Crave Cantina

While on the outset many will describe this place as a prototypical taco bar, Crave Cantina has a wider mission statement, to be “Globally Inspired.” Yes, that extensive list of tacos on the menu features many kinds that are dressed very uniquely for cuisines that come from around the world. This is anything but a run-of-the-mill shop, and to see it set up in Cuyahoga Falls between Cleveland and Akron, where so few other restaurants of these varieties tend to tread, offers a chance to try some very different things.

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5th Street Deli

A beloved sandwich shop in Dayton’s bustling Oregon District, 5th Street Deli is a tiny operation that focuses on making a variety of deli sandwiches and specializing in to-go meals, making it the only such business in the district and probably all of greater downtown. Now, with so many other great places to eat (and drink) within walking distance, this spot takes on a new level of importance; a place where you grab a good bite to eat, maybe take it to go, and enjoy with a good dose of Dayton night life. All in all, a lot of fun.

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CoCo’s Bistro

Coco’s Bistro. Daytonians love that name. The much-adored spot along Warren Street near downtown exudes class throughout its lowlit interior, from its late-night wine bar where jazz can sometimes be heard, to the private dining areas in the back of the shop where families can enjoy a meal together. And while its eclectic menu evades immediate description, one thing is clear: a lot of thought went into every unique dish that is offered here. Coco’s prides itself as a Dayton original, and I’d contend this spot is easily one of the best in the city.

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Little City Grill

As restaurants go, often the goal is to make something over-the-top delicious like you can’t find anywhere else. Little City Grill, nestled in Cleveland, Ohio, has seen success doing just the opposite; it’s the kind of place where you go to enjoy meals that remind you at home. A lot of red-blooded American classics make up the heart of the menu, including steaks, barbecue, and a huge array of breakfast foods and specials that keep people coming here early in the morning all the way into the evening.

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El Meson

You won’t be in Dayton for very long before you hear the name “El Meson.”

Indeed, the expansive West Carrollton restaurant south of the city along the Interstate 75 corridor is one that’s hard to forget even after one visit. Not just for its colorful and vibrant interior decoration, but for the equally large menu of tapas and other dishes that can’t be found on any other menu in the city. In short, El Meson has long been considered a unique option in the city — one of the few places you can really go for something different. Even with the influx of new restaurant concepts, this spot continues to deliver.

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Serendipity Bistro (CLOSED)

Opened earlier this year right between downtown Dayton’s central business district and the Oregon District, Serendipity is a low-key wine bar and light cuisine dive along St. Clair street. I like the place for its real sense of refinement; it’s not the kind of place where you feel like you have to dress up to try good wines, but at the same time, the owners of the bistro put a huge amount of effort into making sure everything is creative and top-notch. Downtown Dayton has been hurting for places like this to enrich the nightlife a little, especially with so many wine connoisseurs in this town.

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Lock 27 Brewing

Lock 27 Brewing is the newest microbrewery in south Dayton. It opened its doors formally today, but unfortunately they also just got a liquor license, so they weren’t able to brew up their custom spirits in time for that opening. I am a big fan of the microbrews and the kitchen is getting a workout with its menu of small, but high-quality sandwiches. It’s a nice place, and it’s about time this spot in south Centerville, which has been vacant for something like five years, finally saw a new tenant.

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Sol

A newer addition to Athens’ Court Street buggy scene, the artist formerly known as Chica Chica Chop Chop has taken things up a notch by transforming into a full-blown restaurant. Owners Todd and Tuti Wilson have kept a blog detailing the restaurant’s construction and beginnings, and it will soon be open to the townsfolk. The ambitious owners have even attracted the attention of Food Network, and the enterprising Cuban food establishment has opted for a new menu, new environment and an all-new bar concept, essentially remaking their product in the process. Ambitious, indeed.

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