Shake Shack

A much beloved chain started in 2002 in New York City, Shake Shack is all the rage in town which has prompted a fast expansion out of the East Coast and into more cities all over the country. With that fast growth, Shake Shack has become a trendy stop for many a curious eater. Probably the most prominent of the “better burger” concepts that has blossomed around the U.S. in recent years, the ‘Shack has an easy demeanor and a simple menu of burgers and shakes that have worked the name up into a national darling. Is the food worth the hype? I thought so.

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Gordon Ramsay BurGR

Chef Gordon Ramsay may have pioneered this namesake restaurant concept in the Planet Hollywood Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, and with a simple mission: a better burger. With a bold concept and a fantastic deputy in place in Chef Christina Wilson, BurGR sits on the hyped Las Vegas Strip, but there’s a real substance to the food that is served here. This isn’t just average food with a big name attached; it’s a genuinely different kind of burger. I’m liking it.

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Chicken Salad

Boosalis Baking

Popular with residents in the south suburbs of Dayton, Boosalis Bakery started up a few years ago and quickly gained a following for its baked goods, gentle atmosphere and very kind staff. The “from scratch daily” mantra adopted by owner Matt Boosalis in practice brings a lot of freshness everyday. When the shop moved from the Miami Township area to Centerville, its fans followed. On any given weekend you can find a lot of people streaming in for a lunch or for something sweet to take home.

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Kalbi Box Lunch

Song’s Sushi

While it’s only been open a little over a year, Song’s Sushi along Airway Road east of Dayton has already drawn considerable praise as an under-appreciated new gem in the city. With a captive audience in nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the dive serves up Korean and Japanese food — and fast, to keep up with those tight lunch break routines. The rapid-fire service might lead you to think this is a no-frills place, but in reality, it’s great food served from a tight ship. This kind of efficiency is sure to impress by itself, but the food backs it up.

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Korean BBQ Burger

Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern

A chain of burger shops primarily focused in Michigan, Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern does nothing small. The enormous restaurants, circled with train sets and a grand array of decorations to a huge menu of burgers, sandwiches and sides by the heaping helping. The end result is a friendly, almost over-the-top kind of charm. In fact, I would say big is the word for everything you see here, but keep in mind you’re certain to walk away super full.

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Dancing Roll

A sit-down sushi restaurant that was founded in West Chester, Dancing Roll recently added a second location in Hyde Park on Cincinnati’s East Side, with a menu that has broadened with the interest in Japanese and Korean food that has increased in the Midwest recently. This spot is best known and liked for its half-price sushi nights and its whole plates of great Korean specialties, which are otherwise not easy to find in a lot of other places in Cincinnati. This spot is one to remember.

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Griffin Burger

Wandering Griffin Brewery & Pub.

Dayton’s newest brewpub, The Wandering Griffin has sprung up in a former bar chain location in Beavercreek. This bar makes use of a unique space to give it sort of a deconstructed feel; heavy wood tables and furnishings, a low-lit bar and dramatic lighting give way to a bar that favors creative culinary ideas and a wide variety of beers, both made in-house and produced across Dayton and all of Ohio. The Wandering Griffin is here to celebrate not just Gem City, but all of Ohio and the surrounding region, where many great kinds of beer are worth note and where brewers often collaborate to make a better beer.

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3 Palms Pizzeria

60 Village Way Hudson, OH 44236 330.342.4545 website A little pizza shop serving the quaint little Cleveland-area town of Hudson, 3 Palms Pizzeria has a very simple feel, but this Italian eatery focuses on its pizza. Named for the older custom of measuring (by the palm of your hand) the restaurant features a wood-fired oven, and each … Continue reading

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Taco Tontos

A Cleveland-area group of restaurants that are primarily small taco shop bars, Taco Tontos is a popular place with the natives here, specifically because it has huge portions and some great dips to top them. This spot has a very likable concept for how approachable it is and how easy it is to bring a group of friends and have an enjoyable meal. The place isn’t half bad, but make sure you know what the dishes are that you don’t want to miss here.

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La Mexicana Restaurant & Grocer

Newport, Kentucky is dominated by the huge developments along the river, but this town is much more than that. The historic stretch of town to the south is home to plenty of great little restaurants, dive bars and small businesses. Amid the bevy of interesting food to try, you can find little storefronts like La Mexicana, a taco stand and shop with big-time tasty Mexican dishes and preparation styles for Tex-Mex favorites and more authentic dishes alike. It almost feels over the top, but this spot is all deliciousness.

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