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Don’t be fooled by the smiles; some of our restaurants are still on the edge

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of dining at one of the coastal restaurant, a (very) tiny spot in Fenwick Island known for exceptional food and service. Though I was ecstatic with the quality of our dishes and the service, I was saddened by the very few people that owners Carlie and Scott Carey were “allowed” to seat. I was even more saddened by the number of potential guests – and income for their little family – they turned away at the door because of indiscriminately imposed limits on seating. With a polite nod to the old saying, it was almost like “the harder they worked, the behinder they got.” Delaware Restaurant Association President Carrie Leishman will appear on my radio show this Saturday and Sunday. When I asked her what she wanted to talk about, she said she wanted to emphasize that the great majority of our small, local eateries are putting on brave, smiling faces, but are still suffering financial and emotional loss every day. Last Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of “just two weeks to flatten the curve.” Local restaurants did their best to pitch in – blissfully unaware that they’d be even more crippled 50 weeks later. During that time, I interviewed One Coastal’s owner Carlie Carey. She and her husband were scrambling to keep their dream alive. During our on-air exchange, her eyes teared up as she revealed her true feelings. I was so moved that I transcribed it and printed it word-for-word on this page. That was then. This is now. In an attempt to point up the one-year anniversary of increasingly capricious rules, lockdowns and “mandates,” I’m reprinting a portion of Carlie’s soliloquy. Who knows … perhaps it will add a personal perspective to remind fellow restaurant lovers that some of our favorite spots – many of which are owned by friends and neighbors – might not be around when (and if) this ever comes to an end. Take it, Carlie: “Our team is like our family.  And I mean that in every sense of the word. Something we’ve really tried to concentrate on in the restaurant, with it being this small, is that we expect a lot from our team. And we try our best to give it back to them as well. They’re more than just employees to us. We know them as a mom, or an aunt, or a […]

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5 Ways to Dine the Coastal Way

Dining while on vacation should be relaxing, stress-free, fun, and—perhaps most importantly—delicious! Follow these tips and you should be guaranteed all of the above. Large Groups If you’re dining with a large group, there are many restaurants that can accommodate your party, like Lambert’s Café in Foley serving up delicious Southern cuisine at its finest. All our restaurants love the crowds, but save yourself the aggravation by calling ahead to ask about large seating requirements. Go for Reservations The variety of restaurants on the Gulf Coast is the stuff culinary dreams are made of. We’ve got plenty of flip-flop casual and fine dining options, plus everything in between. Whether you’re looking for white table cloths or paper towels for napkins, here are some of the places that accept reservations*. Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina Villaggio Grille at The Wharf Sunset Cork Room Restaurant and Wine Bar Voyager’s at Perdido Beach Resort Ginny Lane Bar and Grill Big Fish Restaurant The Diner Aji Sai Tuscany Pizza and Grill Sassy Bass Beachside Grille Bubba’s Seafood House Online Check-in The Ruby Slipper Cafe and Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s are two restaurants that let you beat the wait before you ever arrive! Unlike reservations which require you to plan what time you’ll dine in advance, some restaurants have a web-based system that allows you to get on the restaurant’s waitlist before you even arrive!  Look for this service coming to more and more favorite food stops. Watch People, Not the Clock It’s island time when you’re at the beach so watch people not the clock. Another way to minimize wait time at your favorite restaurant is to watch when people start leaving the beach. The trick is to either leave before the crowds do, or better yet, stay on the beach for that gorgeous sunset and take in a late dinner. Order In or Opt for Take-Out For some, it’s all about spending as much time on the beach as possible.  If you want to stay close to the beach and not leave your rental house or condo, we definitely don’t blame you! There are a few secrets to dining deliciously without ever sitting down inside a restaurant. Order In National delivery services are now offered locally, so you can have dishes from the best restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach delivered right to your door. Get meals from restaurants including. Delivery fees are typically reasonable. Take Out Don’t […]

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What You Need to Know to Organize a Coastal Cleanup

