Crane Alley

Not Rated.
Crane AlleyCrane Alley
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

20 Ratings
Ratings: 20
Reviews: 17
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: n/a
Taps: 19
Bottles: 150
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

115 W Main St
Ste 1
Urbana, Illinois, 61801-2722
United States
phone: (217) 384-7526

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @cranealley

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: Jables)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 20 | Reviews: 17 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by champ103:
Photo of champ103
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This is a place I visit often when I come back to central Illinois. A nice bar with pool tables, and an area upstairs. There is a nice beer garden in the alley next to the bar. There are plenty of goodies on tap and in bottles. The last time I was there, Hail to the Chief (how appropriate for Champaign/Urbana), Storm King, Hop Devil, and several Dogfishhead beers were on tap. Along with a couple of German beers. The bottle list is a bit more extensive with the highlight being Ola Dubh 12. The food is great. Lots of sandwiches and several other entrees that are top notch. They have the best fish sandwich in Champaing/Urbana. About the only thing I have to complain about is the service. The waitresses are slow and don't always get the order right. Besides that a great place to quaff some quality beers in downtown Urbana.

More User Reviews:
Photo of twb0392
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

The best tap selection in Urbana. I was in and they had about 10 Founders on tap, including KBS.

Photo of Jordanmtate
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of BalancingBrooms
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Food is kinda expensive but drinks are fair, especially if you go on the right days. Usually something interesting on draft. Last time i went they had Cantillon Iris Grand Cru, and they've had vintage beers previously. Overall one of the best places to go in CU

Photo of cardinals22
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of NateMac13
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of JstnP
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

A little bit on the expensive side, but they have plenty of beers in a comfortable environment. They could use a little more on tap I suppose, but their bottle selection is generally excellent. It's located in quiet downtown Urbana, well away from the usual U of I crowds. Like someone else said before me, the crowd here is about 10 years older than at Champaign bars like the Pig. It's also a very big building, so it's easy to snag a back corner table far away from everyone else if you want a bit of solitude.

Food is pretty good, but I've had better for cheaper. Above average for sure, but maybe not the best bang for your buck.

Photo of CaptainNomihodai
4.45/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

This is the best bar in the Champaign-Urbana area. Clean and well lit, the bar area is occupied mostly by pool tables and some seating. There is a nice semi-secluded area with more restaurant-ish seating as well (but you get table service wherever you sit). There are a couple of TVs, but the sound is off (a good thing) and the music is quiet enough that you can actually talk to people. Ultimately I find it a very comfortable establishment with a friendly and inviting atmosphere.
The beer selection is probably the best in the area, though obviously not as good as some of the Chicago bars so I can't give them a 5 for that. They have 19 taps, one of which is reserved for PBR but the rest are consistently high quality. This isn't the most taps in the area, and they could use more, but as far as I'm concerned it's not the number of taps but what you're pouring from them that counts. They also have an extensive bottle selection with a few things that you might not have expected to find.
My only real complaint is that they use the fake 14oz pint glasses, so I docked them a point on quality.
I've always received excellent service, and the staff is very friendly often going above and beyond what would normally be expected.
Crane Alley is also a nice restaurant, serving food much better than what you would normally expect of a bar. The food is fairly standard American (soup, salad, burgers, steak, etc) leaning maybe a bit on the "fancier" side. I personally recommend the calamari and the Reuben. That being said, they can get very creative with the food specials, serving some eclectic dishes which are most certainly not "standard American" but are always delicious (especially during the Summer when they can source fresh local ingredients from the farmer's market). If I could afford it, I would probably eat there every day.

Full disclosure: I don't work at this place, but I probably spend more time there than some of the employees.

Photo of mynie
3.94/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

An enjoyable but unremarkable little joint. Only, it's not so little so much as it's narrow, and once you get past the bar is just keeps going and going, into a dining area and then even up some stairs, to a little drinkin' cove where private parties are sometimes held.

Ahh, the joy of a smokeless bar. You Illini (is that the right term? Is Illinoisians better?) don't know how good you got it. Places just don't seem very packed when there's no smoke around, so even though this place was pretty busy, it wasn't uncomfortably busy. The vibe is a little bit upscale but not quite pretentious, and the crowd was about ten years older than the kids at the Blind Pig.

What else is there to say? Not much, actually. The atmosphere and decor are intentionally pedestrian--nothing upsetting, nothing unpretty, but also nothing that makes it stand out. And that's not a bad thing, since I got nothing to complain about, but it's also not a good thing since there are plenty of other places in the area where you can get a good beer. The tap list was solid and wide; even if there were less than ten selections, there was still a beer for every mood. No rares or one-offs on tap, but the bottle selection had a few gems.

Photo of Gonzoillini
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Crane Alley is fast becoming one of my favorite spots to grab a good beer if I want to watch a sporting event.

