Sunday, May 28, 2017

10 Things About My Vacation Pt. 3

Welcome to the 3rd and concluding part of my Destin vacation review. I know in the first article of this series I said I was going to tell  you about ten things I wanted you to know. Since that first article I have decided that there will only be 9. 

Most of what I was going to share with you in the one of these last 3 topics has been covered in the others. So in the interest of brevity (yes, I know that word) I have amended the number of topics. Now for the last 2. 

The Restaurants
One of the best things about going to an area you've never been to before is finding the best places to eat. On this trip that meant going to a seafood place with a beautiful view, a breakfast place that we liked so much we went twice, and a unique experience at a local pub where the customers are also "investors".

One of the ways to find good eateries in a new place is to ask someone lives there or knows the area. This is where I go back to the couple from Bowling Green we met on the beach. They told us that the best place for breakfast in Destin is "Another Broken Egg Cafe".    

On Wednesday we decided to go there before our time at the beach. 
Other than the Chrystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom and Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Hotel, both in Walt Disney World, this is probably the best breakfast place I've ever been to. We liked it so much that we went back again on Friday. 

It's very busy place. On Wednesday we were seated almost right away. On Friday we went a little earlier in the day and had to wait about 20 minutes to get a table. 

Paula and I split an omelet that came with home fries and a toasted English muffin. We ordered an extra pancake as well. It was all delicious and relatively reasonably priced. 

As you can see from this picture, we were very happy about our experience. 

In doing research for this post, I have discovered that there are "ABE" cafes in other cities, mostly throughout the south. 

Fortunately for us, there are 2 relatively close to us; one in Owensboro, KY and Nashville, TN. If you live in or are ever visiting the south, I suggest you look on their website to see if there's one near you. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. 

Being in a harbor town (Did the song "Brandi" by The Looking Glass just pop into your head like it did mine just now?), there was plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from. 

I am not a fan of seafood to say the least. But my wife really enjoys it. So I promised her that during our week, I would take her out for at least one good seafood meal.  

On the same night we went to the Harborwalk, we had dinner at  a popular place, Dewey's Destin Harborside restaurant. 
It was right along highway 98 (we had to make another U-turn to get to it). The parking lot was rather small for a restaurant. But there was a second lot on the left. We lucked out and got the only handicapped spot in the first lot. It was in front of the fence on the right side of the picture above. 

There was a small courtyard for guests to wait for table just beyond the fence. I really didn't take notice of the inside of the restaurant but the deck was very nice. It got to be a little breezy so close to the water but it was a pleasant experience. 

While we were waiting for our food I went down off the deck to the boardwalk near the water. I took these pictures of the harbor. 

This tabby cat had been laying on the rail sleeping when I walked down the stairs but it ran away when it saw me. On my way back up to the deck I saw him hiding under it. What a great thing to be a cat living in a seafood restaurant. 

Paula got a dish that included grouper with lemon sauce and shrimp. From the non-seafood eater's choices, I got chicken fingers and fries. 

I can't really judge the food because what I had was not their specialty. Paula really liked what she got. She said that even the hush puppies were good. I didn't eat them because they had jalapeno pieces in them. I was lucky that Paula warned me about that before I tried them. I can't handle the burn of really spicy food. 

Although it wasn't the best seafood she's ever had Paula says she would recommend Dewey's to others. I would go back again simply for the view and outside atmosphere. 

From the time we first made our vacation plans Paula's co-workers familiar with the Destin area, highly recommended that we go to McGuire's Irish Pub for the best steak around. 

We decided to go for dinner on the Wednesday of our stay. Again, this restaurant was on highway 98 (no U-turn necessary) near the harbor. 
I'm always been a bit leery of places that come so highly recommended. Quite often they come up short of my expectations. But not in this case. 

First of all this place is huge. Much bigger than it looks on the outside. And the series of store fonts connected to the right of the restaurant... 
...are actually a series of different specialty shops that you can access from inside the pub. There's the usual souvenir shop, the wine shop, and of course the candy shop that sells, among other sweet treats, fudge. 

Our dinner experience began with a journey to our table in the middle of the restaurant. 
Our waiter, like all the servers in the extremely busy atmosphere, was very prompt and informative when it came to ordering. 

