Miguel’s Cocina in Old Town San Diego, California

Dining Outside the Home: Miguel’s Cocina in Old Town San Diego, California. When the menu captures the true spirit of Mexico, north of the border, it boasts of Miguel’s Signature Fajitas. What makes it so special, you wonder. Pay attention: Skirt steak and chicken topped with bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and sliced poblano. ¡Ay, caramba! Now, you’re talking. Better order a hand-shaken margarita to wash things down. Look around. Handmade tortillas, crispy chips dredged between bowls of jalapeño white sauce and chunky tomato-fresh salsa. Is it any wonder if feels like a party?

Los Locos Bar & Grill in San Diego, California

Dining Outside the Home: Los Locos Bar & Grill in San Diego, California. Tucked in the main thoroughfare of Old Town, sits an authentic unassuming Mexican cantina that serves jalapeño margaritas with a twist of outdoor music. It should. After all, this is the perfect corner spot for people-watching. For an afternoon snack, order the special of the day: Spicy Corn Nachos. Under the California sunshine, the cheese transforms into an ultra-melty obsession. Scoop up some black beans and pico de gallo. It’s okay to lick your fingers. Dishes like this are meant to be shared.

Monico’s Taqueria in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Monico’s Taqueria in Kapaa, Kauai. Change is good, especially when location is involved. Monico’s Taqueria moved up the road where they can serve more customers. Sitting on the outdoor patio at the edge of a coconut grove affords a stunning view of the mountains at sunset. Nice. Kick back, sip on a salt-rimmed margarita, munch on tortilla chips dredged in smoky salsa or homegrown habanero sauce. It doesn’t get any better than this. When the plate of fork-tender crispy pork carnitas arrive, you won’t want to share. Stuff the corn tortillas with beans, rice, pork, and guac. Fold over and bite. As the juices run down your fingers, don’t despair. Lick them. After all, it’s family. There’s no judgment here. The atmosphere is as down to earth as the food itself.

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada. Forget those watered-down margaritas, you won’t find them at Guy Fieri’s Kitchen. And ho-hum nachos? Nada. Trash Can Nachos are so loaded with a mountain of ingredients, they literally get dumped onto a platter at the table. Watch the gooeyness of nacho cheese, black bean purée, chipotle bbq sauce, and Mexican crema practically overflow the edges. Resist taking your finger to swipe a taste. This is worth the wait. Every tortilla chip is loaded with fixings. Sound like a lot of food? No worries. Shareable items are only one section of the menu. Just keep in mind Guy’s famous saying is, “Go Big or Go Home.”

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.

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.

Dining Outside the Home: Mariachi’s Mexican Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Mariachi’s Mexican Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Across a footbridge over a cool mountain stream, the dusty road becomes a well trodden path where the festive flavors of Mexico blend into a warm, inviting atmosphere. Hola, amigos. Please have a seat for open-air dining. The family-owned and family-run restaurant originated years ago in San Diego. Now on the island of Kauai since 1992, Mariachi’s not only offers a free ocean view, but the menu options come highly recommended as well. Think about what to order while sipping on a classic lime margarita, salted rim optional. Take things slow and easy. In time, you may come to see why the family chose a new life in paradise serving authentic Mexican food.

Dining Outside the Home: Yolös Mexican Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Yolös Mexican Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada! Every place has a story behind their name, so this place is no exception. Yolo! You Only Live Once! Head over to Planet Hollywood to get the party started. Yolös Mexican Grill has your number and it’s lucky number 7. Check out Happy Hour for amazing fresh fruit margaritas. Chilled and icy. Try any number of specialty foods with Mexican, Pacific Rim, South American, and Caribbean influences. The salsas are out of this world delicious. Habanero Papaya, Tomatillo, Roasted Tomato, Diablo. Make your next stop among the glowing lights of an urban cantina. You only live once.

Dining Outside the Home: Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada

Dining Outside the Home: Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada! Gigantic words hit you before ever setting foot inside the door, “Go Big or Go Home”. And this is no joke. Whether it be boasting or a warning, heed these words. We shared the Original Ringer Burger, a mountain of juicy meat, gooey cheese, crispy onion rings, and donkey sauce (you don’t want to know). It came with a generous side of quad fries. Exactly. Naturally we needed to wash it down with a 52-ounce stemmed punch bowl listed as the Kicked Up Caddy. And it was. The specialty margarita was a perfect blend of tequila, Cointreau, agave, lime, and jalapeño. It came with two straws. Being Vegas, we got a “to go” container and walked around afterwards sipping on it. Be bold, go hungry.