13 places to eat, shop and explore in Tipp City

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Tipp City has a charming downtown with plenty of places to eat, shop and explore. PHOTO / Stephanie Coates
Tipp City has a charming downtown with plenty of places to eat, shop and explore. PHOTO / Stephanie Coates

A short, twenty minute drive from Dayton is the canal town of Tipp City. Founded in 1840, it is also nicknamed Tippecanoe, the city was a hub for railway, aviation, and water travel. 

>> 9 must-visit places in Miamisburg

These days, it boasts a variety of buildings on the National Register of Historical Places, plenty of locally owned shops and galleries, and some unique dining options. You can see Ohio’s oldest opera house or take the perfect photo at the mural on the Gem City Ice Cream Co. Building, which used to be the site of the Wright Brothers first cycle shop. Tipp City, with its flower-lined streets and brightly colored storefronts, is all about preserving the rich history of our area. 

Content Continues Below

>> Your guide to Dayton-area craft breweries

Tipp City's downtown is worth visiting. PHOTO / Stephanie Coates

So, if you’re looking for local charm, this Main Street has everything you need for an afternoon stroll. 

>> Your guide to some of the best patios in the Dayton area

WHAT TO DO

  • Mum Festival, on Third St.: Complete with a parade down Main and an antique car show, this festival honors the chrysanthemum and crowns a queen every year. Held Sept. 22-24, 2017. 
  • Tipp Roller Mill, 225 E. Main St.: Catch live music every Thursday in this historic grist mill. May through December only.

>> 7 great gift ideas at Luna in Dayton’s Oregon District

WHERE TO SHOP

Iron Dog Salvage & Antiques in downtown Tipp City. PHOTO / Stephanie Coates
  • Iron Dog Salvage and Antiques, 14 E. Main St.: Explore two floors of hardware, handmade decor, and antique treasures. 
  • The Golden Leaf Tea & Herb, 128 E. Main St.: Sip a cup of delicious tea with your friends, or buy in bulk. 
  • Browse Awhile Books, 118 E. Main St.: Check out their selection of books, and be sure to ask about the building’s haunted history. 
  • Cairns Toys, 31 E. Main St.: Indulge your inner child at one of area’s last specialty toy shops. 
  • Bodega Wine & Specialty Foods, 128 E. Main St.: Because wine and cheese, of course.

>> Flyboys Deli expected to open 2nd location this fall

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

Grounds for Pleasure Coffeehouse in downtown Tipp City. PHOTO / Stephanie Coates
  • Coldwater Cafe, 19 E. Main St.: A finer dining spot with European flair -- try the lobster crabcakes! 
  • Sam & Ethel’s, 120 E. Main St.: Friendly, retro diner vibes and more burger specialties than you could dream of. 
  • Grounds for Pleasure Coffeehouse, 115 E. Main St.: A full-service coffee shop with plenty of seating for a mid-adventure break. 
  • Sweet by Kristy, 29 E. Main St.: Follow the smells of chocolate, pastries, and hand-dipped ice cream. Try the Fluffernutter cupcake and take blueberry muffin top ice cream to go!

>> 12 of the best hiking spots in and around Dayton

WORTH MENTIONING

Charleston Falls Preserve in Tipp City has 169 acres of walking trails along the falls and through caves, prairies and groves. PHOTO / Stephanie Coates
  • The Clothesline, 22 N. Second St.: One of the best resale thrift shops that gives back to many local charities 
  • Charleston Falls, 2535 Ross Rd.: 169 acres of walking trails along the falls and through caves, prairies, and groves. 

Know of any great spots in Tipp City that we missed? Tell us about it! Email contact@dayton.com.

Trending - Most Read Stories

El Meson celebrating 40 years with throwback recipes at its EPIC 2-day party

Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

El Meson hosted a two-day Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018. The eatery featured margaritas, dancing, live music, food trucks, a Cantera Negra Tequila Tasting, and amazing food from the restaurant’s own kitchen and bar. PHOTO / TOM GILLIAM PHOTOGRAPHY
Tom Gilliam
El Meson hosted a two-day Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018. The eatery featured margaritas, dancing, live music, food trucks, a Cantera Negra Tequila Tasting, and amazing food from the restaurant’s own kitchen and bar. PHOTO / TOM GILLIAM PHOTOGRAPHY(Tom Gilliam)

It is not every day that a Dayton classic turns the big 4-0. 

