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Jan 15, 2010 04:51 PM

Dayton Area - Seeking Affordable Non-chain Restaurants

Moved here from SF, and am dying for quality food at an affordable price. I know there must be some gems out there...

Not at all into chain type places... generally find the food less than inspiring, although I did have a beautiful sandwich at Panera once...

I'd like to be able to find a dinner entree for around $10 to $12 or less...

does not have to be a high end place, but does need to have well prepared dishes that are not run of the mill.

pork chop with pumpkin risotto, or maybe chicken breast seared with a mango cinnamon glaze, a frittata of some type... am I dreaming here?

Maybe some decent Indian, Vietnamese, or Chinese (not a buffet full of deep-fried, sweet and butter soaked items) food...

I am not interested in places in Cincinnati or Columbus - need to find local eats.

Really want to find a collection of decent affordable places that I can go out to regularly after work or when running errands or just want to go grab a bite.

Was told about Taqueria Mixteca on 3rd, have it from a Mexican woman that it actually is authentic Mexican, unlike all these places with the foot high letters claiming to be "authentic" and missing the mark. I really miss good south of the border food, so going there in the next day or so.

Prefer international and eclectic/fusion type places, but wonder if much exists in this area... not much for steak/ribs/hamburgers which seems to be the default here.

I am good with going as far as Yellow Springs, Tipp City area, Eaton and Middletown.

Any guidance appreciated.


Taqueria Mixteca
1609 E 3rd St, Dayton, OH 45403

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  1. Give Meadowlark a try. We think it is very good.

    1. Chin's Ginger Grille in Tipp City claims Asian Fusion as their main focus. Also in Tipp, there is Harrison's and Coldwater Cafe, who both have nice-sized menus.

      Fairborn has several Asian restaurants. Here are a couple.

      Chin's Ginger Grill
      965 W Main St, Tipp City, OH 45371

      106 E Main St, Tipp City, OH 45371

      Seoul House
      1864 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Fairborn, OH 45324

      Saya Korean & Japanese Restaurant
      1030 Kauffman Ave, Fairborn, OH 45324

      Coldwater Cafe & Catering
      19 E Main Street, Tipp City, OH 45371

      1. We love Meadowlark in the southern part of Dayton (on 725 near the Dayton Mall), but their entrees for dinner will probably be above the cap you listed (10 - 12). Same with the Winds in Yellow Springs, and Rue Domain on 725 south of town; great food, but entrees more like $15 - 20.

        Taqueria Mixteca is very good, and two people can eat for less than $15, although there is no ambiance. Tsao's Chinese on the corner of Grange Hall and Colonel Glenn is very good and probably right about your price point.

        Actually, in the $10-12 dollar range, your best bets are Vietnamese (both Linh's on Col Glenn and Little Saigon on Woodman are very good; I like different things at each), Korean (Saya in Fairborn), or maybe Christophers? Christophers is on Woodman in Kettering and might work for you.

        The week of 24-29 Jan is Restaurant Week in Dayton, and three course meals will be available at many locations for $20.10. You may want to check out a few (you'll need reservations) at

        Good luck to you, and report back. Unfortunately, at the price point you specified, outside of a few ethnic places, the only thing I think Dayton does well is barfood (burgers, sandwiches, etc.) I have a bunch of recommendations for those places, but that's not what you asked for :-)

        6 Replies
        1. re: Niki in Dayton

          Niki, what do you like at Linh's? I just went to Little Saigon for the first time last month (which I enjoyed), but haven't made it up to Linh's yet.

          1. re: motownjunk

            The spicy chicken pho (can't remember the correct name and don't have a menu with me right now) and the vermicelli salad with pork are what we usually order; plenty of food for two with some left over. At Little Saigon, I love the duck pho (weekends only), the fresh spring rolls (I like them better at LS than Linh's), and I LOVE the sweetpotato and shrimp appetizer (it's fried sweetpotato and shrimp pieces, which are eaten wrapped in lettuce, cilantro, and thai basil, and dipped in sauce).

