Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
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.
Taking its name from the symbolic plant of Lebanon, Cedarland Bakery & Restaurant excites palates with the sweet and savory delicacies from the Levant. Fluffy loaves of pita conceal treasures of crunchy-chewy falafel and tender chicken shawarma, and meat- and spinach-filled pastries challenge apple pie for its coveted spot in the American psyche. A handsome mural of rustic Mediterranean scenery fills the space, complementing relaxing hookah sessions or feasts of baklava, hummus, and baked kibbeh.
Classic oldies waft through the air at The Root Beer Stande, a drive-in eatery dubbed "a Dayton summertime staple since at least the 1960′s" by Dayton Most Metro. Carhops step out to vehicles to take orders for Coney Island–style hot dogs, grilled sandwiches, and other satisfying American food, and then serve the victuals on metal trays that attach to drivers' windows. For a sweet pairing, try a malt, a sundae, or a mug of housemade root beer.