It is a good thing the Castro family at El Meson knows how to throw a party that rises to the occasion. 

>> The best soups in Dayton (including El Meson!)

Content Continues Below

The restaurant at 903 E. Dixie Drive in West Carollton is planning a two-day weekend blowout to celebrate its 40th anniversary, according to details posted to Eventbrite.   

Herman and Gloria Castro opened the restaurant to the public July 15, 1978, as the Pizza Queen. 

The restaurant morphed into El Meson and now specializes in dishes from Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Bill Castro, the founders’ son and co-owner, says old favorites will return. 

“In addition to Latin street food and drinks from out of our trucks in the lot, we’re going to have one truck that serving items from the original Pizza Queen restaurant that El Meson began as back in 1978,” Bill Castro said. “Some of our customers may remember favorites like the Exotic Burrito and Mexican Pizza from that menu.”

The parking lot parties set for 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 20-21 will feature live music and dancing under tents and street grub from El Meson’s fleet of food trucks. 

Admission is $5 for both days and a limited number of $35 VIP tickets are available for Friday or Saturday patio seating.

>> PHOTOS: Did we spot you celebrating Cinco De Mayo at El Meson?

VIP admission includes admission to a less crowded area, servers and a better view of the yet-to-be announced lineup of bands that includes from Ithika and Nothing But Treble Friday and Saturday from Funky G & The Groove Machine and Nasty Bingo Saturday.

A customer appreciation happy hour is set for 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. both days in the restaurant’s “party lot.”

>> Best margaritas in Dayton

It includes free entry and $5 margaritas. 

>> RELATED: The 12 best restaurants in Dayton

The business is now owned and operated by their children and sons and daughters-in-law — Bill, Marie, Scott and Chef Mark Abbott.
>> RELATED:  39 things to know and love about El Meson

WANT TO GO? 

What: El Meson’s 40th Anniversary Weekend 

When: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21 

Where: El Meson, 903 E. Dixie Drive in West Carrollton

Cost: Admission is $5 for both days and a limited number of $35 VIP tickets are available for Friday or Saturday patio seating.

Tickets: Visit the Eventbrite page for advance VIP tickets

El Meson hosted a two-day Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018. The eatery featured margaritas, dancing, live music, food trucks, a Cantera Negra Tequila Tasting, and amazing food from the restaurant’s own kitchen and bar. PHOTO / TOM GILLIAM PHOTOGRAPHY(Tom Gilliam)

El Meson hosted a two-day Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018. The eatery featured margaritas, dancing, live music, food trucks, a Cantera Negra Tequila Tasting, and amazing food from the restaurant’s own kitchen and bar. PHOTO / TOM GILLIAM PHOTOGRAPHY(Tom Gilliam)

El Meson hosted a two-day Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, 2018. The eatery featured margaritas, dancing, live music, food trucks, a Cantera Negra Tequila Tasting, and amazing food from the restaurant’s own kitchen and bar. PHOTO / TOM GILLIAM PHOTOGRAPHY(Tom Gilliam)

Trending - Most Read Stories

Our favorite dishes from Summer Restaurant Week Sneak Peek

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 1:05 PM

The Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s Summer Restaurant Week promotion runs July 22-29 offering meals from more than 40 restaurants ranging in price from $20.18-$30.18. Diners got an early taste of some of the dishes that will be offered at a special sneak peek event on July 18, 2018, at the Steam Plant. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY ALEXIS LARSEN
ALEXIS LARSEN
The Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s Summer Restaurant Week promotion runs July 22-29 offering meals from more than 40 restaurants ranging in price from $20.18-$30.18. Diners got an early taste of some of the dishes that will be offered at a special sneak peek event on July 18, 2018, at the Steam Plant. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY ALEXIS LARSEN(ALEXIS LARSEN)

A large crowd of hungry guests descended on the Steam Plant on Wednesday to sample a small taste of what some restaurants will be serving up this year for Summer Restaurant Week. 

The Sneak Peek to Summer Restaurant Week event put on by the Miami Valley Restaurant Association had some fantastic food served up by some of the region's best local restaurants. 

