Donato's Pizza - Fairborn
Donato's Pizza, described by a friend as "Serves a 'St Louis style' pizza - thin crust with provolone cheese; it's interesting to try once." The first Donato's was established by a guy named Jim Grote in Columbus, Ohio in 1963... not sure who Donato was, however. Today Donato's has some 170 stores, mostly in Ohio, bust also in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, and North Carolina. A few years back, Donato's was actually purchased by MacDonald's before eventually returning to the ownership of Jim Grote.
I called late on a recent Sunday night, and was happy to discover they were still open past 10pm and could deliver. I was a bit disappointed when I mentioned my hotel name, and the guy on the phone insisted that I give him the complete address; I had to hang up then call back a few minutes later. When I finally had my full address, I called back and ordered a large, thin-crust "founder's favorite" pizza that comes with provolone, ham, sausage, and banana peppers, along with a 2-liter of Diet Pepsi for just over $20. The pizza arrived in about 45 minutes, still warm and fresh. The dough was thin and very tasty, and the toppings plentiful. The odd thing was the tiny little rectangle slices, many of which were just enough for a single bite, others maybe three bites. Maybe this can be a good thing, but not when you are watching football and have no plates handy--I had to keep running back to the kitchen to get another tiny piece between plays.
Foy's Rock & Roll Grill - Main Street, Fairborn
$2.50 for a quarter pound hamburger? $3.50 for a half pound of meat? What a deal, and what a great dive. No doubt this is the best place in town. How do I know? About half of the locals in town were here for lunch on a Monday!
We were drawn in by the red neon in the narrow building facing the town's short Main Street. Once inside we grabbed one of the last remaining booths by the door. The waitress quickly got our drink orders while we scanned the menu, then we ordered their standard burgers and fries. The food was out in about 15 minutes... the burger was thick and juicy with lots of fresh toppings, and the fries were crisp and lightly seasoned.
Some of the unique decor in the establishment includes a full-size Elvis statue and two Harleys.
Just down the block is Foy's Halloween Store, which doesn't look like much from the outside, but it claims the state of Ohio's largest collection of Halloween costumes and supplies.
Taqueria Mixteca - Dayton's Historic Inner East
Ever drive around Dayton's "Historic Inner East" neighborhood? You probably don't want to drive in this area unless you are one of the blue-collar workers at the local factories, or you are just rushing through. Not that it's a terrible place; it's just that there isn't much reason to stop here.
We were driving through on our second day in town looking for a restaurant and were coming up empty. We saw an old white-haired guy with a long white beard (who looked more than a bit homeless) and his woman (also a bit down on her luck) both carrying cases of beer. My friend stopped and asked where we could find a good restaurant. I think they thought we were gonna steal their beer, but when they saw we were friendly, their eyes lit up as they pointed us to a Mexican place, "close by, on third street." We followed their directions, and about three blocks away, was this hole-in-the-wall little Mexican joint, that looked packed.
We wandered in and grabbed the last available table. The poor little Hispanic waitress was very busy, so one of the cooks grabbed our drinks. Later the waitress came and got our orders: a Mexican sandwich called a "torta" and an order of three enchiladas. While we waited we munched on chips with a variety of dips including red salsa, green salsa, ketchup, and mustard (I'm not making this up). The food arrived after only 15 minutes or so, and the portions were huge considering that most prices were under $5. The food was also excellent with tender, well-spiced meat and crispy vegetables.
The only minor problem was the overworked waitress, but what did you expect for a $6 or $7 lunch in what is basically a diner?
Giovanni's Pizzeria & Italian - Main St Fairborn
Where's the place to go on a Friday night in Fairborn, near Dayton? How about Giovanni's Pizzeria e Restorante Italiano on Main Street in this little town? In business since 1953, this large but cozy restaurant is overflowing with locals on a Friday night, with people waiting in line at the door.
We stopped in for an early dinner and were lucky to get one of just a few remaining booths. I started with an Italian beer, while my friend had a house wine. We both decided on the parmigiana: one veal and one pork. Unfortunately they were out of pork, so we settled on two chicken parms. Our meals started with tasty salads with good garlic Italian dressing and lots of cheese, and a basket of soft Italian bread. Our meals arrived quickly, and the food was really good; big, thick chunks of chicken breast, lightly breaded with spaghetti noodles and a delicious red sauce. After the meal we had coffee and pie bringing our total bill to about $20 each.
The staff and customers were friendly and the food was good and plentiful... this place is obviously a hometown favorite.
They also have what looks to be great pizza that comes in 7, 9, 13 and 15 inch pies... dine in or carry out only; no delivery.
Logan's Roadhouse - Fairfield Commons, Fairborn
Logan's is a chain steakhouse of the Lonestar and Longhorn variety--all are generally middle-grade steak restaurants that are family friendly with good prices. Logan's looks a little cheaper from the outside, but the food is pretty comparable.
