5 can’t-miss food events you need to get on the calendar

The Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA) has a full year of events planned — and there will be plenty of thousands of people locally who are happy to hear it.

Wing Fest and Bacon Fest at Fraze Pavilion routinely bring out more than 12,000 people.

Taco Fest, which is coming up on its third year, typically draws nearly 5,000.

Last year’s Food Truck blast at the Greene had over 4,000 come out and Beer Fest drew 3,000.

“We have a full year of events planned for the Miami Valley. We have something for everyone with events that showcase our fabulous restaurants and their chefs and bartenders,” said Amy Zahora, executive director of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association (MVRA), who shared the attendance numbers. “The Miami Valley loves their wings and bacon.”

The non-profit trade organization serving the Greater Dayton food-service industry has announced a full slate of upcoming events for 2020 including a brand new brunch event at the Steam Plant on April 22.

»New brunch event to bring restaurants together to offer best dishes, cocktails

Here’s a look at the inside details of what’s been planned so far for several upcoming events and why you might consider adding these to your calendar.

March 4: 7th Annual Buckeye Vodka’s Battle of the Bartenders

6-9 p.m. at The Steam Plant, 617 E. Third St., Dayton

Why go? This is a night that focuses on the best bartenders who sling the best drinks in our town as they battle for first place and the title belt. Sample food from some of the Miami Valley's finest restaurants and Buckeye Vodka concoctions from the Miami Valley's most talented bartenders. What started as the first bartender event brought to the Miami Valley has turned into an exciting competition that you do not want to miss. Participating restaurants include: Amber Rose Restaurant and Catering; Archers Tavern, Kettering; Calypso Grill and Smokehouse; Carvers Steaks & Chops; elé Cake Co. Bistro & Wine Bar; El Meson; Lily's Bistro; Meadowlark; Mr. Boro's Tavern; Roost Modern Italian Cocktail; Sunrise Cafe; Table 33; Tavern at the Greene; Wheat Penny Oven and Bar; The Winds Café.

The impressive list of past Battle of the Bartenders winners speaks to the competition and killer cocktails that will be served up.

  • 2019 Defending Champion: Meadowlark's Caroline Porter " What's up Doc?"
  • 2018: Brock McKibben of Wheat Penny " Merchant's Wife"
  • 2017: Bill Castro of El Meson "Tamiami Miami"
  • 2016: Nikolaus Hunt of Coco's Bistro "Coco's Ruby Slipper"
  • 2015: Amber Brady of Lily's Bistro "Rosemary's Babee"
  • 2014: Dustin Wade of Meadowlark "The Root of All Evil"

April 22: Buckeye Vodka’s Let’s Get Brunched

6-9 p.m. at The Steam Plant, 617 E. Third St., Dayton

Why go? Brunch in the evening on a weekday? We are so there.

Each restaurant will be judged on Best Brunch Cocktail, Best Pairing, and People’s Choice Award for Best Cocktail.

According to Zahora, restaurants so far include: Amber Rose, Calypso Smokehouse and Grill, elé Cake Co and Wine Bistro, Meadowlark Restaurant, Sunrise Cafe, Table 33, Tavern at The Greene and Wheat Penny.

Tickets will be $25 in advance and $30 the day of if the event does not sell out. Each guest will receive a Buckeye Vodka glass, four sample cocktails, and all brunch cuisine from each of the participating restaurants. A limited number of VIP tickets will also be available for $35 in advance and will include eight sample cocktails and entry at 5:30 p.m.

June 14: Taco Fest

1-5 p.m. at Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

Why go? Because everyone loves tacos and this event has the full spectrum. Everything from a traditional beef taco, to a fish taco from El Meson, or a Reuben Taco from Amber Rose. They will even have Spaghetti Tacos from Giovanni's. Restaurants participating so far include Amber Rose, Archer's Tavern, Basil's on Market, El Meson, Giovanni's, Rolling Indulgence, and What the Taco. Add in a mix of live music, beer, and margaritas and you have an awesome summer party.

July 11: Kickin’ Chicken Wing Fest

3-9 p.m. at Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

Why go? Thousands of people can't be wrong. The Kickin' Chicken Wing Fest is all about the chicken. Boneless wings, HOT wings that will make you cry, traditional wings, and creative wings like a blueberry wing will all make an appearance. Restaurants try out new wing sauces and recipes and roll out old favorites to make for a truly kickin' event. Participating restaurants signed up at this point include: Amber Rose, Archers Tavern, Basil's on Market, El Meson, Giovanni's, Nelly's, Nick's Restaurant, Pies and Pints and Romer's.

August 15: Bacon Fest

3-9 p.m. at Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

Why go? "The Miami Valley sure loves bacon! I came up with the idea for Bacon Fest because of my two bacon-loving nephews. Those boys would want bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This event was huge the first year, and it just keeps getting bigger. You can try bacon-wrapped hot dogs, bacon empanadas from El Meson, chocolate-covered bacon, or even just have a good old fashioned BLT. If you like bacon this event is for you," said Zahora. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Restaurants signed up so far include: Amber Rose, Archer's Tavern, Basil's on Market, Duck Donuts, El Meson, Marion's Piazza, Ritters Frozen Custard, Salar Restaurant, Sweetum's and 1776 Grill.

March 4: 7th Annual Buckeye Vodka's Battle of the Bartenders at The Steam Plant

April 22: Buckeye Vodka's Let's Get Brunched at The Steam Plant

June 14: Taco Fest at Fraze Pavilion

July 15: Sneak Peek to Summer Restaurant Week at The Steam Plant

July 19-26: Summer Restaurant Week

July 11: Kickin' Chicken Wing Fest at Fraze Pavilion

Aug. 14: Food Truck Blast at The Greene

Aug. 15: Bacon Fest at Fraze Pavilion

Sept. 19: Air Force Marathon After Party and Beer Fest at The Greene

Sept. 26: Festival of Flight at Wright State University

Mark your calendars

Here are some of the upcoming Miami Valley Restaurant Association events happening this summer that won’t be your typical sit-down dinner:

For more information on the Miami Valley Restaurant Association visit: https://dineoutdayton.com

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