“Why are you visiting Ireland?”
This was a real conversation Sharon had with the immigration agent when we visited Dublin in 2016. My questioning was about how long we were staying, which was for 8 hours before flying to London that evening.
Traveling on points and miles opens up options you never had before. This includes scheduling stops at places just to visit for a little while, or just for lunch. We do have a short list of places that we’ll go out of our way, a little bit, just for a meal.
The Boxty House
20 – 21 Temple Bar, 2 Dublin, Ireland
We first ate here in 2011 when visiting Ireland on an Adventures by Disney tour. It was recommended to us by my college classmate. We loved it, so much so that we ate there twice. We NEVER do that in a city we’ve never been because there are usually so many different places to eat.
The specialty here is boxty, a potato based flour, and they make dumplings or pancakes out of it. The pancakes they serve stuffed with various meats, like an Irish burrito. We’ve been unable to find ANYWHERE in the U.S. that even makes the stuff.
So when I was able to schedule a 12 hour layover into our trip to London, we jumped at the chance to go back. We even sent a message to the restaurant on Facebook and they reserved a table for us, even though it was the day of the Irish Football Championships and Dublin was packed solid.
Dahl & DiLuca
2321 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ USA
We found this restaurant in Sedona using an old trick I learned from my father. I call it “The Question.” He always would ask hotel concierges about places to eat and they’d rattle off a list or would ask what type of food were we looking for. My dad would then ask, “If you were in town and only had one night, where would you eat?” It was the question that led us to discover Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa (on our list of favorite places to eat outside of Disney World), and it also led us to Dahl & DiLuca.
We were visiting Sedona 11 years ago, on our first Adventures by Disney trip, and had a free night on the town. We asked for their recommendation and this was their answer to “the question.” We were not disappointed.
When I was putting together our trip to the southwest and it looked like Phoenix would be our starting point, I suggested we make an overnight stop in Sedona for dinner. Sharon agreed immediately. The restaurant is listed as casual elegant so its a place you’d probably feel more comfortable wearing a nicer outfit instead of a t-shirt and jeans (but we’ve seen people there dressed that way).
The food here is classic Italian dishes. Lasagna, linguine bolognese, chicken parmigiana and linguine with clams are spotted on the menu. The servers here have all been top notch and the ambiance was set with live piano music in the main dining room (standards from 40s to 70s, but that fit the demographics of the diners there on a Monday evening). Not to make your mouth water too much but I just had a cioppino filled with chunks of lobster, two huge scallops, two massive shrimp, mussels and clams that was amazing. It took us 11 years to get back here for our second meal, but it was worth the wait,
700 US Hwy 1 North, Iselin, NJ and
647 US-46, Fairfield, NJ
There is only one word on the sign outside, but it says it all:
This Central New Jersey location just outside the Woodbridge Mall has been packing in the crows for decades with their chips & salsa, huge margaritas and Tex-Mex specialties. Just a huge place of moderately priced food that sticks to your insides like Elmers Glue.
Sharon and I both grew up in the area so we ate here both before and after we met, However, we don’t have much chance to visit the area since we’ve moved 1000 miles away, You can bet that when we had a rental car for a visit to New Jersey, we took the opportunity to eat there (on Sharon’s birthday, no less). It’s that good.
I was recently reminded there’s a second Jose Tejas location in New Jersey in Fairfield. I had the pleasure of eating lunch there with my uncle (without Sharon) (note from Sharon: I still haven’t forgiven him) on the quick trip for my grammar school reunion.
We have one more place on the list that we really want to go again. I almost made this work but it would have been the craziest thing I’d ever done for a meal.
Morio’s Sushi Bistro
1160 S King St. Honolulu, HI USA
There I am, not knowing that in about ten minutes, I would be eating some of the best sushi of my life. In a room that sat maybe 20 people, with Christmas lights hanging on the wall (in February). I found this place on Yelp! (at the time they didn’t have a website), I made a reservation by phone, they just took my name and I know it was written on a napkin or something. It’s an experience. I’d recommend reading the reviews to get a feel for what the place is like.
We want to go back so bad but Hawaii is FAR!!!!! On our way home from Japan (part of the best trip I ever planned) I almost had a way to visit – I tried booking a flight from Japan to Hawaii to Los Angeles. It would have given us an overnight in Honolulu and we could have tried to get into Morio’s for dinner. In the end, the flights didn’t work out and we didn’t get to go. We’re looking to go to Japan again in 2020, so maybe that time I can work it out. If not, we should be able to make it back in 2022, for our 20th wedding anniversary.
Revisiting these places is something that would never have been possible without miles and points, simply because I could never rationalize the cost just for a meal. However, this “hobby” can make excursions like this possible. I think that fellow blogger Mommy Points put it best when she said that “Airline Miles Make the Abnormal Normal.” I couldn’t agree more.
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