told me what was available and what had changed. Very knowledgeable and helpful. The bartenders knew the styles, correct temps, and correct glassware. I had a Dark Horse Percolator on tap. I could not understand what brewery it was from because of the nose of a Friday night, but the bartender wrote it down form me on a peace of paper. Another highlight for me was Goose Island Matilda (though it was one of the beers they were temporarily out of) and Bourbon County Stout. There were plenty of other micros and top notch imports as well. I did not have any food, but overall a place I would recommend for a slightly different look at what a beer bar can be.
09-27-2008 05:48:47 |
More by champ103
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Say what you will about Radio Maria, it does have one thing going for it that even the haters have to admit. The bar is pretty freaking cool looking. Not at all sure how it fits into the whole Champaign scene, nor do I understand how this place continues to stay in business considering what the place must have cost to build.
The bar is pretty cool, has a light bright looking thing under the bar that changes colors. A retro-futurist looking kind of place with lots of metal and wood and colors mixed together.
Anyways onto the beer. The selection here rivals any of the familiar faces in town and the prices are resonable as well. Had a CARBONATED Angel's Share here that was totally worth the seven bucks I paid for it, made for an excellent after dinner beer.
The problem is that it doesn't really feel like the kind of place you would want to make your regular watering hole. It's too wide open, the bar dining room takes up too much of the bar area to get really comfortable at the bar. You can't really forget you are at Radio Maria's if you sit at the bar, you cannot escape into a corner like you could at the Pig or Crane Alley.
The food is hit or miss and a bit pricey. The tapas bar is the only thing I am familar with food-wise here and you need to make sure you order the right thing. When I went they had a special avacado salad that was fantastic, but I don't think it is a regular menu item. The crostini trio is good but not worth the six or seven bucks you pay for three pieces of bread topped with shrip or pork. The duck is amazing, incredibly rich and tasty. The chorizo and potatos are also excellent. If you are used to large portion sizes you may also be dissapointed with this place as things tend to weigh in at bite-sized or smaller.
In the end though I enjoy this place. Not somewhere I would eat at/drink at on a regular basis. But a great choice for a date, especially if they like good beer.
02-27-2010 19:03:57 |
More by bluemoonswoon
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This one is a little complex. You walk in to a laminate and brushed metal bar room with stalls along one wall. A little brighter than necessary. Luckily, we had reservations in the original area that is darker, brick with eclectic furnishings and more relaxed in atmosphere. 27 taps including some I hadn't seen in other than 22 oz bottles. (i.e. Avery's Jubilation)
Beer was resonably priced, hence the $$, but the food would be more of a $$$. The shrimp, crawfish and chorizo pasta I got was excellent, however.
I would rather only go here to eat and have a few drinks in the older section than sit in the more sterile bar area to drink. The Blind Pig across the street would be better suited for that.
01-08-2007 16:47:07 |
More by kdog630
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
We have been going to this restaurant for many years and it is one of my favorite places to return to when coming back home. An upscale but not hoity-toity place, they serve good quality food and tapas in a setting surrounded by found art. They have a great coffee encrusted filet served atop a vanilla sauce that is out of this world. The restaurant always had a good bottle list (I remember accidentally ordering a 750 ML bottle of Avery Beast 17% ABV! here early on and having a difficult time walking out of there,) but have expanded the tap selection greatly since adding a bar side. They offer samplers of beers as well, so I was able to try even more unusual beers. They offer a trip around The Wheel for $40--a sample of every beer they have on tap in their wheel shaped tap tower.
10-23-2013 16:31:58 |
More by Jackofallbrews
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
Modern looking bar, nice open space, very large bar. My wife and I stopped in at lunch time for some beer. At least 20 beers on tap, all but one were micros (PBR the exception). We had old rasputin in correct glassware and tried a couple other beers I can't remember. Great selection and the cool thing was that you could get 4oz tasters for $1 to $2. Most beers on tap ranged from $4 to $5, they also had about 25 bottled beers to choose from, including Founders Breakfast Stout. Wish we could have stayed there all day.
