Summer offers a bounty of riches for those seeking flavor, experiences

KungFu BBQ meals come straight from the smoker to customers plates. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: Contributed

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KungFu BBQ meals come straight from the smoker to customers plates. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: Contributed

Of all the seasons, summer has the flavors and experiences that I dream about all year long.

Everything is so alive and bright and juicy and lush. It’s the colorful, fresh restart we all need after a long, cold winter.

Here are just a few reasons I’m so excited about the next four months of dining.

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Farmers markets offer a burst of flavor and color during the summer. FILE

Farmers markets offer a burst of flavor and color during the summer. FILE

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Farmers markets offer a burst of flavor and color during the summer. FILE

1) Farmers markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)

If you can’t grow it for yourself there are happily many in the community that will gladly take your money to do it for you. Farmers markets and CSAs are a great way to cash in on bright, colorful seasonal fruits and vegetables. The more color the better!

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Dinning outdoors in summer is a treat and patios like this one a Lily's Bistro in the Oregon District are worth stopping by for dinner. FILE

Dinning outdoors in summer is a treat and patios like this one a Lily's Bistro in the Oregon District are worth stopping by for dinner. FILE

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Dinning outdoors in summer is a treat and patios like this one a Lily's Bistro in the Oregon District are worth stopping by for dinner. FILE

2) Dining al fresco

There is no shortage of outdoor patios when the weather cooperates. The Oregon District on Fifth Street is a great place to patio hop if you want to make a day of it with a progressive meal, but there are great patios sprinkled all over the community to enjoy. If you want to do it on your own, head out into nature. Being outdoors has enormous improvements on physical health, soak up that vitamin D while you enjoy a nice lunch.

3) Ice cream!

I love ice cream, but it seems to me a cruel dessert to enjoy when you are very much freezing yourself. Summer is the right time to truly give yourself up to this velvety whipped treat served with a chill factor that helps deflect the heat of summer. If you can’t get enough, kick things off May 20-30 with the Big Chill Ice Cream Fest, a guided tour of ice cream shops in the Miami Valley benefiting Ronald McDonald House of Dayton. Visit Planned2Give.org to purchase tickets.

4) Grill outs

There’s almost nothing I love more than a good grill out with a spread of side salads, so if you excel at it, please send an invite. Dots Market in Bellbrook and Kettering (www.dotsmarket.com) has incredible meat bundles for sale when you are looking to buy in bulk. The market has hard to find specialty cuts and is priced right. Meat bundles start at $60 for eight pork chops, one pork loin end roast, two pounds of pork loin country style ribs, three and a half pounds of pork spare ribs, two pounds of pork sausage, two pounds of pork loin roast and two pork shoulder steaks. The next tier is beef, pork and chicken for $130 and is every bit as generous. Bundles go up to $240 for the mother load of meat. When you head to Dots consider going to Kettering to stop by the Bull Pen Diner for a meal. It’s a time warp to 1964 when it opened. Breakfast is served all day and it’s a great treat if you haven’t been.

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5) Seasonal menus

Local restaurants responding with menu items highlighting the bounty from local gardens and farms hold my heart. When I see new menus featuring seasonal tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, berries, corn, melons, zucchini, asparagus, okra, and so much more my heart is full because you know that kitchen staff is back there celebrating the season and paying homage to the gifts from the land. There are so many restaurants that do a great job with this, but one that immediately comes to mind is The Winds. I love getting out there during summer on their sweet little patio to see how they honor the food being harvested locally.

6) Summer restaurant week

Mark your calendars for July 24-31 when Summer Restaurant Week kicks off at restaurants across the Miami Valley with special three-course meal promotions starting at $20.22.

7) Seasonal restaurants

The Rootbeer Stande at 1727 Woodman Dr. isn’t the only place to get a rootbeer float in town, but I would argue during the summer months it’s without question the best. Drive up and wait for a waitress to come out to take your order, and prepare to quench that thirst. There’s a large menu packed with enough fried food to leave you with a tummy ache for days, so go light, but you should definitely get something, right? The menu is typical drive-in fare — burgers, dogs, a long list of sandwiches, but the “deep fried goodies” menu is where the treasure lies after you’ve ordered that incredible root beer float. The Rootbeer Stande sells their root beer by the gallon and half-gallon so you could make your float at home at your convenience. But the true experience is having it on at the restaurant. Seasonal spots like these tucked into each community are so special and the summer months are when they shine.

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Jay and Deepika Singh, manage newly-opened Gulzar’s Indian Cuisine located at 217 N. Patterson Blvd. NATALIE JONES/STAFF

Credit: Natalie Jones

Jay and Deepika Singh, manage newly-opened Gulzar’s Indian Cuisine located at 217 N. Patterson Blvd. NATALIE JONES/STAFF

Credit: Natalie Jones

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Jay and Deepika Singh, manage newly-opened Gulzar’s Indian Cuisine located at 217 N. Patterson Blvd. NATALIE JONES/STAFF

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

8) New restaurant openings

I have long wished for an Indian restaurant to open in downtown Dayton and earlier this month I finally got my wish. Gulzar’s Indian Cuisine, located across the street from Day Air Ballpark at 217 N. Patterson Blvd., is now open and the lunch buffet I enjoyed for $13.99 just a few days ago with friends was everything I had hoped for and more. The restaurant joins foodie neighbors Winans Chocolates + Coffees and Flyboys Deli, making a row of delightful options to enjoy. Another dream coming true... Golden Nugget Pancake House will be reopening this summer. I can’t wait to see what the next season brings for our local dining scene.

9) Summer festivals

No explanation needed. We all have our favorites that are served up hot with music, people watching and plenty of food options. Miami County Food Truck Rally and Competition is expecting more than 50 food trucks to the Miami County Fairgrounds on May 21 the next day Fleurs de Fête wine and gourmet food festival takes place at Carillon Park. Then we’re on to Memorial Day weekend and after that things really get geared up and I am here for it!

10) Sizzlin’ BBQ

Give me those ribs, brisket and pulled pork. I want a taste of the south and summertime demands that I get it. I’ll be looking to get Fatback’s BBQ, KungFu BBQ, KD’s Kettering BBQ, Company 7 BBQ, Hickory River Smokehouse and City Barbeque on my dance card this summer and then expanding my search from there on the hunt for the best flavors and dishes that our region has to offer.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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