Four of us ate here one night, mainly because we were shopping next door. We each had steaks, some with grilled shrimp, some with bbq ribs. Each of the meals came with fresh rolls, salads, and two sides, and of course the peanuts were free! We also split an order of their nachos, which made for a huge meal, at a reasonable price of about $25 per person.
The steaks, particularly my medium-rare sirloin, were good and tender, but the ribs were a little overdone and dry. The service was excellent, and our waitress, Beth, did an outstanding job of keeping us fed and happy.
Logan's is a chain that began in 1991, and at one time was owned by Cracker Barrel. Today Logan's has about 168 restaurants in 20 locations.
Valkyrie cafe at Air Force Museum
As far as museum cafeterias go, this one is about as lame as any other. Their only options are basically burgers, hot dogs, and a few fried foods like French fries and chicken strips. Most of the food is pre-made, and has probably been sitting for hours. We arrived around noon, and the cafeteria was almost empty despite a good crowd at the museum.
I grabbed a double cheeseburger and fries off the warming rack for about $5, plus a fountain drink for another $2. I loaded the burger with fresh veggies just to get a little healthiness from the meal.
All in all, it is pretty basic food at a fair price. Besides, there's nothing else nearby.
The Valkyrie Cafe is named after a USAF prototype aircraft called the XB-70 Valkyrie, a high-altitude, high-speed, nuclear-capable bomber built and flown in the 1960s.
Favorite Dish: The best part of this place is the view of the aircraft displays out front.
Dublin Pub - Oregon District, Dayton
Located in Dayton's most popular area, Oregon District, Dublin Pub is one of the citys best bars. I stopped in for dinner one Saturday afternoon during college football season. Late in the afternoon the bar was quiet but it quickly filled up after dark.
For my dinner I had the Sea Monger's platter with beer battered cod, fried shrimp, and fried clams for a low price of $12 (or add crab cakes for $2 more). I also had a few Guinness beers All of the food was tasty, the service great, and the bartenders friendly.
Other food options include Irish steaks, meatloafs, boxtys, shepherds pie, corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, burgers, appetizers, and sandwiches.
They claim the largest whiskey sales in the entire state and they have been named best of Dayton in various categories numerous times.
Skyline Chili - Fairfield Commons Mall, Fairborn
Skyline Chili is a local favorite from nearby Cincinnati. While the signature chili has a good flavor and plenty of spicy kick, I did no like the smooth, creamy texture that was a bit like mashed potatoes and gravy. I also was confused by the slight cinnamon flavor that made the overly blended substance taste a bit like baby food.
I went to Skyline at one of their new fast food locations near the mall in Fairborn, OH. I went through the drive through and ordered a simple 1/2 pint bowl of their famous traditional chili. It cost about $3.30 and was ready in seconds. Luckily their smoothly blended chili mixture came with two bags of oyster crackers to give it some semblance of substance and texture.
I guess this is a pretty good, cheap meal, but I will always wonder how they get meat and beans ground up into such a fine, runny liquid.
We were in downtown Dayton's Oregon District searching out dinner when my friend said, "how about some sushi?" I said absolutely, thinking a cosmopolitan city that produced Erma Bombeck must have some good sushi, probably right downtown! We pulled up the nearest sushi restaurants on our smart phones and began driving. Seven miles later, downtown Dayton was long in our rear view mirror, and we arrived at Akashi sushi. From the outside this restaurant is decorated like a traditional Japanese house, and it sits next to one of those suburban kung fu parlors. Inside there is a sushi bar, about 20 tables and a section that looks like Elliot's house from ET, covered in clear plastic sheeting as if it is under investigation for harboring aliens.
We sat at the sushi--where the sushi chefs and waitresses were actually Japanese--and were impressed by the authenticity of the place, with the menu partially in Japanese. We started with a huge Kirin Ichiban beer and miso soup, then ordered several rolls and nigiri. The sushi slowly started to trickle out to us over the next hour. We started with a fried shrimp roll and several pieces of tuna and salmon nigiri, all of which was the highlight of the meal... the rest of the sushi we had only went downhill from there. Our next rolls were the spicy tuna and their beef roll, both of which were horrible. The meal should have been saved by the rainbow roll, the most expensive, and often best item at a sushi bar, but the white fish (sea bass?) was lacking texture and pretty horrible. Finally when we were stuffed and just chatting, they brought out our last huge roll, which was the fried chicken roll. It was tasty, but arrived so late in the meal that we were too full to enjoy it.
The service is pretty good, but the sushi runs on the expensive side with their featured rolls $13 or more, and their nigiri about $2 each piece. At those prices all of the fish should be perfect, but it was of a low quality.
Don Pablo's Mexican - Fairfield Mall
I didn't see Don nor Pablo when I visited this national chain restaurant near the mall in Fairborn. I did have some good, relatively inexpensive Mexican food in a nice, family friendly environment. We arrived and were quickly seated way back in the far corner opposite the door, in the large, high-ceiling dining room. It was a bit breezy and chilly in the large room on this cold, rainy night.
