116 North Chestnut Street
M went to school in Champaign-Urbana and it’s the source of some of our first food memories – like M’s first Thai food experience. Despite our fond memories, then, as now, Chambana is not known for its range of fine dining options. However, despite a preponderance of pubs and burrito joints, there are always a few diamonds in the rough. Cafe Luna is one of those diamonds, and offers and upscale tapas experience in downtown Champaign.
We arrived at Cafe Luna at 5PM on a Wednesday, not exactly a hopping time, so we received quick and attentive service. Cafe Luna is housed in the former train station, which gives the restaurant an expansive space, which was dimly lit and well appointed with dark wood tables, purple walls.
Cafe Luna has a range of tapas items, for mostly under $10, but it also boasts a selection of larger-sized entrees including bouillabaisse ($18) and yellowfin tuna with an anchovy-caper beurre blanc ($24). In terms of entrees, Cafe Luna features a different risotto every day, when we went the particular variety of risotto was asparagus and Parmesan ($16). The portion was quite large – big enough for both of us to share. While we are something of risotto snobs, Luna’s rendition was very good.
To start off, M and I ordered two tapas to split. First, we had Gruyere crostini ($5), which were four perfect rounds of bread smothered with sauteed mushrooms and melted Gruyère. We also got a tapas order of tuna tartare ($8). The tartare had a citrus dressing, and was almost ceviche-esque, though it is too bad the portion was extremely small.
We were impressed by Cafe Luna’s ambiance and menu, and it’s definitely a place to go when you are looking for something more than takeout pad thai (though there’s nothing wrong with that).