Grandpa’s Cheese Barn

If you have spend any amount of time driving Interstate 71 between Columbus and Cleveland, you undoubtedly have seen the big white barn near Ashland emblazoned “Cheesebarn.” Sure, there are a few different kinds of cheese places in northern Ohio, where many local cheeses are made. But this one is likable because it has a series of businesses all tied into one. Sample some of the many cheeses, pickles, sauces and dips that are made at this place, and you’ll find an engaging experience and a great place to try.

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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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Johnny Buccelli’s

A Columbus concept with a simple love of Midwestern grub for “solid two-fisted eating,” Johnny Buccelli’s is a deli and sandwich operation along Bethel Road that offers a wide menu of subs, paninis, burgers, and soup/salad combos, the shop has plenty of options for a friendly kind of sandwich place. Columbus has many great options, this one has a faithful following.

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Corner Kitchen

The newest addition to the Oregon District, and the creation of husband and wife team Natalie and Jack Skilliter, Corner Kitchen opened in a long-vacant space at the corner of one of Dayton’s most loved nightlife spots as a place where people can go to get something upscale but down-to-earth. The deliberate craft of its owners is apparent in the restaurant; each dish looks pretty simple from the outside but gets more complex as you dive in; and in the end the food here really delivers something that downtown Dayton has been craving.

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Dayton Racquet Club

Perched high atop Kettering Tower, Dayton’s tallest skyscraper, the elite Dayton Racquet Club is a members-only social establishment with a number of amenities, the most remarkable of which is a restaurant and lounge on the building’s 29th floor. It’s at this exclusive club that Dayton’s elite rub shoulders whether it’s for a gathering of business leaders over breakfast, a light lunch with a source, or cocktails after hours. The Racquet Club is good to its members, and the food here, matching the view, is top-notch.

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Tickets Pub & Eatery

Downtown Fairborn is a little bit out of the way for the average Dayton foodie, so you don’t hear a lot about the restaurants along the main stretch of this northwest suburb of the city, in spite of the presence of two major regional attractions, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University. Indeed, the folks who frequent the place seem to be either neighborhood folk or employees of one of those two spots. But Tickets Pub and Eatery, perhaps the most visible off of the street, is a good bar food destination for when you do venture this way.

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Heartland Herbs

Growing herbs in your garden at home isn’t a terribly hard task. A lot of them just need to be planted, watered, and left in the sunlight. It’s taking those herbs and incorporating them into your food in a tasty way that is the much more difficult task. I like it when a place like Heartland Herbs appears with an offer of delicious dips made from combinations of herbs and spices, I get excited. It sounds so simple to create an herb dip, but the people that do them well do them very well.

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Heavenly Dips

The dip: It’s the cornerstone of the game day snack bowl, the center of the vegetable plate and the best part of many a snack food. For all of the many uses of the dip, how many different kinds can you name? Dips generally are undervalued, in my opinion. There are three kinds: Spinach and artichoke dip, ranch dip and…spicy. Then, a little business called Heavenly Dips came along. It’s based in Sunbury, Ohio but operates with mobility at fairs and street parties throughout the state, year round. Its dozens of varieties seem to have built a following.

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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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