This year saw the expansion of Nanya Café — the region’s only Ethiopian restaurant — to a much larger space at 6129 N. Dixie Drive. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF
Photo: AMELIA ROBINSON
Photo: AMELIA ROBINSON

A year of blessings for Dayton diners

With a new year upon us, now is the time to be reflective and grateful.

The start of 2019 will be a renewal and a time to look forward to new dining adventures. But first, let’s look back and reflect on all of the things to be grateful for.

Here is my short list of some of the Dayton foodie blessings of 2018:

MORE WORLD FLAVORS

This is my No. 1 item to give thanks for.

This year saw the expansion of Nanya Café — the region’s only Ethiopian restaurant — to a much larger space at 6129 N. Dixie Dr.

This year, we also welcomed Bar Granada, a fantastic Spanish tapas bar (www.bardayton.com) as well as Calypso Grill and Smokehouse (https://www.calypsogrill.net), a Yellow Springs restaurant serving up authentic Latin-Caribbean cuisine.

Olive Mediterranean Grill (www.olivedayton.com ) moved from the building that Nanya Café moved into, opting for a much larger space on Third Street in downtown Dayton. Taste of the World (www.tasteoftheworldohio.com/index.html), the restaurant developed by Fuyao Glass America at Encrete Lane and Fuyao Avenue outside the auto-glass plant in Moraine, opened at the very end of 2017, but really hit its stride this year.

>>Dayton’s best Mediterranean restaurant open in its new home downtown

These are the type of restaurants we would have ordinarily traveled miles to find. I’m only hoping to see much more of this trend in 2019. These new additions have really helped strengthen the dining landscape in Dayton.

Salar restaurant, located at 400 E. Fifth St. in the Oregon District, reopened in the fall of 2018 after a devastating fire this time last year. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF
Photo: Contributing Writer

SALAR REOPENING

“We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us rejoin Dayton’s culinary scene,” Margot Blondet, owner and executive chef of Salar Restaurant and Lounge, said as a part of a press release in late September. “Everyone involved in reopening this labor of love has worked extremely hard to get us cooking again. We’re back with renewed energy and creativity as we provide the city’s residents and visitors a beautiful restaurant to gather with family, friends and colleagues to create new memories.”

>>‘We’re Back’: Restaurant owner announced plans to reopen 8 months after devastating fire

The restaurant located at 400 E. Fifth St. in the Oregon District reopened this fall after a devastating fire this time last year. They were a big part of the local restaurant scene, and I am one of many fans thrilled to see them back. Visit http://salarrestaurant.com for more information.

Branch & Bone Artisan Ales’ flavorful creations are inspired by European traditions and modern American eccentrics. STAFF FILE PHOTO
Photo: Contributing Writer

NEW BREWERIES

The craft beer market in the Dayton area has exploded within the past three years. In fact, the Dayton region has the most breweries per capita in Ohio. There are 14 craft breweries in the Greater Dayton area, including Middletown and Springfield.

New breweries to the scene in 2018 have made a wonderful first impression. Branch & Bone Artisan Ales (www.branchandboneales.com) offers flavorful creations inspired by European traditions and modern American eccentrics. Xenia’s Devil Wind Brewing (http://devilwindbrewing.com) offers a full slate of European ales and lagers — specifically German — as well as innovative and newer American styles of beers.

The locally owned, independent EPIC Coffee Shoppe hosted its soft opening on Saturday, July 14 in Kettering and will open to the public on Monday, July 16. The new business is located at 22 W. Stroop Road in the Castle Hills retail center across from Town & Country Shopping Center. MARK FISHER / STAFF PHOTO

GETTING HIP

The hip, stunning decor at Kettering’s EPIC Coffee Shoppe (www.epiccoffeeshoppe.com) at 22 W. Stroop Road in Castle Hills Shopping Plaza gives you a big city experience in a small town. A variety of stylish seating options are available to relax in while enjoying many items including coffees, sandwiches, salads, pastries, organic teas and ice cream.

>>Locally-owned & independent EPIC Coffee Shoppe in Kettering is now open

It’s exciting to walk into new restaurants and businesses in town that are putting out a happening vibe and spending as much time thinking about the setting as they are the menu.

Gem City Catfe will celebrate its grand opening on January 2nd, 2018. The coffee shop and cat adoption center is located at 513 E. Fifth St. in the St. Anne’s Hill neighborhood.
Photo: Kara Driscoll

CATS!

Cats may not be for everyone, but they are for me — and the same holds true for coffee. So when The Gem City Catfe (www.gemcitycatfe.com) opened combining the two, I was in heaven. Their maple turmeric latte is fantastic and a stellar drink to enjoy while basking in the cat lounge. Pet therapy is a thing, and this is a great place to get it served up with a shot of espresso.

>>Dayton’s first cat cafe opens

David and Elizabeth Furst opened Santa Clara Juicery to help revitalize the neighborhood. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

THE SANTA CLARA JUICERY

Once known as a thriving art district, The Santa Clara community has experienced an extreme decline. In partnership with E2 Urban Redevelopment and the Santa Clara Foundation, the Santa Clara Juicery (www.santaclarajuicery.com) opened this year with the vision to be a part of helping revitalize the neighborhood. They offer raw, organic, pressed juices, smoothies, smoothie bowls, vegan snacks, coffee and tea. Whether you’re looking for a cleanse special or a supplement to your diet, they have a choice here for you. Some of the proceeds go toward helping support the neighborhood and local non-profits.

>>Dayton has a new juicery and its owners hope it will be first step in revitalizing neighborhood

Flyboys Deli owner Steve Crandell inside his new Bevercreek restaurant. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

FLYBOY’S SECOND LOCATION

The Flyboy’s Deli (www.flyboysdeli.com) slogan is “Eat like you are in New York City, while never leaving Dayton.” This year, this terrific sandwich shop opened its second location outside of the main mall entrance at The Mall at Fairfield Commons. It’s great to see an independent business expanding in such a major way, and we could always use stronger deli options in town.

A sneak peek inside the Dayton area's newest Elsa's location, opening in summer 2018. The new Elsa's Corner Cantina in Sugarcreek Plaza on Wilmington Pike promises not to be like your parents' Elsa's. Expect a modern look, a patio and Bad Juan's on tap as part of the special features. MARK FISHER/STAFF
Photo: Mark Fisher

ELSA’S CORNER CANTINA

Elsa’s Corner Cantina, which opened this summer in the Sugarcreek Plaza off Wilmington Pike, is the fifth Elsa’s to open and is a much more open, modern version of the beloved Dayton Mexican restaurant. The Bad Juans are on tap and the menu still has all of the favorites you know and love. When it comes to fast and cheap Mexican food, this is a favorite of mine and it’s exciting to see them doing well enough to expand. Visit www.elsas.net/mobi/locations/corner-cantina.html for more information.

>>New Elsa’s Corner Cantina gears up for opening

Now it’s your turn! If there are items you’re excited about from last year or looking forward to this year, shoot me a message. In the meantime, I wish you a joyous and Happy New Year and look forward to exploring the world of local dining with you in 2019.

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