The Wellington Grille

A bit off the beaten path in Beavercreek east of Dayton, The Wellington Grille caters to a bit of an older crowd but it’s still filled up pretty easily even on weekend nights. This Americana-style grill and steakhouse isn’t too formal a place to visit, but it’s kept a good reputation as an approachable meal. Perhaps the interior could use a refresh, but the food you have here will be a familiar and comforting thing. This spot has been around for a few years and doesn’t turn a lot of heads, but it’s a good date night spot.

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Hawthorn Grill

Kettering is one of Dayton’s biggest suburbs, so it’s no surprise that the things that really thrive among its neighborhoods bring the comforts of home. Chef Candace Rinke’s Hawthorn Grill along Stroop Road is a natural fit for this part of town, with its friendly and approachable menu that focuses on the generous portions of comfort foods in an atmosphere that is friendly to families and gives star treatment to the simple delights, the meat and potatoes of American cuisine. This is a kind of place you’ll want to bring your parents to try.

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Ferrari’s Little Italy & Bakery

The Bassano family opened Ferrari’s Little Italy & Bakery in the eastern Cincinnati suburb of Maderia 15 years ago, and the Italian restaurant has been a mainstay of Italian cuisine in the city in the time since then. Tucked behind a strip mall it’s got a rustic feel that has meant the classy restaurant has remained a pretty, peaceful place to dine even as much of the town around it has undergone significant change in the past 15 years. But change or not, one thing hasn’t changed since I first set foot in here 15 years ago; the wonderful smell of Italian pastries that greets you when you walk in.

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Meadowlark

A highly experimental concept that brings an ever-changing face to contemporary cuisine, Meadowlark is the kind of place you go if you’re looking for a culinary adventure. This American cuisine restaurant offers up a ton of vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, soups, and dishes with inspiration all over the globe. It’s hard to find a restaurant that truly goes out on a limb to really try and make something new. In Dayton, it can seem almost impossible. But step into this little restaurant nestled behind a strip mall in south Dayton, and you won’t regret a thing you order.

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Bella Luna

Along Cincinnati’s eastern edge, Bella Luna has a surprisingly modest exterior which hides some incredibly tasty Italian food. The humble little place serves up a very modern comfortable atmosphere and a very friendly menu. Some of the tastiest items here have garnered the nice little restaurant a mountain of awards. At the 2011 Taste of Cincinnati food festival, they brought home a trophy that explains it all: “Best Damn Dish.” You will undoubtedly taste some of the best damn food in the city. Far from the prominence of other Cincinnati eateries, this place is a far undervalued jewel in the Queen City’s crown.

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