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Looking for REAL food on I-75 in Ohio

Well, it's holiday time, which means it's time for my wife and I to head up to Michigan to see our families. Normally, I try to schedule the trip to time it just right to be in Ann Arbor at lunch or dinnertime to enjoy a stop at Zingerman's Deli or Roadhouse. (I guess that makes me a bit of a Hound!) However, that approach has been limiting, and I'll bet these towns we pass have some good options if only we knew where to look!

So, if anyone has ideas about interesting, quality, local places just off I-75 (this would be Middletown, Dayton, Troy, Sidney, Piqua, , Wapakoneta, Findlay, Bowling Green, Toledo, or anywhere inbetween!), I would LOVE to hear from you!

(For what it's worth, we will eat just about anything, so long as it meets these two critical criteria: the place must be local/non-chain, and the quality of the food must be excellent. It could be no-star or 5-star-- we'll pay for the experience!)

Thanks, Hounds!

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  1. There is a place in Sidney called The Spot that is a local landmark. It's a car-hop kind of place, famous for its pies and burgers. It's not gourmet, but a really cute little diner that has been around for as long as I remember. I live about an hour from there and people would go from my town to Sidney just for the pies! Tey have a website:
    http://www.thespottoeat.com/history.html

    Let us know where you end up going. i have to make that drive myself and I'm always looking for new ideas.

    1. Well, the Pine Club in Dayton is famous for their steak. Maybe 5-10 min east of I75 near the Univ. of Dayton. It's a real 50 yr old Frank Sinatra/Rat Pack kind of place with thick smoke, excellent martinis and long waits. Below is their web site. It's not cheap, figure $100 for 2 with 1 drink each. But, boy, is it worth it! They open at 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. and don't take reservations. Try the scalloped tomatoes and creamed spinach as well. As good as Peter Luger's in NYC IMO. http://www.thepineclub.com/index.asp?...

      The Winds Restaurant is in Yellow Springs about 30 miles east of Dayton, http://www.windscafe.com/. Not sure you want to make this much of a detour, but fits your requirements.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        The Pine Club is one of our favorites, and I can't wait to visit it again, now that the state-wide no-smoking ban went into effect Dec. 8.

        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          Ha! I'm headed back to Dayton/Springfield next week to see my parents. I have reservations for the Winds Cafe on Wednesday, the Pine Club on Thursday, and Jay's Seafood on Friday. Been out of town for nearly 10 years and every time I return I MUST eat at the Winds Cafe. That is the coolest little place on the planet IMHO. The food is always fantastic, it's got a great atmosphere, and it's so eclectic ( just like Yellow Springs ).
          The Pine Club is so neat to go to. An hour+ wait for a table is worth it once you get in that frame of mind. Then, of course, Jay's has the cool vibe going on as well with simple yet tasty seafood and a superb wine list.

          Ahhh, I can't wait for Monday to get here. Heh!

          1. re: lvmanager

            After 10 years away, I hope you won't be too disappointed. Although The Winds is still one of the better restaurants around Dayton, it's quality has decreased over the years. They now have a great wine shop though. And Jay's is not even worth trying anymore.

            But the Pine Club is as good if not better than ever. Viva la Pine Club

            1. re: boltz2000

              Actually, I think Jay's is getting better. I agree that they used to be great, then went downhill, but seem to be improving again. We were for my birthday and had a great meal with great service. I agree the Winds isn't what it used to be, though...perhaps some of the energy was drained with the opening of Meadowlark down by the Dayton mall?

              1. re: boltz2000

                See here's the thing -- I've heard from a couple people ( albeit they are not "foodies" ) that the Pine Club is not worth going to anymore. I simply can't believe it.

                The Winds Cafe, however, is a completely different animal. As I said, I've been back a few times and eaten at the WC every time as I feel it's a "must eat" place. For me, it's about more than just the food at that place.

                Same for Jay's. For me, it's more about memories of past dinners ( company plays a huge role in that ) than about the food. I'll agree that it's not cutting-edge food but the atmosphere and the memories take me to an altogether different place.

                Pine Club is supposed to be tomorrow night and seeing as how they don't take reservations, it's not set in stone. I'm on the fence about possibly heading to the Paragon. Anyone want to chime in during the next 24 hours? Heh.

                1. re: lvmanager

                  I'd go the Pine Club if I were you. I still love it, and now that it's smoke free, I'll love it even more. In fact, if we can squeeze it in this holiday season, we'll head over there, too. Nothing has changed, except that they went smoke-free a few days before the state law took effect on Dec 7th.

                  Cheers,
                  Niki

                  1. re: Niki in Dayton

                    I would agree that the Pine Club is still stellar. I'm wondering what the complaints might have been. It's the most truly consistent and superlative steakhouse in all my experience. We're hoping to make a trip there between Xmas and New Year's.

                    1. re: sudiepav

                      The verdict is in: We threw it all for a loop and went to the Oakwood Club, which was good but not great. However, I dearly miss good stewed tomatoes and they had some that were pretty tasty. I got a smoked salmon appetizer that was actually pretty good and the filet/lobster. The beef again was good but not great. I don't regret not going to the Pine Club as I figured that they are all pretty much the same. My dinner at the Winds was fantastic though. They had a great duck dish that they pulled off really well. Jay's is on the agenda for tomorrow night. We'll see how that works out.

                      Thanks everyone for the input!

          2. If Cincinnati is on your list, a must is Camp Washington Chili, where you can get a classic Cincinnati five-way and a cheese coney. They also have very good breakfasts (get goetta on the side).

            Heading north from downtown, get off 75 at Hopple Street (it exits left). Turn right off the exit, and Camp Washington Chili is right there at the first intersection.

            1. There's a place in Tipp City OH called the Coldwater Cafe, which is about a mile from I-75. It's exit 68, the OH571/Tipp City exit, which is three exits past the I-70 interchange north of Dayton. Turn east from the exit onto 571, and go one mile into town; it's on the north side of the street, at 35 W Main.

              They have an eclectic American menu, with yummy soups, sandwiches, salads, and entrees, all freshly made with high quality ingredients. They also have a good wine list. They're open at 11am Tues-Sat, and close around 9pm. Right down the street is Chinn's Oriental Cafe, and I hear it's good, but I haven't eaten there; I've been to Coldwater Cafe and really like it.

              Cheers,
              Niki

              1. wow, these are all great ideas, i agree w/ all of them. well except for the LUGERS comparison. heh.

                just to spread it out as who knows when you'll get hungry i'll add:

                for a true collegetown classic try MYLES PIZZA in bg.

                TONY PACKOS hungarian in toledo is another ohio classic.