DAYTON EATS: BBQ options to get you in the mood for summer, July 4th celebrations

The Fourth of July is the most popular day of the year for home cooks firing up the grill.

Summer and barbecues go hand in hand and the statistics bear that out. The National Retail Federation reports 87 percent of consumers plan to celebrate the holiday in 2023 and spend an average of $93.34 on food items. When asked how they would be celebrating the top answer far and wide was a cookout. It is estimated that 150 million hot dogs will be consumed to put the party in perspective.

For America’s 248th birthday party good food is a must. If you don’t have the time, interest or bandwidth to plan the menu there are spots that make it easy to order out and look brilliant when the guests walk through the door.

Whether you’re looking for good catering options for July 4th or another cookout or family picnic or you want to head out for some good All-American BBQ, here is a look at some of the best barbecue destinations in Dayton.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

City Barbeque

2330 N. Fairfield Road, Beavercreek


5 E. Franklin St., Centerville


2001 E. Dorothy Lane, Ketering

937- 200-1006

6549 Miller Lane, Dayton


City Barbeque is probably my favorite chain, and for good reason. This restaurant serves up nationally-recognized barbecue from pulled pork, to beef brisket and some seriously tasty made-from-scratch sides. The beef brisket is not to be missed. City Barbeque offers dine-in, carryout and catering services and is a family friendly, affordable destination known for giving back to non-profits. I recently enjoyed a City Barbeque meal with friends and a new acquaintance from Texas. He shared that he had done a Texas tour around the state of the 100 best barbecue spots over the course of several years and that this barbecue would make the list. High praise indeed.

Combs BBQ Central

2223 Central Ave., Middletown


Located just outside downtown Middletown, we discovered this hidden gem barbecue restaurant by accident one night long ago, attracted by its massive collection of neon signs glowing warmly in welcome and beckoning us.The collection taken as a whole feels like the appetizer to the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati. The Combs family who owns it also owns a sign shop in downtown Middletown, according to one of the servers we chatted up during our first visits. The business has a cool, nostalgic vibe with vintage and retro collectibles, instruments, art and signage adorning nearly every part of the walls. And did we mention the BBQ? This is food that’s worthy of a road trip.

Company 7 BBQ

1001 S. Main St., Englewood


Dayton isn’t alone in its love for Company 7 BBQ. At the end of 2022 the popular bar and restaurant was named one of the top Best BBQ restaurants in the USA by the National BBQ News Magazine. They were the only restaurant so honored in the entire state of Ohio. In fact, Company 7 BBQ was one of only 28 restaurants in the country to make the magazine’s “Best of the Best” list. This is the 12th year in a row that they have earned this honor for their championship quality barbecue.

Fatback’s Barbecue

1334 Linden Ave., Dayton

937 254-7427

Smoked ribs, pork, brisket and chicken are cooked up low and slow until the meat is perfectly tender and then served up with Memphis-style sauces. The pig art surrounding the walls is fun and the owners are incredibly proud of what they are doing. It shows.

Hickory Bar-B Que

1082 Brown St., Dayton


This gem located down the street from The University of Dayton gets packed during the dinner hours, so expect a wait. The BBQ chicken dinner ($17.25) and rib dinner ($24.75) don’t disappoint.

Hickory River Smokehouse

135 S. Garber Drive, Tipp City


This casual family destination located just off Interstate 75 serves up award-winning Texas barbecue and hearty sides. Serves lunch and dinner and offers drive-through service. All of the meat being served up is hand-rubbed with their signature spice blend and then smoked onsite over hickory wood. It’s all served with a special recipe barbecue sauce and a selection of sides.

KD’s Kettering BBQ

3911 Marshall Road, Kettering


KD’s Kettering BBQ was started in 2001 by Jimmy Keady who passed away in 2017, and it’s still going strong today. Spring for the broasted pork chops ($18.95) with broasted potato wedges, hot bacon slaw and corn casserole. You won’t be sorry.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

KungFu BBQ

4305 Delhi Dr., Dayton


Earlier this year the KungFu BBQ food truck opened a restaurant. That’s the good news. The bad news is, it’s located inside Area B at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. You must have access to the base to order from them as outside delivery is not available. So if you work on base congratulations on this awesome option. The rest of us have to wait until they announce a date they will be somewhere slinging BBQ out of their food truck. Mack’s Tavern in Centerville seems to be a regular thing, so check their social media if you want to have some of the best barbecue in town when they are out and about at events. You can also book the food truck for events and parties and can order catering from them. I’ve been hankering for some of their smoked Gochujang chicken, Kimchi fried rice and smoked brisket birria tacos. Anyone want to throw me a party?

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Smokin’ Bar-B-Que

200 E. 5th St., Dayton


You can’t beat this downtown spot that offers speedy take-out service and evening hours. It’s located at the grand entryway to the Oregon District across from the Neon Movies. The portions are generous and the meat is tender and delicious. They also have a pretty tasty burger.

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Turn to us every Sunday in Life & Arts for the latest menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes, and food adventures brought to you by contributing writer Alexis Larsen. Bon appetit!

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