Packy’s Sports Bar & Grill at the Hope Hotel

While it’s materially located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Hope Hotel is actually open to the public. It enjoys a great deal of history connection in the city: here is where the Dayton accords were signed, the peace agreement that ended the Bosnian War. In spite of that place in history, though, the restaurant here is relatively unknown. A bit part, I think, is that you have to drive toward the gate of the base (where MPs stare you down) so it can be intimidating. But Packy’s is a laid-back spot and it’s not one to miss out on.

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Dunlays on the Square

Situated in north Chicago’s well-to-do Logan Square and surrounding neighborhood, Dunlays on the Square is an upscale bar and brunch place that’s’ hard to forget. The walls and bar are laden with nice wood trim finishes and each dish is plated with great meticulousness. That upscale feel brings a nice sense of refinement to the dishes, but a the end all of the food to be tried here is still approachable, and at price points which aren’t too bad. If you’re going with more than a few people, consider sitting in that pleasant patio in the good weather, but be sure to make a reservation.

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Taft’s Ale House

Served up with a healthy dose of history for its namesake, Taft’s Ale House honors a Cincinnatian who just happens to have been President of the United States once. So it’s nice that this eccentric church-turned-brewery has an aura of history to it, and a heck of a lot of character. While the libations are what bring the crowds to this spot on the weekends, it has a huge menu of food to keep people returning, including a brunch menu that isn’t often advertised. The food here is really worth a special visit.

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Anchor Grill

It doesn’t make a lot of noise outside of its humble neighborhood in Covington, Kentucky, but the Anchor Grill is one of the community’s favorite spots. A diner that almost never closes, this spot is frequented by the night owls and the nocturnal Cincinnatians alike, and you’re just about guaranteed to find a whole host of interesting characters populating the spot when you pay it a visit. I would almost contend that the spirit of the place is best experienced in the middle of the night. That said, you have to be a certain kind of adventurous to prefer it.

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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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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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Merry Ann’s Diner

This small chain of diners based in Champaign, Illinois has something of an old-fashioned feel to it. Four locations around central Illinois, many featuring such things as an old-fashioned diner bar and lunch counter. An enormous Rosie the Riveter poster (holding a hamburger no less) looks on as you get seated to try the spot. Its menu an a la carte collection of different breakfast items and of course quarter-pound diner burgers with ketchup and cheese, sort of a mainstay of diners past. It’s a small business like this one that often forms the beating heart of a large town like Champaign.

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Scrambler Marie’s

A small chain of breakfast places with locations all over Ohio, Scrambler Marie’s has a lot of different kinds of food, the centerpiece of the menu here is the breakfast food. Bringing people in in volume, Scrambler Marie’s is a safe experience for a decent breakfast, the food comes fast and the experience is pleasant enough. Also, they serve a ton of food here without a ton of money, which also goes a long way. Many good items to be had.

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Leo Bistro

The primary dining option for the Dayton Art Institute just north of downtown Dayton, Ohio, Leo Bistro has expanded far beyond the concept of the standard museum cafeteria and is now a full service place to eat, from the same basis as Elite Catering, the museum’s large-dining operation. Dayton Art Institute has a lot of events by itself, but it’s also host to a lot of cultural happenings of various groups around the city. Because of that, it’s likely a Dayton resident will try far more than the items on the standard menu when stepping into the DAI.

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Third Street Food Court

The Third Street Food Court opened a few months ago as a new option for dining in downtown Dayton. It’s a classic grill concept, a walk up counter that offers burgers, subs, and sandwiches for the mid-day dining crowd, and at a pretty reasonable price too. While there are some bright spots on the menu, I’m not convinced about everything here. Pair that with a rather frustrating experience trying to grab a cup of coffee and I’m worried this is one downtown restaurant which might be getting lost in the crowd.

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