A chain of burger shops primarily focused in Michigan, Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern does nothing small. The enormous restaurants, circled with train sets and a grand array of decorations to a huge menu of burgers, sandwiches and sides by the heaping helping. The end result is a friendly, almost over-the-top kind of charm. In fact, I would say big is the word for everything you see here, but keep in mind you’re certain to walk away super full.
Dayton’s newest brewpub, The Wandering Griffin has sprung up in a former bar chain location in Beavercreek. This bar makes use of a unique space to give it sort of a deconstructed feel; heavy wood tables and furnishings, a low-lit bar and dramatic lighting give way to a bar that favors creative culinary ideas and a wide variety of beers, both made in-house and produced across Dayton and all of Ohio. The Wandering Griffin is here to celebrate not just Gem City, but all of Ohio and the surrounding region, where many great kinds of beer are worth note and where brewers often collaborate to make a better beer.
A food truck based out of the Dayton suburb of Trotwood, this one is a simple and very lovable mission: good old fashioned barbecue! With a smoker based out of the back of the bright red truck, it can often be found in downtown Dayton’s Courthouse Square for lunch. There, it brings a small but quality menu of barbecue dishes and comforting side dishes. This one looks simple from the outside, but that food on the inside is definitely worth noticing.
An American gastropub that serves the northern Chicago neighborhoods around Lincoln Square, Fork Chicago specializes in farm to table cuisine. A combination bar, kitchen and tasting room the spot offers a seasonal menu of cheeses, small plates and charcuterie and is wonderful as a place to bring a friend or a small group for a pleasant evening out. I like this spot for its small plates and for its place in town, an experimental kitchen that has a few different modern interpretations on long-time favorites.
Setting up shop in the nice Bucktown neighborhood in northern Chicago, AMK is a nice, more modern bar with a focus on good American cuisine, cocktails and whiskeys. The memorable interior of the bar gives way to a solid menu of good sandwiches, small plates and pizza. Make a point to grab a cocktail before you get your meal, it’s a bit of a pricier place, but the experience is worth it. This kitchen is a perfect one to try on a date or out with a few friends.
A historic joint in downtown Chillicothe, Old Canal Smokehouse is a historic building that sits in a historic town and offers a casual atmosphere with some great Midwestern barbecue. In spite of all of the years that this building has, the smokehouse has a very approachable, friendly appeal. It’s a small-town hangout with some good barbecue, and there’s a reason this spot is known outside of town. It’s a nice representation of the appeal that drives Chillicothe; casual in spite of its many stories.
Right along the Whiskey Row area of downtown Louisville, Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar is a modern take on a southern favorite — big barbecue. With an enormous oyster bar greeting you as you walk in, and sandwiches so big that they’re served on metal cookie sheets, this bar is larger than life. Over-the-top food is always easy to like, and seeing how this spot has quickly established itself as a southern food destination in the middle of the city.
A private club in the heart of downtown Dayton, the Engineer’s Club of Dayton is a members’ organization and gathering place in a historic downtown building. Founded for Dayton’s thinkers and intellectuals by big names including Charles Kettering and Orville Wright, this spot hosts private events and other kinds of functions. The environment rings of history and the walls are decorated of the many exploits of Engineer’s Club members over their lifetimes, but the breakfast and lunch service is worth a try if you can find someone to get you in.
As the product of a lawyer-turned restaurateur, Designer Dogs offers gourmet hot dog options for the diners of the Mall at Fairfield Commons. A food court is a simple place to start something great, and this little stand definitely delivers something really fun on the front end. Gourmet hot dogs are a tricky thing to pull of and be worth the money, but this place does them in a very memorable way, I have to say I am impressed by what I have tried.
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.