Smoky Bones Bar & Fire Grill

Smoky Bones is a Florida-based mid-sized restaurant chain that has enjoyed some popularity throughout the United States for a few years. Mostly it does Kansas City-style barbecue with a variety of meats and a host of “Yankee sweet “sauces. In the south, barbecue chains tend to be pretty popular, but the north has a smaller number of chains with takes on the American classic. So how does this one stack up? Well, it depends on what you order.

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Breakfast Club

Lebanon Ohio is very much a little slice of Midwestern America, with a quaint stretch of Main Street populated by small businesses that are beloved by the locals. Of all the restaurants along that stretch, the Breakfast Club is the resident morning spot. Like many classic pancake houses, you come in, take your order lightning fast, and breakfast is served within minutes. This is classic comfort food, with the simplicity to be enjoyed.

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The Wellington Grille

A bit off the beaten path in Beavercreek east of Dayton, The Wellington Grille caters to a bit of an older crowd but it’s still filled up pretty easily even on weekend nights. This Americana-style grill and steakhouse isn’t too formal a place to visit, but it’s kept a good reputation as an approachable meal. Perhaps the interior could use a refresh, but the food you have here will be a familiar and comforting thing. This spot has been around for a few years and doesn’t turn a lot of heads, but it’s a good date night spot.

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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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The Chop House

Something of a new take on the old-fashioned steakhouse, The Chop House is a restaurant with about a dozen locations in the Midwest and South. With a menu of fresh steaks and seafood, and a giant helping of sandwiches and other fare, this restaurant offers over-sized plates and a comfortable interior, and a place where folks come to relax and enjoy the company of friends in a familiar experience. The menu strives to be a quality take on foods you already know and love, but it can be a bit hit-and-miss as far as these go.

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Moerlein Lager House

As The Banks in downtown Cincinnati has developed, the Queen City’s riverfront has become a hotspot for Reds fans, Bengals fans, and all-around, a place to get some of the best experiences the city has to offer. Of course, the riverfront isn’t just about the nightlife, though. Among the many appeals of downtown, Moerlein Lager House aims to be one of the most visible and iconinc breweries in the storied history of Cincinnati’s German brewing roots. If you’re from the area, it’s hard not to have heard the name.

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Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

It’s a furiously growing concept out of Charlotte, and as soon as you step foot into Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, the smell of smoked hickory fills your nose. This concept is a sleek and modern take on the mid-priced steakhouse restaurant, with plenty of comfort food favorites on tap for diners. Like many in this category, you tend to find only one or two locations to a city, but what it offers in quality and experience is above the bar. Firebirds has a great, well-rounded menu of steaks and sandwiches, and its presence seems to complement upscale shopping centers very well.

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Vinoklet Winery

The hilly Colerain Township of Cincinnati’s West Side is easy to get lost in, but travel the winding roads long enough, and you’ll run across a place like Vinoklet Winery. With an eye on quality dining, this spot makes a line of its own wines and also features many high-end events and music. It’s a serene environment, lost in the foothills, with a warm fireplace and low-lit dining spaces. I can’t think of a nicer place to bring a date.

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The Caroline

A classy, upscale dining establishment right in downtown Troy, Ohio, The Caroline seems to be well-known around the little town as a good place to get a quality meal. The Caroline offers a diverse menu of steaks, seafood, burgers and pasta. There’s an extensive outdoor patio and plenty of interior space for couples and large groups alike. It’s a real class establishment, and it brings some classy good cuisine to north Dayton.

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Demo’s Steak & Spaghetti House

Demos has a few locations around Nashville, it’s been a popular purveyor of Italian cuisine for quite some time. With its wide variety of delicious steaks, pasta and seafood available at relatively reasonable prices, this is a nice semi-casual place where you’ll find plenty of families and large groups feasting on delicious dishes on a cheap dime. The real charm of Demo’s is it’s such a people-friendly place; it’s always warm here, the service is always exemplary, and all in all the founding family did its job well; there’s an unmistakably contagious good mood that pervades this place as I come back year after year.

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