When we travel, Jared and I make a solid effort to avoid chain restaurants, preferring to explore local spots with food that better represents the area. Plus, that tends to be a great way to chat with locals and get the scoop on what’s fun and unique in the area. But there are four exceptions:
A) If it’s rather late and we’re tired and the only real option is a chain, we might pop into a place we’ve been before.
B) If we have to eat at the airport, there’s usually not much choice.
C) If it’s a special restaurant that we don’t have near us (like this one!), we may even make special plans to go.
D) If we happen upon a restaurant for which we have really warm, fuzzy feelings, and it feels like a good fit, we just might hit it up. And that’s exactly what happened one night in Honolulu at Roy’s.
We have a few Roy’s restaurants at home in Florida, so when it was initially recommended to us, we said, “No, thanks.” Why go somewhere we’ve already been when there are so many other great restaurants to try? There are several on the Hawaiian islands, which isn’t all that surprising — the restaurant and cuisine is Hawaii inspired, after all — but we didn’t think we really needed to plan an evening there.
However, by the time our trip was wrapping up and we realized there was a Roy’s just a block or two away from our hotel, the idea had begun to sound better. Not because we didn’t think we could get a great Hawaiian meal elsewhere, but because Roy’s brought back some really great memories.
Jared’s father passed away several years ago, and it’s a loss we’re all still reeling from. But before that life-changing day, there was a dinner with his dad at Roy’s. It was fairly fancy and, at the time, the best seafood meal I’d ever had at a restaurant. (The butterfish — my god, the butterfish. That’s where it’s at, guys.) I remember laughing and chatting and listening to his stories about Jared’s childhood. It was a really, really great night.
So, despite a wealth of restaurant options in Waikiki, we decided to dress up a bit and have our final fancy vacation dinner at Roy’s. We toasted his father before our first sips, ordered the butterfish, and even agreed on a non-chocolate dessert (his dad and I were always the only two who tended to go for something that wasn’t chocolate).
It’s incredible how a restaurant, a menu or even just a dish can bring memories back in such a clear fashion. It felt good to remember a night that had meant so much in the midst of all the new memories we were creating.
What restaurants bring back special memories for you? And why? —Kristen