The atmosphere is a combination of things, beer bar / pool hall / and restaurant. The front room has a long wood bar that runs the length of the room. 3 or 4 pool tables are opposite the bar, with a few scattered tables in the bar room. TV's are on (muted usually w/ subtitles) above the bar, usually tuned to Chicago sporting events or ESPN. The back room has a more formal dining area and doubles as a room for large groups. The upstairs has another bar (that is only used for private events and such) with a few more tables and pool tables.

The service at Crane is hit or miss. On a busy weeknight or weekend it is going to be crowded and your going to wait for your next beer or course. I always prefer sitting at the bar because the service is so much better than dealing with the wait staff on a busy night. I am a part of the Champaign Urbana Beer Club that meets on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at Crane. Our service for our large group (that spends large amounts of money) has been very spotty lately. However, if you come during off peak hours and sit at the bar you will not be disappointed.

The selection at Crane Alley is varied. They have fewer taps than either Radio Maria or Blind Pig, but they have a massive bottle list. However, all three bars seem to have similar tap lists at the given time. I would guess they have about 13-17 taps at a given time.

The food at Crane is pretty solid, mostly pub food that consists of burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and the like. However, their specialties are usually pretty amazing, and they have some solid upscale appetizers.

The value at Crane is pretty solid. They usually have some daily deals ($4 samplers on Monday, $1 of Dogfish head on Wednesday, $1 off all draft beer on Sunday, etc...), and the prices are in line with other local bars.

Overall a very solid restaurant / bar that works for many different groups of people. I make it my go to if I want to catch the Cubs / Bulls / Hawks while sampling some new and exciting beers.

Photo of emerge077
3.93/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The only place that was open on Labor Day in Urbana, so we stopped here for a bite and a beer. Inside it was dark with dark wood on the walls, and brick red paint towards the back. Bar on the left, tables on the right, 3 pool tables, then more intimate booth seating in the back. A second floor mezzanine level overlooked the entire space. During the day the crowd was laid back, but it seemed they had the capacity for mad college throngs. Bathrooms weren't so clean.

We opted for a table outside, literally in "Crane Alley". There were planters and hanging baskets, lights strung in a criss-cross pattern high above the alley. It had a nice relaxed feel to it.

Inside, bar service was a bit slow initially due to an indecisive couple choosing a 4 beer flight. Took almost 10 minutes to get acknowledged, but the tender was very good after that with samples and quick pours. My other knock on the service though was the 12 oz. cheater "pint" with the thick glass at the bottom. Lame.

Hop 15, St. Amand, FFF Pride & Joy, 2 Bros. Moaten, Rogue XS Imp. Stout were all on tap, with Arcadia Jaw Jacker on cask. The bottle list was long and well rounded, grouped by style with brewer, state/country of origin, and ABV listed. Only 3 lambics, but I applaud them for carrying Boon Kriek at least. A ton of IPA/Pales, Stouts, obscure imports like Nøgne Ø. There were also a few nice specials, like $4 beer flights on Mondays.

Food was great, spinach salad had a nice balsamic vinagrette with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. Salmon crostini was tasty and nicely presented on a bed of greens. The rotating taps/cask paired with quality food will bring me back here someday.

Photo of Gehrig
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

A terrific place to go with a very good beer selection, Crane Alley is nestled in Urbana's small but sometimes lively downtown. Featuring a good variety of drafts and definitely bottles, it provides plenty of different micros, while regularly rotating in new kegs. a nice feature is the upcoming notices, giving advance word on what drafts to expect in the coming days. The food is rather good and, while sandwich heavy and a bit pricey, is of very good quality. There are several pool tables, the wood interior makes for excellent ambiance, and there is a decent-sized upstairs loft for small parties. This is the first place where I had Affligem.

Well worth spending some time here if in Urbana-Champaign. Definitely recommended.

Photo of klewis
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

A very pleasant atmosphere. Dimly lit with a classy type of look and decor. With an absence of the loud music typical of the campus bar, I actually found myself talking softly to my company. A big plus of this place is its menu, which features not only lots of wine and mixed drink selections, but has an up-to-date listing of all of the draft choices and even a "coming soon" listing. Draft selection featured a great lineup of brews of various styles and origins and the bottle selection was equaly diverse. Prices were reasonable, but perhaps a bit high. Service was fast and friendly. Highly recommended.

Photo of Blupoet03
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

Crane Alley is a relatively new bar, as far as Urbana bars go. It is smoke-free, with outdoor seating available. It hosts many pool tables (and a pool league).

During dinner hours, a host(ess) will greet you at the door and seat your party. The food menu is varied and good - classy enough for a date but wont completely break the bank. The bottled beer menu is exceptional and the tap variety is good.

Service is great for a restaurant, but not all servers will know much about the beers. Most can tell you what is on tap without looking, though. Considering that we want to focus on the beer here, I had to mark them down for that.

Overall, Crane Alley is a great place to hang out or take a date. The food is good, the beer selection is above average, and they run good specials if you like Guinness and Harp.

