- Alexis Larsen Contributing Writer
Here are our picks for Dayton restaurants to visit for great food, drinks to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style.
Why it rates: The tex-mex food is decent, but the quirky, colorful decor, fresh cocktails and awesome patio make it worth the trip. The Austin, Texas-based chain has been expanding across the county and seems to lately be focused on Ohio with a location at Austin Landing that just opened, a new restaurant in Madeira near Cincinnati and plans for a possible Beavercreek location. The food is reasonably priced, but they’ll get you on the drinks — the Perfect Margarita ($9.25) made with fresh lime juice, Patron Silver tequila and Patron Citronge liqueur and the Mexican Martini ($9.75) made with a green chile-infused El Jimador Silver Tequila and Cointreau and garnished with jalapeño-stuffed olives are both worth ordering.
903 E Dixie Drive, Dayton | 937-859-8229 | www.elmeson.net
Why it rates: The restaurant currently has a Cinco Cervezas Pints and Paella event going on that runs through May 5. Tickets are $35, which buys attendees a chance to taste five 8 oz. pours of five different, locally-crafted beers from Yellow Springs Brewery, Warped Wing Brewing Company, Toxic Brew Company, The Dayton Beer Company and Star City Brewing Company. The restaurant will have large paella pans set up on the new patio dishing out helpings. Guests will also be able to take home a complimentary tasting glass. If you don’t buy a ticket, there are always fresh-squeezed margaritas and exciting food options to celebrate the day.
Elsa’s Kettering Sports Grill — 1216 E. Stroop Road, Dayton | (937) 294-9210
Elsa’s East — 3618 Linden Ave., Dayton | (937) 252-9635
Elsa’s South — 6318 Far Hills Ave., Dayton | (937) 439-3897
Elsa’s on the Border — 1227 Wilmington Ave., Dayton | (937) 938-7372
Why it rates: Two words — Bad Juan. An aptly named margarita that becomes exponentially badder with each one ordered. The restaurant’s famous margarita is the one menu item that makes it worth the trip. The food’s fine, but this is a mean cocktail that makes everything you will eat for the next hour or two taste better.
>> 5 places to find great margaritas in the Dayton areaTACO LOCO
5392 Burkhardt Road, Riverside | (937) 254-6645
Why it rates: First of all the price is right. Secondly it’s delicious. It doesn’t look like much, but the food that awaits hungry diners inside of Taco Loco is tasty, authentic, delicious and worth checking out. The corn tacos piled with your choice of meat are authentic served up with cilantro, onions and lime and are reminiscent of California street food.
1609 E. Third St., Dayton | (937) 258-2654
2190 Shiloh Springs Road, Trotwood | 937-529-7535
Why it rates: Like Taco Loco, Taqueria Mixteca is inexpensive and tasty. The large burrito for $6.49 is large enough to feed two with leftovers, the authentic tacos are absolutely delicious and the guacamole ($2.99) is some of the best in town and an incredibly generous helping for the price. Honestly, this is a go-to place that almost never lets me down.
2330 N. Fairfield Road., Beavercreek | (937) 247-5450
5 E. Franklin St, Washington Township, | (937) 312-1350
Why it rates: We know -- City Barbeque on Cinco de Mayo? But hear us out: they just rolled out a BBQ-Tex-Mex mashup called TaQos. A TaQo is made by smoking brisket for 18 hours, mixing it with some secret sauces, smoking it again, then serving it with a smoked corn, tomato and chimichurri salsa on a grilled tortilla. We tried it and can attest: delicious!
2290 E. Dorothy Lane, Kettering | (937) 296-1111 | www.losreyes-mexicanrestaurant.com/
Why it rates: Los Reyes offers decent Mexican cuisine at a reasonable price. It should go without saying that you can enjoy a nice margarita as well.
2307 Valley Pike, Dayton | (937) 235-9970
Why it rates: Don’t be fooled by the exterior or the lack of social media presence: this spot is beloved by locals who know the quality of the food can’t be beat. Especially loved are the breakfast options, from the breakfast burrito (with a side of delicious gravy) or the perfectly cooked huevos rancheros. Whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you will leave perfectly satisfied.
CHIAPAS MEXICAN GRILL
298 N. Main St., Centerville | (937) 949-3390 | www.chiapasmexicangrill.com/
Why it rates: Dayton’s most recent Mexican addition has not disappointed so far – besides the four dishes we loved upon our first visit, (especially the pozole) we also recommend the verde enchiladas for those who love lots of cheese with a great kick. But really, we could eat a straight bowl of their refried beans and be completely happy.
ACAPULCO88 Xenia Towne Square, Xenia | (937) 374-0582 | www.acapulcomexres.com
Why it rates: Don’t be fooled by the strip mall environment. Acapulco transports you away from 35 and into a gustatory Tex-Mex paradise. If you’re like me and you love cheese and chorizo, then you must order the Chori-queso for the gooey, spicy, pepper-y dip of your dreams, perfect on a flour tortilla or honestly just licked up with a spoon. For huge portions, great combo platters for the indecisive diners and unique plates (try the Burrito California with steak, chorizo, pineapple and shrimp), Acapulco is worth the short drive east.
LAS PIRAMIDES 6290 Chambersburg Road, Huber Heights | (937) 235-8634 | www.laspiramidesdayton.com
Why it rates: When you’re in the mood for a frozen margaritas or some prime enchiladas, Las Piramides is your spot. Their fresh dishes are enhanced by the cheery and cantina-style ambiance and quality service at any time of the day or night. When you visit the Rose Music Center this summer, consider stopping by Las Piramides for a bite beforehand.
LA MICHOACANA #5 MEXICAN MARKET 748 Troy St., Dayton | (937) 220-9600 | www.michoacanamarket.com
Why it rates: Where else can you grab some delicious chorizo tortas, then buy the very same chorizo at the meat counter next door? La Michoacana is a true gem in the Gem City, a spot you’re surprised to find in the Midwest but are so happy you did. Any of their fajita skillets are worth an order, but the shrimp fajitas in particular are a real treat.
Why it rates: Voted by our readers as the best Mexican in town in our Best of Dayton contest, El Toro offers plenty of delicious options, from the seafood chimichangas, to “La Favorita” – tender grilled steak, shrimp, with caramelized onions and tortillas, rice and beans. And how can you resist a classic Flan for dessert? As with every Mexican place on this list, come with a heavy appetite or ready to split: portions are huge. Plus, with the amount of locations, you're bound to have an El Toro near you.