As a kid, I grew up on Chef Boyardee’s Lasagna. You know the kind. It came in a box with a can of sauce, powdered cheese, and lasagna noodles. It was fast, easy, and not terribly delicious. When my parents wanted real lasagna, we drove to Lebanon and ate at the Tavern. It was the best lasagna in town. It was a single serving in a metal pan, covered in tons of melted stringy cheese, bubbling with housemade sauce and it arrived with a mini loaf of french bread doused in garlic butter. My parents loved this place and I loved the lasagna.
I found it! We are surrounded by great Italian food here in Dayton.
Starting south of town I worked my way across the county and here is my report.
Great lasagna isn’t far away. In Kettering, we have an abundance for every taste. While locals are divided between Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen on Woodman or Troni’s on Dorothy Lane, one thing is clear, the sauce is fresh and full of flavor. $8.99 gets you enough lasagna to demand an afternoon nap. Troni’s has a great salad and house dressing for their lunch special, Jimmy’s serves soup alongside their lunch. Troni’s delivered with pasta that was cooking perfectly and sauce with spice. Order extra garlic knots. Jimmy’s sauce is chunkier, which I like, and the rolls are soft and buttery, but I wanted the garlic and didn’t get it.
I drove past Mamma Disalvo’s on the way to these two stops. The lasagna there is 100% Mama’s. The sauce is thicker, sweeter, and made with love. Mama’s lasagna is like my grandmas. The ricotta is noticeable and the pasta is cooked perfectly and still has a bite to it. It is covered in mozzarella and baked off to perfection. $9.95 for lunch with salad and bread. Order extra bread, you don’t want to leave any of that sauce on the plate.
For folks up north you aren’t far from great layered pasta and cheese either. Folks know Giovanni’s in Fairborn for their pizza and subs. Skip the pizza, order the lasagna. Portions large enough to share, you won’t want to but you could, and dinner prices make it so you can get the antipasto plate beforehand. Dinner is $13.00 with salad and housemade Italian bread.
I know my way around the Dayton food scene. At least the affordable food scene. I am not one for fancy dinners or $30 lunches, but I like to eat and I like to see and eat what Dayton has to offer.
People ask me all the time, where are the best wings, best burgers, best this, best that. I always have an answer.
Until recently. People started asking me about Black owned restaurants. I only knew of the two immigrant owned spots I frequent Nanyea Cafe (North Dixie) and Eden Spice (Central Ave in West Carrolton) as well as a food truck I hit up downtown on occasion (Courtland’s Mobile Grill).
So I had to ask, poke around Facebook a little and what I found is a bit surprising. There aren’t as many as I had thought. Also, one place I thought was Black-owned wasn’t. Still a favorite but not what I was looking for this time.
Here are the six Ill be visiting in the coming days!
The Chicken Spot
This place is more than chicken. Salads and a variety of sandwiches are on the menu. Pulled chicken thighs on a bun with mac and cheese as a topping? Yes. The Back Yard Medusa is an entire backyard bbq in one bite. This joint will add Collard Greens as a topping to the sandwich! I am not one for crazy sandwiches, but this one has my attention. Located on Siebenthaler near Philadelphia. Give them a follow on Facebook for hours and specials.
One of the sweetest spots in the Fireblock District is Twist. My afternoons are always made better with one of these cupcakes. Located on St. Clair, just south of Third Street. $2.50 wont buy you happiness, but it will buy you a cupcake, and that is pretty darn close. They have curbside pickup and deliver a “CupCake in a Jar” nationwide. Brownies, cookies and other treats can be found as well.
Today’s BBQ popularity can be attributed to African Americans solely. From Texas to Kansas City to Memphis, BBQ history starts with African Americans turning the less desirable cuts of meat into something delicious.
Their menus is pure bbq and they do something that few BBQ spots do, ribs by the bone. Pork Spare Ribs and Beef Ribs on the menu as well as something they call a Turkey Rib. I have to try it. Burgers and a turkey burger also make the menu. Southern sides round the menu, mac and cheese, collard greens, yams and grilled corn are great accompaniment to any entree.
Find them on Kipling Dr in Dayton Wednesday through Saturday. Check Facebook for weekly specials.
Soul Food joint doesn’t do them justice. With wraps and stuffed burgers on the menu, Stuffed Enuff is more than soul food. This is legit home cooked food with something for everyone. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all accounted for here
You gotta check out the stuffed breakfast burger! Imagine waffles or pancakes as the bun and let your imagination run wild.
Located on N Dixie, Stuffed Enuff is on my must eat list.
Dayton is a brew town, but did you know up north in Huber Alematic Brewery is Dayton’s only Black owned brewery? With 7 creations on tap, there is sure to be something you’ll like. Ive got my eye on the Hawaiian Passion Fruit Wheat, I like a good Wheat beer and this one sounds delightful. A few IPA, Stouts and Pale Ales round out the list. Grab food from from TJ Chumps delivered right to your table.
