You know what I love about smaller cities? They always seem to have so many hidden gems of great food in pockets across town. Dayton is the perfect example of this! For many years, I worked in a suburb of this area while living in Cincinnati, which allowed me to experience deliciousness in both cities. Dayton is known for many things, but who knew great food was up there on the list?! If you haven’t been or are unfamiliar with the area, no problem. Sit back and relax while I navigate you to my top 7 Dayton restaurants!
This American style restaurant is known for their creative twists on traditional dishes. They pride themselves on local ingredients cooked with contemporary methods. I thoroughly enjoy the homey feel of this restaurant. They went through an expansion some time ago due to their fast paced clientele growth! You can tell how much effort they put into their selections based off of the detailed menu descriptions. Don’t be fooled by the options that may seem simple. They are all bursting with flavor! They are so delicious that I have coworkers who travel from NY and request to be taken here each time. Now THAT is good eats!
Salar’s menu was developed using Peruvian, Mediterranean, and French influences. Doesn’t reading that make your mouth water?! Or am I alone here? 🙂 Their restaurant is casual yet slightly upscale- just enough to have a nice family dinner, meeting with coworkers, or date night. There are so many amazing items to choose from that it’s a struggle each time narrowing it down. Their staff, including the managers, are always there to lend a helping hand by offering suggestions of their favorite dishes with much passion. I do have sad news about this one. They are currently closed due to a devastating fire, BUT…. they will reopen this summer.Whew! I almost cried when I heard that! Now that that’s out of the way, who’s joining me for the summer reopen party?!
Oh, and one other thing… they have the BEST empanadas I have ever had. It is a must to order them! Trust me!
3. Lily’s Bistro
When I think about Lily’s Bistro, I immediately think fried chicken! This is one of the many things they are known for. If you have not been there for their Sunday fried chicken dinners, oh man… you are missing OUT! I love Lily’s because they put a little heart + a little soul into their selections. They are another restaurant that puts a nice spin on the traditional options. They also allow their chefs to make daily specials that are “out of this world” delicious! They make you feel as if you are sitting in your really hip grandmother’s home. Another thing you should not miss here is their brunch! Please do yourself a favor and try the beignets and disco fries deluxe. You’ll thank me later…
4. Mudlick Tap House
Mudlick Tap House is a hidden gem because…well… they literally were a little hard for me to find. LOL But, once I found it, I loved it! To clarify, the address is not hard to find, but you might pass the restaurant up without even noticing it. But keep searching… it’ll be worth it! I am highlighting them solely for their brunch because it is AMAZINGLY unique. The menu is small, but you can do that when your selections are solid. They always have deals of day, which are super fun (like the andouille sausage corn dog above- fun yet with a beautiful presentation). Also, their mimosas always hit the spot. They are the perfect balance of orange juice and champagne and made fresh to order.
For those choosing to dine in for dinner, their options are equally as fun! You can’t go wrong with this or brunch.
Figlio is known for their pizza and pastas, but also have a pretty extensive entree selection as well. I am pretty much obsessed with their wood fired, spicy fennel sausage pizza. It is just great! In addition to that, they take the ever so normal spaghetti dish and make it outstanding! There are a few restaurants with similar options in the area, but Figlios is always my first choice due to their authenticity and attention to detail. They are a chain, but with only a few additional locations. Dayton residents- consider yourself lucky with this one!
6. Wheat Penny
Wheat Penny is another restaurant that is known for their homemade options, especially their pizza! They use special techniques to create a dough that is chewy yet crispy in the right places. Whether you want to go with something different or safe, they have you covered. What I enjoy about this atmosphere is the diversity in the menu. You can go for pizza or you can choose items such as the cauliflower STEAK. Yes that’s right! For all of the vegetarians out there… this one is for you! it’s seasoned so perfectly that you would never guess there’s no meat in here! I also have a deep appreciation for locations with great appetizers. My favs are the eggplant fries (YUM!) and the warm focaccia bread. Now THIS is my type of restaurant!
7. Bourbon Street
Last, but most certainly not least… BOURBON STREET. They’re fast. They’re thorough. And they are the best darn bourbon chicken in the area! HANDS DOWN! Let’s just say it makes you feel as if you stepped into a creole restaurant in the middle of New Orleans. Yep, that good! They offer a few different sides, but might I suggest “startching it up” and getting both the rice and the potatoes. The flavor will have you coming back for more. Don’t forget to ask for a little (or A LOT) of extra sauce to pour on top of your rice. It is heavenlyyyyy!
*Bonus Sweet Tooth Addition*– No matter how full you are after dining in at these wonderful selections, you have to visit these two doughnut shops: Bill’s Donuts and Stan the Donut Man. They are finger licking good!
Well, there’s you have it folks! You now have your personal list of Dayton delectables. I encourage you to explore the city and tell us what you think! One thing’s for sure… your stomach will be dancing with joy!