Liu Garden

For a very long time, Downtown Dayton was served by one dive Chinese place: China Royal, in the corner of the Biltmore Tower along North Main Street. After that spot closed, the place was vacant for awhile before a new spot, Liu Garden, replaced it earlier this year. Under the ownership of a new family, this spot is in practice very similar to its predecessor — a Chinese buffet with a robust takeout operation. But this one has longer hours and a bigger variety of foods. Still, the food is pretty unremarkable.

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Thai Paradise

Athens has a ton of options for Chinese food, but other cuisines from Asia are actually pretty hard to come by in the College town. Sure, a few places to sushi, and a few others have pad Thai but that’s about it. Thai Paradise has brought the change; opened in 2008 in Pickerington, east of Columbus, this destination staked out a spot in Athens in 2014 and since then has been the go-to place for Thai food in town. With a great selection of dishes to try, and a feel that is just a bit on the nicer side, this is one you will want to try.

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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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Bob’s Shanghai 66

Washington DC is an eclectic city where a lot of kinds of cultures intermingle. It’s refreshing to see how many minds of ethnic food can be tried in an international city like this one. Bob’s Shanghai 66 is one of them. To be clear, that name is not one that makes you think of ethnic foods, but make no mistake, this spot offers something really great.

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Asian King

Completing the triumvirate of Chinese food shops serving the Beavercreek suburb of Dayton, Asian King is a spot that caters primarily as a delivery service to the nearby neighborhoods, competing against China King which serves as a buffet and New Great Wall Chinese across the street with its carry-out business. Asian King keeps it simple with a menu of classic Chinese food favorites, as well as some other popular Asian cuisine, like pad Thai and Vietnamese Pho noodle soups. The diversity of that menu is worth noting, but the dishes I tried have not impressed me.

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China Dynasty

While there are a ton of good restaurant options in the Dayton area, especially with Chinese food, there are not a ton of places that focus on a quality dine-in experience. Most are priced for convenience or set up as a take-out or delivery business. This spot actually is one of the few Chef-owned Chinese spots in town, and Chef Stephen can often be found walking through the restaurant and making sure everyone’s food is perfect. This is one of the older spots in town too, having opened in 1995 and rolling along ever since, as the Centerville area has developed all around it.

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China Royal (CLOSED)

If you could sum up China Royal in one phrase, that phrase would be “Keep it simple, stupid.”

The downtown Dayton Chinese food restaurant on the corner of Main and First streets is the de-facto Chinese takeout place for much of downtown, for the simple fact that it’s essentially the only one that does pickup and delivery in the three-mile radius in and immediately surrounding Dayton’s core. For the lover of Chinese food, it’s one of the only buffets you’ll find around downtown, too. And while it doesn’t really look like much, the spot really is pretty good.

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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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Old Town Buffet

A Chinese food buffet just north of downtown Bowling Green, Old Town Buffet serves up a cheap and convenient option for lots of food. This spot seems to cater primarily to the surrounding community, and less so to the college population to the south. Old Town serves up a lot of fan favorites as far as Chinese buffet food goes, but some of the dishes are much better than others.

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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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