Nashville Hot

While it hearkens to the very favorite dish of the Music City, Nashville Hot (In Dayton, known as “Mike’s Nashville Hot” for the franchise owner) is actually founded in Cincinnati. The product of Tom+Chee’s David Krikorian and including former Bengals player Brad Cousino, this group is focused on taking hot chicken — a cuisine much beloved in Nashville but relatively unknown outside of that city — and popularizing it for a wider audience. Hot chicken is a sensitive thing for die-hards, but what the chain is offering is a great introduction to a dish many will not have tried before.

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Critic’s Special: Raising Cane’s

Oilman-turned-fisherman-turned-restaurant owner Todd Graves did more that open a restaurant when he created Raising Cane’s. This chain has attracted a cult following and wherever it goes, people get crazy. This week its first location opens in Dayton, Ohio, and opening day was met with lines out the door and a drive through that has a constant security detail, with traffic headed around the block.

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The Flipside

With the surge of new and interesting places in 12th Avenue South along the southern cusp of Nashville, a lot of interesting restaurant concepts have opened and begun to gain steam. The Flipside, a new restaurant concept that has been gaining interest, has been modeled after a 1950’s era diner at the behest of restaurateurs Jason and Libby Sheer and friend Tim Gibbons. This spot not only serves up regular dance nights to bring out the young crowd, but its special recipe of fried chicken has been turning heads for its crunchy, savory goodness. You don’t have to go far into the menu to see you’ve found something special.

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Chappy’s Taproom & Grille

Chappy’s Taproom, one of the more popular suburban bars in south Dayton, is a place to go for a great sense of variety. Not only does the spot sport dozens of kinds of beers on tap and plenty of bottles, but the spot has a wide variety of items on its menu worth trying too. Barbecue, fried chicken, burgers and pub food; you name it, Chappy’s has got it, and does it in a really great way.

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Wing Zone

Now with a little over 50 locations around the country, Wing Zone tends to be planted around military bases and towns, as a cheap option for wings and other fast foods that can be delivered to your doorstep. The chain’s independent franchises don’t have dine-in options that I have seen; rather they seem to be going in the direction of other discount food options, preferring instead to be a carry out joint. While the prices are below what some of the other wing chains, I’d contend the quality is below them, too.

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Chicken Now

It’s got locations all over the country, and this rapidly growing chain of shopping center food stalls already has 50 locations open or on the way. Let’s be honest: you get a certain idea in mind when you think of mall food. Take that idea and set it aside. Chicken Now has a good recipe for its food, fried to order and very filling. It’s a little pricier than the places next food and it takes a little longer than them to serve the food up, but the quality is there.

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Mel-O-Dee Restaurant

A small down diner for a small-town crowd, Mel-O-Dee Restaurant is a little ways off of the Interstate 70/Interstate 675 interchange in New Carlisle, a distant north suburb of Dayton. The little establishment has all the makings of an old-fashioned little guy: from handwritten menu specials to a big honking neon sign advertising colorful welcomes to all the groups that come through the town. In a town like Dayton, you find countless chains and manufactured food with an air of impersonal coldness about them. But just up the road, places like this are hiding, waiting to be discovered.

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Miller’s Chicken

Simplicity is the heart of Miller’s Chicken, a family restaurant off the beaten path on Athens’ west side. The little eatery is hard to spot; it’s connected to the back of a much larger warehouse, but anyone driving the neighborhoods around Miller’s will be able to smell it out pretty easily. Miller’s makes home-made fried chicken and fixings to match. As such, it is currently Athens’ only homemade chicken place, a surprising fact considering the diversity of the rest of town’s menu.

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Lovely’s Farm Market & Country Cafe

Lovely’s is primarily a small farm market offering home-made goods. The store offers baked goods, candy, and fresh fruits and vegetables all made from scratch from the ingredients grown seasonally on the Lovely’s farm. At the same time, though, Lovely’s maintains a restaurant that almost everyone in Springboro loves to frequent. It is known best for “Steve’s Signature Fried Chicken” (It used to be called “Henny Penny Chicken.”) And with the chicken, they offer a plethora of sides, most of which are also produced with ingredients from the farm. It is very difficult to find one of these that isn’t excellent.

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