The traditional "sneak peek" that happens before the Restaurant Week promotion begins featured tastes from more than a dozen restaurants including Amber Rose, Basil’s, Brio, Bravo’s, Coco’s Bistro, Dewberry 1850, The Dock, El Meson, The Famous Restaurant, JD Legends, Roost, Watermark and Wheat Penny. 

Content Continues Below

Across the board the food that we tried was delicious, with several dishes that rose to the top.

Here are four dishes that warranted return visits: 

Confit pork loin served with brussel sprouts, fingerling potatoes and craft root beer BBQ sauce from ele Bistro and Wine Bar served during the Miami Valley Restaurant Association's Sneak Peek to Summer Restaurant Week at the Steam Plant on July 18, 2018. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

 

ele Bistro and Wine Bar 

3680 Rigby Rd., Miamisburg, (937) 384-2253 

The name of this dish alone is music to our ears: Confit pork loin served with brussel sprouts, fingerling potatoes and craft root beer BBQ sauce. And thankfully the execution fired on all cylinders. This was a fantastic symphony of flavors that put the spotlight on a tender, savory piece of pork. Really delicious. 

 

"The Italian Nibble" from Roost Modern Italian is a spread made with poached yellowfin tuna, hard boiled egg, garlic confit aioli and capers that we tried during the Miami Valley Restaurant Association's Sneak Peek event on July 18, 2018, at the Steam Plant in Dayton. ALEXIS LARSEN/STAFF

Roost Modern Italian 

524 E. 5th St., Dayton, (937) 222-3100 

We couldn't get enough of "The Italian Nibble" a wonderful spread made with poached yellowfin tuna, hard boiled egg, garlic confit aioli and capers. This was something that we nibbled at the beginning of the evening and were back for by the end. A return visit is always the sign of a great dish. 

 

El Meson's Caribbean curry shrimp and garlic rice served at the Miami Valley Restaurant Association's Sneak Peek event on July 18, 2018, at the Steam Plant in Dayton. ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

El Meson 

903 E. Dixie Drive, West Carrollton, (937) 859-8229 

El Meson's Caribbean curry shrimp and garlic rice was dynamite. The flavors were full of kicks and punches thanks to the curry and flavorful broth the shrimp and veggies were simmered in. Poured over the rice this was a very satisfying and filling stop for us at the Sneak Peek event. 

 

The Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s Summer Restaurant Week promotion runs July 22-29 offering meals from more than 40 restaurants ranging in price from $20.18-$30.18. Diners got an early taste of some of the dishes that will be offered at a special sneak peek event on July 18, 2018, at the Steam Plant. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY ALEXIS LARSEN(ALEXIS LARSEN)

Wheat Penny 

515 Wayne Ave, Dayton, (937) 496-5268 

The tomato and fresh peach caprese was a light, bright delightful dish that had many wonderful summery flavors dancing together for our tastebuds’ enjoyment. It was a simple preparation that put the spotlight on the tomatoes and peaches that were the true star of the dish.  

Contact this contributing writer at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com.

Trending - Most Read Stories

40 things to do in Dayton when you can’t enjoy the outdoors

Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 9:44 AM

Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Is the rain spoiling your fun? It doesn’t have to.

There’s plenty of fun inside. We’ve made a guide to all the great things to do indoors in the Dayton area for families (and adults too!) so you have a plan for the next rainy day instead of sitting inside.

Content Continues Below

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

2600 DeWeese Parkway, Dayton 

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery river otters enjoy some lunch.(Czerwinski, Allegra (CMG-Dayton))

The museum has an indoor zoo, hands-on science experiments and activities, pretend play exhibitions, a tree house perfect for budding nature enthusiasts, a play area for toddlers, an interactive music wall, space theater and much more. 

Hours: Monday–Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.(special exhibition hours 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Sunday: noon - 5 p.m., (special exhibition hours noon – 5 p.m.)
Cost: $11.50 for children (3-17), $14.50 for adults, $12.50 for seniors (60 and up) and children under 3 are free. Members are also free.

