Miss Maha and the City

Eat, drink, explore and be merry – Holiday Edition

 By Maha Kashani

Photo: You can see the world’s first practical airplane – the 1905 Wright Flyer III – at Carillon Park; photo: Ted Bobosh

‘Tis the season! The holidays are here, bringing us all many reasons for joy and cheer. With this special season upon us, it is important that we embrace the opportunity to toast our friends, love our families and reflect on yet another year under our belts.

Whether you’re entertaining guests or need an escape from the madness, here are some personal recommendations to eat, drink, explore and be merry this holiday season.

Miss Maha’s “Best Bets” to…

Dine around the District:

Downtown’s Historic Oregon Arts Districts features an eclectic selection of locally-owned restaurants offering extraordinary experiences. These new additions in 2013 quickly solidified themselves as instant classics, worthy of you spending those hard-earned dollars.

Wheat Penny Oven & Bar – 515 Wayne Ave.

Downtown’s newest restaurant needs to be at the top of everyone’s dining list this holiday season. The owners of the esteemed Meadowlark Restaurant brought this gem to the city, and I cannot thank them enough. Chef/proprietor Liz Valenti learned a thing or two from her days as lead executive chef for Oprah Winfrey at Harpo Studios in Chicago. Oprah’s attention to detail drove Chef Liz to excellence, and excellence is an understatement when it comes to Wheat Penny’s results. Where else can fresh figs, Roman sauce, aged blue cheese and crispy shoestring onions harmoniously come together, leaving you begging for more? Featuring a relaxed atmosphere and a killer cocktail list, you can’t go wrong. Open for lunch and dinner. Make sure to call ahead, or you will have a long – but well worth it – wait. Foodies, rejoice! Recommendations: Eggplant fries, green beans with soy sauce vinaigrette and anchovy mayo, Tommaso pizza and the Basil Smash cocktail. WheatPennyDayton.com

Lily’s Bistro – 329 E. Fifth St.

Serving “fresh, fun, seasonal food + drinks” makes Lily’s a must-try as one of the exciting additions to the Oregon District. The Mendenhalls, owners of Blind Bob’s, brought Lily’s to life delivering a fun twist to upscale casual dining. Featuring local produce, this Modern American seasonal menu focuses on fresh elements to create tantalizing flavor combinations such as chopped endive salad with roasted pears and smoked trout tossed with miso dressing and crispy duck breast with blue cheese bread pudding, broccolini and pomegranate reduction. The creative cocktails are equally rave-worthy. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, Lily’s is the ideal location for a special date or an exceptional outing with the family. Recommendations:  Daily Deviled Eggs Special, Ohio Nachos, Basket of Beignets (brunch only) and the Harvest Moon cocktail. Lilysbistro.com

Salar Restaurant and Lounge – 410 E. Fifth St.

This upscale-yet-casual hot spot was the District’s most anticipated addition in 2013, re-introducing world-cuisine with a French/Mediterranean/Peruvian twist. Salar – meaning “salt-crusted” – features tasty small plates, unique salads, pizzas and elaborate entreés all created by the uber-talented Chef Margot. A native of Peru, she is the culinary queen of tying together distinct ingredients and savory flavors that will leave your taste buds amazed. That’s not all! Cocktails are also serious business at Salar. Their exclusive selections of hand-crafted libations feature only the finest ingredients – most made in-house – carefully fashioned by world-class trained bartenders. Just watching the meticulous creation of one of these delicious concoctions is a special treat. Recommendations: Cebiche, Peruvian empanadas (ask for a side of chimichurri for dipping), pecan- and sage-encrusted salmon and the La Pasion cocktail. Salarrestaurant.com

Experience Dayton’s History:

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path experience or escape, then take some time to reflect on our heritage by exploring the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park sites that tell the tales of Dayton’s famous lifelong bachelors, Orville and Wilbur Wright. nps.gov/daav

Wright Cycle Company Complex – 16 S. Williams St. in Dayton’s Wright-Dunbar District

Long before inventing flight, the Wright Brothers had an entrepreneurial spirit unmatched by most. Beginning with Wright & Wright Job Printers – started by Orville while still in high school – and followed by their own brand of bicycles, these brothers were always open for business. Visit the complex to check out the Wright Cycle Company shop (considered the actual birthplace of Aviation), Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, featuring Wright & Wright Job Printers on the second floor, as well as the Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Parachute Museum. You’re in for a treat!

Huffman Prairie Flying Field and Interpretive Center – 2380 Memorial Road at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

It took about 150 practice flights at Huffman Prairie before the culmination of the Wright Flyer III – considered the world’s first practical aircraft – in 1905. Overlook the field that played host to the Wright Brothers’ testing operations while you check out the Wright Memorial, as well as replicas of the 1905 hangar and launching catapult in the dedicated exhibit at the Interpretive Center. If you’re up for it, take your shot at completing a successful three-minute flight on the 1911 Wright B Flyer simulator. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds!

Wright Brothers Aviation Center at Carillon Park – 1000 Carillon Blvd.

After your visit to Huffman Prairie, I recommend heading over to the Aviation Center at Carillon Park to check out their centerpiece exhibit – the 1905 Wright Flyer III – in all its glory. She’s a beauty! After marveling at the world’s first practical airplane, take a stroll around the park to enjoy the many other exhibits that solidify why Dayton’s History is so remarkable.


There are many ways to stay entertained this time of year. For a new experience or a change of pace, I hope you can enjoy one of my recommendations. Remember to pick up the Dayton City Paper every week to keep up to date on what’s happening in and around the city this Holiday Season. Cheers, my friends!


Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at MissMaha@daytoncitypaper.com.


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