If you’re thinking about organizing a cleanup of a local beach, dive site, river or other coastal environment, here’s what you need to know to get started. And keep in mind, Earth Day is a great day to hold your event, but so does any day of the year! Remember, when planning an underwater clean up, also make sure to report that data to Project AWAREs Marine Debris Program and contact NOAA to ensure any and all permits are met. Choose Your Target First, decide if you’re going to focus on cleaning the beach, or an underwater environment. This will determine which type of permit is required. In the United States, an underwater cleanup requires a call to NOAA. A beach cleanup starts with the local government. Jack Fishman, Community Conservation Officer for Project Aware®, and previous instructor at Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Key Largo, Florida, has organized dozens of cleanups, and says, “Start by walking into the local government’s offices that house the police headquarters and typically parks and recreation. Whoever is directing the parks and recreation department will tell you what you need.” Photo: Jack Fishman   Schedule Removal for the Trash If you’ve done your job, you and your crew are likely going to haul out anywhere between 50 to 300lbs (22 -136kg) or more of garbage. You’ll need a plan for what to do with that garbage. A minimum of three weeks before your cleanup, call the local waste disposal authority to ask that a dumpster be deposited at your site. Fishman adds, “They are going to drop this unit off at your request, but the call needs to be made at least three weeks, if not a month in advance. You never know if the units are relied on by other projects and not available. Also, keep in mind that they will pick up the unit at their convenience.” Photo: Jack Fishman   Make it Fun Now that the logistics are squared away, it’s time to think about how you will get the community involved. How can you make this fun? One idea that’s worked well for Fishman is what’s called a Keg-and-Clean. He says, “If it’s a beach cleanup and there is no diving and your volunteers are adults, ask a local brewery to get involved. One idea is to advertise that participants get a free beer if they collect 5lbs (2kg) of trash.” Clean-ups work much better […]

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25 THINGS TO DO IN THE FLORIDA KEYS

Visit The Keys And You Might Not Come Back! I have been going to the Florida Keys since the late 1980’s when I had an overnight date, and my first rum runner along with a “floater” with my soon to be husband. We listened to Jimmy Buffett before his song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and did some offshore fishing! (Florida Keys Reopens to visitors on June 1st. Please verify this directly with Monroe County) We have loved introducing our daughters Kylie and Alle to one of our favorite vacation destinations to enjoy all the things we have, from fishing to sunsets to just chillin’ out and hanging with the fam. That Florida Keys Feeling I have never forgotten that feeling I had crossing over from Dade to Monroe County and literally felt a shift in myself…a calm came over me…it was the strangest thing and I just kept on coming back! Subscribe here and become a #SoooBoca Insider Why We Love the Florida Keys! We love Key Largo and the Upper Keys with all our hearts. It is a short drive for us from Boca Raton and a non stop flight from many places to Key West, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International if you don’t live locally. I do believe the Florida Keys should be on every traveler’s bucket list for a variety of reasons including the beauty, peacefulness and history of that very special part of the world. 1988 Holiday Isle – Islamorada Things to Do in the Florida Keys From sport fishing, both offshore and back country, to snorkling, diving and just relaxing by a hotel pool there are many things to do. I love exploring the art galleries, shops and of course spending time at one of the many wonderful waterfront restaurants in the Keys. The daily fresh catch like mahi or snapper is always a great choice coupled with a Key Lime Martini or refreshing sweet tea. Take a drive from Key Largo to Key West and stop along the way for lunch! Feed the tarpon at Robbies and check out the Dolphin Research Center while you leisurely drive while enjoying the the water views. Fun Fact: You will enjoy Overseas Highway and the 42 bridges including the fabulous Seven Mile Bridge that links the Keys to each other and the mainland. Trust me on this one. Florida Keys Resources Map of the Florida Keys Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Key […]

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Why Food Tastes Better With a Coastal View

Have you ever thought about why certain restaurant food tastes so good? The immediate reaction that the majority will have is that it is due to the food itself. What is that simply wasn’t the case? The reality is, food can taste better in certain restaurants than others for reasons outside of the way it was prepared or the ingredients that were used. Everything from the comfort level to the view that the restaurant provides can all increase the quality of the taste that the food has. Relaxed Eaters Get More Enjoyment One of the best ways to test this theory is to think about the true benefit of going out to a restaurant. When you are at a restaurant, especially one on the coast, you are going to be in a place where you have escaped your everyday life for a few hours. This almost puts your mind on a mini vacation of sorts. Restaurants on the coast are going to relax your mind and your body. This is going to make the meal in front of you taste better. How can that be though? When you are relaxed, all of your senses are heightened. Your sense of smell and taste are focused specifically on the food and on nothing else around you. If you were to take that same meal home and eat it there, you may have to get up and answer the phone, think about cleaning dishes, getting yourself a drink, and so on. You will not be completely engrossed in that meal you are facing. The more that you can relax when it is time to eat, the more you are going to really get to taste everything you are consuming. Restaurants with a coastal view get you in this mindset rather quickly. Coastal Views and Their Impact on Your Mood We all live hectic and on-the-go lifestyles. This creates anxiety and stress that is often hard to cope with on a day to day basis. When you can go out to a restaurant and look out at the coast, you are going to be able to have a bit of a mini vacation from all of that craziness. This builds off of what we just discussed in terms of being relaxed while you eat. The reason you are going to be relaxed is because of the coastal dining atmosphere that is going to be […]