Dayton Art Institute
456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton

"Ruga Swan," by artist Jiangmei Wu, is one of the pieces in the Dayton Art Institute origami exhibit, “Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami” . LISA POWELL / STAFF

The Dayton Art Institute is a destination for all ages, with free events for children and a great art collection for adults. Children’s activities include The Lange Family Experiencenter with learning activities for ages 3 and up and Museum Kidd’s Club that involves gallery hunts and a birthday treat. The museum also has paid events and activities including classes, art camps, Super Saturday Family Days on the second and fourth Saturday of every month between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Tiny Thursdays every Thursday morning from 11 a.m. to noon.
Cost: Suggested general admission to The Dayton Art Institute's permanent collection: 

Adults: $8 

Seniors (60+), Active Military & Groups: $5 

College Students (18+ with ID): Free 

Youth & Children (17 and under): Free 

Members: Free

Hours: Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

WEDNESDAY 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

THURSDAY 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. 

FRIDAY 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

SATURDAY 11 a.m. - 5 p.m 

SUNDAY Noon - 5 p.m.

U.S. Air Force Museum
1100 Spaatz St., Dayton

Inside the U.S. Air Force Museum.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force offers tons of indoor fun, from displays of planes, to flight simulators to a 3D movie theater. The museum has free monthly family days on the third Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They also have scavenger hunts, seek and finds, tours, film screenings, flight simulators and much more.
Hours: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Cost: Free admission. There is a charge for the Air Force Museum Theatre and flight simulators.

INDOOR RECREATION/SWIMMING


Vandalia Recreation Center
1111 Stonequarry Road, Dayton

Indoor aquatic center complete with slides and rock climbing wall among the special features of this recreation center.

Cost: Daily admission is $8 for non-residents and $5 for Vandalia residents. Children under 4 are free.

Hours: Regular facility hours. Call ahead for pool schedule and availability.

Mon-Fri: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. 

Sat: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. 

Sun: 12-6 p.m.

Kettering Recreation Center
2900 Glengarry Drive, Kettering

Indoor pool with diving boards and ice rink among the special features of this recreation center.

Cost: Membership and drop-in costs and schedules vary by activity. Click here for the aquatics schedule and feesClick here for ice arena schedule and fees.

Washington Township Recreation Center
895 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Dayton

Indoor pool and climbing wall among the special features of this recreation center.

Cost: Admission is $2.50 for resident youth/seniors, $5 for non-resident youth/seniors, $5 for resident adults and $10 for non-resident adults. Children 2 and younger free. Plenty of other pass options depending on your needs.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (pool opens at 6:30 a.m.). Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 1-5 p.m.

Greater Dayton Recreation Center
2021 W. Third St., Dayton

Indoor pool with slide and spray features, gymnasium and more among the activities at this facility.

Hours: Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.

Cost: For membership and pricing information, call 937-333-4REC (4732)

Lohrey Recreation Center
2366 Glenarm Ave, Dayton

Indoor pool and gymnasium among the features at this recreation center. 

Hours: Monday to Friday 5:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.

Cost: For membership and pricing information, call 937-333-3131.

Northwest Recreation Center
1600 Princeton Drive, Dayton

Indoor pool and gymnasium among the features at this recreation center.

Hours: Monday to Friday 5:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.

Cost: For membership and pricing info, call Phone: 937-333-3322

ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS
Scene75


6196 Poe Ave., Dayton
An entertainment destination, including an arcade, inflatable bouncers, indoor mini-golf, mini-bowling, go-karts, and much more.
Cost: No admission. Just load an amount of money on a Scene75 card to play arcade games. Attraction prices range from $2 to $8.50.

Run Around Fun Town
1218 E. Stroop Road, Kettering
Run Around Fun Town has four themed interactive play rooms, two inflatables, a playground, and much more. Open play is offered for children Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Ages 3-8 are $10 and ages 2 and under are $5. Adults are always free.

Laser Web


533 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Centerville
Laser Web offers laser tag missions and a laser maze. They also have weekday specials, including BOGO Mondays, Token Tuesdays (Get $5 in game tokens for every $10 purchased) and Laser Web Thursdays where you can play laser tag all day for only $15.
Cost: Prices for laser tag are $8 for one mission, $14 for two missions, and $18 for three missions. Prices for the laser maze are $3 for one game or $7 for three games.

Laser Quest
Cross Pointe Shopping Center, 201 E. Alex Bell Road, Centerville
Cost: One regular game of laser tag is $8.50.

Englewood Fun Center
569 S. Main St., Englewood
The Fun Center has attractions including indoor batting cages, an arcade, and inflatable bouncing.
Cost: Tokens for the arcade are $.25 each, indoor batting cages are 12 pitches per dollar and inflatables are $5 for 30 minutes and $7 for 60 minutes.

