Wandering Griffin Brewery & Pub.

Dayton’s newest brewpub, The Wandering Griffin has sprung up in a former bar chain location in Beavercreek. This bar makes use of a unique space to give it sort of a deconstructed feel; heavy wood tables and furnishings, a low-lit bar and dramatic lighting give way to a bar that favors creative culinary ideas and a wide variety of beers, both made in-house and produced across Dayton and all of Ohio. The Wandering Griffin is here to celebrate not just Gem City, but all of Ohio and the surrounding region, where many great kinds of beer are worth note and where brewers often collaborate to make a better beer.

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Dunlays on the Square

Situated in north Chicago’s well-to-do Logan Square and surrounding neighborhood, Dunlays on the Square is an upscale bar and brunch place that’s’ hard to forget. The walls and bar are laden with nice wood trim finishes and each dish is plated with great meticulousness. That upscale feel brings a nice sense of refinement to the dishes, but a the end all of the food to be tried here is still approachable, and at price points which aren’t too bad. If you’re going with more than a few people, consider sitting in that pleasant patio in the good weather, but be sure to make a reservation.

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Flip Side Burger Bar

A new concept in finer burgers, Flip Side specializes in nicer burgers, milkshakes and craft beer. It’s a concept borne out of Ohio and totes Ohio-raised, grass-fed beef. With a minimalist concept inside and a menu that espouses quality, it’s here to challenge the finer burger standard with a localized take. All in all, the food and experience aren’t too bad, but the spot is a bit pricier. It’s the cost to be paid for good local cuisine.

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Taft’s Ale House

Served up with a healthy dose of history for its namesake, Taft’s Ale House honors a Cincinnatian who just happens to have been President of the United States once. So it’s nice that this eccentric church-turned-brewery has an aura of history to it, and a heck of a lot of character. While the libations are what bring the crowds to this spot on the weekends, it has a huge menu of food to keep people returning, including a brunch menu that isn’t often advertised. The food here is really worth a special visit.

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Mokka and the Sunset Bar & Grill

Another of the interesting bar concepts that has sprung up in the Newport area just south of downtown Cincinnati, Mokka and the Sunset Bar and Grill offers breakfast, lunch, and a plethora of mixed drinks to be enjoyed day or night. The Newport area brings a lot of people out at all of those times, and I found that Mokka had some really great offerings. That said, there were times when the process could use a bit of refinement.

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Station House

While the Station House is a part of the expansive St. Leonard Franciscan Living Community south of Dayton, the restaurant is very much open to the public, and in fact it’s a spot that is frequented by people local to Centerville as well as the many residents of the community. While the Station House strives to be a restaurant where you can try just about anything, it succeeds best in bringing a laid back feel to lunch.

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Cock & Bull Public House

The Cock & Bull Public House — it’ll remind you somewhat of an English pub with its intricate exterior, but inside it’s much more a sports bar than anything else. Located along Hyde Park’s main stretch in eastern Cincinnati, this bar has plenty of pub grub favorites, and a few British-inspired dishes, to go along with a longer list of beer. It’s a place that seems to attract plenty of Cincinnatians on the weekends, but the wait and the prices can’t be ignored.

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Dominique’s Bistro and Bar (CLOSED)

While many of Dayton’s best restaurants have found their way into the trendier newer developments, Dominique’s Bistro and Bar sticks with the old-fashioned pedestrian-friendly charm that is downtown Oakwood. Once known as C’est Tout, this spot remains in many ways the same in the capable hands of Chef Dominique Fortin. But the jazzed-up concept of this concept has also allowed its staff to experiment with some interesting and new takes on French cuisine. To be sure, the name may be different, but this is still one restaurant you won’t want to miss.

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Jimmie’s Ladder 11

While it’s at the edge of both the South Park neighborhood near downtown Dayton and the fortress-like Miami Valley Hospital, Jimmie’s Ladder 11 is frequented most often, it would seem, but students from the nearby University of Dayton. This neighborhood watering hole brings a ton of drink options and a place for live music acts, but don’t discount its menu. In fact, Jimmie’s has a delicious menu of bar food and at pretty reasonable prices. I consider it something of a dark horse in town; not a ton of people outside UD frequent the place, and they’re missing out.

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Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets is an interesting concept for Washington D.C. — it’s more than just a restaurant. This spot is something of a work of art in and of itself, both as a spot where you can buy and read the latest books, and a place where poetry and spoken word can be shared. While I’ve never encountered something quite like it in my travels, it was the menu that brought me to Busboys and Poets, and it’s the menu that really sticks with me since then. What an interesting idea! And it’s definitely worth a visit.

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