First Four: Places to eat, drink, shop and play in Dayton

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

March Madness is in full swing and Dayton is right at the center of it as a host of first-round games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
For those visiting Dayton this week, here are some recommendations on the first places you should try. From grabbing a bite to eat or drink to exploring the area's entertainment and shopping scene, here's your guide to the First Four.


These destinations are all conveniently located close to the University of Dayton campus and arena and offer something unique.

Credit: Eric Wagner

Credit: Eric Wagner

1. Dewey’s Pizza
131 Jasper St., Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-223-0000

Dewey's menu features loads of creative specialty pies, seasonal salads and some of the finest craft beers from all over Ohio. Try Socrates Revenge or the Edgar Allen Poe.

2. Jimmie’s Ladder 11

936 Brown St, Dayton | Website| Facebook | Call 937-222-7072 
Stop by this renovated 1892 firehouse for some of the best sandwiches, appetizers and beer lists in town. Jimmie’s is famous for its laid-back vibe and its creative appetizers, including its Blind Dates and Paisano Chips.

Credit: Alex Perry

Credit: Alex Perry

3. Rusty Taco

1822 Brown St., Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-938-7384
If you’re looking for a quick bite, Rusty Taco offers freshly made street-style tacos from the traditional to the unexpected. If you have a few minutes to sit and relax, enjoy those tacos with a beer or margarita.

4. Coco’s Bistro

250 Warren St., Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-228-2626

Coco’s Bistro emerged from a desire to make approachable, delightful food in an elegant atmosphere. Guests can expect American fare with ingredients sourced from local vendors. The restaurant makes most of their breads, desserts and dressings in-house.




1. Century Bar

18 S. Jefferson St, Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-223-3382

A short drive from the UD campus to downtown, this historic bar features over 200 common and rare bottles of bourbon and whiskey. Its reputation as a go-to bourbon bar extends far beyond Dayton. The Century has been named one of America’s 100 Best Bourbon Bars by The Bourbon Review’s website.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

2. Warped Wing

26 Wyandot St., Dayton | 937-222-7003 | Website | Facebook

Dayton has tons of amazing options when it comes to local beer. But if you can only choose one, go with the people’s choice, and that’s Warped Wing. Just a short drive from the UD campus, the downtown Dayton brewery earned first-place our Best of Dayton “Best Brewery” category.

3. Elsa's

There are 5 area Elsa's locations: 1216 E. Stroop Rd.; 6318 Far Hills Ave., 6204 A Wilmington Ave., 3618 Linden Ave., and 1227 Wilmington Ave. Website | Facebook

Elsa’s is known for its classic margarita, The Bad Juan. The potent drink has been served here since 1979 and packs a punch.

The Bad Juan is also sold in supermarkets, local retailers and bars or restaurants in Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo.

Credit: Jim Witmer, Contributing Photographer

Credit: Jim Witmer, Contributing Photographer

4. Carillon Brewing Company

1000 Carillon Blvd. Dayton  | (937) 910-0722  |Website  | Facebook

Just across the river from UD Arena is Carillon Brewing Company, which celebrates Dayton’s brewing history. Try an Ale popular in the 1850s or a Sour Porter from 1862 that mixes light and dark malts. Visitors can watch the historic brewing process on site. The brewery also has a two vintage wines made with historical wine grape varieties.


Dayton is rich in culture — and these places prove it. If you have some time to take in some tourist attractions, here are four destinations



1. Dayton Art Institute

456 Belmonte Park N, Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-223-4278

A gem of the Gem City for 100 years, the Dayton Art Institute will entertain all levels of art enthusiasts. Tickets are: $15/adults, $10/military, group or seniors, $5 college students and youth, and free for children ages 6 and younger as well as museum members.

Credit: Carillion Historical Park via The New York Times

Credit: Carillion Historical Park via The New York Times

2. Carillon Historical Park

1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton | Website | Facebook

Carillon has it all. It is a museum, park, brewery and more, all in one. This landmark is the home of a Wright Brothers Flyer, the Deeds Carillon — the beautiful Dayton bell tower, a carousel and its newest attraction, the Brethren Tower, which offers a breathtaking view.



3. Scene 75

6196 Poe Ave, Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-619-3200

With wall-to-wall video games, go-karts, laser tag, food, drinks and classic arcade games all under one roof, this spot has everything you need for a good time.

4. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

1100 Spaatz St, Wright Patterson Air Force Base | Website | Facebook | Call 937-255-3286

Daytonians take great pride in their city's history, especially when it comes to the history of flight. At the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, you'll see first-hand why Dayton is known as the "Birthplace of Aviation."


Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

1. Heart Mercantile

601 E. Fifth St., Dayton | Website | Facebook | Call 937-250-6020

If you’re looking for a place to get Dayton-centric gifts, Heart Mercantile is a must. The boutique features clothing, home goods, local/homemade items, jewelry and more.

2. Flyer Spirit

1200 Brown St #145, Dayton | Website | Call 937-229-3454

In Flyer country, this has to be on your list of places to shop. This place is stocked with apparel, accessories, gifts, and more — all emblazoned with the UD logo and perfect for boasting your UD pride to the world.

3. The Greene

4452 Buckeye Lane, Beavercreek | Website | Facebook

Looking for a bigger shopping experience? Hop on Route 35 to 675 South and one exit south you will find The Greene, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex. You will find a little something for everyone here. The Cheesecake Factory, The Pub, Bar Louie, a movie theater, Von Maur department store, Ulta, Nordstrom Rack, Books & Co. and more.

4. Grace Lane Boutique

133 E. Fourth St., Dayton |Website| Call 937-903-2729

Grace Lane aims to take the guesswork out of shopping for ethical fashion. Their mission is to give back to those in need in the U.S. and around the world.

“We carry a carefully curated selection of ethical, fair trade, and sustainable brands from all over the world. Whether it’s handmade by women in India using the proceeds to pay for education for girls in their country or crafted by a local artisan born and bred in the Dayton area, each garment tells a story,” states Grace Lane website.