Searchin' For My Lost Shaker of Salt

Tonight is date night! When our kids lived at home, our date nights ranged from seldom to never. We were consumed with the kid’s myriad activities, volunteering, and work (money being somewhat essential to raising three kids and sending them to college). Our time together as a couple became so infrequent that by the time the last kid went away to college, we were left trying to figure out who the stranger on the other end of the couch was. That’s why we instituted a regular date night – to get to know each other again. Date night has been instrumental in keeping our relationship healthy and thriving in our empty nest. I only wish we had started it years and years earlier.

You may be experiencing an empty nest without a significant other, but you can still schedule a night on the town. Getting dressed up and having a girls or guys-night-out is a blast and adds adventure and fun to your life. When your little birds call to ask for money or laundry advice, they’ll be impressed that you’re out having fun.

We’re adventuring at the River Spirit Casino in south Tulsa, on the Arkansas River. We are specifically going to check out the Margaritaville expansion. It’s been open for several months, but this is our first visit. The evening starts off great when Selena, at the Player’s Club desk, comments that I look very young for my age after she checks my driver’s license. She may say it to everyone, but she sounds sincere, and it makes my night – I plan to email management and tell them to give that girl a raise.

It’s a large, bright, well-maintained casino, and they have a non-smoking section, which I appreciate. We decide to eat at Jimmy

Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant. There’s also a

Ruths Chris Steakhouse, which looks delicious, but I’m more interested in a casual atmosphere tonight. Margaritaville is FUN, the servers are friendly and efficient, and the food is good. It’s not gourmet, but it’s well-executed bar food – the kind that totally wrecks your diet. We have the Asiago Clam Dip for an appetizer. The clams add a delicious, fishy twist to the spinach-artichoke dip that has become so familiar. For an entrée I choose the Fish and Chips, which seems appropriate since this is an island-themed establishment. The fish (5 pieces!) has a crisp, light beer batter, and comes with a jalapeño tarter sauce, which is spicy, but not too hot. The cilantro lime coleslaw and French fries are above par. I enjoy my meal, but I can’t finish it! My husband chooses the fish tacos, which, we note, are filled with the same fried fish as the fish and chips. It’s topped with the tasty coleslaw and key lime flavored Mexican crema, plus black beans and rice on the side. It must be good, because he cleans his plate. There are also, of course, Margaritas, and they don’t disappoint. We see the servers carrying massive plates of nachos to other tables. If you’re adventuring here with a group, the nachos look like the perfect dish to share.

The restaurant has a “volcano” and every hour or so, it erupts. It reminds me of the old Casa Bonita restaurant in Tulsa that our children were obsessed with when they were little (how glad we were when they developed a more diverse palate!). The volcano at Margaritaville is cheesy, but it’s meant to be, and it puts a smile on my face. The restaurant patio overlooks a lovely section of the Arkansas River (Really! I’m not kidding.), and a pool area with cabanas and a swim-up bar that I’m determined to come back and visit. It’s $25/person for guest passes, but free if you stay in the hotel.

As far as winning money in the casino goes, date night is a complete bust. However, even though we lost money, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Game of Thrones slot machine, and almost wept with joy when the bonus took me to The Wall and images of Jon Snow – it’s OK, my husband knows about my obsession. Other than losing money, it was a great night and we’ll definitely be returning.

#RiverSpiritCasino #MargaritavilleRestaurant #DateNight

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