Big Sky Bread Co.

Practically hidden along Far Hills Avenue in south Dayton near where Kettering meets Oakwood, Big Sky Bread Co. is an old-school bread bakery that is so easy to under-appreciate these days. The bakery is a classic small-town lunch spot; pleasant aromas waft to the front of the restaurant as french bread, challahs, pretzels and garlic loaves are baked alongside cookies, cakes, and other kinds of goodies. It’s all to easy to ignore the simple pleasures of an old-fashioned bakery like this one. But to enjoy such a bakery is to delight in the simple pleasure of a home-grown original experience.

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Table 33

A new restaurant which has set itself up in downtown Dayton, Table 33 is an interesting concept; focusing on locally-produced ingredients which are constructed into more creative recipes for lighter cuisine, while a friendly bar in the center of the establishment offers an inviting place to grab a drink in the evening. While the concept remains new and its ideas refined, Table 33 has begun to differentiate itself in a way its predecessors did not, as a place for greater experimentation and a push to grow, make, and eat local.

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Istanbul Cafe

A downtown Cincinnati destination that specializes in Mediterranean, specifically Turkish, cuisine, Istanbul Cafe is popular with groups and larger crowds, specifically for events that might be a little nicer and more upscale. It’s got a following with tourists, a space popular with the local Turkish American population, and brings people in quantity on weekend nights. Plenty of great dishes from kebabs, falafel, lamb dishes, chicken and more. It’s a delightful place, a nicer restaurant that still delivers with friendly service and good food. The restaurant has landed some good reviews in local media, but where it continues to find good ratings, really, is with crowd-sourced reviewing sites.

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Rodizio Grill

Envisioned as a way to bring a Brazilian style of eating to the United States in a form where it hasn’t been, the Rodizio Grill chain finds its way into upscale shopping center and mixed use developments with a lot of cool ideas. The over 20 locations promise a meat-lover’s paradise; the full Rodizio experience offers different kinds of steaks and meats roasted over a spit, then served to you at your table by “gauchos,” or Brazilian cowboys. Then you can also enjoy the buffet with a full list of hot foods, veggies, and other kinds of things. It’s a pricier experience, and one where you’ll walk away very full, but Rodizio still has a lot to offer.

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Yaffa Grill

A dive restaurant in Fairborn across the street from Wright State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Yaffa Grill is a pretty simple restaurant operation and attached grocery store serving Mediterranean cuisine. Busy during the lunch hour for its variety of fresh food and relatively healthy options. This place is all made for convenience, whether you want carry out or a quick buffet. The food here is fresh and pretty good.

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Underdog Cafe

Yellow Springs, Ohio has the benefit of a few really nice coffee shops in town. The notoriously eccentric little village supports them, too; each brings a little bit of a different experience to the table, with the Underdog Cafe and Emporium Wines being host not only to a wine and bottle shop on one end, but also being host to a series of pleasant local artists on a regular basis. Bring a book and grab a mug, because this is the shop you’re really going to want to linger in for awhile.

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Andy’s Mediterranean Grille

A bar and restaurant in Walnut Hills, on the cusp of downtown Cincinnati, Andy’s Mediterranean Grille specializes in Middle Eastern dishes that aren’t to be found in many other places in the area. Aiming to be a little more upscale and drawing a crowd for its distinctly Greek cuisine. With belly dancers to entertain on the weekends and a friendly staff that helps serve up hummus, tabbouleh, lamb burgers and a number of other regional specialties alongside more Americanized dishes like pizzas. The spot isn’t the first place you might think to go, but it does have a charm that grows on you after a few visits. It’s the wait time and the price that can make it hard to swallow.

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Sea Jax Tavern

It’s a neighborhood bar serving the southeastern suburbs of Dayton, but while you don’t hear much about Sea Jax Tavern outside of Centerville in Kettering, the locals swear by the place. This dive bar focuses on two things: good craft beer and good burgers. The pub grub and keep you coming back, but the charm of the place lies in its people. Yo u will probably not hear much about this place if you’re just passing through town; indeed many of its longstanding residents don’t even know about it. Sea Jax is definitely a hidden and low-key gem.

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The Wild Cow

It’s amazing to watch the revival of East Nashville; this neighborhood has paved the way for a lot of young people and energy to build a once depressed area of the fast-changing city. In that world, The Wild Cow is one of the hot progressive concepts that has thrived in the city. This vegetarian-focused restaurant makes use of the most creative ingredients and non-meat options to produce great cuisine. It’s a difficult prospect to make such a restaurant thrive in the suburbs, but Nashville supports concepts like this one well.

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Bar Louie

Just close to 90 locations of Bar Louie are spread out across the Midwest and the East Coast, slowly expanding west in the U.S. These restaurants tend to locate one or two to a city, generally in the very upscale bar districts where they can justify higher prices and clientele looking for a more upscale experience. The bars are trimmed, often filled with televisions and sports gear, and most importantly, they’re nearly always packed. Expect a safe experience at one of these bars food-wise. Drinks are a different story. But whichever you pick, don’t expect to be wowed.

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