216 S. First Street, Champaign
Fiesta Café is a delightful Mexican restaurant located on First Street a couple of blocks south of University Avenue in Champaign. It’s been a fixture since the late 1980s and we absolutely love the food, drinks, and atmosphere of the place.
They start you off with a basket of fresh chips and two kinds of salsa. They serve both alcoholic drinks and fountain soft drinks as well as many other options in the large cooler inside the front door.
My favorite dish to get at Fiesta is called “El Popo Lunch.” El Popo refers to Popocatépetl, an active volcano in Mexico. Ever seen the painting with the half-naked Aztec looking dude carrying the passed out scantily clad woman? There are many variants of that image and it depicts the legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Here’s a Wikipedia page on the subject.
Anyway, El Popo lunch involves a combination of a taco or tamale paired with a burrito or chimichanga. I usually go for a burrito and a soft flour taco. They will make your taco either the traditional way with cilantro and onions, or the American way with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. I’ve tried both chorizo and shredded chicken in my taco and enjoy both very much. For my burrito, I go with one of their original creations Alex pork, which is grilled ground pork with a delicious mix of spices. They wrap it all up in a flour tortilla and smother it with melted cheese.
One of their other specialties is Alex tacos, which are two corn tortillas with aforementioned Alex pork, grilled onions, cilantro, cebollitas (which are basically small grilled whole onions), and their spicy green sauce, which is absolutely delicious.
Speaking of the spicy green sauce, the wonderful staff brings three kinds of homemade salsas to your table in plastic squeeze bottles. In addition to the spicy green sauce, they have what to me is a pretty standard taco sauce, as well as a very hot and spicy brown salsa that I pretty smother everything with.
Fiesta was recently remodeled and they did a fantastic job. The ambiance is colorful and clean, and the décor is pretty cool too. The service staff are very attentive, the food comes out quickly and is always very hot, and all of the above makes this one of our favorite places to eat in Champaign-Urbana, and a pretty appropriate place to write about for our first post.