The Buffet at Monte Carlo

In Vegas, they say it’s all about the buffets. Indeed most casinos on the strip have one, and you can walk right in and eat without gambling. In fact many are comped right to your room. Such is the case with The Buffet at Monte Carlo. Most used by the guests of the hotel itself the place has a plethora of options it serves for lunch and dinner. Of course, this casino was created by MGM as more of a budget option for the strip. You’ll find the buffet matches. In quality, not price.

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Smok’n Jojo’s BBQ

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.

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Rudy’s Smokehouse

A home-grown barbecue joint serving Springfield, Ohio, Rudy’s Smokehouse barbecues just about anything you like. Set up as a walk up spot where you pick up barbecue at a counter and take it to-go or enjoy it on a bench in the dining area. The spot generally does its barbecue “Low and slow,” which is to say it’s all made in Hickory pit smokers. The result is a great and very tasty barbecue that definitely has acquired a local following.

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Heather’s Coffee & Cafe

A favorite hang-out spot for Springboro residents, Heather’s Coffee Cafe presents something that is fast disappearing in the growing corridor between Dayton and Cincinnati — the small town feel of a local restaurant. Perched along the main stretch of the historic town, it’s actually both a coffee shop and bistro in the morning and a bar and music venue in the evening. It also features a shorter and more well-thought-out menu of sandwiches and eats with a focus on food that is made with care. In all, a great experience.

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The Row Kitchen & Pub

As downtown Nashville has exploded and vibrancy has spread to nearby Midtown, many new restaurants and businesses have found their way into the city’s core. This has been bad for some venues as the competition has stepped up, and some have folded entirely. But it has also shown some of the bigger and better places which have survived, and continued to serve Music City. The Row, a music venue and barbecue joint, is hard to forget. Even for a city known for its smoked meats, this one rises far.

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Pine Junction

A remote bar evoking a mountain lodge hideaway along the New York border, Pine Junction is popular both with locals and with the guests of the nearby resort areas like Findley Lake and skiing resorts of the nearby mountains. This bar is a bit off the beaten path, but its specialty is all about good hearty food and good drinks to keep you warm in the winter months or the chilly New York fall. Come to this getaway and you’ll quickly be filled with good food and good memories.

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Drifters BBQ

Barbecue: anywhere you go in Nashville, you’re almost certain to find some great options for smoked meats. Drifters BBQ, just east of the city, is a nightlife spot that offers live music, good craft beers, ample patios for games and a great menu of affordable barbecue dishes. I would primarily call the spot a good nightlife option and place for music near downtown, with the added plus of good food that is served late into the night.

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Merchants Restaurant

For over 25 years, Merchants Restaurant has served downtown Nashville, Tennessee. This beautiful bar and nightlife spot exudes class; the ample bar hosts space for mixed drinks and the interior alludes to the namesake of this restaurant, Merchant’s Hotel, which opened in 1892. The spot holds much of the historic marble and some of the decor that brought that hotel to life, with a much more modern American cuisine menu. The food to be tried here has a great allure to it as a lunch spot or cocktail shop.

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Hickory River Smokehouse

What originally started as a pretty simple barbecue chain in Illinois has evolved into a unique Midwestern experience known as Hickory River Smokehouse. This barbecue chain, which has eight locations across the country, including Ohio and Florida, draws in major crowds with its unique brand of smoked barbecue. The Midwestern palette has a very specific taste for barbecue, and even as many more chains look to dominate the market, Hickory River finds its way to the popular forefront. Among its accolades, the 2012 Ohio State Fair Pork Rib Off — which I had the great pleasure of judging.

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Smokinbeebeeq

Another new food truck to come out of Dayton, Ohio, Smokinbeebeeq is a delightful concept. Not only do they smoke a variety of homemade meats and cook up some melt-in-your-mouth barbecue, but this specialty truck also makes barbecue sauces sweetened with its own home-grown honey. Homegrown barbecue has a lot of charm to it; because barbecue is one of those things that can be done right in so many ways. What this little truck brings to the table — it’s definitely on the mark.

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