For 2011- living better in Dayton

A few things I’d like to see everyone try in 2011.

Eat out at independent restaurants more. Why go to Friday’s or Applebee’s when you can go get the exact same thing anywhere in the country? Need some suggestions? And- don’t just stick to food you know- experiment a bit- for starters:

Linh’s on Airway. They have Vietnamese and Chinese- ignore the Chinese and try anything on the menu- it’s all good. Dinner for two is around $24- they don’t serve alcohol- but, will let you bring in some Vietnamese beer if you must. The soft spring rolls are like nothing else I’ve ever had.

Chicago Gyros on Wilmington- nothing fancy- just the fattest Gyro you’ve ever had- for $4.50. The fries are good too- a large will feed two. Why wait for the Greek Festival- you can get your gyro fix anytime- but they close at 8.

Twenty years ago if you told me I’d be eating raw fish, I’d have told you that you’re crazy. Now I can’t get enough of it. Favorites are Sushi Cafe 725 and Byers Road- and Sushi Hana by Yankee and Lyons. C.J. Chan’s on Wilmington also has a few nice rolls- esp. the Las Vegas. Sushi doesn’t come cheap- but, then again- do you really want to eat cheap raw anything?

Our pubs- The Dublin Pub, Tank’s, Slyder’s Tavern, Jimmy’s Cornerstone, Blind Bob’s and The South Park Tavern are just a few- we’ve got some great bar food- and it’s reasonable. Why give your hard-earned money for some food that was prepared 8 states away and came to a boil in a bag pouch?

Fancy schmancy- you’ve got Coco’s and Sidebar, The Pine Club, Meadowlark, Rue Dumaine and that’s just for starters. You can eat at Flemming’s in 10 States- you can only eat at the others here in Dayton. Ohio. You’ll also get more for your money.

That’s food- then comes things to do:

See a movie at the Neon. Without this small independent movie house- we wouldn’t have a place for local film makers to strut their stuff. It’s cheaper than the big megaplexes- and the popcorn is 10x better. Plus- Jonathan picks the best of the movies you might not see otherwise- and, you can even drink a beer.

The Human Race Theater Company– The honchos still hate me for waging a war on smoking on stage just before the statewide vote on banning smoking- but, it’s amazing locally produced theater. I’ve seen so many amazing shows there. The Loft is a great little black box theater- and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The secret- the final dress rehearsal before opening night is “pay what you can” or bring canned food donations. You can see it first – and help a good cause.

DCDC- the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company– sells out anywhere else in the world- plays to half full theaters here. You’re missing out. Warning- the company is schizophrenic- with two distinct personalities in every show. I generally love half of one- and am bored by the other. Hint: I like the let loose, rhythmic funky dance- If I wanted to see ballet like modern dance- I’d go to the ballet.

Gilly’s: Uh, if you like jazz- you’ve already been- if not- go there. Jerry has been putting on big name acts for – well, ever.

Canal Street Tavern: If you like indy, next big thing acts- Mick Montgomery has been putting on big name acts for- well ever too.

The bikeway– if you have a bike- ride it. If you don’t- get one. There isn’t a better way to get exercise and have fun in this city. Hopefully 2011 will be the year BCycle gets its start in Dayton- until then- go get a bike and ride.

The Art Institute– I’ve been to art museums all over the world- this is still one of my favorites. It’s like having an awesome house- with awesome art. It’s been free- but that may not last. Go now.

Yellow Springs/Clifton Gorge, John Bryant State Park– it’s 20 minutes away- but it’s like, well- another country – another time- an alternate universe. You can even ride your bike out there- or rent one there. If you’re lucky- you can run into Dave Chappelle outside a certain coffee shop- if you’re unlucky- you can do the same. And- yes- the Little Art is also a great little indy movie theater- and- The Winds is an independent restaurant worth trying.

