Best of CU 2013 winner of best breakfast food, 24 hour hangout, and best drunk food Merry Ann's locations in both Champaign and Urbana, Il. Photo by Madison Ross-Ryan

Best of CU 2013 winner of best breakfast food, 24 hour hangout, and best drunk food Merry Ann’s locations in both Champaign and Urbana, Il. Photo by Madison Ross-Ryan

There are a lot of reasons Merry Ann’s Diner won three categories, and among those reasons are the cozy atmosphere, the friendly staff and the tasty dishes that come out of their kitchen.

One of the best things about this diner is that it’s always open. While other 24-hour hangouts are usually libraries, Merry Ann’s has food, and the best way to stay up is with a hot cup of their coffee or a creamy milkshake.

Students and members of the community alike can be seen at all hours of the day, just casually reading a paper, surfing the web or even working on group projects together. While most people crowd up the library, especially Grainger, for a long night of work, you’ll actually find a place to sit at the diner.

Tony Pomonis, co-owner of Merry Ann’s, said that the diner’s consistency and availability is what has made the restaurant so successful over the years.

“We’re open all the time and readily available,” he said. “Not many 24-hour places are open (around CU). We have a good vibe going.”

Depending on what time you go and what day of the week it is, you just might run into some classic entertainment at good ol’ Merry Ann’s: drunk college kids.

There’s a diner on campus, and whether students live as close as Allen Hall or as far as the frat houses, you’d be surprised how many people like to flock over to Merry Ann’s to drunkenly devour a stack of hotcakes drenched in syrup.

“Our menu, although we do alter it seasonally and we do add things, our hotcakes recipe has been unaltered for 30 years,” he said. “It’s a secret recipe, and I could put our recipe up against anyone and we would win.”

Merry Ann’s really is the definition of good drunk food, mostly because after spending money like there’s no tomorrow at a local bar, those last few bucks in your wallet could buy you a filling and delicious meal at the diner, like a stack of hotcakes.

For about $6, you can get an omelet, hash browns and toast, or substitute toast for hotcakes, and your wallet isn’t going to feel as hungover as you do the next day.

The diner is by no means a fancy, five-star place, but the cheap prices and hefty portions are what makes it better than any fancy schmancy place out there. Pomonis pointed out that Merry Ann’s corned beef hash as a good example of this.

“People come in and they expect our corned beef hash to be from a can,” he said. “But we cook it, grind it, saute onions, add butter. If you go to a competitor, you pay more and get corned beef hash from a can.”

Another reason customers keep coming back is because of the friendly atmosphere and familiar faces. Customers who visit often know the waiters and waitresses and might even get to see the owner himself cooking up some meals on the hotline on a busy weekend.

While some other breakfast locations around CU have lines going out the door and around the corner, there are three different Merry Ann’s locations around town, so as long as you have a car, there’s a way to get some of their cheesy omelets or savory hash browns.

If you live in CU or even if you just come to visit, there really is no reason not to pay a visit to one (or all three) of Merry Ann’s locations. One bite of their food and you’ll wish you had found out about this triple-threat sooner.

2nd place (24-hr) – Steak ‘N’ Shake

2nd place (breakfast) – Original House of Pancakes

2nd place (drunk) – Fat Sandwich

3rd place (24-hr) – Planet Fitness

3rd place (breakfast) – Le Peep

3rd place (drunk) – Cracked Truck

About The Author

Melissa Espana

I’m a sophomore in broadcast journalism and I have this crazy dream of going to a coffee shop one day, picking up a copy of a newspaper, turning to page three and seeing my article there. That would be nice.

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