Here is a quick review of our eating experiences during our recent trip to Dayton, Ohio:
Dark Horse Tavern
The Dark Horse Tavern lived up to its name in the sense that it was a little unexpected for a restaurant in a suburban strip mall, but I found this pub offering pit-smoked barbecue by using the Yelp app on my cell phone.
The Dark Horse Tavern bills itself as following the fundamentals of "cowboy cooking" and offering hearty meals served up in generous portions.
The dark wood-paneled pub's interior belies its strip mall location, and the portions were, as advertised, hearty and huge!
We started out with a fried pickle appetizer, a version consisting of thick-cut pickle chips with a tempura-style batter and accompanied by a chipotle ranch dipping sauce.
Next, we opted to split the BBQ Sampler, which was also on the appetizer menu.
The sampler consisted of a huge plate of meat that included ribs, brisket, pulled pork and a couple of large links of smoked sausage, accompanied by "cow chips" (something we dubiously regarded when seeing it on the menu, but ordered anyway). It was more than enough to serve as dinner for two hungry adults.
Tim is a big fan of barbecue meat and liked the ribs, while I preferred the brisket and pulled pork.
There were several types of BBQ sauce on the table, including a spicy sauce for me.
The "cow chips" turned out to be house-made potato chips, again accompanied by the same chipotle mayo that came with the fried pickles.
The Dark Horse slow cooks its meats in a hickory smoker for 5-16 hours and the meats, as advertised, had a pink smoke ring.
We hit the tavern on a quiet weekday, although the restaurant has entertainment many times during the weekend (sometimes with a small cover charge), and they were playing bar trivia while we were there.
Being from Detroit, we're big fans of Detroit-style deep-dish pizza, but we can always enjoy a good thin crust pizza as well.
Marion's Piazza is a Dayton institution, founded by Marion Glass 50 years ago and voted as the city's favorite pizza by numerous local media outlets over the years.
Marion's pizza differed from most other Dayton pizza restaurants when it opened as it had seating in a dining room designed to look like an Italian piazza or courtyard when other pizza places in Dayton at that time only offered carry-out service.
Marion's offers a distinctive thin-crust pizza, cut into small square pieces, often referred to as a "Dayton-style" pizza.
Marion's Dayton-style pizza soon became a hit with many of the stars visiting the city as performers with the Kenley Players Summer Theater from 1966 through 1995. We visited the Marion's outlet on Shroyer Road and had fun checking out some of the celebrity photos dating from those years lining the restaurant's walls,
Dayton homeboys Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe still visit Marion's, although we didn't spot either of them the night that we visited.
Marion's has nine locations in Dayton and serves sandwiches, pasta and salads in addition to its noteworthy pizza.
The restaurants seat between 275 and over 500 people, so they are popular spots for gatherings like the two birthday celebrations that were going on as we dined.
I liked being able to order my own pizza with ham, mushrooms, green peppers and green and black olives, leaving Tim to construct his own pie with multiple meat toppings.
You order pizza at the counter and pick it up as they call your number. You can also order pop and one of my favorite beers (Yuengling) at a separate counter.
Find Marion's Piazza online at its Web site.
We found the airy and light-filled Leo Bistro at the Dayton Art Institute to be a very nice place for lunch.
Leo Bistro, opened at the museum in early 2013, is primarily open for lunch with a menu of salad, sandwiches and an entree or two. It also serves dinner when the museum is open on Thursday evenings.
I loved the bistro's 4-cheese gourmet grilled cheese sandwich accompanied by tomato bisque. The sandwich came on over-sized crusty Italian bread, so it was essentially the equivalent to three half-sandwiches, with a mix of smoked Gouda, American, Provolone and cream cheese. A grilled cheese sandwich for grown ups!
Leo Bistro has free Wi-Fi access.
We like to visit Skyline Chili when we travel to Ohio, and it's worth mentioning that there are a number of Skyline Chili restaurants in Greater Dayton. We stopped at one at Dayton Mall, which was an easy-on, easy-off location along I-75 as we headed on home towards Detroit.
© Dominique King 2015 All rights reserved