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5 Ways to Dine the Coastal Way

Dining while on vacation should be relaxing, stress-free, fun, and—perhaps most importantly—delicious! Follow these tips and you should be guaranteed all of the above. Large Groups If you’re dining with a large group, there are many restaurants that can accommodate your party, like Lambert’s Café in Foley serving up delicious Southern cuisine at its finest. All our restaurants love the crowds, but save yourself the aggravation by calling ahead to ask about large seating requirements. Go for Reservations The variety of restaurants on the Gulf Coast is the stuff culinary dreams are made of. We’ve got plenty of flip-flop casual and fine dining options, plus everything in between. Whether you’re looking for white table cloths or paper towels for napkins, here are some of the places that accept reservations*. Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina Villaggio Grille at The Wharf Sunset Cork Room Restaurant and Wine Bar Voyager’s at Perdido Beach Resort Ginny Lane Bar and Grill Big Fish Restaurant The Diner Aji Sai Tuscany Pizza and Grill Sassy Bass Beachside Grille Bubba’s Seafood House Online Check-in The Ruby Slipper Cafe and Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s are two restaurants that let you beat the wait before you ever arrive! Unlike reservations which require you to plan what time you’ll dine in advance, some restaurants have a web-based system that allows you to get on the restaurant’s waitlist before you even arrive!  Look for this service coming to more and more favorite food stops. Watch People, Not the Clock It’s island time when you’re at the beach so watch people not the clock. Another way to minimize wait time at your favorite restaurant is to watch when people start leaving the beach. The trick is to either leave before the crowds do, or better yet, stay on the beach for that gorgeous sunset and take in a late dinner. Order In or Opt for Take-Out For some, it’s all about spending as much time on the beach as possible.  If you want to stay close to the beach and not leave your rental house or condo, we definitely don’t blame you! There are a few secrets to dining deliciously without ever sitting down inside a restaurant. Order In National delivery services are now offered locally, so you can have dishes from the best restaurants in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach delivered right to your door. Get meals from restaurants including The Diner, Ginny Lane, Doc’s, Cactus Cantina, Flora-Bama Yacht Club, and many more!  Delivery […]

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11 Best Florida Keys Hotels & Resorts

11 Best Florida Keys Hotels & Resorts Drive south from Miami and you’ll discover an intriguing collection of islands strung together like a shell necklace, each with its own personality. First up is kitschy-cute Key Largo, where T-shirt shops outnumber the tropical fish. Dive into the clear waters here, then rest your salty head at a boutique-style hotel. If you continue down Overseas Highway, you’ll get to Islamorada and its purple-hued sunsets. Further south still, Duck Key beckons families with a summer camp vibe. Whether fish trophies and shiplap or cosmopolitan coastal float your boat, there’s a hotel, and a Key, to match your every mood. Click the link to read our complete Key West guide. All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Courtesy The Moorings Village HOTEL The Moorings Village $$ |  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2017, 2018, 2019 Each of The Moorings Village’s 19 villas and cottages are different in terms of design, size, and views. Some have ocean views, some look out onto the other villas. Clearly, the first is the better option. A recent stay at the Maroni Villa offered 1,000 square feet of space, ocean views from almost every window, a spacious deck, a quaint front porch that looked directly onto the water, and a hammock—suspended between two palm trees—for when lazy days came calling. If you’re looking for a bit of serenity, and don’t own a private oceanfront villa in Key West to find it, this is the next best thing. HOTEL Isla Bella Beach Resort $$ |  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2020 We’ll forgive you for wondering if this is Marathon—or the Mediterranean. The whitewashed, Greek-inspired architecture and the eye-catching blue and white interiors set a sophisticated tone at this family-friendly resort. Elegant and upscale without any trace of pretense, the Keys’ newest resort is also one of its best. It’s located on Knights Key in Marathon, midway between Miami and Key West. It’s a perfect location for exploring the Keys. Courtesy Hilton HOTEL Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton $$ |  READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2019, 2020 Open since February 2019 in Key Largo, Baker’s Kay Resort has been a hit with Traveler readers from the jump. It spans 13 tropical acres that were once a pineapple plantation tucked away off the busy Overseas Highway. The resort has 200 rooms but manages to maintain a boutique and […]

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4 Tips To Choose A Right Restaurant For Dining Out