A beer tasting group is rumored to meet in the upstairs section once a month. From what I hear, people bring in their own selections based on a theme or style, but I don't have details... Anyone who does is more then welcome to beer mail them to me!

Photo of YukataNinja
3.86/5  rDev -7.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

This is the place in town you go to when you want to play a game of pool with some friends and enjoy a good drink or maybe try their food. The atmosphere is nice and clean, smoke free now!, decently lit, and good to have a conversation at. The tap selection is decent, with 10 or so taps, but Guinness, Harp, PBR, and some others fill it up fast, but you can always find a few gems, especially from Rogue. The service is above average, but seemed a little lacking in attentiveness. The food selection seems nice, but I have not tried any because it is relatively pricey. Overall this is a nice place to bring a date to, but I'd usually rather go out for beer at a place with a larger tap selection.

Photo of czoch75
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

I went there for the first time last week with some friends from St. Louis. My overall impression was good but a few things to point out: it seemed kind of like an upscale place yet it had two pool tables right in the middle and also a foosball table over by one section of tables. Nothing wrong with having them, but they didn't seem to fit the rest of the decor that they were going for. They did have a very good selection of bottled beers, by far the best in town. Some were overpriced but most of them reasonable. There also is a Jukebox as well and that didn't seem to fit in either. Service was pretty good, we actually had a waitress that knew about the beers there. I had a Kentucky Breakfast Stout which was quite tasty. Our plans were to eat there, but after seeing the menu changed our minds and went elsewhere. The items on the menu were a bit eccentric and it didn't seem like the same market of people that would eat there would be playing pool or foosball. I would go there again, but probably not to eat unless they added some everyday items to eat on their menu.

Photo of kmpitz2
4.2/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

I have been more than impressed with the quality and disparity of the C-U beer scene. This is the bar you go to when you want a nice meal, some good brews or a game of pool. When you walk in, there is a bar and pool tables around you. Moving to the back, you can go upstairs to smoking or sit downstairs for non to take your meal. When I was there, I found about 15 brews on tap and maybe 4 times that in bottles. They had Bell's 6000 on tap when I was there, so I was in heaven. My burger was not really anything to write home about and everyone else seemed to think their food was just okay. I think that this a place to go for the beer and the atmosphere and the food if you are really hungry. This is a pretty darn nice stop to make.

Photo of Illini5596
3.33/5  rDev -20%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

A decent bar in downtown Urbana. They had Sierra Nevada and Young's on tap when I was there along with some great craft beers by the bottle. The setup is nice, midwestern tin roof and historic architecture combined with a neat half floor on the second floor which overlooks the rest of the bar.

The food is overpriced and overrated, stick to the beer at this place and go elsewhere for you meals. Additionally while they have great pool tables, dart boards are missing. The wait staff is mostly made up of college girls looking for tips, so don't expect much in the way of knowledge about craft beers. Still they are friendly and prompt with service, not a bad experience.

Overall it's a nice beer with a low population of students which is hard to find in Chambana. Worth a stop.

Photo of gimmehead
4/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Been there several times, but haven't got around to reviewing. The staff seems to be more helpful and knowledgeable than the last time I was there. Large selection of American crafties ( Victory, Three Floyds, DFH, Bell's, Goose Island), everything you would expect at agood beer bar, plus lots of imports. I was drinking mostly Belgians on this night, and they had a good selection: Chimay, Ommegang, Westmalle, and of course Unibroue. Everything was poured into the proper glass, usually with the name of the beer tatooed on the glass. The only disappointment was that they were sold out of Devil Dancer. Better luck next time.

Photo of ngandhi
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Crane Alley's changed its vibe since it opened. The bartenders are much more normal now -- no more fancy shirts. They know their beer and they always want to know more. The trendiness is gone.

The back is wonderfully private with several booths. Somehow they set it up to where, even if the bar's full, you don't really hear anything but what's at your table. Low lighting. Very attractive.

The food is diverse, hearty, and simply some of the best I've ever had. I was stunned by the mushroom ravioli and vegetable tempura. Any place that can serve both of those dishes well is successful.

---
Trying to bring a little bit of upscale to my humble city, Crane Alley is slick. Two gorgeous pool tables are the centerpiece for the bar area. And though, at first glance, gorgeous, it comes to be quite cramped and obnoxious. The bartenders are dolled up and have some prescence in the bar, knowing a thing or two about the beers, but look a little shifty to me.

A couple of Bell's signs hang on the wall. The tap selection is solid with Bell's seasonal, Framboise, SN Celebration -- they seem to have a grasp on the beer scene. The bottles are good, but not as wide as Mike and Molly's in Champaign. Otherwise, these two bars are one in the same -- this one's just a little trendier.

If you work on into the back (whenever construction's done) you can find a quiet spot and drink some good beer. I'll re-review in the spring when they open up the beer garden.

Crane Alley in Urbana, IL
92 out of 100 based on 20 ratings.