Loretta’s Country Kitchen (12 E. Pike St, Christiansburg) - Strawberry pie: Loretta’s is a drive, for sure. Located in Christiansburg, it’ll take about 45 minutes from downtown Dayton. But it’s a pretty drive, and waiting at the end of it will be a menu board, with a list of pies a mile long…all of them fresh and made in house. Loretta’s is a gem. Each day, you can choose from 15-20 plus pie options. This time of year, the pie to get is strawberry. I’ve never had strawberry pie that is better. Just crisp, flaky crust, and sliced strawberries, none of that fake goop that plagues fruit pies. I’ve been trying to make my way through the pie menu, and I can also heartily recommend the banana pie, and the chocolate peanut butter. While the pie deserves a ton a love, Loretta’s food is stellar too, so plan on lunch or dinner there if you make the trek.
Song’s Sushi & Korean (5515 Airway Road, Riverside): A relatively new kid on the block, Song’s opened up earlier this year near one of the most beloved ethnic spots in Dayton- Linh’s Vietnamese, home of the amazing pho and clay-pot rice. Song’s focuses on sushi and Korean. To be honest, I love Korean food so much, and they do it so well, that I haven’t explored the sushi menu yet. One of the best dishes is the addictive seafood pancake, crispy and filled with green onions, squid, shrimp and other fresh seafood, and served with a dark soy, sesame dipping sauce on the side.
Chappy’s (2733 W Alex Bell Rd, Moraine) - Chicken and Waffles: Chappy’s is well known as having some of the best bar food in Dayton, nay, Ohio, as well as a killer beer selection. They’ve long had one of my favorite fried chicken dinners in Dayton, but they’ve recently started offering chicken and waffles, first as a brunch option, and now on their regular dinner menu. This combo has it all, well spiced, crispy fried chicken, and a yeasty sweet Belgian waffle. Served with spicy syrup (recommend) or regular syrup. Rarely, when eating chicken and waffles, do you find all the components done well, usually the waffle is soggy, or the chicken is dry or under -seasoned. Chappy’s nails it.
George's Family Restaurant (216 N Dixie Dr, Dayton) - Spanakopita, Spinach Pie: George’s is my favorite diner in Dayton, and this North Dixie drive spot has a really loyal clientele. Drive by at any time of the day and the parking lot will be filled. George’s does so many things right…their burgers are awesome, their breakfast are great…but the sleeper hit on George’s menu is their Spanakopita. I ordered it one day, randomly, and was bowled over by this hulking slice of savory pie delivered to the table. Filled with feta, onions and spinach and surrounded by crispy phyllo dough, it is a meal unto itself. George’s has a few other Greek items on the menu, as well as a host of other delicious items.
Nelly’s Chicken (79 S. Main St, Centerville) - Bolivian Charcoal Rotisserie Chicken: Nelly’s chicken, recently relocated from Miamisburg to a new location in Centerville, is one of those dishes that is more than the sum of its parts. I usually order the ¼ chicken meal, which comes with rice and a nice salad with beets and a tart vinaigrette. I’ll add plantains or their addictive mashed potatoes to the order from time to time. The chicken is smoky from the charcoal rotisserie, juicy meat and crisp seasoned skin, the whole thing tastes like the addictive marinade they use, garlic…herbs…citrus. The rest of Nelly’s menu looks amazing, lots of Bolivian specialties, but walking through the door and getting a whiff of those charcoal roasting chickens, I’ve never been able to order anything else.
Taco Loco (5392 Burkhardt Rd, Riverside) - Bistec Guisado: There are strong loyalties when it comes to taco joints in Dayton. I have room in my heart for all of them, but at Taco Loco, my favorite dish is the Bistec Guisado. Thin sliced steak in a spicy sauce, served with rice and beans and fresh tortillas. It is fiery hot, garlicky and savory. One of those dishes that is painful to eat, but you can’t stop. Inevitably, the waitress takes pity on me and leaves a whole pitcher of water, or brings me a class of horchata to soothe my red face.