Papa Del's Honored with "Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination" Award

The Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT) and Visit Champaign County today announced Papa Del’s Pizza, located in Champaign, is a recipient of an “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” award, which honors local food establishments around the state that are beloved destinations for visitors and locals alike. Papa Del’s is among a select group of Illinois establishments to receive the unique designation from the tourism bureau. All award winners will receive a certificate from the state and a window cling to inform diners of the state designation. 

“From family-owned restaurants with long and storied histories to the hottest new cuisines in the world, Illinois has emerged as a premier culinary destination for both domestic and international visitors,” said Jen Hoelzle, Illinois State Travel Director. “The ‘Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination’ award honors those restaurants that are authentically Illinois, making a trip to the state unforgettable.” 

An institution in Champaign County for over 40 years, Papa Del's is known for their deep dish pizza, some argue the best south of I-80, many say the best in the state. University of Illinois students and alumni have clamored for Papa Del's since opening their doors in 1970, waiting the 45-minutes it takes for the dough to cook and the mass amounts of cheese to melt. Alumni all over the country have such an insatiable taste for their favorite pizza, that Papa Del's now ships up to 8 pizzas overnight anywhere in the country. 

“We can’t think of a more beloved restaurant in Champaign County than Papa Del’s,” explains Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County. “Papa Del’s is an institution that is revisited over and over by alumni, visitors and residents alike. It was a clear choice for the Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination award.” 

Many travelers come to Illinois because of the state’s flourishing restaurant scene. According to a 2013 D.K. Shifflet & Associates Study, nearly one third of leisure travelers to Illinois reported participating in a unique “culinary experience” as a key part of their vacation, proving culinary offerings are a key motivator for travel. 

To be considered for an award, restaurants must be nominated by a Convention & Visitors Bureau, community member or Enjoy Illinois social media fan. The nominee must be a one-of-a-kind restaurant that is authentic to Illinois and an established part of its community. Only restaurants located in Illinois will be considered for the “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” award, which is chosen by IOT. 

Visit Champaign County will be presenting Papa Del’s with their official Delicious Destination certificate on Thursday, December 11 at 1:30 p.m. For more information about the state’s culinary offerings and “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” awards, visit EnjoyIllinois.com or Facebook.com/EnjoyIllinois. 

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The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism manages industry efforts that result in sustainable and significant economic and quality-of-life benefits for Illinois residents. 

Visit Champaign County is a private, non-profit organization that promotes Champaign County as a destination to positively impact the local economy and quality of life.