The holiday season is filled with activities geared toward families and children but some of these festivities are actually appealing to kid-free people as well. Chicago’s annual Zoo Lights Festival at Lincoln Park Zoo attracts kiddies from far and wide but it also makes for a romantic couples excursion as well as supplying s a great excuse to snuggle up to a date. Read More »
I normally don’t order martinis as my drink of choice, but the drink menu at J. Alexander’s looked too good to pass up. The menu listed the prices of the drinks, which I really appreciate, because I feel embarrassed asking how much each drink on the menu costs. There’s nothing worse than having a good drink, then getting the bill and realizing that delicious specialty just cost you $14.
We sat down to dinner, and after seeing the list of specialty martinis at $9 each, I figured I’d go for one since the waiter (very chipper, Patrick) insisted I’d love it. I’m glad he insisted because my Orangy FruFru Martini (not the official name) was not only good, it came with a “sidecar” mini carafe of the excess mixed drink, chilling in its own ice water. For my $9, I got essentially a 2-for-1, and at a place like J. Alexander’s, that’s a great deal.
The menu was overwhelming with good-looking dinner options, and being the seafood lover that I am, I decided to try the Fish Sandwich. This was a daring move for me considering I was raised in the #1 Fishing Village in all of the Florida, and I know good fresh fish. At this point of the article, I’d like for any of you who live or have been to the Destin, Florida, area to please cover your ears. Read More »
From the street, the Halekulani Hotel is a somewhat austere and imposing luxury hotel on Oahu’s Waikiki Beach. Don’t let that scare you off. Work your way through the marvelously sophisticated and elegant lobby, you’ll find the amazing House without a Key.
Rarely do you come across a bar with such literary history. In a925, author Earl Derr Biggers named his first novel, featuring the famous semi-fictional detective Charlie Chan, after a small beachside bar built under a giant kiawe tree. In 1983, the bar was rebuilt as a tribute to the legendary Chan.
Needless to say, if Charlie Chan (or Chang Apana – the person who Chan’s character was based upon) were around, he would be quite proud of the homage. While indoor seating is available, the bulk and best of the seating is outside. If you’re just looking for drinks to start your evening, there’s no better place to gather than around a small table in comfortable chairs. Sit back and relax over cocktails that fulfill your idyllic dreams of a Hawai’ian vacation. We delighted in the Tequila Pineapple Mojito, but my favorite drink on the island by far had to be the Lilikoi Daiquiri with rum, passion fruit and lime. It as almost too pretty to drink.
Fortunately, I got over that. And then I ordered another.
If you’re planning a stop at The House without a Key, make sure you get there by about 5:30 p.m. during prime tourist season. That way, you’re likely to get a spot near the stage to see the night’s band and dance performance. Each night a different group performs, so you can come back for a different flavor day after day. Two of the dancers are former holders of the Miss Hawaii title share their graceful moves on stage and sweetly smile for your photos between performances.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive dive bar, this is about as far away from that as you can get. The decor is elegant. The staff was attentive, knowledgable and friendly. Many guests had children at their tables mezmerized by the music and dancing.
As you sit and sip and watch the amazing sunset, you’ll realize that everything you heard about Hawaii is all true and you’ve found it here.
Images by Nancy Syzdek.
Thanks to my blogging life, I’ve met quite a few interesting people over the years. Those interesting people have a penchant for visiting Vegas. So, when they do, I get the calls, emails and DM’s on Twitter asking for the best kept secrets in Vegas. If they’re the drinking kind (and they usually are), I send them to Firefly Tapas Bar over on Paradise just north of Flamingo Rd. It’s a straight shot on your way out of McCarran Airport (making it a great place to whet your whistle on your way in or out of town) and only a few blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip (a fairly short, relatively cheap taxi ride).
When they get there, I tell them to try the sangria – red, white, the seasonal specialty – they’re all good. I tell them to try the tapas. They can’t go wrong with bacon-wrapped dates, the tuna tartare, and banana-nutella sandwiches. If the weather’s great, get there well before 5 to get a prime seat on the patio. If they’re looking for a more intimate environ, head to the lounge spaces in the middle section. If they’re in pack mode, the staff is happy to accomodate large groups in the main seating area, just off the bar.
This is a popular spot for the successful thirty- and forty-something-set with discerning palates and the time to be leisurely about their apres-work repast. By 7 p.m., the place is humming, so you’ll have to bring up the tone of your conversations a bit, but you’ll have a great time.
The staff is great here. They’ll walk you through the tapas menu and give you some great suggestions. If something isn’t to your liking, they’ll whisk it off (and from your bill usually) and swap it out with a better match.
Overall, Firefly is a great treasure in the middle of town. The next time you’re in the neighborhood, buzz by for a glass and a plate or two.
[Image by Nancy Syzdek]