The Vulcan tacos at Delicias Mexican Cuisine.

Best Unique Mexican Fare

Delicias Mexican Cuisine

Mexican restaurants are on seemingly every other corner in much of the Coachella Valley. Most of these places offer similar fare—tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc.

You’ll find all of those items at Delicias Mexican Cuisine, too—but you’ll also find so much more at this Desert Hot Springs spot.

During our recent visit, we actually had to do some research to find out what some of the things were. Take huarache, for example—“masa dough with smashed pinto beans placed in the center before it is given an oblong shape, fried and topped,” per Wikipedia. Or tecolatas (chilaquiles sandwiches). Or something called a “Vulcan taco.”

Vulcan, we came to learn, is an Americanization of volcánes, or volcano; the tacos are given this name due to their unique shape. But who cares about the shape, right? What matters is how tasty they are.

Boy howdy, are these tacos tasty: Delicias’ version includes either carne asada or pastor, with crispy melted cheese, spicy pickled red onion, micro cilantro and avocado sauce. It was all splendid, but the taco was truly elevated by that layer of cheese—crispy on the outside, and just a little gooey on the inside.

Yum.

If you’re craving Mexican flavors, but you want something different, this lovely restaurant on Pierson Boulevard is the place to go.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Musically Diverse Dynamic Duo

Analog Lab

You would think a band with only two members would be limited in what it can create.

Analog Lab has proven that thought wrong.

Local musicians Miguel Arballo and Sean McCune tackle alternative, grunge, metal and more—oftentimes within the bounds of one song. Through only three single releases, the band has put its musical diversity on full display, not shying away from experimentation, genre-fusion or having fun.

Dedication has also been a big factor for the group. Even though Arballo and McCune are both busy participating in other local music projects, Analog Lab intends to maintain a consistent release schedule, and has been picking up a number of local, out-of-town and even out-of-state gigs.

This duo is most certainly dynamic, and they are worth checking out. To hear them pull off some really cool musical shifts and combinations, I recommend “In the Shadows.”

—Matt King


Best Local Dance Group

Nickerson-Rossi Dance

Michael Nickerson-Rossi.

Michael Nickerson-Rossi is an inspiration to many.

As a grieving young man who lost his parents at 17, he watched a dance ensemble in a darkened theater. Faced with the possibility of a lifetime of medication prescribed by a therapist, an epiphany came as a response to what he saw onstage: The language and movement of the dancers expressed everything he was feeling.

He studied dance technique and became a well-known choreographer, before founding Nickerson-Rossi Dance in 2011. He recently opened a 6,000-square-foot state-of-art dance theater in Palm Springs.

Most importantly, he gives back to the community by organizing the annual Palm Springs International Dance Festival and The Palm Springs Dance Academy.

He helps others learn the therapeutic benefits of dance, by providing access to professional performances. He works with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, offering dance-therapy classes for abused children, and with Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, working with cancer patients. He also brings dance programs to Riverside County schools and communities.

Nickerson-Rossi has a message for those who don’t think they’re up for the challenge of dancing or, well, anything else: “Never give in when you lose something. Find out what empowers you. Research it; dive in deep; then pursue it, and never stop.”

—Cat Makino


Photo credit: Bailey McLean Photography

Best Rock ’n’ Roll Time Capsule

The Dreamboats

The Dreamboats look like they were frozen in 1950—and thawed out in 2022.

The Canadian four-piece rock ’n’ roll revival group has been performing across the Coachella Valley so much that they made the desert their second home. The band combines matching suits, jumping-filled live performances, and a great selection of ’50s/’60s covers and era-reminiscent originals to create a nostalgic experience. Electrified versions of “Hello Josephine” and “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” combine with early rock-inspired originals like “Water Under the Bridge” and “Fool for You,” making for an all-around rockabilly good-time.

If you get the chance to see The Dreamboats perform live at one of their many upcoming performances in the valley, make sure to check whether they are dripping with sweat … or if they are still melting the cryogenic freeze off.

—Matt King


Coachella Valley Coffee Co. owner Cliff Young visits one of his coffee-bean growers. CVI file photo

Best Coffee Customer Service

Coachella Valley Coffee Co.

To say I am a coffee lover is an understatement. I brew coffee every morning; I grind my coffee fresh and use a French press, because I love the fullness of flavor that results. I also love the morning ritual; I drink black coffee with just a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor and mitigate any bitterness.

I experimented with a few different coffee-subscription services during the pandemic, but I was never blown away by them. That changed about two years ago, when Coachella Valley Coffee Co. proprietor Cliff Young started a subscription service: For less than $40 per month, you can get two 12-ounce bags of coffee delivered directly to your door! (I should note that Young says the program’s parameters may change soon, as his costs have risen considerably in the last year.)

The quality of the coffee is outstanding; I have never gotten a bag that I did not thoroughly enjoy. I also appreciate the company’s commitment to working with women-owned coffee farms and the amount of good it does in the community, from scholarship programs to working with the unhoused.

—Charles Drabkin


Best New-ish Local Album

Daytime Moon, You Are the Dusk, I Am the Dawn

Since 2010, Joshua Tree’s Daytime Moon has been creating a plethora of unique songs. While staying rooted in an indie/alternative sound space, the band has still done plenty of exploration—and the group’s latest album, You Are the Dusk, I Am the Dawn, is their most polished work yet.

