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Best of Coachella Valley

Best of Coachella Valley 2019-2020: Readers' Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2019-2020: Readers' Picks

Nov 25, 2019 08:00  |  Staff

Every year, when late August rolls around, and we start the first round of Best of Coachella Valley voting, the results announcement seems so far away.

Yet … the next three months fly by—and while the ...

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Best of Coachella Valley 2019-2020: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2019-2020: Staff Picks

Nov 25, 2019 07:59  |  Staff

Best Band to Help You Learn Spanish

Ocho Ojos

In all honesty, the only Spanish words I—a decidedly white guy—know are lyrics to Ocho Ojos songs.

Following a last-minute booking at Coachella in 2017, and ...

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Love and Fun Energy: DJ Galaxy, a Regular at the Valley's LGBT Venues, Is Voted Best Local DJ

Love and Fun Energy: DJ Galaxy, a Regular at the Valley's LGBT Venues, Is Voted Best Local DJ

Nov 25, 2019 07:59  |  Matt King

DJ Galaxy—aka Vincent Corrales—is a ubiquitous name at clubs and events all over the Coachella Valley, and he has performed at pride events all over the United States.

How ubiquitous? He doesn’t just h...

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Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Readers' Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Readers' Picks

Nov 26, 2018 08:00  |  Staff

This whole process started back in August, when voting began in the first round of the fifth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll.

Now, after three months, two rounds of voting and ballots fro...

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Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019: Staff Picks

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Staff

Best Auto Service for Honesty’s Sake

Cam Stone’s Automotive

Cam Stone’s Automotive in Palm Desert is the kind of auto-service shop every woman dreams of—at least women (and men) like me who know little ...

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Building Kids Now: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Make The Lives of 6,000 Children in La Quinta, Indio, Coachella and Mecca Better Every Year

Building Kids Now: The Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Make The Lives of 6,000 Children in La Quinta, Indio, Coachella and Mecca Better Every Year

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Kevin Fitzgerald

On a recent sunny but cool weekday afternoon, more than 200 children and teens, ages 7 to 18, were busy inside the President Gerald R. Ford Clubhouse at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley in...

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A Family Matter: Avenida Music's Success Has Been Part of the Plan Since Before Most of the Members Were Even Born

A Family Matter: Avenida Music's Success Has Been Part of the Plan Since Before Most of the Members Were Even Born

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Brian Blueskye

For Avenida Music—voted as the Best Local Band by readers of the Independent in the annual Best of Coachella Valley poll—music revolves around family.

The band includes three brothers—and may be the only...

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The Kids Are Alright: Frank Eats the Floor's Matt King, 17, Is Pleasantly Surprised to Be the Readers' Choice as the Best Local Musician

The Kids Are Alright: Frank Eats the Floor's Matt King, 17, Is Pleasantly Surprised to Be the Readers' Choice as the Best Local Musician

Nov 26, 2018 07:59  |  Brian Blueskye

Matt King of Frank Eats the Floor was shocked when he learned he was voted Best Local Musician by the readers of the Coachella Valley Independent —beating out local greats including Giselle Woo and last...

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I know harried parents are going to roll their eyes at this statement, but here it is: I love going to the supermarket.

When life gets a little too hectic, when the world at large seems a little too hopeless, I have the joy of walking up and down aisle after aisle of options, just sitting there waiting for me. There’s need to till the soil or pluck a chicken—my privileged First World butt can just stroll around, putting things in my cart, to the smooth sounds of No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins. It’s a beautiful thing, a little adventure.

In many ways, it’s similar to residing in Palm Springs. I can just start walking around and have a unique experience without planning or getting behind the wheel: Just walk around, maybe a little farther than you normally would, and you’ll find something unexpected. (Phil Collins is strictly optional.) If you’re lucky, you might find rye-whiskey cocktails.

A disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with bourbon. America should be proud to have it as our most-famous spirit. We can hold our own with Scotland or any other place that wants to have an argument about spirit supremacy. But it’s been stealing the spotlight for too long: While $250-retail bottles of bourbon sell on the secondary market for thousands of dollars or get collected like so many Ted Williams rookie cards, most ryes have gone under the radar (with a few expensive and notable exceptions). Thanks to the noble efforts of craft bartenders all over the country, however, that is beginning to change.

I have been on a rye-whiskey kick for a little while (OK, for several years), and I love seeing it on menus. I love working with it, too. When a customer orders a Manhattan or an old fashioned, and I ask, “Bourbon or rye?” he or she often hesitates and looks like he or she is trying to figure out the correct answer. There is no correct answer, of course, but—dirty little secret here—when the answer is, “Uh, rye?” I offer a little half-smile and a nod of approval.

Rye has a lean and spicy profile that (especially the 100-proof stuff) makes a great foil for unctuous and herbal vermouths and barky bitters. As a bonus, it’s pretty good for keeping warm on chilly winter nights in the desert. With this in mind, I gathered a motley crew of merrymakers and set out on an impromptu adventure down Palm Canyon Drive.

The first stop was Dish Creative Cuisine, which wasn’t on my cocktail radar at the time; we were just going to meet some people there. As I took my seat at the semi-subterranean bar, I did my obnoxious size-up-the-bar-program thing. Some quality products are back there. Wait … are those homemade syrups? I ordered a rye concoction with housemade brown butter-infused Crater Lake rye, maple syrup and lemon juice, from bartender Morray. My first sip was good, and as the drink diluted a little bit, the flavors really started to express themselves. The nose is kettle corn, which increases on the palate. The maple syrup is subtle, and the lemon is just enough to balance the drink without intruding. The rye spice comes on the tail end. Whiskey sours include egg white partly to soften astringent flavors that lemon brings out of whiskey. The butter infusion (we call this process a “fat wash” in the business) does much of the same. I found out that chef Joane Garcia-Colson makes the infusions and syrups for the bar program. Nice!

A short walk got us to Trio, which even on a Tuesday was packed during happy hour. I resigned myself to exile at a high-top table. The downfall of traveling in a group is rarely finding enough bar seats, meaning I can’t bother the bartender with endless questions about ingredients and whatnot. The drink list was sizable, though, and I decided to keep the rye party going with a “Green Walnut Boulevardier”: Knob Creek rye, Campari, walnut liqueur, sweet vermouth, orange bitters and an orange peel. The addition of walnut to a classic boulevardier was a nice touch; walnut and rye are beautiful together. The drink starts sweet and spicy, with a hint of walnut in the middle, and it’s bitter and citrusy on the finish. Basically, it’s the classic drink with a subtle twist. The orange bitters and peel together with Campari could be a bit intense for some tipplers, but if you like a bittersweet flavor profile, give it a try in place of a Negroni or Manhattan.

Now that the whiskey train was running full-steam, it was time to visit the brown-liquor emporium which is Bar, just another short walk away. I grabbed an open bar seat, blatantly disregarding my cohorts, and said: “Make me something with rye!” Proprietor Donovan Funkey popped out of seemingly nowhere, gave the aforementioned half-smile and approving nod, and made me “The Chancellor”: a mix of Rittenhouse rye, Luxardo amaro and crème de cassis. It has black currant and baking spice on the nose, which is nice this time of year. On the palate, it’s slightly sweet and oaky up front, with a spicy and bitter finish. It’s on the menu as a bourbon drink, so make sure to ask for the rye version if you want to re-create the experience.

Several more rye whiskies were tasted in the name of research, and that was about it for the night’s adventure; I was fully warmed up and satisfied.

If you are looking for a little more of a rye-whiskey adventure, poke your head behind the heavy black velvet curtain at Mr. Lyons to check out Seymour’s, where we do a drink called the “Little Owl.” Since that’s a long walk from downtown, here’s the recipe, courtesy of Steen Bojsen-Moller:

• 2 ounces of Rittenhouse rye

• 1/4 ounce of Charbay black walnut liqueur

• 1/4 ounce of IPA syrup (boil down your favorite India pale ale, and add sugar to taste)

• a few dashes of Angostura amaro (not Angostura bitters; you can sub a different amaro)

Stir; serve on the rocks with a twist of orange.

