To describe the building in which Jay's Seafood finds itself today is to depict the history of Dayton since the mid-1800s. Once the Dayton Corn and Grist Mill and later a school for young ladies, it first became a restaurant in 1882 when its proprietor paid to transform 5,400 pounds of mahogany into a 32-foot bar, eventually frequented by the likes of Buffalo Bill. And just like the rest of the decor?which comprises antique light fixtures and a railing from the Old Xenia Hotel?the ingredients that form Jay's dishes too come from an eclectic mix of sources.
Jay's dished out the freshest seafood from various suppliers around the United States, while Angus beef arrives fresh from Chicago and is hand-cut into steaks in the kitchen. The results of these efforts manifest in succulent house specialties such as spiced bourbon salmon, sea scallops baked in garlic butter, and grilled filet mignon. Each meal is made even more enjoyable with a featured wine by the glass or bottle and one of Jay's housemade desserts.
Even after Aaron and Bethany Horn moved to the United States, they would fondly look back on memories of buying fresh, warm meat pies from their local bakery. Hoping to introduce this treasured New Zealand treat to their American neighbors, the duo decided to open their own bakery. They set up shop in a stand at the local Dayton community's PNC Street Market amid the booths of local growers, artisans, and culinary specialists that pack the lively market's historic freight house. Aaron and Bethany whip up food from their menu of New Zealand-style pasties that has been lauded on Living Dayton. Each day, they pack flaky crusts with plump morsels of lean meats, fresh vegetables, and hearty sauces, cooking a variety of classic, Indian-style, and breakfast pies. The bakers use natural ingredients in their products, eschewing MSG, artificial flavors, and golf balls painted to look like radishes.
When people walk into Stan the Donut Man, they often inquire if Stan is still around. Store manager Jodi Fryman says he’s not; after he ran the shop for more than two decades, he sold it to his then employee, Janet Foster—Jodi’s mom—more than 14 years ago. But Janet, Jodi, and their staff still use his original recipes to craft their from-scratch treats. All day long, they’re pulling caramel-iced cinnamon rolls, blueberry cake donuts, custard-filled donuts, and chocolate cupcakes fresh from the oven.
The bakers let everything cool before making deliveries to area eateries and stores, but at Stan the Donut Man, customers can choose from still-warm treats. Though the shops are on the small side, there’s indoor and outdoor space for people to sit and enjoy their treats, especially at the Xenia location, which has more seating. But the from-scratch donuts are popular by the dozen for customers to take back home or bring to office proms.
Cincinnati-style spaghetti is a point of pride at Skyline Chili, a University of Dayton institution. The main component of this piquant dish is chili seasoned with a secret blend of spices and served over a bed of steaming spaghetti noodles. Red beans, diced onions, and a mountain of shredded cheddar cheese complete the recipe. Cooks use the same combination of chili, cheese, onions, and beans to kick up steamed potatoes and hot dogs, creating tasty meals that comfort stomachs more effectively than swallowing a child's blanky whole. Alternatively, they can whip up vegetarian versions of several menu items by substituting chili for black beans and rice. The Brown Street location serves as a mecca for students with large-screen TVs, free WiFi, an outdoor patio, and a spacious parking lot.
Though unheard of by many Americans, in Colombia, arepas are an everyday treat. Arepas & Co brings these savory, slightly sweet cornmeal patties to the American masses via the restaurant's diverse and authentic menu. Step up to the Colombian-flag-colored front counter and choose your arepa's fillings from a selection of marinated, slow-roasted meats, cheese, or black beans and plantains, along with four house-made sauces, such as creamy garlic mayo. Another specialty is the Colombian street-food staple known as mazorca, sweet roasted corn the chefs top with meat, cheese, crushed potato chips, and a choice of sauces. Crisp corn empanadas enfold stuffings neatly, and Colombian platters highlight the gourmet flavors without the corn, unlike Iron Chef's laugh track.
J. Gumbo's strives to upend the five myths of Cajun cooking by preparing expertly spiced and wholly authentic dishes that are as healthy as they are hearty. Celery, onions, and bell peppers—the "trinity" of Cajun fare—anchor several items on the menu, including the creole-style jambalaya and étouffée peppered with plump shrimp or crayfish. Creative mix-and-match options encourage diners to sample multiple morsels and test the sturdiness of their dishware by piling several signature entrees into a single bowl. Vegetarian and gluten-free dishes also populate tables within the vibrantly painted dining room. J. Gumbo's also offers catering and delivery.