Liu Garden

For a very long time, Downtown Dayton was served by one dive Chinese place: China Royal, in the corner of the Biltmore Tower along North Main Street. After that spot closed, the place was vacant for awhile before a new spot, Liu Garden, replaced it earlier this year. Under the ownership of a new family, this spot is in practice very similar to its predecessor — a Chinese buffet with a robust takeout operation. But this one has longer hours and a bigger variety of foods. Still, the food is pretty unremarkable.

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Boiling Seafood Crawfish

The art of the crawfish boil: in Louisiana this special kind of cookout is pretty common, but as far north as Ohio, they tend to be something of a rarity. Finding restaurants that serve this special kind of food is a real experience. And so Boiling Seafood Crawfish has attracted a following. Its first location opened in Cleveland Heights and now a second one has set up shop in Columbus, giving Ohio the chance to really experience a crawfish bake of its own. You’ll want to try the place to get a feel for it. 

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Roost American

A new restaurant opened in Kettering as the brainchild of Chef Dana Downs of Roost Modern Italian fame, Park City Grill is more of a classy comfort food establishment than its Oregon District sister. This spot offers a lunch menu of quality takes on Midwestern comfort foods, and a dinner menu heavier on the surf and turf. The menu is approachable yet extremely well thought out, and while you might find many familiar items here, you’ll also find a few things you won’t get the chance to try in many other Dayton restaurants. This fun concept is definitely worth a try.

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Roost Modern Italian

As one of the most upscale dining options in Dayton’s Oregon District, Roost Modern Italian is the favored creation of Chef Dana Downs, one of the best chefs in the city. The spot doesn’t occupy a lot of real estate, but in its short time in operation the restaurant has driven a huge following for its refined menu. The innovative concept takes numerous classic Italian dishes and gives them a contemporary tint with some refinement. It’s not always easy to get in, but there’s a good reason; the restaurant blends European flavors with Midwestern palettes.

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City Tap House

The Chinatown area of Washington DC has seen dramatic changes in recent years, with high rises seemingly springing out of the ground and multimillion-dollar developments seeming to appear every new year. New restaurant concepts have exploded, with many targeting the trendier, younger demographic exploding into the city scene. In that context, City Tap House thrives. This bar and brunch spot caters to the affluent who live, work and play in the city center. It’s a pleasant place to visit, especially for brunch.

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Abigail Street

Opened in Over-The-Rhine in downtown Cincinnati as another of its much-loved experimental restaurant concepts, Abigail Street is a Tapas bar with a flair for making great small-plate Mediterranean specialties. Served up easy to divide and meant to be shared with friends, this spot has a long wait for its food on the weekends, but the quality of the food is immediately apparent, from when the first dish lands on your table to when the very friendly service sees you off at the end of the night. The concept is definitely unique on this street for the experience that it offers.

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Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse

The concept of nicer dining restaurants with the location just about every major city in the country, Fleming’s Steakhouse is the epitome of the idea of quality dropping quantity in classic American cuisine. The spot offers a lot of upscale drinks, nicer appetizers and of course surf and turf to your hearts content. It is really nice, the restaurant is great on the inside, and I would consider it a safe dining experience.

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Peach’s Grill

Yellow Springs is an experience every Dayton person should have. The remote little town east of town is known for its interesting atmosphere and easygoing lifestyle. Yellow Springs is also packed with little local restaurants, many of which have been given top marks among the local dining scene. The big, pink bar along the main stretch of town is nothing other than Peach’s Grill, a music spot with a big menu, beers and a lot of different things going on during the week. The food here is a pretty decent local bar option.

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China Royal (CLOSED)

If you could sum up China Royal in one phrase, that phrase would be “Keep it simple, stupid.”

The downtown Dayton Chinese food restaurant on the corner of Main and First streets is the de-facto Chinese takeout place for much of downtown, for the simple fact that it’s essentially the only one that does pickup and delivery in the three-mile radius in and immediately surrounding Dayton’s core. For the lover of Chinese food, it’s one of the only buffets you’ll find around downtown, too. And while it doesn’t really look like much, the spot really is pretty good.

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Citilites

As the resident restaurant serving the Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton, Citilites (pronounced ‘city lights,’ it took me a few tries to figure out) is a class establishment. For performances, it hosts both lunches and dinners, but the store is most popular during the work day, as a spot for business meetings among the downtown companies. It’s got a variety of foods for a variety of customers, and the menu seems to change regularly. Generally though, it’s upscale dining, served best with a nice glass of wine. Odds are, if you’re from the local business community, you’ve attended a few big events in this restaurant.

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