The next time you stroll around downtown in Palm Springs, think about how nice it is to have so many options laid neatly, up and down in a row. Gather a crew of revelers, and set out on your own whiskey-fueled adventure. It’s just as convenient as a supermarket—but with better drinks and music.

Kevin Carlow is a bartender at Seymour’s/Mr. Lyons and can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Cocktails

Mark Your Calendars: Dining Out for Life Is on Thursday, April 30

Every year, dozens of area restaurants agree to give a chunk of one special day’s proceeds to the Desert AIDS Project, and that sacrifice makes a big financial difference: Last year, more than $175,000 was raised for DAP’s client services, thanks to about 10,000 diners and 43 participating restaurants.

This year, DAP has even higher hopes for Dining Out for Life, which will take place on Thursday, April 30: As of this writing, 47 restaurants had pledged to participate, with each giving at least 33 percent of the day’s proceeds to DAP.

That’s fantastic. Even better: Two restaurants have committed to giving 100 percent of the day’s take to DAP: Ristretto (500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) and Pho 533 (1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625, Palm Springs; more on Pho 533 later).

By the way: The Independent is a sponsor of Dining Out for Life, and we have agreed to “adopt” three restaurants during the day; follow us on Facebook to watch as we eat breakfast at King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club (701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), lunch at Alicante (140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs), and dinner at Bar (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs). Or better yet—join us at these great restaurants; have a great meal; and help the Desert AIDS Project surpass last year’s $175,000 take.

Go out and eat for a good cause; it’s literally the least you can do!

For more information, including a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings.

Dash and a Handful Owner Buys Pho 533

Chad Gardner, the brains (and the culinary talent) behind the Dash and a Handful catering company, is in the process of buying Pho 533, the Vietnamese restaurant that calls the Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center in Palm Springs home.

In a news release, Gardner said he had no immediate plans to make big changes at the restaurant; in fact, he said he is a longtime fan of Pho 533.

“I’m extremely excited to take the reins of this great restaurant and its loyal following that has been lovingly cultivated by its current ownership,” Gardner said, in the type of awkward quote that could only be found in a press release. He continued: “You may see some new specials introduced here and there, but the current menu will remain virtually intact.”

According to that news release, Gardner has long wanted to own a restaurant. “I started my career in restaurants, and I love all types of Asian food, but since I was trained as a French chef, I particularly love Vietnamese food,” he said.

Escrow is expected to close sometime in early April.

Congratulations to Gardner! Watch pho533palmsprings.com for updates.

In Brief

Serious Food and Drink has moved in to the space at 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive that was the longtime home of Hamburger Mary’s. The restaurant’s website describes Serious as a “new American restaurant with a fun, relaxed atmosphere that is great for all occasions,” and there is some serious talent behind the place. Expect compelling appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrées for lunch, while dinner brings a lot of tasty stuff—with price tags topping out at $28. I personally can’t wait to try out the Quack Stack appetizer ($13.95): Take duck fat fries, and add shredded duck confit and duck-egg hollandaise. I gained four pounds just reading that—but my mouth is watering. Learn more at seriousfoodanddrink.com. … With the change in seasons comes changes in menus—and such is the case at Simon Kitchen + Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs. On Monday, March 30, the restaurant—which carries the name of celebrity chef Kerry Simon, and is led by executive chef Jeremy Saccardi—added new “social plates” (read: appetizers) that include veal meatballs Parmigana with rapini and burrata; and wok-charred edamame with togarashi. That sounds good, but it was the steak addition that got our attention: a 22- or 36-ounce bone-in rib eye prepared with marrow butter and special steak sauce. Yes, marrow butter. More info at www.hrhpalmsprings.com/simon.htm. … Finally, sad news: Michael Farber, the proprietor at Dickie O’Neal’s Irish Pub, at 2155 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, passed away due to heart problems. Following his death, Dickie O’Neal’s closed its doors indefinitely. Both Farber and Dickie O’Neal’s Irish Pub will be greatly missed.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

More and more restaurants and bars are offering amazing craft beers in the Coachella Valley—and now there’s a new, responsible way to sample these tasty brews in Palm Springs.