Alematic can be found at 6182 Chambersburg Rd. in Huber.
Dayton has no shortage of coffee shops, but few have a legacy and history like Grindhouse. Bill Miller took his families passion for coffee and tea and made it a reality by importing single source coffee and tea from around the world. His shop is located inside the Meijer department store in Huber and is not to be missed. Grind House has iced coffee, teas, lemonades and every drink is hand crafted.
Grind House also leads the way in flavored coffees. My wife prefers something with a little sweetness, so their Apple Pie, Blueberry Muffin and Creme Brulee coffee blends really hit the spot. Check them out and all their merch at Meijer, 7150 Executive Blvd in Huber.
Making this list, and finding these hidden Dayton Gems isn’t easy for a white guy from the Suburbs. But, you can tell that these are spots and menus not to be missed. I follow Te’Jal on Instagram and YouTube for her show What’s The Biz. Whats the Biz is a web series that highlights the stories of black entrepreneurs. Check it out!
This episode tells the story best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnL12Ai10ME
Check her out on Instagram too: Instagram.com/whatsthebiz_
It was five years ago I unexpectedly found myself in Istanbul for a few days. This was a great opportunity to eat some new foods. I tried the breads, some street foods, Turkish Delight, and a range of Pistachio pastries. But..it was a sidewalk cafe near a rug vendor where I first had falafel alongside a plate of hummus. I was no stranger to hummus, but falafel, a middle eastern hushpuppy that I come to love.
Five years later and still crave Falafel. Lucky for me Dayton is full of Middle Eastern descent restaurants who are serving great Falafel. Falafel is basically a chickpea hushpuppy. Basically ground dried chickpeas, parsley and cilantro, garlic, onion, other spices and balled together and deep fried. Eat it with tzatziki or a side of hummus. This is where I get the best in Dayton.
Address: 40 N Main St, Dayton, OH 45423
The Falafel Gyro. Think traditional Gyro but with fried falafel balls that are crumbled up in the pita alongside onion, feta, olives, lettuce and tzatziki. It’s basically a greek salad with falafel crumbled atop all sitting on a warm soft pita. I have one of these every month. No lie. Every month. Ask Haitham at the register. If you are feeling extra Greek, grab a piece of his baklava for good measure. This gyro is so big and full you won’t need a side dish, as good as the side salads and fries are, you won’t need them. Grab an extra tzatziki though. You’ll be wanting more of this tart, tangy, and creamy condiment for sure. $7.50 for lunch.
Address: 135 E 2nd St, Dayton, OH 45402
The Falafel Burger. Yes. Burger. Think Veggie burger but with flavor and substance. This falafel is pattied and fried and fills the bun. Topped with chipotle hummus, fresh greens and a tomato jam that would taste good on shoe leather. This entire sandwich is an experience. The falafel has a distinct punch of cumin and I like it. $12 and it’s worth every penny.
Address: 44 W Third St, Dayton, OH 45402
The Falafel Platter. This platter is complete with rice, a salad with feta, olives and tomato, warm pita and a pile of 5-6 falafel fritters. Deep green, crunch on the outside and Dayton’s best tzatziki served alongside. I love the crunch of the salad and it’s red wine vinagrette dressing accompanying the crunchy and creamy falafel. For $11 its a great lunch any day of the week.
The Gyro Palace (Dayton Mall location)
Address: 57 N Springboro Pike, Miamisburg, OH 45342
These guys know Falafel. They call it a wrap, but its basically a falafel gyro and I love it. There is something different about their version. It’s fried perfect and deep green color that comes from all the cilantro and parsley that is blended in. Calling it a Gyro suggests you can eat it politely with two hands, the truth is that it is overstuffed and you are gonna need a fork and extra napkins. At $6.50 its hard to beat the service, taste and price of the Palace south of town. They’ve recently opened up a Brown St. location as well.
Side note: I once had great Falafel from Trolley Stop. It’s not on the menu anymore sadly.
However, on my short list to try is:
Cedar Land Bakery
Address: 4515 Linden Ave, Dayton, OH 45432
5531 Far Hills Ave Dayton, Ohio 45429
Just yesterday they introduced a new menu item- this Falafel Salad!
Where do you go to get Falafel? Have a recipe for your own? Share it in the comments below.
1200 Brown St #150, Dayton
535 E Dixie Dr West Carrollton
Here is where you can get a great latte in Dayton:
257 Wayne Avenue
732 Watervliet Avenue
1500 E 5th St Dayton
Mon -Fri 5am-7pm
Saturday 5am-1:30pm & Sunday 6am-130pm
Tues thru Sun 7am-3pm
A full order of biscuits and gravy is only $4.99 and it will fill you up. The breakfast menu is complete and I add home fries and a scrambled egg.
