Bar Dumaine

As Dayton’s restaurant world goes, Chef Anne Kearney is the cream of the crop. Cutting her teeth on the business alongside Chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, she settled down in the south suburbs with a French-inspired concept, Rue Dumaine, with a nice upscale feel that has become a favorite in Dayton for years. After some scaling back, she’s re-launched Bar Dumaine, a re-brand of the concept with a bit of a scaled-down feel. The interior of the classic bar feels freshened up a bit and the menu has some very approachable features, setting a James Beard award-nominated chef up to carry her concept to the future.

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A fast-growing chain of soup restaurants which began in 1997 and now has over 90 locations and a quickly-growing presence around the country, Zoup! is a colorful concept. Meshing the fast-casual soup restaurant with a sandwich and salad restaurant in a sleek and modern concept, it tends to spring up in trendier and newer developments where there are active and more health conscious diners. And as it has expanded into the Midwest, Zoup has taken on some local flavors and given them a little bit of its own character.

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Wheat Penny

On its face, Wheat Penny is one of the newest pizza places in Dayton, but this downtown stop near the Oregon District strives to be much more. It’s the brainchild of local restaurateur Elizabeth Wily and capitalizes on the innovation of the kitchen seen at the successful Meadowlark restaurant in Kettering. With a slightly different feel and a whole different focus — not only good pizza, but interesting and creative preparation for vegetables — Wheat Penny has moved in on the Wayne Avenue restaurant scene in a big way, and in spite of exceptional competition in its proximity, this new concept delivers.

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Carmen’s Deli

Carmen’s Deli serves a very specific niche in downtown Dayton; it’s a bistro based on the ground floor of Kettering Tower, the city’s tallest skyscraper, and easily its most visible tenant. Carmen’s offers sandwiches, wraps, and other goods for breakfast and lunch most weekdays, and it’s a popular destination for downtown dwellers and workers during those times. But whether it’s a sandwich or wrap, or even a simple cup of coffee you’re looking for from Carmen’s, this is a place where I’ve consistently had good experiences. Time and again.

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City Barbecue

One motto on City Barbecue’s website really embodies what this business is all about: “Other restaurants serve barbecue, we’re a barbecue restaurant.”

Since its inception in 1999, this Dublin-based chain of 20 restaurants has exploded all over the state and into neighboring Indiana. City Barbecue really goes for a classic community smokehouse feel; exposed skeletal walls filled with paraphernalia of local high school sports, dominated by an oversized counter where the line of hungry customers watch as red meat is slathered with sweet Midwestern Barbecue sauce. It’s a shame that few barbecue chains tend to do well, but City Barbecue seems to be bucking the trend, and deservedly so.

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