If you haven’t ever been to Urban Nights in Dayton, you would have been blown away to see what took place downtown this weekend. The energy that brought thousands of people to downtown for music, the arts, and of course food, is palpably growing. I’m a lover of the vibrant restaurant scene in this city, but the 2014 Taste of Miami Valley brought out an unusually high number of restaurants from the area. And they served the much larger crowd of Dayton folks who made it out this year.
The results? Fantastic. Another Food Critic was invited back again by the Miami Valley Restaurant Association to judge the best of the best. What the winners brought out would surprise you:
- Best soup: The judges tried four soups, but the Tomato Bisque from Coco’s Bistro, which is always a town favorite for its thick consistency and creme fraiche topping, took the top.
- Best Appetizer: Nachos rock, of course, but the Loaded barbecue nachos from Hickory River Smokehouse are up a level, because their pulled pork is some of the best in the state.
- Best Sandwich: You wouldn’t expect a burger from an Italian spot, but the Gorgonzola Stuffed Burger from Giovanni’s blew us away. It’s a stuffed burger, quite like the famous Juicy Lucy of Minneapolis fame, not like any burger you can find in town.
Best Barbecue: Again we were blown away by the Pulled pork sandwich from Hickory River Smokehouse. That spot’s sweet barbecue is a fan favorite.
- Best Seafood: Dayton has a lot of great seafood, but the Bacon-wrapped crab cakes from The Docks were something we hadn’t quite expected. Great!
- Best Ethnic Food: Amar and Jeet India’s combined efforts brought us the Mixed Vegetable Korma with rice and Naan plate, some very respected Indian dishes.
- Best Entree: They were newcomers, but the Bacon-wrapped shrimp from The Patriot Steakhouse immediately rose to the top to us, for how deliciously perfect they were.
- Best Dessert: Another newcomer, we were impressed by the Sweet potato cream cake from Sweet-Umms Chocolatier. Sweet potato cake? You better believe it’s delicious!
What a great event! And I’m very happy to see so many great folks downtown. If you’ve missed Urban Nights before, you’d better mark your calendar for the next one!