A look at why people are coming from all over to eat at this Xenia institution.

Need a new dinner idea? 7 unique places to eat in the Dayton area

Sometimes the usual places just don’t sound appealing when you’re looking for a different dinner idea.

Here are seven unique places to eat in the Dayton area.

Jay’s Seafood Restaurant in Dayton's Oregon District specializes in seafood that is flown in fresh four times a week. Staff photo by Connie Post

1. Jay’s Seafood, 225 East Sixth Street, Dayton 

Located in the historic Oregon District, Jay’s has antique mahogany and red velvet décor to go along with a classic seafood menu. It is located in the former Dayton Corn and Grist Mill building, which was constructed in the 1850s, and the bar comes from the original Pony House Restaurant, which opened in 1882 and drew many well-known visitors.

Pony House owner James Jacob Ritty commissioned wood carvers from Barney and Smith Car Works to turn around 5,400 pounds of Honduras Mahogany into a bar, and fortunately, it was preserved when the establishment closed.

The bar area at The Dock. Bill Lackey/Staff
Photo: Contributing Writer

2. The Dock, 250 West Main Street, Enon 

This destination restaurant makes you feel like you are in the Florida Keys with its patio and koi ponds. The dining theme of tropical paradise flows throughout the restaurant with an indoor waterfall, palm trees and saltwater aquarium, and it’s a spot for seafood lovers looking for a more casual atmosphere.

Dewberry 1850 sandwiches featured at lunch come with a fist full of beer batter fries and are piled high with ingredients. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN
Photo: Contributing Writer

3. The Dewberry 1850 at the Dayton Marriott, 414 South Patterson Blvd., Dayton 

This laid-back gastropub, owned by the University of Dayton, offers all farm-to-table cuisine and a large bourbon selection, including one of their own barrels. The story of this restaurant has everything to do with how UD was founded.

When a priest from Cincinnati was sent to minister to the sick at Emmanuel parish in Dayton during the middle of the cholera epidemic, he ended up buying Dewberry Farm – 125 acres of vineyards, orchards, a mansion and farm buildings – from a man whose daughter had died for cholera the year before, and he turned it into a school for boys. St. Mary’s, as it was called then, assumed its present identity in 1920, and The Dewberry maintains the university’s farm roots.

The staff at Nick’s Restaurant in Xenia are willing to lend you a hand. (Staff photo by Connie Post)

4. Nick’s, 1443 N Detroit St, Xenia 

This long-time roadside sports bar is a quaint, cool place. There is a patio, and the establishment has kept up the tradition of cooking homemade meals in a cozy, fun-filled atmosphere the same way Nick Malavazos did when he opened it in 1949. Nick’s was voted People’s Choice Best Wings at the Kickin’ Chicken Wing Festival five years in a row.

The Thai 9 Restaurant at 11 Brown Street. Photo by jim Witmer
Photo: www.activedayton.com

5. Thai 9, 11 Brown Street, Dayton 

Located in the Oregon District, Thai 9 is unique with its authentic, upscale Thai cuisine and some of the best sushi around.

Meadowlark restaurant in Washington Twp. is one of the restaurants participating in “Hop the Gem” to raise money to fight hunger. PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photo: Staff Writer

6. Meadowlark, 5531 Far Hills Ave, Dayton 

Meadowlark is a chef-owned and operated restaurant and a true Dayton original. This New American spot provides a neighborhood vibe in a brick-exposed setting, and the ever-changing menu features high-quality ingredients.

This is contemporary everyday cooking, all made from scratch (right down to the caper mayo and ketchup) and served with local pride.

The indoor patio at El Meson.
Photo: Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

7. El Meson, 903 East Dixie Drive, Dayton 

Owned by the Castro family (siblings Bill and Marie operate it now, but their parents, Gloria and Herman, still work there), this Dayton gem offers a wide array of authentic Latin cuisine you cannot find elsewhere.

The restaurant has an indoor patio that even in winter makes you feel like you are somewhere warm, and every year the Castros take a trip to Central or South America, the Caribbean or Spain and bring back new recipes to try.