The center of the aviation industry in Ohio and the Midwest, Dayton has attracted citizens from many different cultures. As a result, the city’s dining scene is an eclectic fusion of local tradition and international flavor. These ten must-try restaurants define Dayton’s culinary culture, from laid-back bistros and cafes, to innovative food served in luxury settings.
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Coco’s Bistro is a warm, intimate restaurant, whose menu encompasses a wide range of upscale American fare with continental inspiration. Begin with an appetizer of fried Brie or Denver lamb ribs, and enjoy a main course of wasabi BBQ duck or a Bourbon Street salad. For a more casual experience, try one of the artisanal pizzas. Reservations are suggested, and a private room is available for larger parties.
For an exquisite selection of dishes served in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, look no further than Coldwater Cafe. Diners can take advantage of indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a private function room called the Upper Plate, which offers good views. For a truly unique experience, adventurous guests can take advantage of the Chef’s Table, a five-course meal with wine pairings served in the kitchen by Chef Nick Hoover at a table set for four guests. Signature dishes include the ostrich filet, Chilean sea bass and gourmet grilled cheese. Coldwater Cafe is open for lunch and dinner and is located in Tipp City, just north of the Dayton Airport.
Marion’s Piazza is a Dayton legend. Opened in 1965, the tiny pizza chain has since expanded to nine locations in the Dayton-Cincinnati area, their success achieved by word-of-mouth recommendations and minimal advertising. Voted Dayton’s best pizza 33 times, Marion’s is a local staple and offers a variety of thin-crust pizzas all cut in their signature small squares. Additionally, the pizzeria is famous for its 1965 price promotion: once every five years, for one day only, Marion’s offers its pizza for the original 1965 prices of $0.80 for a small and $2.50 for a large. Celebrity diners have included Henry Winkler, Sally Field and native Daytonian Rob Lowe.
Salar Restaurant and Lounge
Taking its name from the Spanish verb meaning ‘to salt or season’, Salar describes its cuisine as ‘world-fusion with strong French, Peruvian and Mediterranean influences’. Originally from Peru, Chef Margot Blondet seeks to blend tastes from her native land and her new adopted home by utilizing French cooking techniques. Thanks to this innovative mix, the eclectic menu contains dishes such as red quinoa-encrusted Chilean sea bass and white bean vegan scallops. The ambiance of the restaurant is upscale, but casual, achieving a comfortable balance. Beyond its superb dishes, Salar also specializes in premium cocktails, prepared with fresh-squeezed juices and fresh fruit.
The Amber Rose
Dayton’s destination for Eastern European cuisine is The Amber Rose. Specializing in homemade German, Lithuanian, Polish, Hungarian, Russian and Italian dishes, the menu features a virtinai and pierogi plate, Jager schnitzel, and Russian beef stroganoff. To complement this variety, the restaurant also offers a generous selection of hard-to-find European wine and beer. Located in a building that dates back to 1910 in historic North Dayton, The Amber Rose serves lunch and dinner.
The Oakwood Club
The Oakwood Club is a classic American steakhouse. It was voted by the Dayton Daily News as the city’s best fine dining restaurant in the same year The Oakwood Club celebrated its 50-year anniversary. The atmosphere is quite upscale, and reservations are recommended. In addition to steak, the restaurant offers the finest seafood, including South African lobster tail and Maryland crab cakes, all complemented by an extensive wine list. When asked if he would open a second location given the restaurant’s success, owner Lance Stewart replied that he would rather have one great restaurant than two good ones, a testament to The Oakwood Club’s high standard of excellence.
Located just northwest of Dayton in Trotwood, Taste Restaurant offers affordable, upscale dining, accompanied by live music every weekend. Patrons can enjoy jazz, R&B, and soul with their dinner in a beautiful atmosphere. Taste is open for lunch, with a menu that includes unique dishes like beef short rib tacos and jerk chicken wings. In addition to dining in, lunch is offered for delivery and take away as well. Another unique feature is Taste’s late night menu, offered from 10 p.m. until close; closely resembling the lunch menu, these choices are prefect for a gourmet midnight snack.
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