Carmen’s Deli

40 N. Main St. # 60
Dayton, OH 45423
937.620.9999
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4 stars

Carmen’s Deli serves a very specific niche in downtown Dayton; it’s a bistro based on the ground floor of Kettering Tower, the city’s tallest skyscraper, and easily its most visible tenant. Carmen’s offers sandwiches, wraps, and other goods for breakfast and lunch most weekdays, and it’s a popular destination for downtown dwellers and workers during those times. But whether it’s a sandwich or wrap, or even a simple cup of coffee you’re looking for from Carmen’s, this is a place where I’ve consistently had good experiences. Time and again.

Carmen’s makes a number of delicious dishes, including sandwiches, wraps, burgers and salads. The overall theme is that most are light cuisine for a quick business lunch, but it’s worth saying that each and every menu item is packed with a wide variety of ingredients, often combinations of multiple meats, sauces and veggies to give them depth of flavor. Among the best ones:

  • Turkey club croissant: packed with winning combinations, from the smoky turkey and bacon, to the cheddar and Swiss cheese to the mayo and honey mustard combo, a sound decision. It’s served cold, though I do with it were served cold. The croissant is delicious.
  • Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wrap: Grilled chicken, cheddar, a cocktail of veggies and a little bit of buffalo sauce to make it all spicy. Highly suggest this one with something to drink, it’s got a hot kick.
  • Chicken Caesar Wrap: essentially Caesar salad in a wrap, with some nice grilled cheese. Another great, light combo.
  • Mediterranean Pasta Salad: This one is very vinegary. The bow tie pasta is sprinkled liberally with acidity, so it’s a nice side dish.
  • Reuben: Classic reuben sandwich, this one enhanced with a rich thousand island dressing. The meat is stacked high, and it’s hard to top this great option for lunch downtown.
  • Salmon sandwich: A patty of salmon grilled and served on a heavy bun. What makes this good is a thick mayo sauce that adds some nice flavor to the mild salmon.
  • Shrimp chowder: A thick and velvety bisque heavy with seafood, chowder is one of the many soups served up here in the cold winter months.
  • Philly cheese steak: Cheese steak served on a hoagie bun with Swiss cheese and veggies. The beef is juicy and tender, a classier version of this dish from around town.
  • Portobello burger: A grilled portobello mushroom cooked until it’s firm and soft, and topped with veggies. A good no-meat alternative on the lighter side of the menu.
  • Brownies: Great as a dessert. The fudge is like chocolate ganache. Suggest it cold. 
  • Steak & black bean soup: Shaved steak, black beans and garbanzo beans are the base of this hearty soup, it’s a delicious meal by itself.

So the environment of the place is great, it’s a wide-open concept with lots of tables that spill onto the sidewalk and into the tower’s lobby. The staff has always been very friendly and from what I have seen. very professional. It’s the kind of place that caters to the professionals of the city, very pleasant. The storefront is always clean and overall it’s a place I’ve consistently seen good things.

All in all, it’s good to see places like Carmen’s anchoring such a big part of business downtown. Not only is it fantastic, but it’s locally owned and very distinct in its cuisine. I highly recommend it.

Recommendations

  • This spot is open exclusively weekdays for breakfast and lunch; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
  • In spite of this, where is a variety of beers and wines on the menu to try if you are feeling a drink with your lunch.
  • Might I suggest the desserts, I’m a big fan of the brownies, which are about half brownie and half fudge. Amazing.

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