Big Sky Bread Co.

Practically hidden along Far Hills Avenue in south Dayton near where Kettering meets Oakwood, Big Sky Bread Co. is an old-school bread bakery that is so easy to under-appreciate these days. The bakery is a classic small-town lunch spot; pleasant aromas waft to the front of the restaurant as french bread, challahs, pretzels and garlic loaves are baked alongside cookies, cakes, and other kinds of goodies. It’s all to easy to ignore the simple pleasures of an old-fashioned bakery like this one. But to enjoy such a bakery is to delight in the simple pleasure of a home-grown original experience.

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Cedarland Bakery

The east Dayton suburbs hold many surprises, especially in the world of little local restaurant operations. Cedarland Bakery is a great example; offering a specific flavor in Lebanese food amid a larger backdrop of Mediterranean dishes that might be a bit more familiar. Very popular with the immigrant community in the city, the grill enjoys relatively little fanfare from the suburbs because of its low-key presence. Very much a hole in the wall, this place has lots of sweets to take home with you, but you’ll want to try that lunch menu.

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Wright Wing

Set up just a bit of the beaten path in Fairborn (and briefly having a sister location in Ketteting), Wright Wing is a local watering hole in every sense of the word. Comfortable, full of TVs to watch any number of local ball games, and with a simple menu full of pub grub, this is the place you’ll want to bring a few buddies to enjoy a game or two. The food is a pretty safe bet, and overall it’s one of the better hole-in-the-wall places to love in suburban Dayton.

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Blue Note Bistro

Small-town Miamisburg harbors a real treat and a surprise in the Blue Note Bistro. Opened in a reclaimed space right along the main stretch of the southwest Ohio small town, it’s quickly lined up acts and local artists as a dive where you can go to enjoy some quality music downtown. Dayton doesn’t have a ton of places specifically for jazz and blues music these days. To see a spot such as this, and with its blue-themed decor and bit of dressing up, no less, is really pleasant.

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Franco’s Pizza Place

College-town Athens, nestled in southeast Ohio, has a lot of pizza to cater to the Ohio University crowd, and each local place offers a little different style. You can enjoy the thick-cut, bready by-the-slice type at Goodfella’s, or a little more quality thick-crush pizza at Courtside Pizza. Or, you can head to Avalanche Pizza for a toppings-loaded monster of a slice. But until recently, the lovely wide-brimmed New York-style pizza remained elusive in this town. That changed last year when a vacated sub shop was replaced by Franco’s Pizza Place, immediately popular for its very foldable slices.

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Thai Paradise

Athens has a ton of options for Chinese food, but other cuisines from Asia are actually pretty hard to come by in the College town. Sure, a few places to sushi, and a few others have pad Thai but that’s about it. Thai Paradise has brought the change; opened in 2008 in Pickerington, east of Columbus, this destination staked out a spot in Athens in 2014 and since then has been the go-to place for Thai food in town. With a great selection of dishes to try, and a feel that is just a bit on the nicer side, this is one you will want to try.

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Cantina Laredo

A concept that hails from Dallas, Texas, Cantina Laredo has since expanded to a few key cities all over the country, typically finding its way into upscale shopping centers, airports and commercial centers. An open concept busy with decorative earthen pots, hanging lights and a massive bar that serves up refreshing drinks of all kinds. The menu is ‘Modern Mexican,’ a version of Tex-Mex that is cleaned up a bit and served with higher-notch ingredients. The locations often end up being large-size very busy establishments, but they don’t make for a bad place for a happy hour.

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The Wellington Grille

A bit off the beaten path in Beavercreek east of Dayton, The Wellington Grille caters to a bit of an older crowd but it’s still filled up pretty easily even on weekend nights. This Americana-style grill and steakhouse isn’t too formal a place to visit, but it’s kept a good reputation as an approachable meal. Perhaps the interior could use a refresh, but the food you have here will be a familiar and comforting thing. This spot has been around for a few years and doesn’t turn a lot of heads, but it’s a good date night spot.

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Boosalis Baking

Popular with residents in the south suburbs of Dayton, Boosalis Bakery started up a few years ago and quickly gained a following for its baked goods, gentle atmosphere and very kind staff. The “from scratch daily” mantra adopted by owner Matt Boosalis in practice brings a lot of freshness everyday. When the shop moved from the Miami Township area to Centerville, its fans followed. On any given weekend you can find a lot of people streaming in for a lunch or for something sweet to take home.

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Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern

A chain of burger shops primarily focused in Michigan, Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern does nothing small. The enormous restaurants, circled with train sets and a grand array of decorations to a huge menu of burgers, sandwiches and sides by the heaping helping. The end result is a friendly, almost over-the-top kind of charm. In fact, I would say big is the word for everything you see here, but keep in mind you’re certain to walk away super full.

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