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 maintains the big-name reputation.
The seafood dishes are good, depending on what you get. I tried the clam chowder and it’s the best I’ve tasted yet; thick and chunky almost like gravy, but topped out with a ton of clam meat and a few other things. It’s the classic New England style, no tomatoes to be found. I wasn’t a fan of the fish tacos, which are topped with a little salsa on a flour tortilla. They come with a few different kinds of fish depending on the day you step in; I was there on a day when the tacos had salmon. Salmon has a distinct flavor and it doesn’t really contribute anything compared to say, tilapia or haddock, which I think go better in a fish taco. Other issue: the taco needs some kind of sauce or something terribly; it’s got some salsa and a small amount of something else in there, but the fish needs something or it dries out. I don’t really understand the dish.
The atmosphere of Jay’s is exceptional, it’s kind of a classy old bar feeling, rich wood and a low-lit setting, and it’s always full of people. The restaurant has limited hours and is almost always open only at dinner. In December, though, they open for some lunches, which is something you should definitely consider if you’ve never been there at any other time of the year. It’s a way around some of the higher-priced dinners.
Jay’s has been in Dayton for over 30 years, and as seafood places go, that’s a pretty good record, especially in south Ohio, and especially with a lot of other longstanding and highly-regarded seafood restaurants in town. You hear the name, you pass by the unassuming looking warehouse a lot if you frequent anything in downtown. While this place remains a well-regarded seafood restaurant and a magnet for downtown Dayton, I just didn’t see the magic in what I tried.
- This is a fine dining establishment catering to an older audience. Nice attire is suggested.
- Jay’s is only open for dinner most of the time of the year, but in December they do have hours for lunch. Reservations fill up very fast for those times.
- There is also valet parking on weekends, which sounds unnecessary…anywhere else in Dayton. Parking can be hard to come by in Oregon District on weekends.