Archives for category: Restaurants

I like my job just fine, but you need a break from time to time and recently I decided to take a half day to relax a little before a big, scary Monday.  I still wanted to have my semi-monthly lunch date/Secretary therapy session with my friends Tina and Megan so after I was off the clock, we headed to Sake on Miller Lane in Vandalia.  I hadn’t been there since I was probably 13 or so and nothing had really changed, which was nice.  The place is still a lot of fun and I love how they don’t skip on anything even though it’s lunch.

We might need to work this place into our normal rotation of restaurants because after lunch at Sake, it really feels like you’ve been away for a while.  Without noticing it, they get you entertained, well fed, and out the door in plenty of time to get back to work (unless, of course, you took a half day).

Sake
7260 Miller Lane
Dayton, OH  45414
(937) 898-9834
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Below, my sister (Sad Robots) begins her guest blogging series entitled Lunch Downtown with her favorite lunch place, The Embassy.

Maybe you have jury duty. Or maybe you have to go to some lame corporate meeting. Or maybe you just have the genuine misfortune of having to work in Downtown Dayton. Either way, you’ll need some good lunch suggestions so you don’t end up at Uno’s.

I should explain that there are a ton of places to have lunch downtown, but I’m only going to recommend a few of them because I have stupidly high standards for eateries I would consider my favorites. For example, one requirement is that they have to know my name and greet me when I walk in. See, lunchtime competition is so fierce, that this is what you should expect from the service at these places. It’s the only way they can stay in business. The other qualifications are, of course, amazing food, good prices, and being able to get me in and out of there in a decent amount of time, so I’ll be commenting on the success of those three aspects of each place I review. I have several honorable mentions that do not meet all of these qualifications, but may meet some of them, and are definitely worth a try.

The Embassy

Note: The official name is “Moraine Embassy” even though it’s not in Moraine and no one calls it that. It’s usually just shortened to “Embassy” at my work.

The first lunch place I was introduced to when I got my job was The Embassy. I like to describe it as a fancy Waffle House with better food. So not Waffle House at all, really. It’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall place with a mix of nice and not-nice decor, with CRT televisions in the corners that always play the Weather Channel. There’s a full bar, too, even though it’s mostly a lunch place.

Food

I only go to The Embassy on Mondays and/or Fridays. Mondays are omelet day and Fridays are macaroni and cheese day. My usual routine is walking the block and a half from work to The Embassy on Friday, sit at the bar, order whatever the special is with macaroni and cheese, and watch the Weather Channel while listening to 90s alternative on my iPhone. It’s always very peaceful. My recommendation, of course, is to order the special. It is indeed always very special, kind of like Sunday dinner at your grandma’s house. The Embassy’s specialty is homestyle cooking of the Midwest, with a little bit of Hungarian food thrown in there for kicks (the restaurant is owned by Hungarians). If you’re not into whatever the special is, the sandwiches and salads that they have every day are good too. The best part is that if something on their menu doesn’t go over well, the servers will be the first to tell you that you probably shouldn’t order it. It is impossible to get a bad meal there (although I’ve never enjoyed their desserts, but that’s okay because usually the food is too filling to order dessert anyway).

Price

If you get the special, expect to spend around $10 for the whole meal including tip. If you get a sandwich or salad, it’ll probably be around $8.

Service

The flow of this restaurant is different from other sit-down places. Their priority is speed because everyone comes in on their lunch between meetings and calls and whatever else they have going on. The second (quite literally) you sit down, someone is at your table getting you water and asking what you want to order (because you either always get the same thing or you always get the special. You usually only have to go there a few times to get your order down). Don’t worry, they’re not trying to rush you, they’re trying to make sure that they are serving you on your schedule. They give you your bill with your food, which is always out in about five minutes. Generally, you can go there for a sit-down, homecooked meal and be back to work in a half hour.

In closing, The Embassy is the first place I recommend to everyone who has to eat lunch downtown. Most people haven’t heard of it. There’s no website where you can look at the menu (which is a piece of paper they make copies of every day and highlight), no Facebook page to like or Twitter to follow. The servers are all older than 50 and so are the owners. When you get back to work, you still smell like somebody’s grandma’s house (in a good way) and are just the perfect amount of full. It’s close to everything but hard to notice unless you’re looking for it, so try it out and enjoy your lunch!

