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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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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Troy Strawberry Festival 2012

The strawberry is my absolute favorite fruit. Yet for all of my time in Dayton I’ve never managed to make my way up here. With all the hype, all of the strawberry recipes in the paper and much ado about the festival moving to downtown Troy this year, I finally got a chance to drop in.

What in the world have I been missing? What a great place to visit!

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Bella Luna

Along Cincinnati’s eastern edge, Bella Luna has a surprisingly modest exterior which hides some incredibly tasty Italian food. The humble little place serves up a very modern comfortable atmosphere and a very friendly menu. Some of the tastiest items here have garnered the nice little restaurant a mountain of awards. At the 2011 Taste of Cincinnati food festival, they brought home a trophy that explains it all: “Best Damn Dish.” You will undoubtedly taste some of the best damn food in the city. Far from the prominence of other Cincinnati eateries, this place is a far undervalued jewel in the Queen City’s crown.

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Giovanni’s Italian Ristorante

Since 1953, Giovanni’s Italian Ristorante has been a staple of the Fairborn community. Offering authentic Italian food and pizza, it serves and delivers to Dayton residents and Wright State University students alike. While pizza brings the students to the business, the rest of the clientele is drawn by homemade pasta and Italian sandwiches. This place is the epitome of the “hole in the wall.” It’s been in its present location on main street since 1984.

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Dorothy Lane Market

In theory, I only review restaurants and avoid grocers and other non-direct service food providers. However, Dorothy Lane Market has an in-house bakery and dessert shop complete with upstairs patio seating at each of its three Dayton locations. The self-billed “gourmet grocer” has a variety of upscale and unusual grocery items attracting people, but its bakery is just as much a restaurant as the places down the street. The market’s in-house assets have proven just as attractive as any other bakery in town. In fact, some of them are better. That said, I think most will count “DLM” as local food, and everyone else can consider it an exception to my rules.

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Fluff Bakery

Brand new to the Athens scene, Fluff Bakery opened in summer of 2010 with the ambitious motto, “Life is fun, eat it up.” That catchy phrase, as well as a number of smart business partnerships and aggressive advertising campaigns, have already propelled Fluff from a newfound wonder to a prominent and established Court Street business. Replacing a less successful Cold Stone Creamery, it offers primarily desert items of all types supplemented by an eclectic and home-grown menu of snack and meal items.

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