          2. re: Niki in Dayton

            Niki, Would love to hear your take on the best burgers in town. I'd like to avoid the loud pub scene, but willing to endure a noise assault once in a while if the burger is superb.

            1. re: runabout

              There's a place called the Hamburger Wagon in Miamisburg that my husband loves; I've never been (full disclosure: he's the one with the burger jones; I usually order something else).

              Every Friday, the Dayton Daily News publishes GO, which is an enterainment guide. They had the "best of Dayton" as voted by readers in the 22 Jan edition. Hamburger Wagon was the best burger; Geez Pub was number 2, and Tank's was number 3. We'd never been to Geez Pub (it's on Far Hills, AKA SR 48, behind Caribou Coffee in Washington Township), so we went there for lunch on Saturday. He loved the burger, which was huge (7 oz), cooked to specifications (medium rare) and served on a toasted bun. I got a chicken parm sandwhich which was also very good. Both were served with potato chips; he asked for onion rings for $1 more, but they weren't worth the calories so we didn't eat them.

              He likes the burgers at Tanks (on Wayne Ave) and Tanks, by the way, was voted best breakfast by that same reader's poll in the DDN. Tanks' has the best fried mushrooms I've ever tasted; again, that's one of my husband's things and I don't usually eat them, but the ones at Tanks' are dipped and fried to order and are very, very good. DH also likes the burgers at Clancy's on Burkhardt, close to Taco Loco.

              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                I 2nd Tank's, also has really good fries.

            2. re: Niki in Dayton

              Went to Little Saigon, everyone was very pleased with their meal. I have heard many people say it is a dive - I would not call it a true dive, low end carpet, bad chairs and a weird mix of very nice lights and cheap pictures - but nice white table clothes and fresh flowers on the table and the service was very good. On the return list for sure.

            3. Thanks for the current round of replies. I have added your suggestions to my list. The Restaurant Week is a good tip. Will see if there is someplace I can take mom to and check out.

              I really like Asian food, which, I guess is good given what has been said. Not averse to burgers and good pub food once in a while is nice.

              Feel free to keep posting tips.

              Anybody know of THE website to get / write reviews on Miami Valley restaurants? Is this the best place to do that or is there another site that is pretty well entrenched in restaurant reviewing?

              Thanks much

              8 Replies
              1. re: runabout

       has restaurant reviews, but the majority of them are from Mark Fisher, who is the food and wine columnist for the Dayton Daily News (DDN is affiliated with ActiveDayton, I believe). Mark also has a restaurant blog called Taste that is available from the DDN website, and focuses more on openings, closings, etc. The reader comments on that blog are, umm, interesting, and won't give one the best (or most accurate) impression of Daytonians. As for user reviews, I haven't found anything better than Chowhound for the Dayton area.

                1. re: runabout

                  Urbanspoon has a restaurant review site that I have been using - mostly contributing - as a number of folks write something like "great food at great prices" or the best in town or something else equally, well, useless... no why it it great, best etc for many of them.

                  There are a few of us that will actually post a few paragraphs and one pro reviewer that writes a ton, perhaps a bit too much cause I rarely actually read the entire post.

                  It doesn't seem like chow gets a lot of reviews written on local restaurants... maybe I am just not finding them...

                  I joined a group called Dayton Dining or something like that, they have a tab for happy hour deals, specials, and a few other things. Suppose to be for foodies, so I was surprised to see listings for the Sonic fast food burger chain... is it really a high quality burger or just a throw back to the 50's drive in with run of the mill low quality burgers?

                  I have been checking out some of the more affordable international cuisines, love both Mixteca and Taco Loco. Also had a nice lunch meal in a pretty setting out at Twin Creek Tea Room in West Alex.

