Road trip to Middletown unearths a wealth of dining options

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

For Women’s History Month New Ales Brewing in Middletown had a couple of beer releases honoring local women. The nomination and voting process they used ended up bringing my name to the table and on March 23 the brewery held a Tangerine New England IPA launch honoring me.

It was truly an honor that came in a juicy citrus soaked tangy 6.5% ABV package.

The event description they included was humbling.

A powerful woman, who has won numerous accolades in her field. A woman who makes her community a priority, and shares it with us all. A woman who embraces every challenge put before her, gives a good giggle, then crushes the pants off of it. Wildly eclectic, ferociously devoted to her family and friends, and a total love of all things Dayton, she has shared with us where to eat, drink, and play. She is first in line to stand up for equality and inclusion, and lives life completely out loud…not to mention she has been known to have some pretty big balls (Art Ball people!) Our second nomination for N.E.W. Ales Real Women of Genius 2023 has grit, compassion, intelligence, but most importantly, an incredibly beautiful soul. It is we that are humbled by you. So, bring your crew and raise a glass Thursday, March 23rd to Alexis and celebrate her amazing contributions, along with the other wonderful women out there! Cheers!

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

When a place has those kind of words for you and a beer that bears your name you follow the logical next step — head out the door and go and try your namesake beer.

Also on the menu was a blueberry, pomegranate and hibiscus sour honoring Sara Levin, co-owner of the Barrel House in downtown Dayton, but I figured I could try that one later at the Barrel House, which has added it to a tap while supplies last.

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I had not been to New Ales and wasn’t sure what to expect. The brewery is small with the seating area taking up the front portion of a rehabbed home and the brewery in the back. It had nine beers on tap and sold growlers to go. There was no question what was going to be ordered and it turns out more things should be named Alexis Larsen because it was TASTY.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Mark New Ales, which is a stop on the Dayton Ale Trail, on your list for summer as they have a massive outdoor seating area.

They had a few snacks there, but an Alexis Larsen NEIPA needed a good meal to go with it.

And that’s where I am getting to the food portion of this story.

That visit to Middletown and the resulting meal was such a wonderful reminder of the need to hit the road and explore as the weather warms because there are a lot of great restaurants out there waiting to serve us delicious food and new experiences.

After we had enjoyed our beer and thanked the wonderful staff we headed out the door to find dinner.

The question of where to go was a hard one to answer because there are so many terrific options in Middletown.

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Should we head to Combs Bar-B-Q Central, a hidden gem that has some of the best BBQ you will be able to find in southern Ohio? No. We’re going to save that for warmer weather when a patio and the meat sweats from ribs and wings can marry together in a calorie packed harmonious symphony.

What about The Jug? An icon that has been slinging burgers and cold root beer for more than 80 years. This iconic eatery has been going strong since 1932 serving up nostalgia alongside a menu that has throwback pricing. Again, warmer weather should be the companion to maximize the moment and setting this spot offers.

Mz Jade’s Soul Food, which is the best authentic soul food destination out there to point a car to, offering not only flavorful food but a huge cocktail menu and wine list? No, because I want to go back there when I haven’t already started my night so I can write a full review on it as it’s terrific ... stay tuned.

Grecian Delight which has fantastic Greek Food? Gracie’s, which I have had great meals at and have written about previously? Veracruz Mexican Restaurant? Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen and Bar???

It was at this point as we were exploring our options that a light bulb went off.

Butler County’s Middletown has a lot of great places to grab dinner that are a mini road trip away for those closer to Dayton. It is one of those prime examples of dating your city and your region, because investing in a relatively short drive there has so much to offer.

Just like Middletown many surrounding cities that may not seem like destinations on paper offer the same kind of opportunities. Great food, fresh settings and something different to change things up a bit.

We ended up at Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen and Bar, which has a menu packed with American comfort food and more than 130 whiskeys and craft cocktails.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The bone-in wings ($12) were some of the best I have had in recent memory thanks to a cooking technique where they sous vide the wings and then broast them to coat them in a perfect crisp. The sous vide tenderizes and cooks the meat perfectly, which makes all the difference. The bourbon BBQ dry rub conveyed deep smoky flavor and we all agreed they would pair perfectly with a pint of Alexis Larsen.

Not having that option we paired it with a smoked old fashioned ($13) made with Old Forester 100 that was excellent.

The steak burgers include an In ‘N Out ($14.50) made with American cheese, pickles, mustard, flattop onions and “fancy sauce.”

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The truffle and gouda burger topped with bacon onion jam ($16) packed a flavorful punch and the Grippo’s burger ($15.50) made with Muenster cheese, fancy sauce, coleslaw, crushed Grippo’s and smoked bacon is also a winner.

The white cheddar mac ‘n cheese side option is worth adding to any order. The meal was relatively simple — sandwiches and wings, but the setting was elevated, the flavor hit great notes, the Old Fashioned was perfection and it was a terrific spot to make a toast to Middletown, Ohio.

Like so many other little cities dotting our great state, Middletown has some dining options worth seeking out that will make you happy you jumped in a car and decided to try something new.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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