With an ever-changing restaurant scene, there are plenty of new places to try and old favorites to appreciate in the Greater Dayton area. We chose some of the many restaurant gems that range from hometown hangouts to fine dining, all offering their very best to you, their guest and customer.

In this issue of Dayton Magazine, we are delighted to share with you the 2015 Restaurant Guide.


Citilites

Located in the heart of downtown Dayton, the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Center is home to Citilites, a restaurant bringing classic French and Southern flair to their dishes. “We like to do a lot of fun, classic French techniques with a twist,” says Tim Schonsheck, executive chef of Citilites. Some of the most popular menu items include the Pork Osso Bucco on a roasted root veggie hash, the Lobster Cobbler and the decadent Housemade Tiramisu. “We try to use all local purveyors. Many of the chefs have their own gardens,” says Chef Schonsheck. He adds that last year he grew 10 types of heirloom tomatoes, another chef grew peppers and that many grow their own herbs, too. The restaurant also keeps beers from local breweries on hand for their customers. “We try and support Dayton as much as we can,” says Chef Schonsheck. While Citilites is open for lunch and before performances, guests can also participate in the Citilites Unwind series, Wine & Yoga, held one evening each month. 1 W. Second St., Dayton. 937-222-0623, victoriatheatre.com.

Nibbles

Featuring New American and global cuisine made with French techniques, Nibbles is brimming with culinary experience. “It has that feel of a bigger city,” says Maria Walusis, chef and owner of Nibbles. Originally just a catering business, Walusis planned all along to have a venue, since she cooks more like a chef than a caterer. “I do as much live cooking as possible,” she says. After looking for over a year, Walusis found an old house with a charming and quaint atmosphere, complimenting the menu. “We are looking to change the menu every six weeks, based on what is local and fresh,” she says. The menu mixes classic dishes like Braised Beef Short Ribs, and “quirky” dishes, like the Crispy Apple-Bacon Fritters. What Walusis really hopes is that Nibbles will be known for the quality and flavor of its desserts, adding that there will always be a chocolate dessert on the menu. Due to the limited number of seats, reservations are recommended, which adds to the exclusivity of the restaurant. However, walk-ins are welcome. 105 S. Second St., Miamisburg. (Enter from the parking lot on the First St. side.) 937-802-0891, eatnibbles.com.

Jay’s Seafood

For 39 years, Jay’s Seafood Restaurant has been family owned and operated, and plans to stay that way. Customers can utilize Jay’s new valet service on Friday and Saturday evenings, enjoy Jay’s wine and beer dinners, or take a drink at the 32-foot mahogany bar for which Jay’s is known. “We’ve always offered fresh, quality food, paired with a genuine staff that has been with me and my family for years,” says Amy Haverstick, owner of Jay’s Seafood Restaurant. In fact, around 50 percent of Jay’s staff has been with the restaurant for 30 years or more. One of the newer members to the staff is the chef. Haverstick says Chef Matt Klum, who has been with Jay’s for two years, has been adding a lot of new and fresh ideas to the menu. One of the popular chef specials is the Spiced Bourbon Salmon over a horseradish mashed potato and sweet potato puree with a housemade bourbon sauce. “We make everything in-house,” she says, “even our desserts.” 225 E. Sixth St., Dayton. 937-222-2892, jays.com.

Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery

Located in the heart of the Oregon District, Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery is a community-driven establishment that was welcomed into the downtown family approximately four years ago. Nearby restaurants and bars all have a common theme of helping others when needed and delivering the highest level of customer service. Lucky’s specifically focuses on providing a comfortable eating experience to their wide variety of customers. Whether you’re a University of Dayton student looking to leave campus or a vegan wanting to try something new, Lucky’s appeals to all. Expanding from your typical bar menu, Lucky’s vamped its list of options to “glorified bar food,” says Landon McKibben, manager of Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery. Purchasing the food from Dayton area farms and dairies, Lucky’s adamantly strives to keep it local. With the restaurant’s fresh ingredients, a crowd favorite would be, but is not limited to, the Avocado & Goat Cheese BLT. However, customers also enjoy the specials offered every day. Who doesn’t love tacos on a Tuesday? This one-of-a-kind establishment provides a casual atmosphere, fresh food, local beer and great people to enjoy your time with, who will always encourage you to “stay for one more beer.” 520 E. Fifth Street, Dayton. 937-222-6800, luckystaproom.com.

Peach’s Bar & Grill

Located at the junction of U.S. Route 68 and the Little Miami Scenic Trail, Peach’s Bar & Grill is the place to kick back, relax, listen to music and get a drink. “It’s good beer and good food,” says Mandi Boop, manager of Peach’s Bar & Grill. She suggests the spinach artichoke dip or the Mediterranean pita platter for light eats, although Peach’s has a variety of Mexican-influenced selections, too. Established in 1997, Peach’s Bar & Grill used to have a drive-thru, but remodeled in 2003, opening up space for a larger bar area. “Most people know us for our craft beers,” she says. “We have 21 craft beers and three domestic.” The establishment is also known for having live bands, as well as Open Mic Night, Clean Gene’s Midweek scene, Trivia with Tod and other special events. 104 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs. 937-767-4850, peachsgrill.com.