The Chaos Room
Centerville Square Shopping Center, 894 S. Main St., Washington Township (Dayton)
Another first of its kind, The Chaos Room is a gaming theater and arcade. It features 12 screens at 15 feet each.
Cost: Arcade prices start at $.25 per game and admission to the gaming theater is $5 per session.

Retro Mania Arcade
6185 Brandt Pike, Huber Heights
Attached to the Huber Heights Vacs N’ Videos, Retro Mania Arcade has the classic arcade games that few can find or remember.
Cost: Tokens are $.25 each.

Urban Krag


125 Clay St., Dayton
The building was once an abandoned church, but now features one of the best rock-climbing facilities around.
Cost: Day passes are $14 for adults and $12 for children 10 and under, but a belay certification is required for $15 plus any equipment rental that you don’t have.

ART STUDIOS
Decoy Art Studio
1561 Grange Hall Road, Beavercreek
Offers paint-your-own pottery, canvas painting, art and ceramics classes.
Cost: Pottery painting ranges from $5 for small beads and tiny figurines up to $48. Glass painting ranges from $8 to $30. Wrapped-canvas painting ranges from $16 to $30.

Spark Art Studio
3126 Wilmington Pike, Kettering
This studio offers drop-in art history workshops, art classes and drop-in art classes. Art history workshops are Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The studio offers a children’s experimentation class every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Also on Thursdays are paint workshops from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Cost: The Art History classes are free, children’s experimentation classes and paint workshops are $12.

Cozy Melts
6204 Brandt Pike, Dayton
Offers candle making and paint-your-own pottery. Pick up one of their coffee, teas or hot chocolates and get creative.
Cost: There is a $7 studio fee for paint-your-own pottery and prices on the pieces to paint range from $.99 to $30.

ADULT PAINT AND SIPS
Pinot’s Palette


2826 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton

Paint Nite
Check out their website for venues

Raise Your Brush
169 N. Main St., Centerville and 7 S. Market St., Troy

Wine & Canvas
Check their website for venues.

Barstools & Brushstrokes
Check their website for venues.

LIBRARIES & BOOKSTORES
Most of your local libraries have events and story times for youths and adults with ages as young as 6 months old. Most require advanced registration, but depending on the size of the branch location and the capacity, the library staff will try their best to fit you in. Events are free and supplies are usually provided.

Barnes & Noble
2720 Towne Drive, #200, Beavercreek (Fairfield Mall) and 2619 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Miamisburg (Dayton Mall)
The Fairfield Mall location has free children’s story times on Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday at 11 a.m., but dates vary by week. The Dayton Mall location has free children’s story time every Saturday at 11 a.m.

Books & Co.
The Greene, 4453 Walnut St., Beavercreek
Every Saturday at 2 p.m. the Books & Company at the Greene has a free children’s story time and they have various readings and signings from various adult and young adult authors depending on the date.

2nd & Charles
350 E. Stroop Road, Dayton
This 2nd & Charles location has a weekly free Friday Tabletop Game Night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. plus it’s a great place to let your geek flag fly and read a book or comic and look at all the old gaming consoles.
Check their Facebook for more events.

ROLLER SKATING
Orbit Fun Center
5001 Nebraska Ave., Huber Heights

Skateworld of Kettering
1601 E. David Road, Kettering

Skyborn Skateland
5309 Haddix Road, Fairborn

Skateworld of Vandalia
333 S. Brown School Road, Vandalia

INDOOR ICE-SKATING
Kettering Ice Arena


2900 Glengarry Drive, Kettering
Opens Aug. 31 through April.
Cost: Youth prices are $3.50 for residents and $7 for non-residents and adult prices are $4 for residents and $8 for non-residents. Skate rentals are $2.

South Metro Sports
10561 Success Lane, Centerville
Open year-round, this facility offers open skate Monday-Saturday public skate and open gym for hockey, basketball and volleyball in the Ice Haus and the Court House.
Cost: Open skate is $6 for youth and $7 for adults with a $2 skate rental. Open gyms are $5 per session.
More information on events: South Metro Sports Website and South Metro Sports Facebook

Hobart Arena
255 Adams St., Troy
Open year-round. Hobart Arena offers open skate, drop-in hockey and indoor fitness walking. 
Cost: Open skate is $5 for youth, $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Skate rentals are $2.50.

