Bar Dumaine

As Dayton’s restaurant world goes, Chef Anne Kearney is the cream of the crop. Cutting her teeth on the business alongside Chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, she settled down in the south suburbs with a French-inspired concept, Rue Dumaine, with a nice upscale feel that has become a favorite in Dayton for years. After some scaling back, she’s re-launched Bar Dumaine, a re-brand of the concept with a bit of a scaled-down feel. The interior of the classic bar feels freshened up a bit and the menu has some very approachable features, setting a James Beard award-nominated chef up to carry her concept to the future.

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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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El Meson

You won’t be in Dayton for very long before you hear the name “El Meson.”

Indeed, the expansive West Carrollton restaurant south of the city along the Interstate 75 corridor is one that’s hard to forget even after one visit. Not just for its colorful and vibrant interior decoration, but for the equally large menu of tapas and other dishes that can’t be found on any other menu in the city. In short, El Meson has long been considered a unique option in the city — one of the few places you can really go for something different. Even with the influx of new restaurant concepts, this spot continues to deliver.

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Salar Restaurant & Lounge

A new restaurant anchoring the west end of Dayton’s Oregon District, Salar has a menu that it a little hard to describe as any one genre. With ravioli, empanadas, duck, pizza, burgers and quinoa, you’ll also find many of the dishes blur the traditional lines between the classic ethnic recipes. Whether it’s pork belly and sweet potato, pizza topped with chorizo, or quinoa topped with pine nuts and cilantro lime dressing, this is the kind of place you’d want to drop by if you had a hankering for something you’ve never tried before. Lunch or dinner, cocktails or a feast, I have been impressed every time I have come back.

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BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

With just over 100 locations, California-based BJ’s Restaurant is a sort of commercialized microbrewery; each location emulates sort of an Americana atmosphere and an upscale bar to match. While this isn’t the type of place I’d normally be inclined to sample, BJ’s lends itself to a lot of scrutiny. It’s the first microbrewery “chain” I’ve found in this area of Ohio, with a menu of a dozen or so custom-craft beers. Also, once you find your way through the flashy front doors, the motto of BJ’s is “Wow, I love this place.”

Challenge accepted, BJ’s.

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Dorothy Lane Market

In theory, I only review restaurants and avoid grocers and other non-direct service food providers. However, Dorothy Lane Market has an in-house bakery and dessert shop complete with upstairs patio seating at each of its three Dayton locations. The self-billed “gourmet grocer” has a variety of upscale and unusual grocery items attracting people, but its bakery is just as much a restaurant as the places down the street. The market’s in-house assets have proven just as attractive as any other bakery in town. In fact, some of them are better. That said, I think most will count “DLM” as local food, and everyone else can consider it an exception to my rules.

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