                  Also liked Tik's Thai right across from WSU in that shopping center - the entrance closest to the 675/Fairfield Rod end of campus.

                  Going to Amber Rose Saturday night. Decided to do a 1x a month trip to a place in the $15-$25 entree range, so long as my budget can handle it...

                  Thanks much!

                  1. re: runabout

                    I've never been to a Sonic so can't comment on their food. The ladies I work with go there, and seem to like some kind of icecream drink, I think. I've never been to Tik's Thai, either, but will remedy that ASAP! I love Thai, but so far, Bahn Mai Thai south of town on 725 has been my favorite; not crazy about Thai 9 at all. How was Amber Rose? I've enjoyed it in the past, but haven't been for ages.

                    1. re: Niki in Dayton

                      Niki, Someone else mentioned Bahn Mai Thai as excellent as well, so that is on the list. I have read a wide variety of reviews on Thai 9, guess I'll just have to check myself and see what I think. Don't like what I read about horribly uncomfortable chairs. SF has a (well a couple) of Thai restaurants (mini chain of 3 locations I think) that has really wonderful food, contemporary stuff, beautiful presentation, but I am always uncomfortable in those chairs and that just spoils the meal!

                      Amber Rose - loved the ambiance and the low appropriate rumble from the bar side. Our waitress was absolutely wonderful, fun, flirty and just happy. I had their special of apple and pear stuffed chicken and it was very lovely, but the green beans were a rubbery bland mess and the spaetzle was lacking in flavor and part of it was chilled and part was semi-warm so that was odd and unsatisfying. The perogies were reported to be very good (from a Polish woman) but the cabbage rolls and the sausage were both reported to be bland. We agreed we would each go back, but only if someone else really wanted to go. It was quiet enough to talk easily, but loud enough to have a vibe to it. Might go and make an appetizer evening out of it...

                    2. re: runabout

                      The novelty of Sonic exceeds the food at Sonic. They have fun drink combinations and decent desserts. The food, itself, is fast food quality. They do have tater tots, though.
                      Three bar/grills that have very good burgers are Slyder's in Belmont, O'Leary's in Centerville and Murray's in Kettering. And, going back to Tipp Cuty, there is a really good family restaurant called Tipp O The Town that has some great burgers as well as the best vegetable beef soup I've ever had.

                      Up in Urbana, there's a pretty sizable buffalo ranch. If you're in areas like Springfield and Urbana, be on the lookout for Buffalo burgers. They do have them at Bullwinkle's in Miamisburg if you don't want to venture East.

                      1. re: Fibber McGee

                        Sonic's burgers aren't very good. (I was gonna say they suck, but I didn't want to have this deleted from the board).

                        Another good burger is the burger at Flannigan's Pub on Stewart St. near UD. I like it better than Tank's,and Tank's is really good. Flanningan's fries aren't hand cut like Tank's, they're regular frozen crinkle cut fries, but they are really good. They fry them fresh for each order. Nothing worse than fries that have been sitting around awhile.

                        1. re: jackrugby

                          Flannigans is pretty close to me, may give that a whirl on a non-big sports event night... Tanks has good fries, good to know. Thanks and I'll order something besides a burger when I do end up at Sonic...

                        2. re: Fibber McGee

                          Hearing lots about places in Tipp City - sounds like that might be a good place to hang out for food... I guess I will give Sonic a whirl and see what the novelty is, just to say I have been. Heard lots of good about Slyders, so may need to duck in there. Not a big burger eater, but when I do, I want them old fashioned homestyle thick juicy tasty things...Thanks for all the info.

                    3. For Indian try Jeet India on Col. Glen Hwy. across from Wright State, Amar India across 725 from the Dayton Mall or the Chatt Cafe on 725 across from the old Saturn dealer. For Thai and Sushi try Thai 9 in the Oregon District. These places maybe outside your price range, but Jeet and Amar both have lunch buffets for under $10. And Chatt Cafe you can get out for between $10-15.