Brunch is Serious Business

Huevos Rancheros at Meadowlark. Huevos Rancheros at Meadowlark.

Dayton-area Easter Brunch Alternatives

By Tom Baker

Huevos Rancheros at Meadowlark.

I’m pretty serious about brunch. In fact, I go out once, if not twice, every weekend so it’s important that a place has got the goods. Just the other day I was looking for restaurants offering breakfast or brunch on Easter Sunday and I found a list featuring the five best places in Dayton for breakfast – Tank’s, First Watch, Golden Nugget, Mimi’s and Original Pancake House. Out of the five, three are chains, and the other two are local spots that have been popular for years. What’s more, Bob Evans was the runner up and I avoid chains and buffets when at all possible. So consider this a nod to the off the beaten path breakfast and brunch. I have no interest in hurting anyone’s feelings, but on this subject, mine run deep. If you’re going to have breakfast or brunch sometime soon, consider the following notes and my own top five, highlighting some of the lesser-known local and independent restaurants you should consider.
To begin, let me say that I enjoy a good cup of coffee. I’m no expert, but it pains me to pay for bad coffee, especially at places offering breakfast or brunch as their main focus, which either don’t care enough or are trying to save a buck by serving subpar coffee. Coffee is integral to the brunching experience, and to neglect such an important facet of this experience is to neglect it in its entirety. I also despise shelf stable creamer, and have considered not going back to a handful of restaurants, some of which have narrowly made my list as a result, because I find it wasteful and tacky. Real cream on the table makes a difference, and I think it says a lot about the place.
Further, I’m willing to pay a few bucks more for a plate of food that has been sourced, cooked and assembled with care. I’m frugal, but I’ll pay a dollar more for a decent cup of coffee. I’ll even pay a few bucks more for a better omelet, made with better cheese, better eggs and accompanied by bread baked in Dayton. It feels like a lot of people have grown complacent and don’t really care much about where they brunch (and where their brunch comes from) as long as it’s inexpensive and there is plenty of it. Some people just convince themselves that it’s really just that good based on the fact that the place is always busy. Call me elitist, but it’s just that important to me.
Now, I realize that Tank’s and Golden Nugget are independent businesses, and I must admit I’ve enjoyed a Tank’s breakfast on many occasions. So since Christopher’s is closed on Sundays, Tank’s moves from my top 10 into the number five slot here. The Nugget just doesn’t do it for me, and waiting in a long line just makes it worse. So, without further ranting, below are five places I personally enjoy, and recommend to friends based on service, quality, locally or organically sourced offerings, or all around awesomeness. So when you’re planning your post-church Easter meal or just your next brunch with friends, give one of these independents a visit:
Meadowlark – This south Dayton spot offers a great menu with consistently good food and a loyal Sunday brunch following. You might have to wait a bit, but it will be worth it. It’s a bit more expensive than chains, but you’re getting real coffee, they cook with local products and you’re supporting a talented chef who cares about what she serves. Try the Huevos Rancheros.
Sunrise Café – This eclectic eatery in Yellow Springs proudly announces on the menu that you may have to wait as they have no microwave. It has lots of organic and local options, most of which are still under $10, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Sunrise Café isn’t great for groups larger than six or eight. Try the Sunrise Sampler with some Equal Exchange coffee.
The Winds Café – The Winds serves more upscale brunch with excellent baked goods made in-house. Drive to Yellow Springs, have brunch, then trade in your dress shoes for some sneakers and walk off your scones at Glen Helen. Try the Shrimp and Cope’s Dry Corn Ragout with a cup of Intelligentsia from Chicago.
Butter Café – Butter Café is a relative newcomer to the Dayton breakfast scene. This UD neighbor prides itself on many local and organic menu items as well as their very own vegan baked goods. Unfortunately, it’s not ideal for groups due to limited space. Try the Skinny B*#@h Frittata.
Tank’s Bar and Grill – Tank’s is well-known for their substantial, inexpensive and tasty breakfast, with waiting on the weekend even after their expansion. Nothing fancy here, just good food and lots of it. Try the Biscuits and Bulldog Gravy.
Runner Up:  Christopher’s – Christopher’s has a consistently good breakfast in Kettering, but have been bumped by Tank’s as they are closed on Sundays. Go the day before Easter to get warmed up. They feature many locally sourced items all at very reasonable prices, with many options for vegetarians. Try the Veggie Eggs Benedict with some Seven Hills coffee from Cincinnati.

Reach DCP food critic Tom Baker at

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