The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dining Outside the Home: The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Authentic Mexican food is as festive as Mexican blankets, wide-rimmed sombreros, and multicolored piñatas. The “Daily Special” boasted Fajitas Al Pastor—crispy chunks of marinated pork cooked with onions and green pepper strips served on a sizzling skillet. Homemade corn tortillas accompanied sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. We ordered a side of refried beans to use as a binding agent once the shells were filled. The finishing touch of habanero sauce sealed the deal with a nice kick of spice. An agave nectar margarita cocktail culminated the entire meal. Bueno!

Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaign, Illinois! When it gets steamy hot in the Midwest , rest assured you can cool things off at a casual spot for classic Mexican cooking and salt-rimmed margaritas that go down smooth and easy. Order a Taco Salad. It’s served in a fried flour tortilla shell, then cradled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chunky guacamole, and spicy salsa. Saira can add seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken to suit your taste. Either way, you get a healthy dose of veggies that’ll keep you coming back for more…whenever you pass through town.

HEXX Kitchen and Bar in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: HEXX Kitchen and Bar in Las Vegas, Nevada! Check out the Las Vegas Strip from a vantage point at the Paris Hotel that offers open-air patio dining with a view of the Bellagio fountains. Have you ever tasted Chilaquiles? It’s a perfect brunch option of tortilla chips loaded with roasted chicken, tasty salsa, two eggs cooked your style, avocado chunks, sour cream, and asadero cheese. So what if you have to strap on the Fitbit to exercise a few miles walking it off? This is Vegas, baby. It’s worth it.

Ray’s Seafood in Rye, New Hampshire

Dining Outside the Home: Ray’s Seafood in Rye, New Hampshire! Baked stuffed lobster doesn’t get any better than this. No cracking the shell and digging for the meat. The chef at Ray’s Seafood takes care of that for you. As the server places the plate of succulent lobster chunks bathed in high-quality sherry and parmesan seasoning on the table, take note of the buttery cracker topping. It’ll makes your taste buds drool. Not what you’d expect from an ordinary fish shack. Ray’s is a cut above the rest. Go for the freshest seafood and house-caught lobster. But also go for an outstanding ocean view.

Country Tavern in Nashua, New Hampshire

Dining Outside the Home: Country Tavern in Nashua, New Hampshire! If you like a dose of haunting history served with a rustic dinner in a circa 1741 farmhouse, Country Tavern is the place to be. Not only is the wait staff eager to share their own personal tales of lights “flickering” and ghosts “bumping” in the night, the tavern even provides a full page newspaper article describing details about the resident apparition, Elizabeth Ford. But back to the meal, I recommend the hand-cut filet mignon with béarnaise sauce. It’s delicious, especially if it ends up being your last meal.

Kauai Beer Company in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Kauai Beer Company in Lihue, Kauai! Crafted beers aren’t the only things being served up at this hip neighborhood brewpub. Every Wednesday night, at dinner time, you can treat yourself to an aged boneless sirloin prime rib roast that has been in the smoker marinating in its own juices all day long. Talk about tender! Order a large cut to share; it’s perfect for two, especially with the generous side dishes. The atmosphere is kid-friendly, even down to the family dog. Water bowls and back rubbing for furry pets comes naturally to the wait staff. So, kick back, sip on a flight of brews, and let the good times roll.

Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Feel the romantic rhythm of northern Italy in a tropical destination overlooking the beach. This is paradise on the island of Kauai. The food is true Italian cuisine, the wine from cellars across the world. Café Portofino, a family-owned business, offers fresh seafood and locally sourced vegetables as well as classic dishes. Notice the Red Beet Salad and Grilled Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, both celebration-worthy. Chat with the wait staff. Their friendly reception is warm and connected with deep-felt hospitality. For a memorable evening, especially bringing in the New Year, treat yourself to a taste of Italy.

Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai! Every meal becomes a special occasion with a superb wait staff who is willing to satisfy your heart’s desire. Romance, you got it. Nostalgia, no worries. Impeccable food, a given. Start things off leisurely with a crafted cocktail: Ginger Martini. Sip it deliberately. Let the Hawaiian vodka seduce your taste buds with a tangy ginger liqueur finish. Mmmm. My husband chose a Ginny Hendrick’s garnished with a fresh rosemary sprig from their very own herb garden. Feeling pampered yet? Nibble on a savory appetizer of Lobster and Goat Cheese Wonton as a prelude to an incredible Lobster Curry Bisque. Can anyone have too much lobster? Wait, this is just the beginning. The entrées are first-class, the desserts divine. Surrender your will power. Every bite is worth it.

Tortilla Republic Kitchen and Margarita Bar in Koloa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Tortilla Republic Kitchen and Margarita Bar in Koloa, Kauai. Picture this. The sun is super-bright and tropical-warm to the point where ducking into a Mexican cantina for a salt-rimmed margarita would have been a good idea about an hour ago. Nevertheless, the shade on the outdoor patio feels 10° cooler under the turquoise blue umbrella as the breezes are beginning to stir. The house margarita goes down easy on its way to an order of Quesadilla Vegetariano. I’m sure you get the picture. Complimentary tortilla chips and spicy salsa are perfect for snacking. This is a recipe for making my day.