Moraine Embassy
25 South Ludlow Street
Dayton, OH  45402

So after getting pretty at Eden Salon & Spa, I got ready for a night out with the girls at The Greene.  We started the evening at Pasha to eat before the show at Funny Bone.

We were going out for Jeanine’s birthday month and she seemed to love her “dream card” (she told us one day 3/4 the way through a jumbo margarita that it’s the card she’s always wanted to receive – the Mother’s Day card with the wire hangers mom on the front [my sister had to make it because it’s September and it’s hard to find humorous Mother’s Day cards this late/early depending on how you look at it]).

So where were we?  Oh we haven’t left Pasha yet.  We loved the food, as always, and the requisite Turkish coffee afterward (Tip:  Don’t drink it to the bottom, just don’t do it).  We took our first group photo of the night.

We made it to Funny Bone in plenty of time to be seated in the front and get our drinks ordered.  The show was super funny, which is great because we were all a little worried we wouldn’t know how to handle the situation if our friend, Corey, didn’t turn out to be very funny.

He was, so all awkwardness was avoided.  We took our second group photo of the night.

By the time we left Funny Bone, we could have called it a night but Jeanine was the lady in charge and she said Wine Loft so we walked briskly in the rain to the Wine Loft where no more organized photos were taken.

We did, however, get to try the mini Guinneys (instead of a little beer, it’s a miniature Guinness, get it?) and they were a really interesting take on the probably very fattening shot.  This is where I leave the story because my husband came to pick me up, which ended up being a good idea because I didn’t wake up with even a little hangover.  Hallelujah

Cheers!

Disclaimer:  I love independent shops and make it a point to spend most of my entertainment budget supporting them.  I really do.  See every 4th blog post and scroll down until you see a picture from Ghostlight Coffee if you don’t believe me.  Ok, with that being said…

Every year I wait (semi) patiently for the return of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.  I know, believe me I know, that this is not a local company but I really can’t help it.  There is something entirely perfect about the pumpkin spice latte that no other latte can touch and I have no idea why.  It has some power over me I can’t explain and the first one of the season makes me so happy.  I’m not alone – the barista making my drink the other day saw me standing creepy close to the espresso machine, just watching him make the latte like I had to memorize the details to win a prize later, and he says “Every person who has ordered one of these today has had the same exact expression on their faces.”  He didn’t have to explain, the expression is a mixture of the joy of finally being seconds away from that which you hold dear and the sadness that it isn’t in your hands yet.

After obtaining my treasure, I took it and a non-pumpkin latte (philistine) to my sister to spend some time catching up and getting our details straight for the evening ahead.  Velvet is also a fan of pumpkin spice, evidently.

Nothing beats a delicious brunch in the morning when you know you will be doing yard work for the bulk of the afternoon.  It sort of gives you permission to get the thing on the menu you know you shouldn’t get (in my case, waffles) because you’ll sort of work it off later, right?  It was precisely this logic that lead my husband and me to Starlite Diner on a recent Sunday to carb up for the hard work ahead.

I love Starlite Diner because as old fashioned as the decor is, it’s very consistently so.  The food is tasty but not necessarily good for you, which is a trait that all the best diners share.

Starlite Diner (Belmont Location)
2627 S. Smithville Rd
Dayton, OH  45420
(937) 293-4000

Do you want to know a secret?  There’s this wine shop and deli on Peter’s Pike called the Little Store and they make the best sandwiches in the entire world.  And you’ve probably never been there.  Tucked in a residential neighborhood a little ways from Miller Lane in Butler Township sits the Little Store, ready to sell you the best wine you’ve ever had or the best sandwich you’ve ever tasted.  The owners are unpretentious and welcoming, always ready to help you find what you’re looking for.

Recently my sister and I ventured to the Little Store to split a sandwich for lunch.  Beth can’t believe that a turkey-less sandwich could be so delicious but the red pepper and hummus sandwich is just that amazing.  We took our time looking through the wine and potato chips – actually we loved these pictures because Beth noticed we are looking at the things the other person would normally be looking at (wine for me and gourmet chips for Beth).

