Central Perc European Cafe

For 20 years the main stretch of Oakwood has been served with a very friendly little coffee shop called the Central Perc European Cafe. Coffee shops and smoothie stations have popped up around it in the time since then, and you could still drive right by this little shop without seeing it unless you knew exactly where to look. But it’s one of few really nice British tea houses in the Dayton area, and the menu here is definitely worth discovering.

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Old Scratch Pizza

There typically isn’t a lot of reason to stop for anything in the clutch of industrial buildings immediately south of downtown Dayton, and the area has traditionally had only a few restaurants to enjoy. Old Scratch Pizza became a pleasant surprise when it recently opened its doors at a former industrial building along South Patterson Boulevard that next to no one probably noticed. But it’s become a landmark now, popular especially with the downtown crowd who like to venture to the south especially on the nice days when they can enjoy a patio. Long wooden benches give the place a communal feel, and two wood-burning ovens churn out a great kind of pizza.

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Music City Diner

Stuffed into the corner of a strip mall north of Nashville, this Greek-inspired diner is a small, but very homey place to eat. Staged like an old-fashioned eatery of southern America, you’ll walk in to classic songs on the jukebox and a “how y’all doin?” from the very friendly waitresses. In spite of these, this restaurant is anything but dated. It’s in fact a place where creative kinds of dishes are made and Greek cuisine is the norm.

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Sun Wah BBQ

Although it stays relatively quiet in Chicago’s uptown neighborhood along the Broadway Street corridor, Sun Wah BBQ has been around town for a very long time. Once you sit down at this restaurant, though, you’ll see why pretty quickly. The menu, inspired by Chinese grilled meats and many things like it, is simply unique even in a city of this size. While the restaurant seems like it might be like many other run-of-the-mill places around the city, this is going to be one that you will want to remember.

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Big Sky Bread Co.

Practically hidden along Far Hills Avenue in south Dayton near where Kettering meets Oakwood, Big Sky Bread Co. is an old-school bread bakery that is so easy to under-appreciate these days. The bakery is a classic small-town lunch spot; pleasant aromas waft to the front of the restaurant as french bread, challahs, pretzels and garlic loaves are baked alongside cookies, cakes, and other kinds of goodies. It’s all to easy to ignore the simple pleasures of an old-fashioned bakery like this one. But to enjoy such a bakery is to delight in the simple pleasure of a home-grown original experience.

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Cedarland Bakery

The east Dayton suburbs hold many surprises, especially in the world of little local restaurant operations. Cedarland Bakery is a great example; offering a specific flavor in Lebanese food amid a larger backdrop of Mediterranean dishes that might be a bit more familiar. Very popular with the immigrant community in the city, the grill enjoys relatively little fanfare from the suburbs because of its low-key presence. Very much a hole in the wall, this place has lots of sweets to take home with you, but you’ll want to try that lunch menu.

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Wright Wing

Set up just a bit of the beaten path in Fairborn (and briefly having a sister location in Ketteting), Wright Wing is a local watering hole in every sense of the word. Comfortable, full of TVs to watch any number of local ball games, and with a simple menu full of pub grub, this is the place you’ll want to bring a few buddies to enjoy a game or two. The food is a pretty safe bet, and overall it’s one of the better hole-in-the-wall places to love in suburban Dayton.

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Blue Note Bistro

Small-town Miamisburg harbors a real treat and a surprise in the Blue Note Bistro. Opened in a reclaimed space right along the main stretch of the southwest Ohio small town, it’s quickly lined up acts and local artists as a dive where you can go to enjoy some quality music downtown. Dayton doesn’t have a ton of places specifically for jazz and blues music these days. To see a spot such as this, and with its blue-themed decor and bit of dressing up, no less, is really pleasant.

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Franco’s Pizza Place

College-town Athens, nestled in southeast Ohio, has a lot of pizza to cater to the Ohio University crowd, and each local place offers a little different style. You can enjoy the thick-cut, bready by-the-slice type at Goodfella’s, or a little more quality thick-crush pizza at Courtside Pizza. Or, you can head to Avalanche Pizza for a toppings-loaded monster of a slice. But until recently, the lovely wide-brimmed New York-style pizza remained elusive in this town. That changed last year when a vacated sub shop was replaced by Franco’s Pizza Place, immediately popular for its very foldable slices.

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West End Ciderhouse

What used to be more of a quiet events venue on the western edge of Athens has been transformed into a public gathering space for the first time in years. And it’s about time; Athens’ west end doesn’t have a lot of restaurants or hang out places if you live there — as I did for two years — and there wasn’t a lot to draw people around campus and to the east this far away. Now that’s changed. This spot isn’t just a bar, but also kind of a hang-out space, a little more low-key than what you will find uptown on Court Street. That’s a nice thing, especially during the day, and especially when you need somewhere to relax a little bit.

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