Teams participate in Bowl for Kids' Sake at Poelking Woodman Lanes in Dayton, Saturday, March 16, 2013.(MediaMoments.com)

BOWLING
Beaver-Vu Bowl
1238 N. Fairfield Road, Beavercreek

Capri Bowling Lanes
2727 S. Dixie Drive, Dayton

Poelking Lanes
1403 Wilmington Ave., Dayton

Woodman Lanes
3200 Woodman Drive, Kettering

Congress Lanes
221 Troy St., Dayton

Poelking Lanes South
8871 Kingsridge Drive, Centerville

Marian Lanes
6170 Brandt Pike, Huber Heights

Trending - Most Read Stories

40 things to know and love about El Meson

Published: Monday, July 10, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 11:50 AM

A 2017 Battle of the Bartenders was crowned. Video by Amelia Robinson

The most frequent question that I am asked when it comes to food has to be inquiries centered around my favorite restaurants in town.

I have many on this list, but one that I have never wavered on is El Meson in West Carrollton.

>> The 12 best restaurants in Dayton

Content Continues Below

When it comes to restaurants that have consistently delicious food, exemplary customer service and a setting that strikes the right tone for the meal, El Meson is a dining destination that hits the mark.

>> El Meson celebrating 40 years with throwback recipes at its EPIC 2-day party

This dining gem just turned 40 and is celebrating with some very cool events today and tomorrow, July 20 and 21.

>> The best classic Dayton restaurants you have to try

In honor of its milestone,  here are 40 things to know and love about El Meson.

1) The restaurant opened to the public on July 15, 1978.

2) The restaurant was started by Herman and Gloria Castro. It is now owned and operated by their kids and spouses — Bill, Marie, Scott and Chef Mark Abbott.

Bill Castro, co-owner of El Meson, sits in his restaurants market area where items including jewelry and pottery can be purchased. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN(Contributing Writer)

>> Daytonian of the Week: Bill Castro, El Meson

3) The location was a small failing pizza business in 1978 called Pizza Queen. The Castro family decided to go a different direction and El Meson was born.

4) The Castros had never eaten pizza until they purchased the Pizza Queen.

5) The family hails from the country of Colombia in South America.

6) The owners credit former Dayton Daily News food critic Ann Heller with discovering them and putting them on the local dining map.

7) There have been five major additions over the years, and every year the restaurant’s owners reinvest in remodels and upgrades.

8) The restaurant can seat a whopping 450 people in five different dining rooms.

The indoor patio at El Meson. (Source: Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen)

9) It’s one of the best places to dine on a patio in town (in my opinion) with 15 tables in the solarium and 10 tables in the front patio of the restaurant, which was part of the last addition.

10) It’s an 8 mile drive from downtown Dayton that takes about 12 minutes if you head south on I-75.

El Meson is hosting its annual Parrot Head Party

11) There is no charge to rent private rooms for social events.

12) The Castro family’s motto is, “Si, se puede” — “Yes, we can.”

13) El Meson is named after a type of restaurant in Spain that serves a complete dinning menu.

14) They do a lot of catering. “All of our business has increased and our off premise reflects that. Since we offer private rooms for events, our in-house catering has doubled since last year. One example is we are hosting many life celebration parties in the loss of a loved one. Many families want to do an upbeat memorial to remember a family member now deceased,” said Bill Castro, general manager and co-owner of the restaurant.

15) The restaurant doesn’t just do dinner. They have increasingly done more and more special events, averaging 25-30 a year.

The Low Country Boil at El Meson. (Photo by Amelia Robinson)

16) Their signature events include a low country boil and their Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

17) Paws on the patio happens on the second Tuesday of every month through September, with the next one happening July 11 from 5-9 p.m. Dog owners can bring their dogs out to the patio to enjoy tapas, dinner and drinks.

>> Restaurant serves delicious Spanish food for adventurous grown-ups

>> PHOTOS: El Meson’s Barcelona Tapas

18) El Meson’s house brand tequila is Doebel and is specially bottled for the restaurant. They carry up to 20 different brands of tequila at any given time.

19) They don’t do a happy hour, but instead focus on special spirit tastings and other special events where they offer reduced prices rather then the same $1 or $2 off on a set drink list.