Get a library card- and use the Dayton Public Library. You don’t need netflix or movie rentals- you don’t need to buy books- you ask- they get. My parents swear by the online reservation system. The librarians are cool.

Go ice skating at Riverscape in the winter- play in the kids’ fountain in the summer. If you can’t ice skate- and you see me there- I’ll help teach you.

Go to the Air Force Museum at least once a year. People come from all over the world to see it. It’s in your back yard and free. You’ll learn something with every visit- and face it- planes are cool.

And- on making Dayton a better place….

Volunteer to do something for a non-profit, organize a community garden, set up after-school activities for your neighborhood kids- be it pick up hoops- or even a board game night at a local church. We need to spend more face time and less screen time.

Make sure you know your neighbors– every one on your block. Organize a block party- close the street- cookout- dance a bit- do the hokey pokey. If you don’t know your neighbors- you really don’t live here- you’re fooling yourself. Trust me- and Kathy and Rodney and Christa, and Susan and Bryan and Francis and Bridgett and John and Kathy and Marilyn and Doyle and Steve and Nina and Aaron and Maureen and Isabelle and Phyllis and Tim and Tom and Kathleen….

Listen to WYSO, WDPS, WDPR, WDAO on the radio- read the Dayton City Paper and the Oakwood Register and support their advertisers- and if you are a local business- consider advertising in the non-corporate, local media. They may not be exactly what we want- but, the others are definitely not what we want.

And last but not least- go out and get “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (.89 as an ebook) and do an attitude adjustment about ourselves, our city and our future. Start visualizing what kind of community we want. Believe it and it will happen- even if we don’t quite get there – it’s time to have a vision of something other than a fire sale, rear guard, desperate community- that the Dayton Daily does such a good job of feeding us…. well, daily. Better yet- stop your subscription- and tell your friends to stop as well. Until they start thinking of themselves as a real newspaper instead of a coupon delivery service- it’s not worth your time or money.

And- feel free to add to this list- in the comments- share what you love about Dayton- and let’s keep this party going.

Best wishes for 2011. It’s going to be the year we take our city back.

note: sorry I didn’t build links to everything mentioned- it’s late. And- if you’ve done all of these things- say so in comments- or, share how long it will take you this year to complete all of these….

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!

Leave a Reply

20 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
GladGirlTeresa LeaJeff DziwulskiDonald PhillipsBill Recent comment authors
Notify of

Great post David.  A lot of us readers share your enthusiasm for Dayton…

Don’t forget the City’s top sports offerings:

Dayton Dragons – – one of the top baseball stadiums in the entire country outside of the Big Leagues…

University of Dayton Flyers Men’s Basketball – – they’re just college ball, but with 13,000+ for every home game, and the athletic talent they bring almost every year, they might as well be pro… check out these awesome highlights from just last night: (2 of today’s ESPN Top 10 Plays are from Dayton last night… Prompting the sportscaster to say “wow, what’s up in Dayton???”)

Bryan Suddith
Bryan Suddith

I have to plug the Fraze Pavillion.  A great venue for a great time with a great line up every summer. You don’t have to drive an hour to hear music in a park setting.

Ice Bandit
Ice Bandit

…the Gems. Hara, a legendary hockey barn. Matt McCue. Nuff said…..


TAQUERIA MIXTECA! Little Saigon, Antojitos Criollos, Cedarland …
Actually, the perfect sushi can be found at Akashi ;-)
Thanks for plugging the library. Our local system is amazing, and yes, the librarians are the best.


Check out the new Metro Park on Amesborough Avenue–aka, The Fen or Bog, with a nice view of sycamore trees via the new boardwalk!

