Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu, Kauai! Across the road from Poipu Beach, pull up a chair at Brenneke’s second floor restaurant for a casual meal with an open-air view of beachfront action. Rain or shine, it’s a pretty decent hangout for Happy Hour cocktails and Kauai-Style Pupus. Fresh Mahi Mahi, Ono, and Sashimi Grade Ahi prove the fishermen like Brenneke’s as much as the customers. If big beach burgers are your thing, no worries. They’ve got ‘em. Feed the entire family; a Keiki menu offers finger foods and dinner entrees. Drop by and stay awhile, you’re on island time now.

Sam and Ethel’s Restaurant in Tipp City, Ohio

Dining Outside the Home: Sam and Ethel’s Restaurant in Tipp City, Ohio! If buildings could talk, this 1868 longtime shoe repair shop turned ice cream parlor turned breakfast diner could fill volumes. It’s always been about family service and preserving history in the community. Sam and Ethel’s serves old-fashioned comfort food at affordable prices. The cozy atmosphere provides small talk with staff members, regular customers, and first-time guests. There may be a line at the door, but be patient. Check out the decor. You’ll see hanging on the wall a framed newspaper article with a faded photo of longtime comedian and actor, Jonathan Winters. He actually dropped by for a meal at Sam and Ethel’s. See? It’s definitely worth the wait.

Willie T’s in Key West, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Willie T’s in Key West, Florida. Pull out a chair at an open air table, where lively music sets the mood, dollar bills cover every square inch with messages scribbled in jest, and the smell of conch fritters makes your mouth water. Try not to gape too much at your neighbor’s food or you may end up ordering everything on the menu. Tropical drinks go down smooth and easy, especially mint mojitos. When the succulent lobster salad, stuffed with celery stalks and crispy leaves, overflows from the warm, buttery bun, simply grab a fork to spear the chunky mounds of lobster meat before gripping the roll with two hands. Wipe your chin. No one is watching.

The Best of 2019

It’s always a curiosity. By the time the end of the year rolls around, I’m always a little curious about which food and travel posts turn out to be the most popular on Instagram. There’s a formula for that sort of thing, I guess. It’s not obvious to me, that’s for sure. As I look over the cube of photos, it’s almost like time travel taking me back to a ancient evenings of distant music or simply a reason for creating another interesting dish my husband needs to try. Both memories bring a smile to my face. Perhaps they will for you as well. Farewell 2019.

Meeting Chef Michelle Tribble

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, I knew there was one place that was definitely on my Bucket List: Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace along the Las Vegas Strip. If you’re familiar with the reality cooking series, Hell’s Kitchen, I don’t need to tell you Michelle Tribble was the winner of Season 17. She was awarded the position of head chef for this Vegas hotspot by owner, Gordon Ramsey. And this is the second time I’ve met her. No matter how busy the kitchen staff is, on a full-scale stage for all to see, excited patrons as well as Instagram enthusiasts stop by to pose for selfies. Chef Michelle, keeping one eye on the crew as she circles the dining area checking out the food, continuously greets curiosity seekers for feedback and photo ops. She really is down-to-earth, very personable, and pays great attention to detail. No wonder it was a privilege to meet her.

Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Like moths to a flame, people are drawn to a restaurant with an ocean view. Perhaps the sound of the waves lapping on the shoreline is conducive to ultimate freedom and peaceful relaxation. On the horizon you might catch sight of an airliner gliding over the lighthouse. Hualani’s open-air restaurant understands the hypnotic pull of the ocean. It’s one of the reasons their menu features local fresh ingredients from land, sea, and living by the water. I suggest a Yoga Girl Cocktail and Seared Shrimp Quesadilla. Is it any wonder the name Hualani translates to “Fruit of Heaven”? Come and see.

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.