Critic’s Special: Raising Cane’s

Oilman-turned-fisherman-turned-restaurant owner Todd Graves did more that open a restaurant when he created Raising Cane’s. This chain has attracted a cult following and wherever it goes, people get crazy. This week its first location opens in Dayton, Ohio, and opening day was met with lines out the door and a drive through that has a constant security detail, with traffic headed around the block.

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Wright Wing

Set up just a bit of the beaten path in Fairborn (and briefly having a sister location in Ketteting), Wright Wing is a local watering hole in every sense of the word. Comfortable, full of TVs to watch any number of local ball games, and with a simple menu full of pub grub, this is the place you’ll want to bring a few buddies to enjoy a game or two. The food is a pretty safe bet, and overall it’s one of the better hole-in-the-wall places to love in suburban Dayton.

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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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Flying Saucer

It’s a chain of enormous beer hall-style restaurants with a big play on providing the chance to try hundreds of craft beers, and each location of Flying Saucer, which is in many major cities around the country, is all about the beer. With each spot sporting 50 to 75 taps at once, this is a spot where you go to try local beer, and many varieties of it. But between the long tables, the many decorative plates, pool tables and dart boards, the spots to offer some bar cuisine to match. The place is an attraction to be sure, but the food isn’t going to bring you back.

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Harris Grill

As Shadyside has rapidly developed in east Pittsburgh, its new restaurant concepts have thrived with the advent of many new concepts springing up. Harris Grill does burgers, sandwiches, and other contemporary cuisine like few others. But where this spot really thrives, though, is in a very favorite meal where it faces stiff competition in this city: brunch. But in spite of the great well-known national brunch corners of Steel City, this spot holds its own handsomely.

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Caddy’s Tap House

It’s the re-imagining of a familiar location for Dayton residence, but Caddy’s Tap House is a whole different kind of watering hole in his predecessors. The spot has a focus much more on craft beer, good food, and socializing. There’s definitely a sports bar aspect to it, but I’d say that this is more of a spot that you really like to go to enjoy some time with friends. The food here, though, can’t be ignored. Caddy’s makes a lot of great pub food in house, and its versions of these dishes make for really delicious fare.

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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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Vinoklet Winery

The hilly Colerain Township of Cincinnati’s West Side is easy to get lost in, but travel the winding roads long enough, and you’ll run across a place like Vinoklet Winery. With an eye on quality dining, this spot makes a line of its own wines and also features many high-end events and music. It’s a serene environment, lost in the foothills, with a warm fireplace and low-lit dining spaces. I can’t think of a nicer place to bring a date.

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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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Dublin Pub

Dublin Pub is a popular bar and nightspot forming the east anchor of downtown Dayton’s Oregon District, the Dublin Pub is an awesome place, a wide-open but dark interior, and ample porch with a great view of the nightlife nearby, and a huge stage for music. It’s a well-known hotspot.

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