Downtown review

Grace Christiansen

Restaurant Guide: Editors’ Favorite PicksAll Lawrentians, whether they have been on campus for four days or four years, know Downer’s reputation. It is debatable whether the snide jokes are deserved — some deem everything within Downer to be inedible and others emphatically declare that you only have to get a little creative to find the experience of eating at our campus cafeteria actually quite enjoyable. But everyone, at both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between, must admit that sometimes, you just want to get off campus for a meal. The following are some of our favorite restaurants around on the Ave:

Sal’s Pizza: Sal’s offers New York-style pizza in Appleton. A variety of fresh pizzas are displayed and when you pick, your slice is put in the oven and served piping hot. Sal’s is quick, delicious, inexpensive, and open until 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Essentially, you cannot go wrong. We recommend the BBQ chicken pizza.

Sirocco’s Mediterranean Tapas: Following the wind it was named for, Sirocco’s serves tapas and entrees from Lebanon, Greece, Italy and Spain. This restaurant has a lively atmosphere and is an excellent choice for a longer dinner with friends. Depending on how you order, Sirrocco’s can either be predictably expensive or shockingly cheap. We suggest that you go with friends, stay a while, and eat flight by flight.

Taste of Thai: Taste of Thai is as close as you can get to Lawrence without actually being on the campus, but once inside, you feel as though you have left the bubble. This proximity makes it an excellent choice for cold winter nights. It serves traditional Thai food (with allowances for the Midwestern palate). The lunch specials are a great deal and the sweet sticky rice with mango is delightful.

Hunan 1: Hunan 1 offers decently priced Chinese just a block further down the Ave. from Taste of Thai. General Tso’s chicken with lo mien and a pork egg roll or crab Rangoon is more than enough for two people or two meals. Hunan is great for an American-Chinese food fix and has many choices, all big servings, and a brand new Lawrence special.

Victoria’s Italian Cuisine: Italian food that is perfect for a first date, or a simple night out with friends or family, Victoria’s is a casual place where formal still fits in. With so many sauces — meat, seafood and vegetable varieties — and several types of pasta, a plate will serve two people or provide leftovers, lots of leftovers. Victoria’s also has the freshest salads and wonderful garlic bread and rolls, which all come with a meal.

Erbert and Gerbert’s:
Erb’s and Gerb’s, just one of its familiar nicknames, is a favorite not-Downer lunch choice. It’s also great for the before- or after-convocation lunch rush. A great health choice, especially late at night, Erb’s and Gerb’s is open until 2 a.m. Their subs are made with a range of toppings, including avocado spread. A similar restaurant, farther down the Ave, is Jimmy John’s.

Katsu-Ya: Katsu-Ya offers two dramatically different dining experiences in one restaurant, plus an atmospheric bar that features happy hour sushi specials. Choose to see showy chefs grill up hibachi meals right in front of you or the more serene sushi room, which features a grill-your-own yakiniku barbeque and anime on flat-screen TVs.

Brewed Awakenings: Brewed is a charming and community-owned cafe that is a favorite among Lawrentians looking to “break the bubble” and study, socialize or listen to live music. Featuring espresso that jazz virtuoso Joshua Redmond claims is the best he’s ever had, they also have a huge selection of foods, coffee and drinks — now including alcoholic beverages, fresh pastries, paninis and fabulous gelato, which are all sure to please!

Good Company: Good Company offers American pub favorites with some Italian and Mexican offerings in a quirky and diverse atmosphere. Choose to dine in their rustic bar complete with Packer memorabilia, the main room that evokes the French Quarter, or an upstairs library that showcases the owner’s book collection.