Bar Dumaine

As Dayton’s restaurant world goes, Chef Anne Kearney is the cream of the crop. Cutting her teeth on the business alongside Chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, she settled down in the south suburbs with a French-inspired concept, Rue Dumaine, with a nice upscale feel that has become a favorite in Dayton for years. After some scaling back, she’s re-launched Bar Dumaine, a re-brand of the concept with a bit of a scaled-down feel. The interior of the classic bar feels freshened up a bit and the menu has some very approachable features, setting a James Beard award-nominated chef up to carry her concept to the future.

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Shake Shack

A much beloved chain started in 2002 in New York City, Shake Shack is all the rage in town which has prompted a fast expansion out of the East Coast and into more cities all over the country. With that fast growth, Shake Shack has become a trendy stop for many a curious eater. Probably the most prominent of the “better burger” concepts that has blossomed around the U.S. in recent years, the ‘Shack has an easy demeanor and a simple menu of burgers and shakes that have worked the name up into a national darling. Is the food worth the hype? I thought so.

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Goo Goo Shop

The city of Nashville is growing all the time, and as it has continued to evolve some of its longstanding traditions have been left behind. Not so with the much-beloved Goo Goo Cluster; a giant chocolate confection that had been made in the Music City for over 100 years thanks to the Standard Candy Company. You can find them in most stories around town, or if you like, a single storefront in downtown near Honky Tonk Row where you can watch the candies be made. The shop gives a ton of insight into how this great Nashville tradition came to be.

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Dunlays on the Square

Situated in north Chicago’s well-to-do Logan Square and surrounding neighborhood, Dunlays on the Square is an upscale bar and brunch place that’s’ hard to forget. The walls and bar are laden with nice wood trim finishes and each dish is plated with great meticulousness. That upscale feel brings a nice sense of refinement to the dishes, but a the end all of the food to be tried here is still approachable, and at price points which aren’t too bad. If you’re going with more than a few people, consider sitting in that pleasant patio in the good weather, but be sure to make a reservation.

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Osaka Sushi & Hibachi Bar

While there are a few Asian-themed buffets around Dayton, what Osaka Japanese Steakhouse offers the region is a very unique experience. Opened in what has for several years been a series of family dining restaurants, this one is a higher-priced buffet of Far Eastern cuisines you won’t find in many other places around town, and certainly not all under one roof. From Peking duck to octopus, frog legs and, yes, a sushi conveyor belt, this spot is a place to go when you’re feeling like a very adventurous experience.

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Boca

As downtown Cincinnati has seen a renaissance of new and exciting restaurant concepts come to town, the top quality ones are getting quite a following, pleasing giant crowds and landing national attention. Cincinnati’s dining scene has become a national interest with a lot of new ideas coming to market. So it’s no wonder the fine dining scene here is filled with such creativity. In that time, we have Boca, “culinary curiosity in modern decadence” and a place where creative combinations simmer for adventurous palettes. It’s an experience.

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Roost Modern Italian

As one of the most upscale dining options in Dayton’s Oregon District, Roost Modern Italian is the favored creation of Chef Dana Downs, one of the best chefs in the city. The spot doesn’t occupy a lot of real estate, but in its short time in operation the restaurant has driven a huge following for its refined menu. The innovative concept takes numerous classic Italian dishes and gives them a contemporary tint with some refinement. It’s not always easy to get in, but there’s a good reason; the restaurant blends European flavors with Midwestern palettes.

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Taft’s Ale House

Served up with a healthy dose of history for its namesake, Taft’s Ale House honors a Cincinnatian who just happens to have been President of the United States once. So it’s nice that this eccentric church-turned-brewery has an aura of history to it, and a heck of a lot of character. While the libations are what bring the crowds to this spot on the weekends, it has a huge menu of food to keep people returning, including a brunch menu that isn’t often advertised. The food here is really worth a special visit.

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The Golden Lamb Inn

The famous Golden Lamb Inn of Lebanon, Ohio has been in business for over 200 years, and counts among its thousands of satisfied customers a dozen United States presidents. Once a stagecoach stop on the road to Cincinnati, this spot still operates as a hotel, restaurant and bar stop with some very classic and long-loved dishes. Step into the country kitchen and you’ll find an experience that is something like a museum, something like an old tavern lost in time, but still serving great food. Golden Lamb is a landmark well worth a stop in Lebanon, and the food delivers.

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The Row Kitchen & Pub

As downtown Nashville has exploded and vibrancy has spread to nearby Midtown, many new restaurants and businesses have found their way into the city’s core. This has been bad for some venues as the competition has stepped up, and some have folded entirely. But it has also shown some of the bigger and better places which have survived, and continued to serve Music City. The Row, a music venue and barbecue joint, is hard to forget. Even for a city known for its smoked meats, this one rises far.

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