We ask several Dayton chefs to share their picks for the best under-the-radar dish to try on their menus.

CHEF’S PICK: The best dishes to try at 18 local restaurants

Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s “Burger Week” may be ending soon, but the featured restaurants participating in the promotion will still be putting out some great dishes long after it ends.

>> Sneak peek at mouthwatering Burger Week menus

When I dine out, I like to ask the experts what menu items are worth trying.

What’s under the radar? What is the menu item that is your unsung hero? What do you recommend? What’s your favorite thing to eat on the menu?

Sometimes you can be steered wrong, but asking a question of your server or bartender to discover information will almost always work in your favor. 

Burgers are great, but you can only have so many of them without requiring a break, and with this week wrapping up I’m craving something other than red meat.

👩‍🍳👨‍🍳CHEFS SHARE THEIR PICKS

I asked MVRA’s Burger Week restaurants where to look on their menus for inspiration and got a lot of really great ideas for what to order the next time I’m back. Here’s what they had to say.

The Amber Rose Restaurant and Catering is a Dayton institution specializing in homemade Eastern European cuisine. LISA POWELL / STAFF

🍽️AMBER ROSE RESTAURANT AND CATERING

1400 Valley St., Dayton

937-228-2511 or www.theamberrose.com

Dish to try: Homemade Pot Roast — slow-cooked tender and flavorful with smashed Yukon gold potatoes and fresh vegetables.

My response: I can personally vouch for this dish. I’ve had it many times over the course of many years, and it has always been deeply satisfying.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Amber Rose restaurant gets a makeover

Buckhorn Tavern's Green Chile Burger, a half-pound ground beef, roasted green chiles and poblano peppers, pickled red onions. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️BUCKHORN TAVERN

8880 Meeker Road, Dayton

937-890-3261 or buckhorndaytontavern.com

Dish to try: A tribute to the Buckhorn Tavern California restaurant that closed, we present the Green Chile Burger, a half-pound ground beef, roasted green chiles and poblano peppers, pickled red onions. The irony is this is the award-winning burger on Food Network and Bobby Flay’s throwdown from California and New Mexico.

My response: Owner Debbie Vanderhule has a fantastic sense of humor. After a local website mistakenly ran a story that the Buckhorn Tavern, which has been running strong since 1981 had closed, Vanderhule has tried to turn lemons into lemonade and this is the sweetest twist yet. A spicy, flavorful inspired burger that screams — “we’re open!!” — for a mere $9.

Bullwinkle’s Downtown Mac & Cheese, with five cheeses and a little onion and bacon made from scratch with penne noodles. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

🍽️BULLWINKLE’S TOP HAT BISTRO

19 N. Main St., Miamisburg

937-859-7677 or www.bullwinklestophatbistro.com

Dish to try: Downtown Mac & Cheese. Five, yes FIVE cheeses with a little onion and bacon made from scratch with penne noodles.

My response: You had me at five cheeses.

🍽️BUNKERS SPORTS BAR & GRILL

893 E. National Road, Vandalia

937-890-8899 or www.bunkersbarandgrill.com

Dish to try: Bunker’s Walleye Sandwich.

My response: That’s the extent of what they gave me, but one look at this monster in person and you can see why it was recommended. It’s like a fish frisbee sticking off the bun on all sides to the extent that you may think they delivered a pork tenderloin sandwich to the wrong table. Just know, they didn’t. If you love fish, this is the sandwich for you.

Butter Cafe's Cinnamon Crunch French Toast. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️BUTTER CAFE

1106 Brown St., Dayton

937-985-9917 or www.buttercafedayton.com

Dish to try: The cinnamon crunch French toast. House blend organic coconut oil cinnamon and sugar grilled for a slight crispness on both sides.

My response: I feel a breakfast in my future.

Chappys Social House's fried chicken is marinated for 24 hours, hand-battered and fried to order. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️CHAPPYS SOCIAL HOUSE

7880 Washington Village Drive, Dayton

937-439-9200 or chappysocialhouse.com

Dish to try: Fried chicken. Marinated for 24 hours, hand-battered and fried to order. Chappy’s Fried Chicken is served with cornbread or a roll and comes in original recipe, Cajun fried for a little spice or Nashville Hot.

My response: Chappy’s is known for their fried chicken and for good reason. It’s fantastic. Go with the Nashville Hot — it’s warm, crispy and delightful.

Coco’s Bistro’s Bourbon Street Salad with mixed greens, bourbon-glazed shrimp, Applewood smoked bacon, fontana, toasted pecan vinaigrette and spicy onion straws. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

🍽️COCO’S BISTRO

250 Warren St., Dayton

937-228-2626 or https://228coco.com

Dish to try: Bourbon Street Salad. Mixed greens, Bourbon glazed shrimp, Applewood smoked bacon, fontana, toasted pecan vinaigrette, spicy onion straws.

My response: This is a really great salad, one of my favorites. I was glad to see it make the list.

Double 18 Lounge's quesadillas are always a crowd-pleaser. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️DOUBLE 18 LOUNGE / TIMOTHY’S BAR

1818 Brown St., Dayton

937-222-7666 or https://timothys-bar-grill.myshopify.com

Dish to try: Quesadillas.

My response: Not the loaded tots??? OK, I’ll have both then.

