El Pub Restaurant

Little Havanna, on Eighth Avenue (“Calle Ocho,” as it’s more commonly termed locally) is an expansive nod to the local culture. Little parks where folks play dominos. Shops of hand-crafted goods. This neighborhood is a beloved gem in the city.

Inevitably, when a gem has a reputation like that, it will sometimes see its struggles from both the onslaught of visitors and the tourist traps looking to grab some of that hype. El Pub Restaurant, I fear, suffers from a little of both.

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Liu Garden

For a very long time, Downtown Dayton was served by one dive Chinese place: China Royal, in the corner of the Biltmore Tower along North Main Street. After that spot closed, the place was vacant for awhile before a new spot, Liu Garden, replaced it earlier this year. Under the ownership of a new family, this spot is in practice very similar to its predecessor — a Chinese buffet with a robust takeout operation. But this one has longer hours and a bigger variety of foods. Still, the food is pretty unremarkable.

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Smoky Bones Bar & Fire Grill

Smoky Bones is a Florida-based mid-sized restaurant chain that has enjoyed some popularity throughout the United States for a few years. Mostly it does Kansas City-style barbecue with a variety of meats and a host of “Yankee sweet “sauces. In the south, barbecue chains tend to be pretty popular, but the north has a smaller number of chains with takes on the American classic. So how does this one stack up? Well, it depends on what you order.

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The Buffet at Monte Carlo

In Vegas, they say it’s all about the buffets. Indeed most casinos on the strip have one, and you can walk right in and eat without gambling. In fact many are comped right to your room. Such is the case with The Buffet at Monte Carlo. Most used by the guests of the hotel itself the place has a plethora of options it serves for lunch and dinner. Of course, this casino was created by MGM as more of a budget option for the strip. You’ll find the buffet matches. In quality, not price.

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Addi’s Restaurant

While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, Addi’s Restaurant in Columbus in fact offers a taste of cuisine not often seen in Ohio; offering Ethiopian food, with the local Ethiopian population congregating around the restaurant and its take on traditional Ethiopian cuisine. While the food isn’t half bad, the spot does seem like it could use a bit of an update on the outside. On the inside, it does seem to need some tweaks to make it a more approachable place. There’s a lot of people here who have never had Ethiopian food.

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The Melting Pot

A chain that usually can be found in nice suburbs of cities across the United States, The Melting Pot bases its menu off of a pretty different menu item: fondue. Whether food is being cooked in cheese, or a hot broth, or you’re feeling a dessert and the food is in chocolate, the restaurant specializes in the simple love of a romantic dinner meant to be shared among a couple or a small group of people. It’s not a place where you go lightly, the prices are a bit higher and the attire is certainly a little nicer, but the end result is a very pleasant experience.

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The Chop House

Something of a new take on the old-fashioned steakhouse, The Chop House is a restaurant with about a dozen locations in the Midwest and South. With a menu of fresh steaks and seafood, and a giant helping of sandwiches and other fare, this restaurant offers over-sized plates and a comfortable interior, and a place where folks come to relax and enjoy the company of friends in a familiar experience. The menu strives to be a quality take on foods you already know and love, but it can be a bit hit-and-miss as far as these go.

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Andy’s Mediterranean Grille

A bar and restaurant in Walnut Hills, on the cusp of downtown Cincinnati, Andy’s Mediterranean Grille specializes in Middle Eastern dishes that aren’t to be found in many other places in the area. Aiming to be a little more upscale and drawing a crowd for its distinctly Greek cuisine. With belly dancers to entertain on the weekends and a friendly staff that helps serve up hummus, tabbouleh, lamb burgers and a number of other regional specialties alongside more Americanized dishes like pizzas. The spot isn’t the first place you might think to go, but it does have a charm that grows on you after a few visits. It’s the wait time and the price that can make it hard to swallow.

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El Cazador Mexican Restaurant

A bit off the beaten path in Dayton’s north thoroughfare, El Cazador in Englewood Is a Tex-Mex house set up for large groups of people to enjoy some good Spanish inspired cuisine. The servings are hearty, the food is inexpensive, and the spot really brings a lot simple food to the table with an overall pleasant service. That said I found the food to be pretty uninspiring.

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Flying Saucer

It’s a chain of enormous beer hall-style restaurants with a big play on providing the chance to try hundreds of craft beers, and each location of Flying Saucer, which is in many major cities around the country, is all about the beer. With each spot sporting 50 to 75 taps at once, this is a spot where you go to try local beer, and many varieties of it. But between the long tables, the many decorative plates, pool tables and dart boards, the spots to offer some bar cuisine to match. The place is an attraction to be sure, but the food isn’t going to bring you back.

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