Why this tavern just north of Dayton is a throwback favorite

When The Barnsider closed after a 41-year run in 2016, I was verklempt.

It was a destination that was an old-school part of the restaurant history of Dayton.

It was a supper club that served up succulent prime rib, chilled shrimp cocktail with a sauce that came out kicking like karate and martinis that were as stiff as they come. It was a spot that sat you down, made you comfortable and took you in the wayback machine for a time-traveling trip that only cost you the price of a reasonable meal.

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Because I know that these places are harder and harder to come by with the continued chainification of pretty much everything these days, I have rekindled my love of several throwback spots that I hope never to take for granted again.

Treasure Island Supper Club, the Paragon, the Oakwood Club, the Pine Club, Joe Kiss Hickory Bar-B-Q and the Golden Lamb have all seen a little bit more of me and my money in the last six months.

>>GUIDE: Top 10 picks for amazing steak in the Dayton area

Credit: Teesha McClam

Credit: Teesha McClam

One restaurant in particular that I have been frequenting of late is the Buckhorn Tavern. Located on the Stillwater River, not too far from Englewood MetroPark, this is a rustic steakhouse that has been serving hungry diners since 1943.

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It’s a restaurant that you either know about or, more than likely, don’t. For those in the know, it’s quite a find — warm, comfortable and relaxed with no pretension, it’s WYSIWYG — what you see is what you get.

Best known for their flavorful ribs and grilled steaks, the Buckhorn Tavern menu offers plenty of other options as well. Most are priced at less than $15 a meal for dinner — a value for dinner anymore.

In addition to a full slate of succulent red meat, the menu features fresh seafood, shrimp, chicken, salads, homemade soups, sandwiches, burgers and my personal favorite — comfort foods.

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If you are feeling famished before you arrive, start with the panko breaded fried green tomato appetizer ($5.99).

The ribs ($21.99 for a full slab, $15.99 for a half slab) are the restaurant's bestseller for a reason — they fall off the bone and have flavor for days with a zingy sauce. The Prime Rib ($25.99 for a 16 oz. "buck cut" or $22.99 for a 12 oz. "doe cut"), New York Strip and Ribeye ($21.99 for a 12 oz. cut of either) are also a solid choice. Add blue cheese horseradish butter ($1.99) on top for a savory note with a pop.

>>MORE: Why this old-school restaurant is one of the area’s best-kept dining secrets

Buckhorn Tavern's homestyle favorites are also a solid option. The cabbage rolls ($15.99 for two) and beef hot shot ($12.99) are definitely worth ordering up. If you love liver and onions ($11.99), they have you covered with an option to add bacon on top for $1.50.

In terms of sandwiches, the Bistro Filet ($11.99) is a rich creation of sliced filet mignon, grilled peppers and onions, mushrooms, provolone cheese on a toasted deli roll with garlic butter and topped with crispy fried onions.

The burgers are beefy and robust and there is a nice selection of salad offerings on the "lighter side" including a turkey avocado salad ($8.99) and grilled fajita chicken salad ($7.99). The four-piece broasted chicken ($13.99) and fried pecan encrusted tilapia ($16.99) are two other dishes that did not disappoint.

But the lunch menu is the real deal of the day. Served from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the majority of dishes cost $8.99-9.99 and are a tremendous value for what you get. And only eight miles from downtown, it’s a convenient spot off I-70 that’s easy to get to if you are looking for a change of scenery with your next meal.

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Desserts change daily, so be sure to ask what’s being served. The restaurant has a full wine list, beers on draft and has all the ingredients to mix up whatever cocktail you are in search of.

No matter what night you go, regulars are always present chatting, with the restaurant’s trademark antler chandelier within sight.

I’m guessing they keep coming back because this rustic gem feels homey and is ready to serve up whatever you’re looking for, which would explain why Buckhorn Tavern has been in business for as long as they have.


What: The Buckhorn Tavern

Where: 8800 Meeker Road, Butler Twp.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

More info: 937-890-3261 or buckhorntavern.biz

Buckhorn history: Located along the Stillwater River in Butler Twp., this original rustic hideaway has been in operation since 1943. Bob and Debbie Vanderhule purchased the property in 1981 and began a full-service restaurant. Now 37 years later, The Buckhorn Tavern is still serving lunch and dinner today.

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