One of the bars in the middle of Dayton’s Oregon District, Blind Bob’s is sort of a dive bar concept which tends to be popular with younger people and the Oregon District neighborhood. It’s a nightspot with a kitchen that is open late, but more importantly it’s a music venue. On top of that, Blind Bob’s is a family business run by an actually visually-impaired Bob Mendenhall, who just might be the friendliest person you’ll meet. The bar is easy to like, and the food is a pretty good plus.
Right on the cusp of the Oregon District in downtown Dayton, Smokin BBQ is a tiny store right between the Central Business District and the heart of the city’s night life. It appeals to the locals as a place that serves barbecue at a decent price, one of few businesses to do so downtown and survive as it has since 2005. It’s also the place that is open very, very late. Four in the morning to be exact. The name is simple, the store is simple and the menu is to the point, and it’s a charming little dive.
Serving Main Street Tipp City and not a bit more fuss than is necessary, Sam and Ethel’s is a little local diner that seems to be something of a county favorite. Just north of Dayton are a number of little highway towns with a lot of charm but not a lot of notoriety to the averave traveler outside of Dayton. Because of that, a lot of little hidden gems lie in wait up there, waiting to be discovered. Sam & Ethel’s is one of those gems.
Serving the small town of Monroe that straddles the ever-growing Cincinnati region and Dayton to the north, Clubhouse Sports Grille is just off the Interstate 75 corridor and convenient from either town. But this spot seems to be more popular with the locals of Lebanon, Middletown, and other areas in between the cities. While it’s got a large potential audience, the grille seems to serve the patrons of the newly-opened Miami Valley Gaming racino just a few miles away. It’s got a lot of burgers and sandwiches to be tried, and I found a few things I liked.
The name of this Centerville Tavern hearkens to the early history of the south Dayton town, but Archer’s Tavern is relatively new, having opened in 2010 as the creation of three local guys looking to make a neighborhood watering hole. And they’ve succeeded, I think, in putting together a menu concept that is very simple and familiar to the Midwestern palette, but at the same time every menu item has one little twist that really makes it rock. And for an easy dime, too. A solid spot for some beer and grub in south Dayton.
Dayton’s growing food truck scene has given birth to some places that serve pretty fascinating foods. Chef Andrew Payne has brought in one of these new ideas, launching Hunger Paynes Food Truck last September, an experiment in new American cuisine with some interesting inspiration from French sources. You’ve probably heard the name a few times before you stumbled on the place, they seem to have an active marketing presence and they’ve started showing up all over town. But the food is worth a try.
There are a lot of small, independent Tex-mex chains around the Dayton area, and Los Reyes is nestles in a strip mall just off Dorothy Lane in Kettering. It’s got a basic layout familiar to so many like it – a little bar in the back serves margaritas as a big dining room has space for groups big and small, and a sizable menu for various favorites in the Tex-mex repertoire. The food is a good basic iteration of tis genre but other than that I struggle to find anything about it worth a return trip.
A Chinese buffet serving the northernmost Nashville suburb of Gallatin, Happy Moon Buffet does a simple brand of Americanized Chinese cuisine, with a variety of seafood dishes as well as chicken, beef and pork dishes with a number of different iterations. This buffet is a place to get food in quantity, and it seems to pride itself on a higher level of quality than some of the other Chinese buffets around Music City. I’m not sold on that pitch, though.
Nashville’s innumerable dive bars are a scene in of themselves, and Douglas Corner Café, which is on the city’s southern side along 8th Avenue, is just one of them. This bar is mostly a spot to enjoy some good music, but you can also find a small menu of drinks and food on the menu. I’m a fan of the scene, and I like the music here, but you should definitely plan to eat before you arrive.