I had a Tecate beer and the Numero Uno Favorito... a crunchy fajita taco, an enchilada, and a soft chicken taco with beans and rice, and of course, lots of chips and salsa. The meal was a cheap $9 and the food was all pretty good.
Don Pablo's started in 1985 and now has 45 restaurants in 15 states.
Quaker Steak and Lube
I have been a fan of Quaker Steak and Lube since back in the days when there was just one location in Sharon, PA. Since then, our favorite place for wings has expanded around 40 locations, mostly in PA and Ohio, but also Florida, West Virginia, Virgina, Tennessee, Iowa, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, North Carolina, and Canada.
My last visit I ordered a single order (10) of wings and their sirloin steak sandwich with fries. The wings are pretty expensive at $8 for 10, but they are great, especially their cajun, golden garlic, and Louisiana Lickers. The steak sandwich had lots of tender cubed meat, though it was a little blandly flavored. The fries are good, especially when dipped in the extra wing sauce.
While I got my meal to go, the restaurant was full on this Friday night with one half of the restaurant watching sports at the bar, while the other half was singing karaoke.
The Grub Steak: Awesome Steaks, Service, Atmosphere
This is a wonderful place to go for an unbelieveable steak. The ambience is relaxing (they say back in the day the Dayton Mafia used to meet here). Service is outstanding. You never have to worry about looking fpr a server, because they will have you taken care of before you know you need something.
There is a security guard that patrols the parking area, so safety is not an issue.
You walk in these beautiful stain glass doors and that sets you in the mood for the rest of your dining experience.
As far as dress, we were dressed work casual, but did see some people in jeans and some in suits.
Favorite Dish: They are known for thier steaks and thier "princess ribs". The ribs aren't normal ribs. They are rib meat served on skewers, tender and tasty. But, I would highly suggest the steaks. I got the filet and rib combo and my mouth is still in awe. The hubby got a 20 oz Kansas City Sirloin that was done to perfection. Not one bit of fat could be found on it. One of the other girls in our group got filet tips in mushroom sauce. There was so much mushroom sauce the hubby poured some of it on his steak just for bonus points. We all left happy, relaxed, and very happy tummies! The house dressing is a garlic parmesan dressing. It is excellent, but should come with a warning label (My breath was toxic after it for the rest of the night). One of the other guys got the ranch dressing and he said it was the best ranch dressing he had ever had.
Thai 9: Dayton's only Thai, Sushi too!
The interior of this restaurant is stunning. It's in an old building, with exposed brick and rafters. Carved wood accents the bar and dining room. Very classy, visually rich.
Service is fairly attentive, good, but nothing special.
The food is good. It isn't the best or most authentic Thai I've ever had, but it is very good food. As Dayton's only Thai restaurant, they could certainly do a lot worse and still draw return customers. I am a fan of the noodle dishes, while most of my friends prefer the various curries. You can choose your spiciness on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being almost sweet and the 10 of some dishes burning your cheeks and gums. Friends who have tried the sushi report that it's very good. However, there are several other Japanese restaurants in the Dayton area that are probably more authentic. Also, almost the entire menu is available as vegetarian.
Overall, I've recommended this restaurant to many people, and have brought several "virgins" to Thai 9 for their first experience with the cuisine of Thailand.
Favorite Dish: Pad Wun Sen...I love the thin, clear noodles! The vegetables and your choice of chicken, pork, tofu, or shrimp are cooked just right, and it's always arrived hot and well-presented. The peanuts and bean sprouts make for a nice crunchy accent.
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Jay's Seafood: Innovative and FRESH seafood
Jay's is a local institution. Their seafood is SO fresh, and the menu is pretty innovative, while still serving old stand-bys. Steaks and chicken are also available. The desserts are to die for! The building is old, with a huge wood bar. Service is a little slow for some people, but I didn't mind...it gave me time to talk with my friend and enjoy the atmosphere.
Favorite Dish: The seared tuna steak...fresh and delicious, and the sauce is drizzled on the plate, rather than drowning the delicious fish.
I also enjoyed the blackened tilapia when I had it.
Marion's Piazza: Dayton's best pizza...you HAVE to eat here
This place is great. There are multiple locations in the area now, and they all have black and white photos on the walls of the various famous people who have dined there. In addition to pizza, they have hoagies/grinders/subs (whatever you want to call them), chips, and I believe some salads. The crust is pretty thin, the pizza's sliced into small squares, and the toppings go all the way to the edge. It's delicious! All through college, I'd have to hit a Marion's on my breaks back home.
This isn't super-cheap pizza, but you definitely get quality, and a mound of toppings. It's worth it.
The smoking and non-smoking sections are clearly separated, beer is served, and you don't have to tip here, since you order everything at the counters (pizza at one, beverages at the other).
Favorite Dish: I always get a pizza with ham and sausage. Their ham is like chipped/shredded, and it's the crumbly sausage...not that ball-looking stuff that most places have. The only place I know that I can get that combination.
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