An Ohio-centered concept with half a dozen locations, Bar 145 tends to find its way into larger new developments, where its entertaining take on the traditional pub makes it a place that supports a few different activities. The location in Kent, for example, has space for a dance floor and hosts regular DJ nights to support that. The location in Dayton, on the other hand, has taken the form mainly as a ‘barcade,’ where classic arcade games can be played for free. But don’t forget the food. Where the bar has focused its energy on building a good menu in recent years, it has brought some great ideas to the table.
A private club in the heart of downtown Dayton, the Engineer’s Club of Dayton is a members’ organization and gathering place in a historic downtown building. Founded for Dayton’s thinkers and intellectuals by big names including Charles Kettering and Orville Wright, this spot hosts private events and other kinds of functions. The environment rings of history and the walls are decorated of the many exploits of Engineer’s Club members over their lifetimes, but the breakfast and lunch service is worth a try if you can find someone to get you in.
Serving downtown Dayton now for more than a decade, The Wine Gallery sits on the bank of the river as an upscale spot where people like to visit after a show in the arts venues or to enjoy time with friends and try a new glass of wine. It’s a cozy place to bring a group of people, with a patio to enjoy and, nicely, food that is tasty while not breaking the bank.
A beloved sandwich shop in Dayton’s bustling Oregon District, 5th Street Deli is a tiny operation that focuses on making a variety of deli sandwiches and specializing in to-go meals, making it the only such business in the district and probably all of greater downtown. Now, with so many other great places to eat (and drink) within walking distance, this spot takes on a new level of importance; a place where you grab a good bite to eat, maybe take it to go, and enjoy with a good dose of Dayton night life. All in all, a lot of fun.
The newest addition to the Oregon District, and the creation of husband and wife team Natalie and Jack Skilliter, Corner Kitchen opened in a long-vacant space at the corner of one of Dayton’s most loved nightlife spots as a place where people can go to get something upscale but down-to-earth. The deliberate craft of its owners is apparent in the restaurant; each dish looks pretty simple from the outside but gets more complex as you dive in; and in the end the food here really delivers something that downtown Dayton has been craving.
Just close to 90 locations of Bar Louie are spread out across the Midwest and the East Coast, slowly expanding west in the U.S. These restaurants tend to locate one or two to a city, generally in the very upscale bar districts where they can justify higher prices and clientele looking for a more upscale experience. The bars are trimmed, often filled with televisions and sports gear, and most importantly, they’re nearly always packed. Expect a safe experience at one of these bars food-wise. Drinks are a different story. But whichever you pick, don’t expect to be wowed.
You hear a lot in Dayton about the little dive bars that the locals love. Always near the top of the list is Tank’s Bar and Grill, a spot along Wayne Avenue which isn’t big, isn’t conspicuous and isn’t very aggressive about marketing itself, but people love it still. Word of mouth tends to be the way that you first hear of Tank’s, and it’s often a surprise to people: a dive bar near downtown that makes good breakfast? It almost sounds like an oxymoron. But Tank’s delivers.
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.
Coco’s Bistro. Daytonians love that name. The much-adored spot along Warren Street near downtown exudes class throughout its lowlit interior, from its late-night wine bar where jazz can sometimes be heard, to the private dining areas in the back of the shop where families can enjoy a meal together. And while its eclectic menu evades immediate description, one thing is clear: a lot of thought went into every unique dish that is offered here. Coco’s prides itself as a Dayton original, and I’d contend this spot is easily one of the best in the city.
It’s organized as the second brewpub co-op in the nation, and Fifth Street Brewpub in the neighborhood east of downtown Dayton generated a lot of hype when it first opened, having attracted over 2,000 members at this point for something of a neighborhood bar concept. But while it added food as it has spun up, those craft brews it was created to churn out proved elusive; months went by and they still weren’t brewing their own beer. And now, finally, Fifth Street’s first brews are starting to churn out. But what makes Fifth Street such a great place to go isn’t the brews, or the food, really. It’s the great people that have made this spot happen.