Laishley Crab House in Punta Gorda, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Laishley Crab House in Punta Gorda, Florida. For a jaw-dropping view of the waterfront from the open air upper deck, either grab a seat at the wraparound bar or reserve a table instead. Laishley Crab House has a menu that offers everything from incredible seafood and sushi bowls to unique sandwiches, garden salads, roasted chicken, and grilled steak. But way more than that. The freshly baked bread is so warm, butter spreads across it like liquid gold. Try not to gorge yourself because dinner is worth the wait. Sip on a crafted cocktail; notice the way vehicles crisscross on the parallel bridges in the distance as motorboats cut through the flowing waters of the Peace River below. Make dining a total experience worth remembering. Life is good at Laishley Crab House, especially if you save room for dessert.

El Toreo Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta, Georgia

Dining Outside the Home: El Toreo Mexican Restaurant in Valdosta, Georgia! You know you’ve hit the jackpot when it’s BOGO on a Saturday night. That translates to buy one margarita, get one free, no matter what brand of tequila you choose. A nice Mexican tequila that is 100% pure de agave goes down smooth and perfect. The cocktail was crisp and citrusy from a squeeze of fresh lime, rather than green and sugar-laden. Perhaps that’s their secret. Being in the mood for a salad did not disappoint. The Grilled Shrimp Salad was, without a doubt, the best I’ve ever had. There must have been at least a dozen perfectly-seasoned grilled shrimp served in a crispy flour tortilla shell. Refried beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, cheese and sour cream turned this simple salad into a meal-in-a-bowl. Our waitress, Jasmin, was very accommodating in meeting our needs. Great food is a must, but customer service makes it memorable.

Mexi-Wing Restaurant in Athens, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: Mexi-Wing Restaurant in Athens, Tennessee! When you’re passing through town and the parking lot of an authentic Mexican grill is lined with vehicles, it’s usually a good sign. As we slid into a cozy booth, a basket of freshly-baked tortilla chips, accompanied by a carafe of chunky salsa, was dropped off at our table. A few minutes later, two margaritas on-the-rocks were going down easy. If you’ve never tried a sugar-rimmed lime margarita, you should. It’s amazing. The extensive menu boasted the biggest and best hot wings around, hence the name. House Specials and Combination platters were too numerous to count. It was beginning to look as though deciding what to eat was going to be tough. In a situation like this, try something a little different. Ubaldo, the waiter, was very helpful. He explained things like tostaquac, molcajete, and carne asada. For incredible Mexican food with an unforgettable name, bookmark Mexi-Wing Restaurant.

The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana. When a stay-cation makes sense to remain close to home, wander down the road a piece to The Sherman. Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, step over the threshold of this quaint inn and eatery. You may be taken aback by the lively music and intermittent laughter coming from the Black Forest Bar. Peek around the corner. Rub your eyes and look again. The deep dark interior almost resembles a magical forest where fairy tales come true. Do the walls have eyes? Enter if you dare. Check out that giant pretzel. The couple with their heads huddled together are nibbling on it as though they were Hänsel and Gretel. This is just one of many appetizers for dipping pleasure with gourmet mustards and bier cheese. The crafted cocktails and extensive beer selection complement house-baked specialties with Bavarian leanings. Go early, stay awhile, and above all…share dishes. The German-style food is so spot on, you’ll want to eat your fill…and then some.

The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: The Sherman in Batesville, Indiana! Listed as one of the Historic Hotels of America, The Sherman is the “Gathering Place of Generations”, established in 1852. Located among the sleepy hills of southern Indiana, German culture remains the theme within and without. The German Tudor style architecture is easily identified by the half-timbering on the two-story building which houses the enchanting hotel, European corner café, private alcoved restaurant, antique Belgium bar, and popular outdoor biergarten. German cuisine, known for its specialties, speaks volumes of Oktoberfest-style renderings. From flavorful brauts to international beers to scrumptious desserts, the extensive menu pleases the palate of travelers, historians, celebrities, and residents alike. The next time a road trip takes you on a journey of exploration, stop for awhile to bask in the hospitality known throughout the area at The Sherman.

Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana! There’s something charming about an eatery located on the town square a few steps from the county courthouse. Inside the decor is Old World Italy with rustic brick walls dividing spacious seating for a romantic meal for two, weekend entertainment for a crowd, or outdoor dining on the patio. The wait staff is as friendly as family. If you’re lucky, the owner of Tour of Italy may step away from the alcove kitchen to twirl pizza dough into the air. With fresh ingredients, made-from-scratch garlic knots, and authentic Italian cuisine, it’s difficult to choose just one item. Order enough to share and take home the rest. Problem solved.

Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Do you need a reason to love lasagna? Might it be the oven-baked pasta bathed in layers of zesty spices, fresh herbs, meat sauce, and Italian cheese? Just thinking about it is mouth-watering. Well, you don’t need to travel to Northern Italy from the Pacific Ocean. Café Portofino, a beachfront restaurant on Kauai, serves up a plate of happiness and satisfaction by bringing the Italian deliciousness right to your table. Their classic lasagna combination features the rich meat sauce of cravings as well as a creamy white sauce to die for. This is not your ordinary lasagna. Taste it to believe it.

Avalon Gastropub in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Avalon Gastropub in Kapaa, Kauai! When a waiter at another restaurant tells you where he goes after a hard day, you sit up and take notice. Avalon Gastropub is a trailblazer for this genre on the island. It is a place that offers a casual, yet refined atmosphere. The top-notch food and drink selections step up the freshness and creativity of the daily menu. Crabmeat Crostini is one of those delectable special features. The chef recommended Scotch Egg features a soft boiled egg wrapped in pork belly sausage. It’s one of several tantalizing small plates, that’s for sure. Some crafted cocktails aim to tickle the palate with smoke-infused alcoholic beverages, such as the Jalapeño Smoked Margarita shown here. It actually comes to the table in a smoker box. Talk about a multi-sensory experience.

Duke’s Kauai in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Duke’s Kauai in Lihue, Kauai! An open-air view of the deep blue Pacific Ocean may leave you wondering what tasty sea creatures lie beneath the surface. One glance around the dining room may answer that thought. The chefs at Duke’s Kauai respect the Hawaiian tradition of local fishermen. Their catch-of-the-day is determined by the season. It could be Ahi with its steak-like texture seared and crusted in furikake seasoning. Or it may be Ono with its juicy and mild flavor grilled in a spicy sesame-ginger glaze. Other island favorites are always an option. Add vegetables, fruit, and bread selections from their famous salad bar to complete the entree. When it’s all said and done, no one walks away hungry from Duke’s Kauai.