Next time you find yourself fed up with all of the chain restaurants on Miller Lane and hungry for lunch, consider the Little Store.  And now that the weather is cooling down a bit, it’s the perfect lunch hour picnic fare.

Jerardi’s Little Store
7325 Peters Pike
Dayton, OH  45414
(937) 890-8858

I love Tank’s Bar & Grill at any time of day really, but there is a special place in my heart for brunch and Tank’s really does it right.  I started going to Tank’s brunch during college and loved the place dearly.  There are a lot of hanging plants that are probably as old as I am and despite the foliage and brunch menu, the place isn’t pretty or dainty in any way.  It’s dark at all times of day and has old beer signage on the walls from the 80’s.  That makes me happy because, I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of Spuds MacKenzie

The food is simple and not as greasy as you would think being that it is a bar that serves bar food.  I order a la carte because all the meals have meat in them.  I particularly recommend the fruit plate (the one pictured is the Girlie Size).  I wasn’t expecting fresh fruit at a bar and it was so yummy.  Also, they have mimosas! 

If you’ve never given Tank’s a try, you really should.  They are the only bar I know of in the Dayton area or anywhere that has a PB&J on their regular menu (you can also get it as a club if you’re really hungry).  Oh, and it’s delicious.

Tank’s Bar & Grill
2033 Wayne Avenue
Dayton, OH  45410
(937) 252-2249

As someone who doesn’t love doughnuts, it takes a certain kind of Sunday to get me in the mind frame to go in search of some.  A while back, my husband and I set out to find this charming doughnut place in Kettering that we often pass by but had never stopped in before.

Stan, the Donut Man is adorable and straight out of 1955, miniature American flag and all.  The doughnuts were as good as doughnuts can be, which is not thrilling to me, but really hit the spot during one of my rare doughnut cravings.  Having been raised on Jim’s Donuts, where sitting around and listening to war veterans talk all day is a surprisingly treasured pastime of Vandalia youth (please don’t tell anyone), I’m used to the idea of a doughnut shop being relaxing and welcoming.  Stan’s is decidedly not that sort of place in that they only have a few very uncomfortable stools and look at you like you’re a crazy person for asking to have your order “for here.”

But now that I know this is a takeout only sort of place, I won’t make that mistake again.  I think Stan, the Donut Man is a great shop and I’m glad we finally made a stop there.

Stan, the Donut Man
1441 Wilmington Avenue
Dayton, OH  45420
(937) 293-1080

Below, my sister (Sad Robots) would like the floor to explain, in detail, her birthmonth festivities for 2012:

Birthmonth Recap:

1. Family Party

Every year, my grandmother throws a party for my mom and I (she has an August birthmonth too) that, no matter what, always consists of two things: mashed potatoes and ice cream cake. But, you know, not together (FYI I’d totally eat that, just sayin’). This year, the party was combined with my uncle’s too for some kinda crazy triple birthday party. It was good times.

2. Birthday Dinner

I’m a big fan of creating senseless traditions, so every year since I turned 21, I go to El Rancho Grande for my birthday. Although I say it’s because of the sombrero, which is definitely a big part of it, secretly it’s because my 21st birthday was the last one I got to celebrate with my dad, so by going back there every year, in some illogical way it feels like he still gets to be there with me, half laughing at me for my drunken antics and biting his tongue about lecturing me on poor drinking habits. I should clarify that “poor drinking habits” to him meant “don’t get a DUI.” This year, we got to sit at the big party table, and I got to drink a big margarita, and eat a big meal, and, as always, snort a dangerous amount of whip cream. The best part? Our server said if I have two more birthdays there, I get to keep the sombrero. Acquiring this sombrero is my new goal in life because, you know, it’s important to have high aspirations.

3. Work Party

Speaking of triple birthday parties, my coworkers don’t often celebrate birthdays or go out for drinks together, but I have two other coworkers with birthdays all in the same week as mine (birthweek?). Every year we go to the Wine Gallery to grab a drink after work to celebrate our three birthdays. The coolest part about this is that my boss gives us gag gifts from her antique collection. I’m not really sure how it works, but I believe she and her husband buy estates, so they have a “workshop” filled with random things. Last year my boss found me an apron. I think this was funny because I can’t cook? I’m not sure. This year, she found me a set of Melmac dishes. Anyway, it’s a fun hour of awkwardly trying to make small talk about non-work related things while trying not to do or say anything to increase the perception of the massive age discrepancy between me and my coworkers (the next youngest person in my department is 45).