10-25-2007 14:48:32 |
More by MasonBeerMan
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Radio Maria is a peculiar place for a few reasons that I'll discuss. Yet on the whole, a very good place to grab very good beer. There are many windows looking out onto Walnut St. and the adjacent alley, very nice during the day and in the summertime, even when I went last--on a fairly snowy night. It's clean and the space provided is fairly good. The crowd is an interesting mix of University of Illinois students (not the loud drunken types) and other good locals, but also snobby yuppies who can be easily ignored.
The beer quality and selections are really excellent, and draft prices, while somewhat expensive, are no higher than many other places around town. There are 25 taps, and PBR is the only macro. The rest are gems--Old Rasputin, Robert the Bruce, Anchor DIPA, Ayinger Brau Weisse, Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA, Boulevard Nutcracker Ale, Unibroue Maudite, and more. The bottled beer selection is also first-rate--La Fin du Monde, Trappistes Rochefort 8, Achel Dubbel, St. Bernardus 8 and 12, Koningshoeven, Allagash, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Smith's, Celebrator, Ayinger, and more.
The food is decent but expensive, and they veer toward the eccentric, with mixed results. It's also expensive, and not a place to grab a burger. I had a tuna steak positively coated with peppercorns that I actually had to remove with my knife and, for $17, the entree wasn't worth it. Yet the beer is tremendous, and that alone makes it worth stopping in.
02-09-2008 22:36:14 |
More by Gehrig
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I am changing my review to a more favorable one for this place. I originally allowed my dislike of their restaurant portion to affect my rating.
This place is the different-aesthetic mirror image of blind pig across the street. Both have 27 taps. This place does the industrial modern look instead of the old-time wooden bling pig. They beer lists are similar, though I might actually give a slight edge to Radio Maria.
The thing to consider, though, is that people in Champaign do not come to this restaurant---and it is a restaurant---to drink beer. The people drinking beer are across the street at the Blind Pig. You could very well get a good beer here with your meal (and you will pay dearly for the meal), but most people don't come here for beer. They come for the very frilly, Champaign-chic atmosphere and expensive "tapas," etc. If you walk past this place on any given night, the outside will be dominated by young women in needlessly fancy dresswear, drinking $15 martinis and eating tiny portions of god-knows-what.
The bartenders, however, are very friendly and knowledgeable about beer, and from my past experiences they like to talk about it. This place is usually less crowded and cramped than the pig and you have greater ability to converse with bartenders.
EDIT: and as a final edit, they have a MASSIVE, $35 sampler of every beer on tap, all 27, known as The Wheel. 4 oz samples. Imbibe at your own risk.
01-12-2009 06:37:17 |
More by redjameskidd
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Radio Maria is one of the best spots in Champaign - Urbana to grab a beer, but it is a very different place than your typical bar.
The main bar is a huge backlit neon blue that was created through the recycling and re-usage of a variety of materials. That is a theme that runs throughout the establishment from their lighting (reused vacuum tubes) to their tap system (a reused industrial wash sink). It is a "higher class" place that I might feel out of place walking in with dirty / work clothes on.
The quality / selection of beers on tap is pretty outstanding, and often features beers that are unavailable in other CU bars. Jacob, the main beer guy / bartender, takes pride in the cleanliness of his beer lines. They are cleaned every two weeks at a maximum. The same can not be said for other bars in the area.
I was able to drink a Dark Horse brewpub exclusive Beat Your Wheat due to Jacob's good industry connections. In addition he had on Bourbon County Stout, Angels Share (Brandy), HopSlam, Schlenkerla Urbock, Kulmbacher Eisbock, and the list goes on. It is a rotating 27 tap system with a rotating selection of between 95-110 bottles that mostly feature things that are not available (or do not deserve) on draft.
They also do a large sampler, The Wheel, for $35 that is 4 oz of every beer on tap. They also do individual 4 oz samplers of all beers on tap for between $1 and $3.
The food is very solid, and on Fridays they put out free appetizers during their happy hour that makes for a packed house.
Overall one of my favorite places to go in CU. The proximity to Blind Pig is great because if one place does not have anything "exciting" on you can simply walk across the street.
02-03-2010 00:01:54 |
More by Gonzoillini
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Radio Maria in Champaign, IL
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