Once upon a time, before kids, the hubby and I used to make it a point to go out to eat at a nice restaurant once a month.  Sometimes more often, when we were celebrating birthdays and special events with friends, but at the very minimum we’d have our own ‘date night’ and treat ourselves once a month.  

Fast forward to after kids, and our restaurant visits were limited at best.  We do make sure we still go out to celebrate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries, but our selection is limited to accommodating small-ish children.  We’ve considered ourselves lucky – Princess Nagger has always been a perfect dining out companion – not rambunctious or annoying or boisterous.  Even when she was younger, we’ve been complimented on what a well-behaved child we have.

One of Princess Nagger’s favorite restaurants is Red Lobster:

Red Lobster Exterior

I think part of that is because they used to hand out red beads with a cute little lobster on it.  She was bummed when they stopped doing that, but still loved going there for her birthday.  It’s been always one of my top choices for my birthday, too – and aside from the one birthday dinner where I had to channel my inner Gordon Ramsay, we have always had great service and great food there. 

Not to mention lots of yummy cheesy biscuits.  I usually fill up on those and have to take the rest of my dinner home – which is just as delicious as left overs the next day.  No matter where we are, we can always find a Red Lobster. 

We usually take a road trip to visit friends and family, and usually set aside one night to take everyone out to dinner (we like to treat them to a dinner out as a thank you for their hospitality while we’re visiting and invading their space).  It never fails Princess Nagger will be the first one to vote for either Longhorn Steakhouse or Red Lobster – and there are friends who are big fanatics of Olive Garden:

Olive Garden Exterior

We’ll meet friends there for a late lunch or early dinner and end up spending hours talking and visiting and imbibing on the most delicious pastas and salads. We always made sure we tipped the server well, since they probably could have turned the table at least once while we were occupying it.

Princess Nagger doesn’t remember her first visit to Olive Garden, since she was just a wee thing – still in her infant seat, but she was definitely the center of attention – not only for the friends we met for dinner, but for the hostess and waitstaff who kept coming to check out the adorable Princess Nagger.  They even accommodated my request for non-garlic bread sticks so I could save PN the agony of garlic breast milk.  Ahem. 

Our latest and greatest favorite restaurant lately has been Longhorn Steakhouse, now that they’ve opened one closer to us:


Last year Princess Nagger chose Longhorn as the destination for her birthday dinner, this year I chose it for mine.  While we were waiting for a table, the kids were having fun posing on a rock outside:


I had to giggle a little when we were seated, since there was a cowboy on a horse figure looming above us on the wall divider of the booth:


The hubby is afraid of horses, so he was sure it was preplanned as a joke.  It wasn’t, but it did make my birthday complete.  Heh.  Princess Nagger kept telling the server she’s carnivorous and was looking forward to a nice juicy steak.  I decided I wanted something extra special for my birthday dinner, and they happened to have the perfect combo:


That is a tender 7 ounce Flo’s Filet stuffed with north American lobster and topped with a garlic herb crusted half lobster tail and a lemon garlic butter sauce.  Of course I forgot to take pictures of my plate because I was so hungry, and naturally it didn’t look as pretty as the promo picture (the steak wasn’t as thick) but holy tenderness, it was delicious. 

The hubby made short work of his Outlaw Ribeye®, and Princess Nagger devoured her Kid Sirloin which, at 6-ounces was the perfect size to make her tummy happy.  Little Dude wasn’t as adventurous – he opted for a cheeseburger, which he proclaimed as “Yummy”.   We have had awesome experiences every time we’ve been there, and can’t say enough about how delicious the food is.

If you’re still looking for a last minute gift for someone special, giving a gift card to a restaurant is a perfect, because who doesn’t like to eat out and enjoy time with their friends and family?  Not to mention a night off from cooking is always a welcome gift.


It’s not too late – for a limited time this holiday season, receive a $5 bonus coupon for every $25 gift card purchased at Red Lobster, Olive Garden, or LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants.

One of the big benefits of giving Darden gift cards is that they can be redeemed at any Darden restaurant including: Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, and Bahama Breeze.  I know I appreciate getting restaurant gift cards, and friends and family I’ve given them to always appreciate them as well.

Celebrate great memories over meals this holiday season by giving Darden gift cards.

Do you have a favorite restaurant you like to go to for special occasions?




I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Darden I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating. All opinions are mine and not influenced by outside sources. See my Disclosure Policy here.