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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dining Outside the Home: Olympic Cafe in Kapaa, Kauai! Slide into a booth with a view of the street, or sit in the bar where the crosswinds cool off sunburned skin. Olympic Cafe daily specials can vary from breakfast combinations to two-handed thick burgers or spicy ahi sandwiches. Either way, the portions are generous so if you walk away hungry it’s your own fault. Just make sure you leave room for dessert. It’s worth it. The Kauai Pie is meant to be shared. Listen to this: Kona coffee ice cream loaded with shaved coconut, dark chocolate, and macadamia nuts. Don’t forget the fudge swirls and whipped cream. Now grab a fork and submerge into an island sugar coma.
Dining Outside the Home: Pizzeria Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! If the aromas of Italian tomato, roasted garlic, and fresh basil waft through the air the second you raise the lid of the takeout box, you already know the pizza inside is going to taste good. The Americano combination of savory sauce, salty pepperoni, and gooey mozzarella cheese make chowing down come easy. Whether the crust is chewy soft or charred crisp, everyone wins at Pizzeria Portofino. That’s the beauty of ordering to please. Spend all day at the beach, then save some serious dough. Dine-in or carry out. For me? With a view like this with a private balcony, it was an easy choice to make.
Dining Outside the Home: JJ’s Broiler in Lihue, Kauai. Even if you’re not a sport enthusiast, you can still get a healthy meal with an oceanfront view of Kalapaki Bay. Portions are generous, so sharing is encouraged. Order several menu items for a taste explosion of flavor. For starters, Crispy Won Tons with two dipping sauces is amazing: salty soy or hot mustard. Double-dipping allowed, as long as your partner doesn’t mind. The Cobb Salad is practically a vegetable garden on a platter. Crispy romaine lettuce provides a bed for chunks of turkey, ham, and bacon. Add avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, sliced eggs, and bleu cheese crumbles. Now you’re talking. Smother it with salad dressing, toss, and eat. Life doesn’t get any better than this.