The Golden Lamb

Named “the most iconic hotel in Ohio,” the 18-room full-service hotel also has a restaurant that Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was rumored to have been to, twice. “People say that Colonel Sanders sat down with the head chef of The Golden Lamb at the time,” says Ben Toney, executive chef of The Golden Lamb. “After trying our fried chicken, Colonel Sanders came back to get the recipe, and not too long after, KFC’s original spice chicken came on the market.” Opening in 1815, The Golden Lamb serves an estimated 1,000 diners per week. “Tradition and history are rich here,” he says. The Golden Lamb has a constantly evolving menu, with monthly and weekly specials. “It’s the friendliest place to do business in Lebanon,” says Chef Toney. “I like to say that it’s Paula Deen-meets-Alton Brown, so, food scientist mixed with southern hospitality.” 27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon. 513-932-5065, goldenlamb.com.

Wheat Penny Oven & Bar

In a casual, high-energy environment, customers will find a quote that says, “Stress does not exist in the presence of pizza,” painted on the wall of the Wheat Penny Oven & Bar. However, the secret to this restaurant’s California-style pizzas starts in its dough, which is proofed three to four days, is made with 100-plus-year-old yeast and ends with toppings. “It’s crispy on the outside and the inside is tender,” says Liz Valenti, chef and pizzaiolo of Wheat Penny. The pizza menu usually has 10 to 12 pizzas on it, like Taylor Street and Madame Butterfly, though customers can create their own, too. “Even though we are a pizza-centric restaurant, it’s not all we do,” she says. Wheat Penny also has salads, sandwiches, pastas and desserts, with offerings for customers needing vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, too. The best part is that Wheat Penny uses the freshest ingredients when possible, because it is committed to locally sourced and quality ingredients. “It gives us the capacity to be spontaneous with our menu,” Valenti says. 515 Wayne Ave., Dayton. 937-496-5268, wheatpennydayton.com.

The Florentine

With nearly 200 years of history hanging in picture frames and the title of the second oldest inn and restaurant in Ohio, this place could only be The Florentine Restaurant. It even has the original flooring. “It’s kind of like stepping back in time. You ask yourself, ‘What has gone on here in the past 200 years?’” says Christy Jones, manager and consultant at The Florentine. Truth is, a lot has happened, including visits from famous faces and even presidents. Jones says that while the inn is no longer running, The Florentine is still a destination. “We are a fine dining American fare facility with a dining side, a tavern side and a grand staircase in the middle,” she says. “We are famous for our orange roughy.” The orange roughy is a fish that comes either pan-fried or beer battered. The Florentine is also known for quality service. “We are very familiar with our customers,” she says. “We pride ourselves on knowing our customers’ names.” 21 W. Market St., Germantown. 937-855-7759, florentine-restaurant.com.

Greenfire Bistro

When Art Chin switched from Asian-inspired Chin’s Ginger Grill to Greenfire Bistro, the chef and owner wanted to broaden not only the bistro’s menu, but also the clientele. “We remodeled and changed the name. It’s more upscale, drawing more of the younger crowd,” he says. The menu features many fresh catches, including halibut, snapper, grouper, swordfish and tuna. Chin says that one reason why he likes to cook fish is “the flavor profiles of fish are so different.” Chin adds that many of the regular clientele don’t even look at the menu anymore, choosing their entrée from a list of blackboard specials. “We treat everyone like they are in our home,” he says. A recent addition to Greenfire Bistro is Lock 15, a fish market, which was named after the canal lock 15 of the old Miami-Erie Canal in Tipp City. “You really couldn’t find a great piece of fresh fish north of I-70,” he says. “There is a market for it.” 965 W. Main St., Tipp City. 937-667-6664, greenfirebistro.com.

La Colombiana

People come from all over the Tristate to try La Colombiana’s authentic Colombian cuisine. It’s even considered one of Movoto’s Top 15 restaurants in Ohio that will blow your mind. Martin and Ana Rivera opened the restaurant in March 2014, wanting to fill a need for the cuisine that lacked representation in the area. They also wanted to educate customers on the Colombian culture through the food, music and décor of the restaurant. By celebrating the positives of the culture, guests can pull up a chair and enjoy family recipes like Carne Asada and the Pataconcitos, which have become “must try” dishes on La Colombiana’s menu. It’s like stepping into your mom’s or grandma’s kitchen: homemade, fresh and delicious. La Colombiana prides itself on being locally owned and operated, but also prides itself on customer interaction. Guests can expect to see Ana greeting customers like they are one of the family in this cozy destination restaurant. 2495 Commons Blvd., Beavercreek. 937-306-8096, lacolombiana.us.

El Meson

One of the first things El Meson wants to create for its customers is memories. “When you walk in, it’s architecturally unique, with bits and pieces of Hispanic culture,” says Bill Castro, co-owner of El Meson. With El Meson’s textures, colors, music and more, customers can step out of their own world and into a getaway vacation. “It’s the feeling like you are somewhere else, a destination where you are literally checking out,” says Castro. Many customers continue to come back to the restaurant, which for 36 years has served fresh, creative Hispanic cuisine. El Meson also enjoys introducing the culture to students of area schools. “It’s our way of sharing with students that understanding of what Hispanic culture is,” he says. “It has its own style, and through our school program, it has given us an opportunity.” 903 E. Dixie Drive, Dayton. 937-859-8229, elmeson.net.