Dayton is good at keeping secrets. I’ve been searching for little out of the way diners for years in Dayton and am always happy to find a hidden gem. Over at Dayton Diners and Dives I have chronicled my love for East Dayton’s Hasty Tasty, Abner’s, East 5th Grill and other old school breakfast and lunch spots.
This week I discovered another. Located near the yogurt and ice cream at the end of aisle 1 inside Dot’s Market on Patterson is The Bullpen. Originally an ice cream and soda fountain spot, it opened in 1964. I’ve been there two times in the last 5 days and I will be back again sooner, rather than later.
Consider getting a burger hand made from Dot’s famous ground beef. Or a bowl of chili made with the same top cuts. What if you could enjoy a turkey club with big slices of Dot’s hand sliced bacon on top? You can in the Bull Pen.
The Bull Pen is a no-frills diner. It seats 10 at the U shaped counter and has space for another 40 in seats and booth backed tables. Little has changed since the 70’s included the regulars and staff. My waitress Brenda has been serving regulars in the Bullpen for more than 30 years. The average tenure of the men at the counter was no less than 25 years as regulars. I was there for lunch this week and the dining room was half full with retirees and lunch hour workers of all stripes.
The menu is simple and yet meets every need. Salads, sandwiches, and signature burgers round out an affordable lunch menu. I had the Queen sized cheeseburger, with a cup of chili and chips for under 7 bucks. They offered a King size and Bison burger as well. The Club Sandwich I spotted was overflowing with turkey and topped with thick sliced bacon on toast. Broasted Chicken, a fried fish plate, chili dog lunch, tenders and wings makes the lunch menu big enough for everyone.
Dinner specials include those old favorites, fried shrimp basket, liver & onion, chopped sirloin and the roast beef or turkey hot shots. These dinner plates are served with two sides and a roll, all under $10.00.
I stopped in for breakfast on a Saturday morning. I was the 7th one in the door and I arrived 5 minutes after opening. I enjoyed a great biscuit and gravy with a scrambled egg. My coffee cup was well attended to and my entire bill was under $7.00.
The breakfast menu is simple, affordable and straightforward diner fare. Two eggs, toast and home fries are only 3.99. The Big Bull Breakfast, 3 eggs, home fries, meat, toast is under $6.00. Biscuits and gravy, omelets and fried mush are standard offerings alongside waffles, pancakes, potato cakes and grits. I’ve got my eye on the country fried steak breakfast next time.
Dot’s Bull Pen restaurant is the kinda place you are treated like a local on your first visit. Top notch service, great ingredients, and low prices make this a standout on my list of go-to Dayton Diners. A few additional notes: Pies by Dayton’s Mehaffie pies filled the glass case and the Red Velvet Cake was calling my name as I left to get back to work.
Somehow this little corner diner, at the end of Aisle 1 has been a hidden gem for over 50 years. Next time you are shopping for ribs, brisket, burgers or tenderloins at Dot’s meat counter, treat yourself and stay for lunch. The Bull Pen, located at 2274 Patterson Rd in Kettering, and is open Monday to Saturday 7am – 7pm and Sundays 8am to 2pm.