Steve B


Some of my favorite eats in Dayton:
Mexican: Excellent “hole-in-the-wall” Mexican & American food at Burrito King on Valley St in Riverside. Try their value-priced “Chicano Combo:” Burger, taco, fries, & a drink. They also have less-common Mexican foods, such as posole, Mexican “torta” sandwiches, and orchata.
Sushi: Kabuki is the last word in sushi in the Miami valley. Mae and her chefs produce both traditional & innovative sushi, & other Korean & Japanese dishes.  Located on 48 south of 725 in Centerville.
Italian: Franco’s has truly exceptional Italian dishes, albeit at a price. On 5th at Wayne in the Oregon District.
Chinese: Next door to Franco’s is the unassuming China Buffet that turns out excellent, cheap food, run by people who remember you & will even make your favorite dishes if they’re not on the buffet that day.
Brunch: Legacy has very good, reasonably-priced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. It’s also a good place for people-watching, especially for breakfasts & weekend brunches. On Keowee south of Stanley.
There are many more.  One thing I can usually impress my out of town guests with is the food culture in Dayton. Variety coupled with excellent preparation is hard to beat.
One more thing: Chicago Gyros & Dogs (on Wilmington south of Wayne) serves up not only the tasty gyros mentioned above, but authentic Chicago-style hot dogs fixed a number of ways, Polish sausage, and a Chicago specialty, the Italian beef sandwich, all reasonably priced to downright cheap.



Update this post?  Might I respectfully suggest that you’re just reduplicating–but without any semblance of critical ranking?
I get that it’s a good thing to support locally owned establishments–and for the most part I think these are good ideas.
But some that you recommend here have disappointed me in the past.  Antioch University, in particular, has violated my trust sufficiently that the only thing that might get me interested in WYSO again is if they divest themselves of the station.  And BTW, the station has, over the past 15 years or so, become another NPR network station; about 17 hours of syndicated broadcasts and only 7 of locally-produced per day, by my count.  Maybe you could explain in more detail why I should support them and not WVXU, in your view, since neither is particularly local anymore?
So, excuse me if I find the cheerleading to be a bit off-putting.  If your goal is to assemble a list of every establishment that anyone in Dayton finds worthwhile, then you can save time and bandwidth by doing the Readers’ Digest version:  “Local Dayton = Good.  No need to think.”

joan knoll
joan knoll

I must mention the I-ZU for great shashimi and sushi.  I never thought I would learn to like raw fish but the I-Zu taught me differently. 

We eat out  at owner run places because the food and the friendly service is better.  I try to shop  as much as possible with Dayton places.  And, Dayton is a wonderful place.

 Maybe I should also mention how I found Esrati.  The great pleasure of reading Esrati.  An old friend of your father’s at the Plain Dealer, Doug Bloomfield, my nephew told me about your elegant blogs.  I owe him, too.

You go, boy, the Cheerleading is cheering and wonderful.


David, perhaps you’re not aware, but Antioch University did not go down.  Rather, it leached value from Antioch College (its founding institution) for a couple of decades.  Antioch College was allowed to deteriorate physically, its university system presidents loved the professional-ed sector of its universities (including MacGregor) in preference to its liberal co-op undergrad program.  In the end, the university system took the opportunity to profit once more from Antioch College by taking a few million in return for cutting it free.
WYSO, in the process, went from a station that broadcast indie local programming almost constantly to a station that sounded indistinguishable from most NPR affiliates.
You weren’t there (I recall) when WYSO was promising to retain local programming–and then renegged and instead allowed an unstable general manager to drive away the cadre of volunteers in favor of canned programming almost around the clock.  They’ve done a little to recapture the old local flavor since, but look, adding one hour of Mickunas doing “Book Nook” weekly is rather pale; once 12 hours of local content on weekdays and even more on weekends was the rule.
Keep on supporting them if you like, I know this is your blog, trumpet as much as you will.  But you generally play the critic.  What am I to think, that in your view only politicians deserve exposure to sunlight?  Or is it possible that other local institutions need to have their feet held to the fire on occasion?

