The hilly Colerain Township of Cincinnati’s West Side is easy to get lost in, but travel the winding roads long enough, and you’ll run across a place like Vinoklet Winery. With an eye on quality dining, this spot makes a line of its own wines and also features many high-end events and music. It’s a serene environment, lost in the foothills, with a warm fireplace and low-lit dining spaces. I can’t think of a nicer place to bring a date.
Downtown Dayton’s Oregon District has a lot of different options in terms of bars, but only one of them currently makes its own beer. That would be Toxic Brew Co., and its in-house brews are very popular. It opened its doors earlier this year but the popularity of the brewery has meant the place has expanded its hours and offered ever more options on its growing menu of beers, adding more seasonals and refining recipes. This spot specializes in creative brews and building unique flavors you don’t normally find in beer. While there’s no food here (they encourage you to bring in your own) you may find this to be the kind of place you want to hang around regardless.
As self-serve frozen yogurt spots have sprung up around Dayton and other parts of Ohio, each one has sought to do something to make it stand out. Bad Frog Frozen Yogurt, which has a location each in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, stands out for its heavy emphasis on the toppings. The one open in Dayton closes in on 75 toppings, to be exact, with just about anything you would ever want to put in your frozen yogurt concoction. So it’s a great place if you want to pile toppings high, but the yogurt itself is just OK.
Downtown Troy, Ohio has a top notch selection of restaurants around its central square, an even mix these days; an upscale bar, a nice Italian restaurant, a sandwich shop and a coffee spot. And then there’s Tokyo Peking Chinese Restaurant, a small dive with a small menu with generally inexpensive Chinese food. This is a fast place to dine and the food is pretty simple, but it just didn’t impress me as the kind of place worth a return visit.
One of the many bakeries that set up shop around Dayton, The Cakery serves the northern highway town of Troy, and it fills a niche there, where the community’s other big bakery specializes mostly in bread and more artisan stuff, the Cakery does elegant cakes, cupcakes, and those all-too-irresistible confections. Much of the signature of this bakery can be found on the fancy frosting creations that adorn the top of its many cakes and cupcakes. The Cakery is run by frosting artists, and they’re some of the best local designer cake makers in town.
Now with two locations in Dayton, House of Thai is one of several restaurants in its genre putting out popular Thai dishes. However, compared to those other spots, this one is more of a casual restaurant theme and it’s also more spacious, giving it more of a subrurban allure to the niche spots closer into the city. This restaurant sports a lot of the same cuisine in a less expensive setting, but it’s also sacrificing a little bit of the flavor for that price. Thai is a tight market in Dayton, and so that little extra distinction can go a long way.
You won’t be in Dayton for very long before you hear the name “El Meson.”
Indeed, the expansive West Carrollton restaurant south of the city along the Interstate 75 corridor is one that’s hard to forget even after one visit. Not just for its colorful and vibrant interior decoration, but for the equally large menu of tapas and other dishes that can’t be found on any other menu in the city. In short, El Meson has long been considered a unique option in the city — one of the few places you can really go for something different. Even with the influx of new restaurant concepts, this spot continues to deliver.
Downtown Dayton is served mostly by little local coffee shops, and The Ohio Coffee Company is one of the well-known ones. It’s the bistro at the base of the Fifth Third Center and it’s a pretty common destination for downtown Dayton’s business folks looking for a nice place to meet, for couples to have a meal or for small groups of friends to catch up. Many folks grab their food and go, but many more will visit at the tables that spill out into the tower’s lobby.
The main stretch of Troy, Ohio, is filled with small local restaurants, but for a taste of tex-mex food in this small west Ohio town, La Fiesta Restaurante Mexicano is the most centrally located and highly visible for travelers heading into town from nearby I-75. With plenty of room for large parties — and large gatherings of people, too — this spot serves a giant menu of favorites in Mexican cuisine, and some of them are the kinds of dishes that you just might not find at other restaurants in town.
Jay’s Seafood near Dayton’s Oregon District is a well-known surf and turf establishment near Dayton’s core specializing in upscale dinners. The catches of the day come in many different forms, but the spot knows how to make a variety of fish dishes, from simple clam chowder and fish tacos to lobster, top-shelf crab legs and oysters on a half-shell. A lot of potential in there. This is definitely a spot that is popular with the older folks, and the house is always packed, but Jay’s Seafood does fine dining in Dayton pretty well.