The Indio International Tamale Festival Leads the Way for the Return of Food Fests

As life continues to return to something comparable to the pre-pandemic world, we are seeing the return of festivals to our valley. This, thankfully, includes food festivals—and the first big one that is back is, in many people’s eyes, the most important one: the Indio International Tamale Festival.

The festival will take over downtown Indio on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, bringing in 260 tamale vendors, other food vendors, tchotchke/crafts booths, entertainment stages, dancing, arts, a carnival, a holiday parade and a michelada garden.

This year’s fest also reportedly features “the world’s biggest bounce house.” OK then!

For those not in the know: The Tamale Festival was founded in 1992 and has been voted one of the Food Network’s Top 10 All-American Food Festivals. Organizers claim to offer the widest variety of handmade tamales anywhere in the world.

Some advice: Go with friends, so you can enjoy tamales from a wider variety of vendors. Divide and conquer to make the line more palatable.

A shout-out to Indio-based Casa de Silva, which has won multiple awards throughout the years; their pork with red sauce tamales and pineapple-coconut tamales are not to be missed.

Visit www.indiotamalefestival.com to learn more.

In Brief

If you, somehow, find yourself in Indio while not in the mood for tamales, check out the newest location of Mochinut, at 44100 Jefferson St., No C320. With more than 20 locations throughout Southern California, and a lot of others planned, Mochinut may have hit on a winning product. Mochi donuts originated in Hawaii and are a melding of a Japanese rice cake and good, old-fashioned donuts; they’re light and crispy on the outside, with a stretchy, chewy interior. Mochinut also offers Korean rice flour hotdogs—they’re served sort of like a corn dog—with flavors including crispy ramen, potato and Hot Cheetos. If you need to get a deep-fried fix, this is the place to be; details at www.mochinut.com. … Speaking of Korean food, the bluntly named Liquor and Korean Market has opened in Desert Hot Springs, at 19345 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Building 2, Suite C. It’s a convenience store, of sorts, with a variety of noodles, frozen dumplings, condiments and other Korean items. The owner is planning on growing the selection as they figure out what people want; call 760-329-6619 with questions. … The city of Coachella has a new pizza place. The appropriately named Coachella Pizza Company is now open at 49255 Grapefruit Blvd., and is serving both traditional and specialty pizzas, like the “Cachanilla,” with spicy ranch, chorizo, onions and jalapenos. Get more info at www.coachellapizzaco.com, or ring ’em up at 760-391-9900. … The River in Rancho Mirage will soon be home to three new eateries. None of them had announced specific opening dates as of our press deadline, so watch for them in coming months. Bobby Botina’s Mexican and American Grille will serve, you guessed it, Mexican and American food. Chakaa Tea Shoppe, which also has San Diego and Thousand Oaks locations, will offer bubble tea, boba and other teas. Finally, Sushi Kawa will serve sushi and Japanese food. Watch www.instagram.com/theriverrm for more announcements from the shopping center. … Tac/Quila, at 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, will soon open a second, smaller location, just down the street at 175 N. Palm Canyon Drive. The Jalisco-style Mexican establishment—with one of the best parklets to come out of the pandemic—is always busy, and even with reservations, there can be a wait. The limited kitchen size at the original location isn’t big enough to accommodate takeout orders during busier evening hours—so this second spot is good news across the board. Watch www.tacquila.com for more. … Gigi’s Restaurant and Bar has opened at the V Palm Springs, at 333 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunches, Gigi’s has a beautiful space and a menu offering updated mid-mod-inspired food, like chicken à la king croquettes with saffron aioli and white truffle honey; vegan hearts of palm “crab cakes”; and halibut en croute. Peruse the menus and get more details at www.gigispalmsprings.com, or call 760-980-7000. … Finally, if you are looking for a tasty cocktail, but you don’t feel like mixing them yourself or going out, Buzzbox Premium Cocktails may be your answer. Based in Indio, Buzzbox has a 65,000-square-foot facility, where they tout a zero-waste production system. Buzzbox box cocktails are made without preservatives, and are gluten-free, certified kosher and vegan. With nine classic cocktail flavors—margarita, greyhound, Long Island iced tea, cosmo, mojito, Bloody Mary, whiskey lemonade, hurricane and vodka lemonade—all you have to do is shake and sip. To learn more or find a nearby retailer, visit buzzbox.com.

Got a hot tip? Let me know: foodnews@cvindependent.com.

Charles Drabkin

Charles Drabkin is a native of McMinnville, Ore., the heart of the Oregon Wine Country, where the relationship between food and people was instilled in him at an early age. After working his way around...

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