Cantina Laredo

A concept that hails from Dallas, Texas, Cantina Laredo has since expanded to a few key cities all over the country, typically finding its way into upscale shopping centers, airports and commercial centers. An open concept busy with decorative earthen pots, hanging lights and a massive bar that serves up refreshing drinks of all kinds. The menu is ‘Modern Mexican,’ a version of Tex-Mex that is cleaned up a bit and served with higher-notch ingredients. The locations often end up being large-size very busy establishments, but they don’t make for a bad place for a happy hour.

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Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern

A chain of burger shops primarily focused in Michigan, Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern does nothing small. The enormous restaurants, circled with train sets and a grand array of decorations to a huge menu of burgers, sandwiches and sides by the heaping helping. The end result is a friendly, almost over-the-top kind of charm. In fact, I would say big is the word for everything you see here, but keep in mind you’re certain to walk away super full.

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Taco Tontos

A Cleveland-area group of restaurants that are primarily small taco shop bars, Taco Tontos is a popular place with the natives here, specifically because it has huge portions and some great dips to top them. This spot has a very likable concept for how approachable it is and how easy it is to bring a group of friends and have an enjoyable meal. The place isn’t half bad, but make sure you know what the dishes are that you don’t want to miss here.

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La Mexicana Restaurant & Grocer

Newport, Kentucky is dominated by the huge developments along the river, but this town is much more than that. The historic stretch of town to the south is home to plenty of great little restaurants, dive bars and small businesses. Amid the bevy of interesting food to try, you can find little storefronts like La Mexicana, a taco stand and shop with big-time tasty Mexican dishes and preparation styles for Tex-Mex favorites and more authentic dishes alike. It almost feels over the top, but this spot is all deliciousness.

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La Michoacana

748 Troy Street Dayton Ohio 45404 937.220.9600 websiteLa Michoacana is a small chain of Latin American grocery stores focused mostly in Columbus, with a Dayton location as well. While the overwhelming majority of each location is mostly devoted to ingredients and cultural trinkets for the Latin populations, there is a small little restaurant inside the … Continue reading

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Dunlays on the Square

Situated in north Chicago’s well-to-do Logan Square and surrounding neighborhood, Dunlays on the Square is an upscale bar and brunch place that’s’ hard to forget. The walls and bar are laden with nice wood trim finishes and each dish is plated with great meticulousness. That upscale feel brings a nice sense of refinement to the dishes, but a the end all of the food to be tried here is still approachable, and at price points which aren’t too bad. If you’re going with more than a few people, consider sitting in that pleasant patio in the good weather, but be sure to make a reservation.

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Engineer’s Club of Dayton

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.

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Barrio

The skeleton-themed Barrio is a really cool idea that has sprung up in Cleveland and its suburbs. This Tex Mex joint specializes in over-the-top huge tacos and big margaritas. Definitely popular with the younger crowd craving Cleveland’s nightlife, the concept spread from Lakewood to downtown, Progressive Field and elsewhere with its loved build-your-own taco menu as well as brunch and casual atmosphere that emphasizes good tequila and beer. Owner Sean Fairbairn and Executive Chef Pete Joyce have a good thing going with this idea.

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Ollie’s Place

Ollie’s Place has generated quite a bit of excitement in the months since it has opened in the south Dayton suburb of Centerville, Ohio. The spot brings the Dayton suburbs something they will surely love; a craft beer and whisky bottle shop with a connected tap room and restaurant. Take a step into the low-lit environment here and you’ll be immediately struck by the welcoming atmosphere. Not only is it a retail place to grab some craft brews, but it’s a place where you can relax and spend some time with a quality menu of bar foods perfectly matches to the extensive tap wall.

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Don Pablo’s

Founded out of Texas in the mid-1980s, Don Pablos had expanded rapidly into the Midwest before a 2007 bankruptcy slashed the chain’s locations. Now, Don Pablo’s is back with a new menu and a new concept to make each location something of a party. The interior of each restaurant has a wide open, colorful and friendly concept and the menu an expansive bunch of Tex-Mex dishes focusing on great meat dishes and simple flavors. The chain has spots in many cities still, and it’s a overall a good experience.

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