Meadowlark’s Mediterranean Spiced Lamb Pita Sandwich features spice-crusted, slow-roasted lamb breast is sliced and tucked into warm pita bread for a savory, satisfying sandwich, dressed generously with cucumber, tomato, cilantro and yogurt. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

🍽️MEADOWLARK

5531 Far Hills Ave., Centerville

937-434-4750 or www.meadowlarkrestaurant.com

Dish to try: Mediterranean Spiced Lamb Pita Sandwich. Spice-crusted, slow-roasted lamb breast is sliced and tucked into warm pita bread for a savory, satisfying sandwich, dressed generously with cucumber, tomato, cilantro and yogurt. So good. Served with fries or vinaigrette-dressed greens. Sub a grilled chicken breast instead of lamb to make a dynamite Chicken Pita Sandwich.

My response: Chef Wiley… I need this in my life!

Mr. Boro's Tavern's Avocado Goat Cheese BLT. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️MR. BORO’S TAVERN

495 N. Main St., Springboro

937-806-3105 or www.mrborostavern.com

Dish to try: Avocado Goat Cheese BLT. Our signature house avocado goat cheese spread, peppered bacon, lettuce and tomatoes served on our baked farmhouse sourdough bread.

My response: This is music to my ears. A summer sandwich that is hearty enough to fill you up but light enough not to overwhelm you.

Nick's Restaurant's Reuben features house-made, slow-simmered corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and creamy Thousand Island all on a locally sourced fresh marbled rye bread. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️NICK’S RESTAURANT

1443 N. Detroit St., Xenia

937-372-3202 or https://gotonicks.com

Dish to try: Nick’s Reuben. House-made, slow-simmered corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and creamy thousand island all on a locally sourced fresh marbled rye bread.

My response: This is another one that I can vouch for. Between this and Nick’s wings, I feel a visit in my future.

Rip Rap Roadhouse's Cheesy Tater Burger features a 1/2 lb. black Angus choice beef burger, covered with 1/4 lb. smoked pulled pork, a scoop of cheesy potatoes instead of a bun, covered in cheese sauce, and sprinkled with bacon bits. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️RIP RAP ROADHOUSE

6024 Rip Rap Road, Huber Heights

937-236-4329 or www.ripraproadhouse.com

Dish to try: Our Rip Rap Cheesy Tater Burger is unique to the Roadhouse. There is a 1/2 lb. black Angus choice beef burger, covered with 1/4 lb. smoked pulled pork, a scoop of cheesy potatoes instead of a bun, covered in cheese sauce, and sprinkled with bacon bits. Served with fries.

My response: Wowzas. I may need to see my doctor after eating this, but I’ll do what I must in the way of research.

Romer's Turkey Balls feature a homemade savory blend of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, lightly coated with panko bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown and served with turkey gravy. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️ROMER’S BAR & GRILL

4439 E. Franklin St., Bellbrook

937-848-7676 or www.romersbar.com

Dish to try: Turkey Balls. A homemade savory blend of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, lightly coated with panko bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown and served with turkey gravy.

My response: These are seriously fantastic. So delicious. If you haven’t ever had them before you are in for a serious treat. Go. Now.

Salar's seared Mahi Mahi is served with a creamy tomato basil sauce, grilled asparagus and Yukon potato and leek puree. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️SALAR RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE

400 E. Fifth St., Dayton

937-203-3999 or www.salarrestaurant.com

Dish to try: Seared Mahi Mahi served with a creamy tomato basil sauce, grilled asparagus and Yukon potato and leek puree.

My response: Salar Chef and owner Margot Blondet knows flavor. Her dishes sing off the plate and this one is no exception.

The Dock in Enon's Poor Man's Grouper. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️THE DOCK

250 W. Main St., Enon

937-864-5011 or www.thedockenon.com

The restaurant response: Poor Man’s Grouper. Under the radar at The Dock.

My response: I would argue it’s their lobster bisque, but clearly I need to head back and revisit this fish sandwich.

>> 10 restaurants as famous for their mood as their food

The Florentine's Orange Roughy is available as an entrée cooked either pan-fried or beer-battered, or as a sandwich. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️THE FLORENTINE

21 W. Market St., Germantown

937-855-7759 or www.theflorentinerestaurant.com

Dish to try: The unsung hero on The Florentine’s menu is the Orange Roughy. The Orange Roughy has a mild, delicate flavor and is available as an entrée cooked either pan-fried or beer-battered, and also available as a sandwich served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and housemade tartar sauce.

My response: If you are not a fish eater, their Burger Week featured burger is a staple menu item. The mushroom and Merlot burger topped with a reduction of … you guessed it and topped with Swiss cheese. That said, if you eat fish this is a pretty sterling recommendation.

The Wandering Griffin's cheese curds. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️THE WANDERING GRIFFIN

3725 Presidential Drive, Beavercreek

937-369-0058 or www.wanderinggriffin.com

Dish to try: Blue Jacket Fried Cheese Curds.

My response: There aren’t enough fried cheese curds for my taste. I’m all in on this one.

Wheat Penny's grilled shrimp, broccolini and peppers with polenta. Grilled with the vegetables, tumbled over polenta parmigiana and garnished with lemon oil and a drizzle of salsa verde. CONTRIBUTED

🍽️WHEAT PENNY OVEN AND BAR

515 Wayne Ave., Dayton

937-496-5268 or www.wheatpennydayton.com

Dish to try: Grilled shrimp, broccolini and peppers with polenta. Grilled with the vegetables, tumbled over polenta parmigiana and garnished with lemon oil and a drizzle of salsa verde, this is a “shrimp and grits” your mama never dreamed of.

My response: SOLD! I love everything about this description and I can’t wait to try it.

>> Wheat Penny chef and co-owner is ‘proud to say Dayton is my adopted home’

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

I hope you are feeling as inspired as I am. And mark your calendars now for MVRA’s Wing Week presented by Heidelberg happening July 11-18 and MVRA’s Summer Restaurant Week presented by Morgan Services happening July 19-26.

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