Wed – Sat : open at 7am. Kitchen close at 2am
However, the new kid on the block is The Gyro Room on Brown near UD. Tucked in across the alley from Butter Cafe the Gyro Room is a nice spot for a quick Gyro. Sides are limited to a rice dish and no fries are available. This made me a little sad. The service was fast. Real fast. Which is nice. Unless you like the art of the making of the Gyro. The slicing of the meat off the rotisserie. The Gyro room had 3-4 pounds of meat already sliced and resting in a warming tray to make assembly more efficient. This is good for time, but not so good if you are wanting those crusty and crunchy edge pieces off the spit. They are generous with portions and I opted for the extra pita and split my gyro in two. The flavors didn’t impress me like the friendliness of the staff or the quickness of the service, but it’s still a great stop if you are near campus.
13 years ago, after a long wait in Miami, and longer wait in Havana, I stepped out of the Jose Marti airport into the sweltering heat of Cuba in the summer. A friend was waiting for me with a cold Coca-Cola and pulled me around the crowd. I was the last of the team freed from the security detail and he had found our lunch. A little food stand on the curb serving sandwiches. The only item on the menu, roasted pork, and ham with cheese. The Cuban served with plantain chips and a can of the national cola, Tu Cola, for less than $2.00 American.
There is only one way to determine Dayton’s Best Taco. Gather 10 or 12 of your closest friends and plan an epic Taco Tour. Stop at the 4 hottest taco spots in Dayton in one afternoon, try everything and take great notes.
DaytonMostMetro.com joined up with Bryan’s Burger club and set out to find the best taco. The afternoon started at one of Dayton’s newest Taquerias, Chiapas Mexican. Located on St. Rt. 48 in Centerville, near Bill’s Donuts we easily found space for 10 on the patio.
We surprised them with 10 people so service was a little slow but the tacos were great. Soft and warm corn tortillas were filled and full of flavor. Chicken and beef were the favorites. Chiapas has a very nice Chorizo taco that is almost sweet behind the spice of the Mexican sausage. Beef tongue is a classic choice and was enjoyed by two members of the Taco Crawl team. These tacos are served with cilantro and onion. A salsa verde and red hot sauce are on the table as well. I like mine with a little of the house salsa and nothing more. Chiapas tacos are the real deal at were at the top of the price range at $2.75 each. If you are south of town, this is your stop.
Our tour took us into the heart of downtown to the famed Taqueria Mixteca. Located on East 3rd St, Mixteca is a downtown staple. Located just east of Keowee a few blocks they serve a top-notch taco. I was impressed with the chicken taco. Great spice and cooked well. Other favorites of the group were the fish taco, Chorizo with some spice, and the ground beef. Again, cilantro and onions are standard. Tacos are $2.35 each, fish, tongue, and shrimp are in the $3.00 range.
We were in an out of Taqueria Mixteca in record time to catch the Taqueria Garcia Mobil food truck located a block away before it closed at 3pm. $2.00 tacos out of a food truck and this place was the crowd favorite. They serve a Chorizo/Chicken taco that has the best of both worlds in one fold. Spicy Chorizo and savory slow cooked chicken under some cilantro and onion with a squeeze of lime. Add their Salsa Verde and grab two napkins. We got there late so they were out of Tripe, the group tried the other offerings, the steak (Asada) and pork (Al Pastor). For the price and service, you can’t beat this food truck.
Tired with three stops under our belt, or over it, we made our way to Taco Loco located on Burkhardt near Spinning Road. By far the friendliest service by the nicest staff. 10 of us stopped in on what had become a cold rainy afternoon. The place was full with families enjoying full plates of Mexican fare. The quickly rearranged tables and set about getting us more tacos. Tripe is available on weekends and their steak and chorizo tacos were enjoyed. None of us has the nerve to try the gizard taco. The chicken was nothing to write home about and was the only low point of the day. The atmosphere and service made up for it. Prices as low as $1.90 for beef, chicken, pork, and chorizo, tongue and tripe tacos were in the $3.00 range. Great service and a great menu make this a place to return to.
Did we find the best? Positively. Our group agreed they loved each place and enjoyed tacos at every stop. The food truck won our hearts and stomachs. The staff at Taco Loco won us over with hospitality and patio dining at Taqueria Mixteca and Chiapas is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends. Go try them yourself and tell us what you think.
Here were some additional comments from our Facebook invite page:
-Garcia Mobil was the best taco of the day.
-Chicken and Chorizo combo taco at the truck is a real winner.
-Best onions at the truck.
-Chiapas had the best tortillas.
-The ladies at Taco Loco were the best!
-Al Pastor and Steak tacos at Chiapas were also quite tasty.