20) The most popular items on the menu are the Chilean salmon stack ($29), Manchego cheese puffs ($10 for 12, $7 for five) and chicken tortilla soup (small $7, large $10).

A bowl of Mexican Tortilla Soup ($10) a traditional soup with chicken, rice, hominy, avocado, cheese, and spices served with tortilla strips and broth on the side sits in front of El Meson’s table card to signal the table needs service. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

21) For Bill Castro, soups are a go to on busy days who adds, “Arroz YaYa is a trip to my soul.”

>> The best soups in Dayton (including El Meson!)

22) El Meson has six food trucks. Learn more about where to find them during the week by visiting www.elmeson.net/our-food-trucks

>> No wimpy nachos at the food truck

>> Guide to Dayton food trucks

El Meson's food trucks are among the many that will be at Austin Landing's First Friday this week. (Image source: El Meson Food Trucks Facebook)

23) If you are going with friends, pitchers of drinks are a good option. Pitchers of the restaurant’s award-winning margaritas and mojitos sell for $32. Pitchers of sangria are $28. Most pitchers serve about five glasses.

>> Best margaritas in Dayton

24) The menus used to be influenced by different countries, but recently they have introduced a menu of “New and Noteables,” which allow them to be seasonal and creative with the specialty menu items they offer.

25) El Meson is open for lunch. Located within a short drive from downtown, many businesses choose to entertain guests there.

26) The owners take customers and friends on annual Wine and Food Culinary Trips for two weeks to destinations like South America, Spain and Italy each year.

27) Their last trip was to Ecuador in January 2018. Amazons, Quito and the Galapagos Islands will be later this year. The restaurant does trips twice a year.

28) They make all of their soups, bread and desserts in-house.

29) They were a non-smoking restaurant before it was banned

30) Gloria and Mari Castro shop for the restaurant’s gift area called YaYa Street. There is jewelry, leather bags, home decor, painted pottery and other gift items for sale ranging in price from $5 to several hundred dollars.

El Meson owner, Bill Castro and team visit Patagonia South America in search of authentic dishes.(Brian Johnson)

31) The restaurant has played host to Spanish classes from around the Miami Valley for decades. Sessions are centered around developing a respect and knowledge of Hispanic culture and covers a wide range of topics including: foods, nuances in language and more. The price per student is just $13, which includes a three-course meal of authentic Hispanic cuisine from around the globe. Classes can be offered during school field trips or in the evenings and Spanish speaking is encouraged. Call Pedro Suarez for more information at 937-859-8229.

32) Bill Castro says the most unique ingredients they use are saffron in the cooking and firewater bitters in the restaurant’s award winning cocktail Tamiami Mami.

Heather Schuyler, bartender, and Bill Castro, co-owner of El Meson, celebrate two first place wins in the Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders event on Wednesday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN(Contributing Writer)

33) The restaurant is always looking for good help if you are looking for a job.

34) What do they believe separates El Meson from other restaurants? “Our passion for change,” says Castro.

35) They recently won the title of best tapa and cocktail pairing at the Battle of the Bartenders event earlier this year.

>> The prize-winning sweet and spicy cocktail you must try

36) They have more than 6,000 Facebook friends.

37)  El Meson will celebrate its 40th Anniversary Street Party from with two days of partying. 

The parking lot parties set are set for  4 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 20-21, this Friday and Saturday. 

It will feature live music and dancing under tents and street grub from El Meson’s fleet of food trucks. 

Admission is $5 for both days and a limited number of $35 VIP tickets are available for Friday or Saturday patio seating.

>> El Meson celebrating 40 years with throwback recipes at its EPIC 2-day party

Bill Castro pours drinks during a recent event at El Meson, his family's restaurant.(Photo by Amelia Robinson)

38) It is bring back Pizza Queen favorites like Exotic Burrito and Mexican Pizza  for this weekend’s street parties. 

39) The restaurant hosts a variety of events such as Bourbon, Tequila and Paella with special guest Joe Head. 

40) Did I mention it’s at the top of my list of best restaurants in the Dayton area? That’s a fact.

El Meson's fleet of XPress food trucks offers a delightful bounty of delicious Latin American cuisine. You haven't lived until you've tried the arepas, which are sweet corn cakes with melty cheese.(Connie Post)

Trending - Most Read Stories