Whether it’s the head-bopping “Flame,” the somber march of “When We Were Friends,” the true indie-pop gem “Selfless” or the heart-wrenching tale of “Spirits,” the songs on the LP show Daytime Moon bringing their best efforts forward. Their indie/alternative sound is seasoned, yet limitless, as they visit different interpretations of alternative, ranging from heavier tones and guttural vocals to sparkly, mellow sections of chill indie. The production quality elevates the top-notch performance by the tight band, which has been deserving a proper showcase of their skills.

I’d like to extend our deepest condolences to the Daytime Moon crew after the loss of bassist Daniel Hovis, who passed away on Oct. 30.

—Matt King


Ruberry’s chili gueritos tacos. Ruberry Salsa social media

Best Transition From Pop-Up to Brick-and-Mortar

Ruberry Salsa

After Ruberry Salsa’s successful three-year run with pop-up restaurants—serving festivalgoers at Palm Springs VillageFest and saloon patrons behind Hair of the Dog on Palm Canyon Drive—husband-and-wife team Ruben and Terry (Rub-erry, get it?) decided to expand and open a storefront hidden away on El Paseo in Palm Desert earlier this year.

Ruberry Salsa’s success has been almost entirely attributable to word of mouth—so you know it’s good. The salsas are made fresh daily, and they taste like it. The nine varieties vary in heat, from G-rated “Mild & Wild” to XXX “Don’t Do It.” (We didn’t.) But the stars of the show are Ruberry’s fusion tacos, combining flavors based on the owners’ backgrounds and travels to Argentina, Hawaii, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and, of course Mexico. You’ll look at the clever menu selections and think, “Hmmm, I’ve never thought of that on a taco … but why not?”

The shrimp tempura tacos are our favorite so far; we will eventually try them all, as well as the other interesting menu items, like the quesabirria ramen and Spam musubi. The owners are experimenting with a weekend brunch menu and live performances on the space’s small but serviceable new stage; watch www.instagram.com/ruberry_salsa_tacos for details.

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best Desert Rockers … From L.A.

Flames of Durga

Flames of Durga—identical twin sisters Béah and Cecilia Romero, with Nate Million—moved to Yucca Valley in 2018. Even though they started their musical careers in Los Angeles, Flames of Durga has resonated with the desert, and the local music scene has truly embraced the band as one of their own. They’ve recorded with Dave Catching at Rancho de la Luna; they played a vinyl-release show at Pappy and Harriet’s; and they’ve performed all over the Coachella Valley.

Their music is in tune with that of some of the area’s greats. There are fuzzy riffs galore, some psychedelic jams and even really cool harmonized vocals from the twins, on tracks like “White Owl,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Shine.”

Like many other local bands, Flames of Durga are operating largely on a D.I.Y. basis: While the group is gaining traction in the local scene, and taking advantage of some notable opportunities, the members take pride in getting stuff done themselves.

—Matt King


Best Place to Find a Memorable Birthday Card

Greetings Palm Springs

Just a few of Greetings Palm Springs’ cards, as shown on the store’s website.

To the delight of my friends (and the dismay of my mother), humorous and somewhat inappropriate birthday cards are my thing.

For years, my go-to shop has been Greetings Palm Springs. Their tagline says it all: “Harming only the humorless since 1978.” I can spend hours in this Palm Canyon Drive store reading card after card—until the moment comes when the stars align, and I find the holy grail. You know, the type of card that makes you laugh out loud, then slip into an evil cackle, startling the shopper next to you.

Below the Glen Hanson artwork (featuring everyone’s favorite Hollywood icons), there is a sea of unique birthday cards that range from silly, to funny, to ones that would make even the boldest person blush. Beyond birthday cards, Greetings Palm Springs has cards for holidays, weddings, congratulations and thank yous, as well as a variety of original artwork, novelty items, art books and small gifts.

If you’re looking for a laugh and more personal connection in this digital world, go to Greetings Palm Springs.

—Dennis Wodzisz


Best Beignets

Sam’s Place

I don’t remember why we ordered the beignets on our initial visit to Sam’s Place, the downtown Palm Springs restaurant in the space that previously housed Ruby’s Diner. Perhaps the server recommended them; perhaps we wanted something to satisfy our sweet tooth.

Whatever the reason, I am glad we did.

I’d had beignets before, including some from the legendary Café Du Monde in New Orleans, and I don’t remember being impressed. But, wow, I am impressed by the version at Sam’s Place: They’re pillowy nuggets of deep-fried pastry dough, topped with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream, with agave syrup on the side, and a dusting with powdered sugar.

When the plate you see in this photo arrived at our table, my husband and I thought there was no way we’d finish it all—and that if we did, we’d be regretting it later. But such was not the case: Because these beignets were so light, so fluffy, and so delicious, we finished it all without feeling like we had bricks in our stomachs.

We’ve returned to Sam’s Place several times since that initial visit, and we’ve always ordered something different—except for the beignets. We’ve always ordered them, and we’ve always been delighted.

—Jimmy Boegle

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