Where to Eat Well in Dayton, Ohio: Top Local Restaurants

Grilled meat and vegetables dish
Grilled meat and vegetables dish | Photo by David V on Unsplash
Chloe Hay

From intimate local eats to fancy bistros, Dayton in Ohio is home to a wide array of restaurants to suit every taste and budget. To highlight the best of these highly reputed eateries, we have updated our Dayton restaurant guide to include new places to visit. Whether you are after a traditional Midwestern brunch or a formal gourmet dinner for two, there are plenty of great restaurants to choose from.

Jay’s Seafood

Ohio’s premier seafood restaurant, Jay’s Seafood, prides itself on only using fresh fish in its recipes. Customers can call ahead to ask what the daily fresh fish is before travelling to the restaurant, or simply turn up and be surprised. Thursday is lobster and crab night, where lovers of these expensive dishes are treated to a discounted dinner. As well as being a fine dining restaurant, Jay’s also has a seafood market, wine shop and ‘kitchen door’ on site, where customers can pick up exquisitely prepared foods to finish at home if they don’t fancy dining out.

Seafood pasta

Lily’s Bistro

Serving beautifully presented comfort food, Lily’s Bistro makes for a great lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch-stop. All of the dishes on the menu are prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients which have been sourced locally when possible. Indulge in a warming plate of grilled rib-eye with potato salad, or a bowl of spaghetti tossed with roasted eggplant and summer squash. Or why not order a refreshing cocktail to sip whilst snacking on a small plate of grilled peaches with goat’s cheese? The perfect combination.

Meadowlark

Specialising in good old-fashioned home-style cooking with a touch of extra flair, Meadowlark is all about generous portions and delicious flavours. Geared towards the American palate, there are pancakes for brunch and burgers for lunch. Perfect for winter days, the dinner menu is full of satisfyingly hearty dishes such as chicken sausage cavatappi, hanger steak with smoked shallot beer butter, and pork tenderloin with jezebel sauce. For the finishing touch, Meadowlark’s bar stocks a huge variety of drinks, including homemade bitters, freshly squeezed juices, craft beers and all the ingredients necessary to create the most wonderful of cocktails.

Olive

Describing itself as an urban dive, Olive is low-key from the outside, but definitely holds its own inside. Catering to every type of dietary requirement imaginable, Olive has delicious menu options for vegetarians, vegans, coeliacs and those after paleo-friendly foods. Those on a health kick will be in their element here, with menu options including a summer risotto with a green salad, a homemade falafel burger, and seared ahi tuna with local greens. All of the ingredients are sustainably sourced, with the vegetables being organic and the meats free- range, in keeping with the eco-friendly nature of the restaurant.

Roost Modern Italian

Having the perfect ambiance for a date or romantic dinner, Roost Modern Italian offers diners a small menu of exquisite dishes and a lengthier wine and cocktail menu that connoisseurs are sure to appreciate. For the perfect three-course meal, order both the mussels in white-wine sauce and the parmesan fries appetisers to share, then choose between the roasted wild mushrooms with linguine and a ginger brood, or the grilled lamb chops with potato gratinata. For dessert it has to be the clever ‘trilogy’ consisting of an espresso, a chocolate morso del giorno and a two-ounce glass of Chianti.

Rue Dumaine

Salar

A little French gem in this Midwestern city, Rue Dumaine is one of Dayton’s most popular fine dining venues. The chefs take traditional French fare and give it a contemporary American touch by using locally sourced ingredients in the recipes. Diners can enjoy sublime entrees such as golden pan-seared Ruby Red trout and Chardonnay-braised beef short-rib every night of the week. Rue Domain only opens for lunch one day a week, on Fridays, when the menu consists of a soup, salad, main course and dessert, which changes each week. Taking care to cater to all, a range of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes is always highlighted on the menu.

Salar

Having described its cuisine as ‘world-fusion with strong French, Peruvian and Mediterranean influences’, the head chef at Salar takes inspiration from her native country of Peru and mixes it with her favourite aspects of American cooking, to create the delicious dishes on offer here. Beef saltado, pork filet mignon, duck ragu ravioli and Peruvian seafood rice all feature side by side on the menu. Offering valet parking and a superb variety of cocktails made with freshly squeezed juices and whole fruit pieces, Salar is a great place to celebrate special occasions and to impress dinner companions.

Wheat Penny

Despite having a menu full of pasta dishes, succulent mains and vegetable platters, it’s the pizzas that really stand out at Wheat Penny. The California dough is made in-house and is left to proof for several days before being rolled out, lathered with sauce and toppings, and baked in the 700-degree decked oven. The result is a light, air-holed crust and a crispy base ─ just the way a pizza should be. Two favourite pizza varieties include the Tommaso (figs, blue cheese, and crispy shoestring onions) and the Siciliano (orange-scented Castelvetrano olives, ricotta, and toasted almonds). Those that enjoy a tipple should try the whiskey sour as the ideal aperitif or digestif to truly make the meal.

Winds Café

Located just thirty minutes from the centre of Dayton, Winds Café is located in a pretty artisan village full of boutique shops and the Little Art Theatre independent film cinema. Due to the intimate size of the venue, guests are recommended to call ahead to reserve a table. The menu changes bimonthly in keeping with the seasons, and the restaurant is open for brunch, lunch and dinner. Stop by the bar to enjoy a decadent cocktail and a bar snack of limoncello shrimp, Sicilian lamb meatballs, or a delicious cheese plate on a Saturday afternoon. Past dinner options in the main restaurant have included seared and braised halibut, and squash and pumpkin lasagne. On Sundays there’s no better brunch than a fried-egg sandwich with cheddar and bacon.
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