Teri Lussier

Tickets in Fairborn- a Greek sports bar/ tavern/ family-side dining available. Packed at lunch but fast service and good food.
Amber Rose on Valley for Eastern European. My kids still think the Beer Cheese is a wonder, the cabbage rolls are everything cabbage rolls should be.
If you are a mom of young kids, the Air Force Museum is a great free place to spend a cold afternoon in mid-winter. Your kids will see things that will astound them and they will get to stretch their legs a bit. It’s a very kid-friendly place. The older kids will love the IMAX theater.
WDPS is an amazing station- Jazz!
WDPR – morning DJ, Larry Coressel has the best voice in radio.
FOY’s in Fairborn. It’s an old-fashioned variety store. A fun place to take kids, but fancy suburbanites love it too because they can’t get a store like that in their mall.
Boston Stoker Dayton’s only gourmet coffee roaster, and it’s good, too!
Every small town surrounding Dayton- Tipp City, Troy, Farmersville, Fairborn, Bellbrook, Xenia, Vandalia, etc,- all 20 minute drives from most everywhere- has local gems to be discovered. Explore. Ask around. Leave a comment here asking for recommendations if you are brand new to town and tired of the tired.


Five Rivers MetroParks. All of them. For a city the size of Dayton to have a local park system with so many locations that offer something for just about everybody and within easy access, whether in the suburbs or downtown, is a huge positive for the area. Some great bike trails too, along both the Great and Little Miami Rivers.
My personal favorite among the MetroParks is Sugarcreek, followed closely by Cox and Wegerzyn. In fact that’s the one thing I’ll miss the most about selling my home in Centerville (yes David, I’m finally getting free of the “Buick Brigade”) is being a couple miles away from Sugarcreek. Good news is that I will be much closer to locations like Hills and Dales, Riverscape and Wegerzyn.
Nearby state nature preserves (Clifton) and state parks are wonderful assets for the area as well. Opportunities and venues for affordable outdoor recreation are huge advantages that often go underrated. Young families today place much more value on locations such as the MetroParks versus previous generations (golf courses – Dayton still has many of those as well).


Jane’s Best Bets on is a weekly article (every Wednesday) filled with things to do across the Dayton Region.
All of her listings are also on the popular DMM Event Calendar, which is also syndicated on!  There is NEVER a reason to think there is nothing to do in Dayton!

Donald Phillips
Donald Phillips

Don’t forget the Richard Florida Thought study group.

Jeff Dziwulski
Jeff Dziwulski

I have to second the recommendation for Five Rivers and would add to the two big parks here in Washington Twp, Grant Park and Bill Yeck, and the trails around Cesars Creek and the little-known Sycamore State Park in Trotwood. 

This area is great if you are a walker and hiker…seriously, it is….The trails in Five Rivers and Grant & Bill Yeck are excellent, well marked and maintained.  

, but authentic Chicago-style hot dogs fixed a number of ways, Polish sausage, and a Chicago specialty, the Italian beef sandwich, all reasonably priced to downright cheap.

…yeah this used to be Pugs Dog House, and I’ts good to here they still have those Italian beefs and Vienna hot dogs, assuming thats what they are selling.   I’m an old Chicagon guy and love that stuff…grew up on it.  Not really “local”, though, since this is a Chicago foodie thing.

Another good place for local eats is Falbs in Old North Dayton.  Try, also, Chistophers as homespun alternative to chainy “The Greene” places.  And Ru Dumaine off 725 (725 & Lyons) in Washington Twp.  And, of course, the purveyors and vendors at 2nd Street Market.

This town has a potentially good local foody scene, it’s just not sold or fluffed well enough.


Teresa Lea
Teresa Lea

So we tried Kabuki in Centerville, and the only bad part was the drive, I really do prefer to stay closer to downtown.
WOW – I have never seen such an extensive roll menu, it is almost too much to choose from. The rolls were big and yummy with lots of ingredients and the wide variety makes it better than my other favorites (sushi cafe and sushi hana).
I’ve never been a fan of Akashi, and haven’t tried Izu yet, but will one day!


Neenah Ellis, WYSO General Manager.