Dining Outside the Home: Paradise Restaurant in Key West, Florida! “Behind every storm, there is a paradise waiting for you,” say owners Christian and Julian Velez. Together they created Paradise Restaurant, specializing in tasty Latin American food. Their hospitality alone embraces everyone who comes to dine here. Sure, the iguanas may come into view over your shoulder, but that only adds to the ambiance of outdoor seating. Sit back, sip on a salty-sugar rimmed margarita for good measure while deciding what to order. Ever tried sweet and succulent fried plantains? You must. They are simply delish caramelized niblets of green bananas. Pair them with pork carnitas and Cuban black beans. Talk about Paradise.
Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Mexican Café in Key West, Florida! When a restaurant boasts of an abundance of hatch chiles and fresh, local ingredients, you begin to wonder if Santa Fe style Tex-Mex might be a good choice for dinner. Anytime the weather is hot, and the drinks are cold, it draws a crowd on Duval Street for seafood favorites, like skewered shrimp marinated in lime juice and ginger. Take a swig of on-the-rocks margarita. The salted rim offsets the spicy salsa you can’t resist tasting now and then. If you’re in the neighborhood, take advantage of Happy Hour specials. There’s no rush here.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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. 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.