CHEF’S PICK: The best dishes to try at 18 local restaurants

Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s “Burger Week” may be ending soon, but the featured restaurants participating in the promotion will still be putting out some great dishes long after it ends.

>> Sneak peek at mouthwatering Burger Week menus

When I dine out, I like to ask the experts what menu items are worth trying.

What’s under the radar? What is the menu item that is your unsung hero? What do you recommend? What’s your favorite thing to eat on the menu?

Sometimes you can be steered wrong, but asking a question of your server or bartender to discover information will almost always work in your favor.

Burgers are great, but you can only have so many of them without requiring a break, and with this week wrapping up I’m craving something other than red meat.


I asked MVRA’s Burger Week restaurants where to look on their menus for inspiration and got a lot of really great ideas for what to order the next time I’m back. Here’s what they had to say.


1400 Valley St., Dayton

937-228-2511 or

Dish to try: Homemade Pot Roast — slow-cooked tender and flavorful with smashed Yukon gold potatoes and fresh vegetables.

My response: I can personally vouch for this dish. I’ve had it many times over the course of many years, and it has always been deeply satisfying.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Amber Rose restaurant gets a makeover


8880 Meeker Road, Dayton

937-890-3261 or

Dish to try: A tribute to the Buckhorn Tavern California restaurant that closed, we present the Green Chile Burger, a half-pound ground beef, roasted green chiles and poblano peppers, pickled red onions. The irony is this is the award-winning burger on Food Network and Bobby Flay's throwdown from California and New Mexico.

My response: Owner Debbie Vanderhule has a fantastic sense of humor. After a local website mistakenly ran a story that the Buckhorn Tavern, which has been running strong since 1981 had closed, Vanderhule has tried to turn lemons into lemonade and this is the sweetest twist yet. A spicy, flavorful inspired burger that screams — “we’re open!!” — for a mere $9.


19 N. Main St., Miamisburg

937-859-7677 or

Dish to try: Downtown Mac & Cheese. Five, yes FIVE cheeses with a little onion and bacon made from scratch with penne noodles.

My response: You had me at five cheeses.


893 E. National Road, Vandalia

937-890-8899 or

Dish to try: Bunker's Walleye Sandwich.

My response: That’s the extent of what they gave me, but one look at this monster in person and you can see why it was recommended. It’s like a fish frisbee sticking off the bun on all sides to the extent that you may think they delivered a pork tenderloin sandwich to the wrong table. Just know, they didn’t. If you love fish, this is the sandwich for you.


1106 Brown St., Dayton

937-985-9917 or

Dish to try: The cinnamon crunch French toast. House blend organic coconut oil cinnamon and sugar grilled for a slight crispness on both sides.

My response: I feel a breakfast in my future.


7880 Washington Village Drive, Dayton

937-439-9200 or

Dish to try: Fried chicken. Marinated for 24 hours, hand-battered and fried to order. Chappy's Fried Chicken is served with cornbread or a roll and comes in original recipe, Cajun fried for a little spice or Nashville Hot.

My response: Chappy’s is known for their fried chicken and for good reason. It’s fantastic. Go with the Nashville Hot — it’s warm, crispy and delightful.


250 Warren St., Dayton

937-228-2626 or

Dish to try: Bourbon Street Salad. Mixed greens, Bourbon glazed shrimp, Applewood smoked bacon, fontana, toasted pecan vinaigrette, spicy onion straws.

My response: This is a really great salad, one of my favorites. I was glad to see it make the list.


1818 Brown St., Dayton

937-222-7666 or

Dish to try: Quesadillas.

My response: Not the loaded tots??? OK, I’ll have both then.


5531 Far Hills Ave., Centerville

937-434-4750 or

Dish to try: Mediterranean Spiced Lamb Pita Sandwich. Spice-crusted, slow-roasted lamb breast is sliced and tucked into warm pita bread for a savory, satisfying sandwich, dressed generously with cucumber, tomato, cilantro and yogurt. So good. Served with fries or vinaigrette-dressed greens. Sub a grilled chicken breast instead of lamb to make a dynamite Chicken Pita Sandwich.

My response: Chef Wiley… I need this in my life!


495 N. Main St., Springboro

937-806-3105 or

Dish to try: Avocado Goat Cheese BLT. Our signature house avocado goat cheese spread, peppered bacon, lettuce and tomatoes served on our baked farmhouse sourdough bread.

My response: This is music to my ears. A summer sandwich that is hearty enough to fill you up but light enough not to overwhelm you.


1443 N. Detroit St., Xenia

937-372-3202 or

Dish to try: Nick's Reuben. House-made, slow-simmered corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and creamy thousand island all on a locally sourced fresh marbled rye bread.

My response: This is another one that I can vouch for. Between this and Nick’s wings, I feel a visit in my future.


6024 Rip Rap Road, Huber Heights

937-236-4329 or

Dish to try: Our Rip Rap Cheesy Tater Burger is unique to the Roadhouse. There is a 1/2 lb. black Angus choice beef burger, covered with 1/4 lb. smoked pulled pork, a scoop of cheesy potatoes instead of a bun, covered in cheese sauce, and sprinkled with bacon bits. Served with fries.

My response: Wowzas. I may need to see my doctor after eating this, but I’ll do what I must in the way of research.


4439 E. Franklin St., Bellbrook

937-848-7676 or

Dish to try: Turkey Balls. A homemade savory blend of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, lightly coated with panko bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown and served with turkey gravy.

My response: These are seriously fantastic. So delicious. If you haven’t ever had them before you are in for a serious treat. Go. Now.


400 E. Fifth St., Dayton

937-203-3999 or

Dish to try: Seared Mahi Mahi served with a creamy tomato basil sauce, grilled asparagus and Yukon potato and leek puree.

My response: Salar Chef and owner Margot Blondet knows flavor. Her dishes sing off the plate and this one is no exception.


250 W. Main St., Enon

937-864-5011 or

The restaurant response: Poor Man's Grouper. Under the radar at The Dock.

My response: I would argue it’s their lobster bisque, but clearly I need to head back and revisit this fish sandwich.

>> 10 restaurants as famous for their mood as their food


21 W. Market St., Germantown

937-855-7759 or

Dish to try: The unsung hero on The Florentine's menu is the Orange Roughy. The Orange Roughy has a mild, delicate flavor and is available as an entrée cooked either pan-fried or beer-battered, and also available as a sandwich served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and housemade tartar sauce.

My response: If you are not a fish eater, their Burger Week featured burger is a staple menu item. The mushroom and Merlot burger topped with a reduction of … you guessed it and topped with Swiss cheese. That said, if you eat fish this is a pretty sterling recommendation.


3725 Presidential Drive, Beavercreek

937-369-0058 or

Dish to try: Blue Jacket Fried Cheese Curds.

My response: There aren’t enough fried cheese curds for my taste. I’m all in on this one.


515 Wayne Ave., Dayton

937-496-5268 or

Dish to try: Grilled shrimp, broccolini and peppers with polenta. Grilled with the vegetables, tumbled over polenta parmigiana and garnished with lemon oil and a drizzle of salsa verde, this is a "shrimp and grits" your mama never dreamed of.

My response: SOLD! I love everything about this description and I can’t wait to try it.

>> Wheat Penny chef and co-owner is ‘proud to say Dayton is my adopted home’


I hope you are feeling as inspired as I am. And mark your calendars now for MVRA’s Wing Week presented by Heidelberg happening July 11-18 and MVRA’s Summer Restaurant Week presented by Morgan Services happening July 19-26.

About the Author