When you plan to dine out for your dinner, you want to receive the best value for your money, especially when you eat out occasionally. From the ambience to the food served at your table, you want everything to be in its finest form. After all, you are paying for it. Food is not merely a physiological necessity. People now rave about the cuisines made with finest ingredients served at the concept restaurants. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and you want to enjoy it thoroughly in the best possible manner. For that and so many other reasons, you should give rightful consideration to your choice of a restaurant. Here is a rundown of some tips to help you choose the best dining spot every time you plan to eat out. 01. Location: The location of a restaurant is one of the most critical factors you should consider when you are searching for one. In other words, you must consider the area in which a restaurant is located and look at how accessible it is from your home. Choosing the right restaurant in an accessible area is a good decision so that you will not end up wasting your time and money in traveling to that dining spot, incurring more cost for eating out. Therefore, you should choose a restaurant that you can easily drive to or access using your mode of transportation. The location of the restaurant also matters depending on the purpose of your dining out. For instance, you may want to choose a restaurant facing the beach or an architectural gem. 02. Menu: Menu of a restaurant should be your topmost concern. After all, the primary purpose of dining out is to enjoy the food. You should choose a restaurant depending on what type of cuisine you like and what particular taste you want to try. Taste of the food a restaurant serves matters a lot which depends on the experience of its chefs and the quality of the ingredients they use. You should know what kind of menus a restaurant serve when you are dining there for the first time. If you are dining out with your family, make sure the restaurant’s menu has something for everyone. If you want to eat a specific type of cuisine, search for a restaurant offering specialties in that cuisine.    03. Quality of Service: You should also consider […]

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Key Lime Colada is pure heaven in the Florida Keys

Key Lime Colada is pure heaven in the Florida Keys. If you like Pina Colada’s and really don’t care if it rains, the best one can be found in the Florida Keys and the Key Lime Colada is heaven. In the Florida Keys, it’s all about fresh seafood, conch fritters, and Key Limes! Key lime pies can be found from the tip of Key West to the Northern tip of Key Largo and just about everywhere in between. Yet if you want to enjoy the best of both worlds, you need to heat to Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar. It is here that you will find the best Pina Colada, excuse me, the best Key Limcolada anywhere in this great big world. Located at Milemarker 12 on the bayside in Islamorada, the small restaurant is home to great food and more importantly, the Limecolada. Thicker than most traditional Pina’ Coladas, the Key LimeColada tastes like heaven. It is sweet like the key lime pie and the rim of the glass is dipped into a pie crust crumble. The drink itself is smooth as silk and tastes like a pie. To think that someone had the idea to blend a key lime pie without the crust and add alcohol is pure genius. Could you make it at home? Maybe. Grab a pie from the grocery store, scrape it off the crust and blend it with rum and give it a try!  But on your next trip to the Florida Keys, make sure you stop for the real deal. Lorelei’s is a great restaurant with extremely affordable prices, a friendly wait staff, and a beautiful view of the water from the outside tables in the back. There is even seating near a small beach that isn’t used for swimming. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner but the draw for me was the Colada.

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7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant

My husband and I love trying out dishes in restaurants, something we can’t do better at home, so we choose a restaurant based on this. How Do You Choose a Restaurant? How do you choose a restaurant? Will the occasion itself shape your choice? Or, is food a major factor? Aren’t service, ambience and location important, too? Or, do you go for Michelin stars? Whether we are conscious of it or not, we have our reasons for choosing a restaurant. Choosing a Restaurant Which Restaurant to Choose? When you take the time to choose, oftentimes, you are rewarded with a great gastronomic experience built around the ambience of the restaurant and the attitude of the staff serving you. In choosing a restaurant, one faces many considerations. Word of mouth or reviews is useful. They give you an idea of what the restaurant is like. Especially from people who had been to this place several times. That would be a vote for the restaurant. But why not take the risk and try out something new each time? This, too, could result in gastronomic surprises. Will You Choose This Restaurant? What Is Your Top Criteria? Street Restaurant in Hanoi aesta1 In choosing a restaurant, what is your top criteria? Tips in Choosing a Restaurant aesta1 Best Guide in How to Choose a Good Restaurant Sometimes, all we want to do is get a table and eat. But once in a while, to make of our eating out an experience is quite enjoyable. Some of us know exactly what to look for. But for those who have not much clue in making your restaurant visit a memory to cherish, here are some tips to a great restaurant experience. Barcelona Restaurant aesta1 1. Location of the Restaurant Choose a restaurant you can walk to. When you want to have a great time, driving afterwards can pose a real problem. So, get a restaurant that is close by where you can easily walk or where it is easy to get a cab. Another 50 bucks for a cab to go to a restaurant adds unnecessary expense. Of course, it is different when the location is truly superb: a lake, seaside, riverside or a spectacular view of the mountain or an architectural gem. But food must be excellent to enjoy a $50 cab ride value. A Neighbourhood Restaurant? Beautiful Restaurant in Istanbul aesta1 2. Ambience Matters […]

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