Green Symphony

While Manhattan is packed to the gills with greasy pizza, fatty junk food and sugary desserts, Green Symphony is a shrine to healthy foods. Featuring a convenience store of Protein bars, organic popcorn, teas and juices, kale chips and nutritional baked goods, this spot is visited by body builders, runners and altogether a fit clientele. You wouldn’t immediately notice it but the place has a menu of food beyond smoothies and chopped fruit.

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Holy Grail Tavern & Grille

Just across the street from Great American Ballpark at Cincinnati’s The Banks development, Holy Grail Tavern & Grille is a mainstay in Cincinnati — a place to grab good food after the game is over, and a nightlife spot that gets packed during ball games and downtown events. This bar has lasted even as others have closed up shop at the Banks. A favorite of reds fans and downtown dwellers a like, odds are this will be one of the first destinations the locals will direct you to if you find your way to Cincinnati’s downtown or its thriving riverfront.

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Carl’s Townhouse

A community gathering spot that has survived decades in Chillicothe in some creative ways, Carl’s Townhouse has been a sandwich shop and diner that brings people of all kinds for lunch. Family friendly and serving up comfort foods like burgers, soups and breakfast foods, Carl’s revels in a simpler kind of restaurant concept; one that thrives in small towns as a familiar place where everyone has made happy memories and the food has that charm that transcends the ages. When this place almost closed, they literally moved the building to a new site to save it. There’s a reason it’s got a place like that in the community.

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Zoup!

A fast-growing chain of soup restaurants which began in 1997 and now has over 90 locations and a quickly-growing presence around the country, Zoup! is a colorful concept. Meshing the fast-casual soup restaurant with a sandwich and salad restaurant in a sleek and modern concept, it tends to spring up in trendier and newer developments where there are active and more health conscious diners. And as it has expanded into the Midwest, Zoup has taken on some local flavors and given them a little bit of its own character.

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Hickory River Smokehouse

What originally started as a pretty simple barbecue chain in Illinois has evolved into a unique Midwestern experience known as Hickory River Smokehouse. This barbecue chain, which has eight locations across the country, including Ohio and Florida, draws in major crowds with its unique brand of smoked barbecue. The Midwestern palette has a very specific taste for barbecue, and even as many more chains look to dominate the market, Hickory River finds its way to the popular forefront. Among its accolades, the 2012 Ohio State Fair Pork Rib Off — which I had the great pleasure of judging.

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Hangar 18 Drinking Joint

What was formerly one of the locations of the “Cadillac Jack’s” sports bar chain in Dayton morphed last year to be a spot that caters more to the Fairborn neighborhood. Now, that spot is Hangar 18 on Kauffman Ave., and it offers the same basic premise of pub grub but at a more economical rate, and with plenty of other reasons to visit this little bar and game room concept. Sandwiched between Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University, this bar has a ton of sports fans from a lot of different places to draw through its doors. Hence the full name: “Hangar 18 Drinking Joint & Hangout.”

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Tanks Bar & Grill

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.

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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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Johnny J’s Pub & Grille

As a small chain primarily active in the Great Lakes region, Johhny J’s Pub & Grill is an Irish bar themed concept which has a number of options for food on that vein and a decent group of bar food items to go along with that. Across its locations, though, the spot seems to be a night scene in small towns which attracts a decent crowd for drinks and pool or other activities. It’s a good place to grab a drink to be sure. The food though, remained average.

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Melt Eclectic Deli

Northside in Cincinnati has seen a dramatic turn in the past few years, like many neighborhoods of urban America, not without challenges but renewed amid an influx of people and businesses determined to see it around. Spots like Melt Eclectic Deli on the Hamilton Avenue Stretch. Melt has made quite a name for itself including CityBeat and Cincinnati Enquirer mentions, and now it’s landed itself right on the national stage with a visit from Guy Fieri and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Vegetarian foodies, this grilled cheese spot lives up to the hype.

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