He started us off with of small loaf of fresh warm brown bread. It got our meal off to a great start. It was very good. 

I ordered a root beer that they brew right there. Paula and I shared it. All I can say is "Deeelicious." It was the best root beer I've ever had. 

We ordered a filet mignon with a baked sweet potato and two plates. Paula enjoyed the salad. The steak was without a doubt the best one I've ever had. It was a big portion too. Despite sharing it we still had enough to take back to the condo with us and eat for another meal. 

This restaurant was about as busy and crowded as any I've ever been to yet there was a very relaxed atmosphere. Everyone who was working there, from the wait staff to the kitchen workers, to the busy boys knew what there job was and did it with pride and efficiency. 

Our table was had a pretty good view of the open kitchen area. We could see them working at preparing the food and setting it up  for the staff to serve. They worked together very well. 

There was a sign on the wall of the kitchen big enough that I could read most of it from my table. I knew it had a "motto" on it so I asked our waiter what it said. "If you aren't proud of it don't serve it" was his answer. I could tell from the quality of the food that it wasn't just writing on the wall, it was their motivation. 

Now all I've written about McGuire's so far would have made it a memorable dinner but I have yet to tell you about the most unique thing about the pub. 

The ceilings, walls, and any other available space that isn't stone or a doorway is covered with dollar bills. Wishes for good luck left by customers since the place opened back in 1996. Not a single one has been removed.

This is what it looked like on the areas surrounding our table. The wall behind us...
...and the ceiling above us. 
Our waiter told us that there's an estimated $1.8 million decorating the whole restaurant.

After we got back home I had someone who had also been there tell me that their waiter peeled back 7 layers of bills in order to show them the actual wall. 

Making our evening complete in a "do as the Romans do" way and wanting to be part of this amazing collection of good will between restaurant and patron; we wanted to leave our own personal wish for luck. 

Using a black marker given to us by our waiter, I wrote our info on a dollar bill.

Then with a stapler he brought to us, we put it on the wall right next to our table. Leaving our mark. 

 If we ever go back to Mcguire's I'm going to make sure I look for our dollar. Not sure when that will be or how many layers I'll have to pull back when I do. But I'll bet it will still be there. 

After passing on the very tempting dessert menu, we left and walked through the gift shop. Lots of Mcguire's and Irish themed merchandise there including t-shirts and jewelry. Some of it was on display on the back of an old beverage delivery truck right in the middle of the shop. 

I didn't see anything I was really interested in. Paula bought a set of earrings and a necklace that were made in Ireland.   

We browsed through the other shops before heading to the parking lot. Our dinner was over and it turns out that Paula's advisers were right. Not only had we enjoyed the best steak in Destin; we had the best dining experience of our vacation. 

Our Exclusive Memories
The thing I've saved for last I think is probably the best. Now I've shared with you through pictures, videos and narrative some of the memories of our vacation. 

We have the pictures and videos I've shared with you in this series, and more to help us remember what we did. 

I brought back some of my favorite types of souvenirs that with a passing glance at a shelf or a walk past our refrigerator, will always be reminders of our trip. 
 But the best memories I can never share on this blog because they are special ones. Those that are shared just between Paula and me. 

There's an exclusivity to experiencing a specific to a time, place, funny or strange incident during our time in Destin vacation. Those special memories being shared just between us are the true treasures we brought back.  

In the last 10 years or so, since we've been "empty nesters" we have taken quite a few vacations alone. I like that the memories of those trips are part of the special bond between us. 

So I will add the memories of Destin to those from our "empty nester" excursions to: Washington DC, Chicago, Chattanooga, Walt Disney World, Clearwater Beach, and the Smoky Mountains. I look forward to adding more to the new places we go in the future. 

I hope you have enjoyed my recollections of our 2017 vacation. My wife is very happy because she has now had her first actual "beach vacation". It was a lot of fun but not too busy. In fact it was probably the "slowest" vacation we've had in a long time. 

Our next "getaway" is set for July when we head to St. Louis to visit our friends who live there and go to a very special show. I'm sure I will be writing about those memories afterwards as well. 

Thanks for coming by and reading the RHFactors blog. Keep looking on Facebook for when I announce my new posts. I'm still looking to put up my 1000th before the end of the year. That means I've got to get busy. See you next time. 

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