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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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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ele Cake Co.

While the name may suggest that Ele Cake Co. is a simple bakery operation, the several Dayton-area locations of this restaurant feel much more like a bistro. With a menu of sandwiches, small plates and other kinds of cuisine with specialties around the world, there’s definitely more to the place than its name. Come hungry and be ready to be filled, but don’t think about skipping dessert; that would be a mistake. About as bad a mistake as missing out on this spot.

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Lachey’s Bar

A very interesting partnership of celebrity personalities Nick and Drew Lachey, this bar opened in Over The Rhine at the start of 2015; and Lachey’s Bar has driven forward since then on the star power of its very musical owners. The bar, built in a former Pabst Bedding Warehouse, is a modern and very sleek sports bar concept offering a tight menu of bar food favorites mixed with American and comfort food. The spot looks good there’s no doubt, and it’s got a decent quality of product. But the ultimate skill for the place really comes in style over substance.

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Wheat Penny

On its face, Wheat Penny is one of the newest pizza places in Dayton, but this downtown stop near the Oregon District strives to be much more. It’s the brainchild of local restaurateur Elizabeth Wily and capitalizes on the innovation of the kitchen seen at the successful Meadowlark restaurant in Kettering. With a slightly different feel and a whole different focus — not only good pizza, but interesting and creative preparation for vegetables — Wheat Penny has moved in on the Wayne Avenue restaurant scene in a big way, and in spite of exceptional competition in its proximity, this new concept delivers.

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BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

With just over 100 locations, California-based BJ’s Restaurant is a sort of commercialized microbrewery; each location emulates sort of an Americana atmosphere and an upscale bar to match. While this isn’t the type of place I’d normally be inclined to sample, BJ’s lends itself to a lot of scrutiny. It’s the first microbrewery “chain” I’ve found in this area of Ohio, with a menu of a dozen or so custom-craft beers. Also, once you find your way through the flashy front doors, the motto of BJ’s is “Wow, I love this place.”

Challenge accepted, BJ’s.

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