Holy Grail Tavern & Grille

Just across the street from Great American Ballpark at Cincinnati’s The Banks development, Holy Grail Tavern & Grille is a mainstay in Cincinnati — a place to grab good food after the game is over, and a nightlife spot that gets packed during ball games and downtown events. This bar has lasted even as others have closed up shop at the Banks. A favorite of reds fans and downtown dwellers a like, odds are this will be one of the first destinations the locals will direct you to if you find your way to Cincinnati’s downtown or its thriving riverfront.

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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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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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Izzy’s

As a small deli chain in Cincinnati, Izzy’s totes itself as the “World’s Greatest Reuben,” and indeed among the many deli sandwiches this spot offers are plenty of fancy street sandwiches. Founded over 100 years ago by a group of Russian immigrants and named for a notoriously spunky founder, the spot quickly earned a reputation as one of the best delis in the city. Today it has nine locations in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, and if you give it a try, you’ll find a lot of unusual things made in-house at this great spot.

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CoCo’s Bistro

Coco’s Bistro. Daytonians love that name. The much-adored spot along Warren Street near downtown exudes class throughout its lowlit interior, from its late-night wine bar where jazz can sometimes be heard, to the private dining areas in the back of the shop where families can enjoy a meal together. And while its eclectic menu evades immediate description, one thing is clear: a lot of thought went into every unique dish that is offered here. Coco’s prides itself as a Dayton original, and I’d contend this spot is easily one of the best in the city.

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Carillon Brewing Co.

Now open in Dayton’s historic Carillon Park, the Carillon Brewing Co. has a whole different take on your traditional brewery concept. The folks here brew their beer in historic fashion — with recipes and brewing styles like they were in the 1850’s. Among the copper kettles, wooden barrels and a lot of interesting history to go along with it. The spot brews it’s own beers using recipes that hearken to the 1850s. But what really drives me here is the food. It’s an excellent assortment of German and European delicacies to match the beers on tap. While the spot is definitely worth going to for a drink, you’re really going to want to eat something when you’re there.

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Melt Eclectic Deli

Northside in Cincinnati has seen a dramatic turn in the past few years, like many neighborhoods of urban America, not without challenges but renewed amid an influx of people and businesses determined to see it around. Spots like Melt Eclectic Deli on the Hamilton Avenue Stretch. Melt has made quite a name for itself including CityBeat and Cincinnati Enquirer mentions, and now it’s landed itself right on the national stage with a visit from Guy Fieri and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Vegetarian foodies, this grilled cheese spot lives up to the hype.

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Meadowlark

A highly experimental concept that brings an ever-changing face to contemporary cuisine, Meadowlark is the kind of place you go if you’re looking for a culinary adventure. This American cuisine restaurant offers up a ton of vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, soups, and dishes with inspiration all over the globe. It’s hard to find a restaurant that truly goes out on a limb to really try and make something new. In Dayton, it can seem almost impossible. But step into this little restaurant nestled behind a strip mall in south Dayton, and you won’t regret a thing you order.

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The Ohio Coffee Co.

Downtown Dayton is served mostly by little local coffee shops, and The Ohio Coffee Company is one of the well-known ones. It’s the bistro at the base of the Fifth Third Center and it’s a pretty common destination for downtown Dayton’s business folks looking for a nice place to meet, for couples to have a meal or for small groups of friends to catch up. Many folks grab their food and go, but many more will visit at the tables that spill out into the tower’s lobby.

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Carmen’s Deli

Carmen’s Deli serves a very specific niche in downtown Dayton; it’s a bistro based on the ground floor of Kettering Tower, the city’s tallest skyscraper, and easily its most visible tenant. Carmen’s offers sandwiches, wraps, and other goods for breakfast and lunch most weekdays, and it’s a popular destination for downtown dwellers and workers during those times. But whether it’s a sandwich or wrap, or even a simple cup of coffee you’re looking for from Carmen’s, this is a place where I’ve consistently had good experiences. Time and again.

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