Music City Diner

Stuffed into the corner of a strip mall north of Nashville, this Greek-inspired diner is a small, but very homey place to eat. Staged like an old-fashioned eatery of southern America, you’ll walk in to classic songs on the jukebox and a “how y’all doin?” from the very friendly waitresses. In spite of these, this restaurant is anything but dated. It’s in fact a place where creative kinds of dishes are made and Greek cuisine is the norm.

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Philly Joe’s Steak & Gyro

Fast, fresh and affordable. That’s the whole business model for Philly Joe’s Steak & Gyro. Opened on Third Street in downtown Dayton, the shop has a short and sweet menu — yes, cheese steak sandwiches and gyros — and a very to-the-point business model: be a convenient take-out spot for downtown. The restaurant offers food that is filling, tasty, and cheap, and it’s a pretty easy and convenient place to get some hearty food.

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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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Jimmie’s Ladder 11

While it’s at the edge of both the South Park neighborhood near downtown Dayton and the fortress-like Miami Valley Hospital, Jimmie’s Ladder 11 is frequented most often, it would seem, but students from the nearby University of Dayton. This neighborhood watering hole brings a ton of drink options and a place for live music acts, but don’t discount its menu. In fact, Jimmie’s has a delicious menu of bar food and at pretty reasonable prices. I consider it something of a dark horse in town; not a ton of people outside UD frequent the place, and they’re missing out.

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Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery

Oregon District has a lot of bars with a lot of good bar food, and when you first walk through downtown Dayton’s main nightlife spot, you might not at first set your sights on the small operation that is Lucky’s. But make no mistake, this spot is much beloved by Dayton city-dwellers. Whether they’re making use of the spot’s extensive tap list or just looking to sample one of the burgers or sandwiches that fill its menu, people come to this spot in droves. The hype leaves you wondering, is it worth a try? The answer is yes.

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Ray’s Place

Primarily aimed as a night spot for downtown Kent, Ohio, Ray’s Place is best known as a place with a variety of beers on tap, with a sizable selection of craft beer to appeal to the Kent State University student population and others in the community. Still, while it’s a nightspot for the beer lovers, it’s also a place where you can go to get some good bar food. A ton of wings, burgers, sandwiches and other options await you at this long-standing watering hole, which has been open for more than 75 years.

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Chicago Gyros & Dogs

There’s a sizeable and devoted population in Southwest Ohio who are expatriates from Chicago. And whether you’re from the South Side or Arlington Heights, or you just paid a visit to the loop, one thing is clear: People who leave Windy City miss the place. Fortunately, Ohio is peppered with little spots like this one, where Vienna Sausage is a gold standard, and where photos of John Hancock Tower are required. Chicago Gyros and Dogs does Chicago street food in a way that few other places can emulate.

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Submarine House

This Dayton chain is easy to recognize by its vexing “sixteen inches of heaven” jingle you used to hear on the radio all the time. Nowadays you hear it a little less often, but still Submarine House continues to be a successful sub and pizza chain, having half a dozen locations and now expanding into Columbus. Oh, and you know, the sub-eating contest they hold around this time every year, that’s also incredibly popular. The original location is very much a bar concept, but the expansions are all centered on a restaurant experience.

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The Ohio Coffee Co.

Downtown Dayton is served mostly by little local coffee shops, and The Ohio Coffee Company is one of the well-known ones. It’s the bistro at the base of the Fifth Third Center and it’s a pretty common destination for downtown Dayton’s business folks looking for a nice place to meet, for couples to have a meal or for small groups of friends to catch up. Many folks grab their food and go, but many more will visit at the tables that spill out into the tower’s lobby.

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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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