Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse

The concept of nicer dining restaurants with the location just about every major city in the country, Fleming’s Steakhouse is the epitome of the idea of quality dropping quantity in classic American cuisine. The spot offers a lot of upscale drinks, nicer appetizers and of course surf and turf to your hearts content. It is really nice, the restaurant is great on the inside, and I would consider it a safe dining experience.

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Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery

Oregon District has a lot of bars with a lot of good bar food, and when you first walk through downtown Dayton’s main nightlife spot, you might not at first set your sights on the small operation that is Lucky’s. But make no mistake, this spot is much beloved by Dayton city-dwellers. Whether they’re making use of the spot’s extensive tap list or just looking to sample one of the burgers or sandwiches that fill its menu, people come to this spot in droves. The hype leaves you wondering, is it worth a try? The answer is yes.

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Dayton Racquet Club

Perched high atop Kettering Tower, Dayton’s tallest skyscraper, the elite Dayton Racquet Club is a members-only social establishment with a number of amenities, the most remarkable of which is a restaurant and lounge on the building’s 29th floor. It’s at this exclusive club that Dayton’s elite rub shoulders whether it’s for a gathering of business leaders over breakfast, a light lunch with a source, or cocktails after hours. The Racquet Club is good to its members, and the food here, matching the view, is top-notch.

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Merry Ann’s Diner

This small chain of diners based in Champaign, Illinois has something of an old-fashioned feel to it. Four locations around central Illinois, many featuring such things as an old-fashioned diner bar and lunch counter. An enormous Rosie the Riveter poster (holding a hamburger no less) looks on as you get seated to try the spot. Its menu an a la carte collection of different breakfast items and of course quarter-pound diner burgers with ketchup and cheese, sort of a mainstay of diners past. It’s a small business like this one that often forms the beating heart of a large town like Champaign.

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Leo Bistro

The primary dining option for the Dayton Art Institute just north of downtown Dayton, Ohio, Leo Bistro has expanded far beyond the concept of the standard museum cafeteria and is now a full service place to eat, from the same basis as Elite Catering, the museum’s large-dining operation. Dayton Art Institute has a lot of events by itself, but it’s also host to a lot of cultural happenings of various groups around the city. Because of that, it’s likely a Dayton resident will try far more than the items on the standard menu when stepping into the DAI.

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Carmen’s Deli

Carmen’s Deli serves a very specific niche in downtown Dayton; it’s a bistro based on the ground floor of Kettering Tower, the city’s tallest skyscraper, and easily its most visible tenant. Carmen’s offers sandwiches, wraps, and other goods for breakfast and lunch most weekdays, and it’s a popular destination for downtown dwellers and workers during those times. But whether it’s a sandwich or wrap, or even a simple cup of coffee you’re looking for from Carmen’s, this is a place where I’ve consistently had good experiences. Time and again.

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Mom’s Restaurant

It’s nothing less than a much beloved and cherished institution of northern Warren county; the restaurant of “Mom” Hilda Ratliff sat at the six-way convergence of state routes 122, 123 and 741 for decades, until a road project shut its doors. With great excitement from the local community, Mom’s reopened at its present location just off Interstate 75 earlier this year. Locals swear by this quaint south Dayton diner for its made-in-house breakfasts and its platters of lunchtime favorites. Mom’s Restaurant has a lot of character in a tiny package.

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The Echo Restaurant

The Echo Restaurant is a quaint little neighborhood diner in the area of Oakley and Hyde Park in eastern Cincinnati. It’s the kind of place where people congregate in long lines in the morning, both for families and groups of older folk who are out to get a quick start on the day, as well as much of Oakley’s younger crowd. It’s really quite the friendly place, the waitstaff is nice and talkative and the regulars seem to know one another quite well. There are a thousand nice little places like this in a city like Cincinnati, but you never really forget the ones that really do it right.

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First Watch

Within a few months, First Watch, “the daytime café” will have 100 locations centered around the Midwestern United States. The Florida-based chain markets something particularly delicious for hungry customers; the bright cafe specializes in healthy and creative alternatives to the traditional dishes. The café markets some very holistic options heavy in fruits and vegetables, though heartier, less healthy options are available too. Athletes and runners stop in after long runs or cycling trips, and couples looking for an early start on the day gather for something tasty.

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La Comedia Dinner Theatre

Ritzy, fancy and very upscale, La Comedia Dinner Theatre has been one of Dayton’s prime restaurant businesses since 1975, offering a fine dinner packaged with off-Broadway shows for very special occasions. From “Titanic” to “A Christmas Carol,” the playbill includes about six plays a year and offers a truly unique experience for Dayton residents. It’s well-known in the area and frequented by couples for their anniversaries as well as birthdays and holidays. Sport coat and tie optional, but definitely plan to dress up. Tickets start at $53, so you’ll want to make reservations in advance as much as possible.

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