Aptly, The Onion posted this article that same day: http://www.theonion.com/articles/afterwork-drinks-enter-third-excruciating-minute,29185/

4. Lady Date with the BFF

I have the best best friend in the entire world. She plans vacations for us every year. She invites me over every week to watch True Blood. She bakes delicious desserts in her kitchen while I blather at her. She makes sure I never do anything stupid in my rampant eccentricity. This year, she told me she would take me on a lady date for my birthday anywhere I wanted to go. Girl About Town wrote about our fun excursion to Roost, but my BFF also got me flowers, and after dinner, we watched The Godfather II at the Victoria Theatre for part of their Cool Films Series.

Afterward, we dissected the movie together over a glass of wine at the Wine Gallery, but then had to leave because the music they were playing was just awful. It was like Jimmy Buffett trying to cover Kenny G and it made me want to stab out my ear drums with pencils. The cool thing about the Wine Gallery, though, is that they have themed wine flights for those of us who only like a general taste of wine and are also very indecisive. Despite the music and my remarkable inability to follow the plot of movies (by ‘dissected the movie’ I really mean she had to explain to me a lot of the things I missed), it was a fantastic evening.

5. The Grand Finale, or what I called, “Beth’s 23rd Birthday or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sombrero”

Birthmonth is winding down, so my big shebang this year was throwing a birthday party for myself at the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District. Because apparently this is a weird thing to do, I’m going to go ahead pull out the FAQ before I summarize the evening’s shenanigans.

Q: Why are you throwing your own birthday party?

A: Who else is going to do it?

Q: What’s so special about turning 23?

A: First of all, please refer to it by what it is: The Big 2-3. It’s the last year of my early twenties. Next year, The Big 2-4, is going to be a big year because it’ll be the first year of my mid twenties. The year after that, The Big 2-5, is going to be a big year because I’ll be old enough to rent a car. My point here is that every year is important and I’m going to celebrate it like it’s my last, humility be damned.

Q: Why do you throw so many parties anyway?

A: Because we all have our special talents. Mine is introducing you to all of your future friends and being one of the funnest people you’ll ever meet. I repeat: humility be damned.

Q: Why the Trolley Stop?

A: I have a friend who knows the people who own it/work there, they have a nice room (more like a haunted house) to rent for a very reasonable price, you can have your own bar and bartender, and have you ever had their turkey sandwich? It’s delicious.

Back to the shenanigans:

So you know how I said I have the best best friend ever? She decided to cater the event with delicious, mostly vegetarian food. No really, she has some kind of crazy talent for building menus and cooking wonderful things. I’m going to hire her to cater my future parties. Anyway, I had a really great time because I got to hang out with some of the most amazing people ever and introduce them all to each other, I got to drink a lot of my favorite whiskey, and I got to tell a lot of my favorite stories. It wasn’t a crazy party (as my parties are wont to often be), but it was a good party and I can only hope that everyone had as good of a time as I did.

My next shamelessly narcissistic venture is going to be my housewarming party when I close on and move into my new house. Be forewarned, it’s going to be the housewarming party to end all housewarming parties. A house just can’t be called a home until it’s wrecked with a good dose of drunken chaos.

I don’t normally like to write about chains but this place was really, really good and it came very highly recommended to me for many years.  As a part of the UD area shops and restaurants, Dewey’s Pizza has a following of devoted customers who have all been telling me to try it for a long time so on a Friday night, my husband and I gave it a shot.  I loved the selection of draft beer and the fact that they might be the last place with Oberon on tap at the end of the summer.

Even though the specialty pizzas looked awesome, we decided to each order our own calzones because we had been talking about calzones a lot for some reason lately.  I loved mine (green peppers, pesto, and spinach) and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate pretty much the whole thing even though I realize it’s a whole pizza folded in half.  (Ok, I’m a little ashamed, but not much.)

Dewey’s Pizza
131 Jasper Street
Dayton, OH  45409
(937) 223-0000