Introducing the Buzz Crawl.

The concept behind the Palm Springs Buzz is simple: It’s a trolley that allows locals and visitors alike to explore Palm Springs for free. The bus is bright and retro, with vintage lettering, plush seats and wood paneling. The Buzz runs every 15 minutes from Via Escuela to Smoke Tree Lane, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., every Thursday through Sunday—again, for FREE!

And, yes, there’s an app for that.

According to city officials, from Feb. 5-8, the Buzz picked up about 4,500 people. The following week—which included Valentine’s Day and Modernism Week’s kickoff weekend—that number rose to nearly 6,000.

John Raymond, the director of community and economic development for the city of Palm Springs, is keeping a finger on the pulse of the Buzz. He’s hopeful that the Buzz is reducing the number of people who are driving under the influence.

“People are fanatical about it. They think it’s great,” he said about the Buzz. “We figured tourists would catch on … but what’s been really great is the number of locals who are into it—Thursday night, especially.”

Because the Buzz is free and runs all weekend, you don’t need a defined schedule—but here are my recommendations on spots to hit for craft beer.

One of the first places is on the south end, near stop No. 18: The Legendary Purple Room at Club Trinidad has a “Rat Pack” heritage, but owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen are now offering modern fare and amazing Southern California craft beers. Head chef Jennifer Town graduated from the New England Culinary Institute and was the executive sous chef at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club before coming over to the Purple Room. She’s a craft-beer lover and appreciates the culinary art of pairing rich dishes with perfect craft beers.

Speaking of the Ace Hotel and Swim Club: It’s a great launching point, with amazing spaces at which to soak up the sun and/or people-watch. The closest Buzz stop is just across the street, No. 16. Check out The Amigo Room and its artisanal cocktails, hippy party vibe and fantastic variety of craft beers. Enjoy them in the dim, cavernous space—or better yet, have one by the pool. Choose among 21 taps from Southern California breweries including Babe’s, Coachella Valley Brewing, La Quinta Brewing, Stone and Hangar 24.

At the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club (pictured below), near stop Nos. 14 and 20, soak in more rays by the pool or try your hand at bocce ball—or the largest game of beer pong ever (pictured below). While the Hacienda’s craft beer selection isn’t extensive, there are a few nice choices, and the $5 poolside menu is not to be ignored: Enjoy a Racer 5 IPA, Stone Pale Ale or Ballast Point Sculpin IPA with a braised short rib and Hacienda chorizo empanadas. Want really to get the party started? Have one of some 75 tequila flights, starting at only $3.50.

Not in the mood for Mexican-style food? Check out the new hip sushi spot in town. Gyoro Gyoro is in the middle of downtown, near stop No. 8. The restaurant opened last May and not only serves fantastic fish, but offers unique microbrewery beers from around the world—yes, even Japanese craft beer!—as well as a fine selection of sake.

Feeling like some fresh, delicious pizza? Get off at stop No. 9 or 11 and stroll over to Matchbox, which not only offers artisanal brick-oven pies amid a flame-lit balcony overlooking La Plaza; the restaurant also has a nice selection of craft beer, with a dozen or so on tap and about 20 different beers in bottles. Expect popular beers from breweries like Allagash, Green Flash, Stone, BearRepublic, Alaskan, LostCoast and Rogue. Matchbox typically has at least one local beer on tap, too.

Right around the corner is my favorite cigar lounge, which won over my heart because of its impressive selection of wine and craft beer: Fame Lounge is a masculine and comfortable place, also near stops No. 9 and 11. Try the cigar and beer pairing for $10.

Bar is located at 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, near stop No. 7. With its dark surroundings and extensive whiskey menu, Bar is a great stop at night. Try the picnic eggs—deviled eggs with Sriracha and wasabi—and pair them with the War Gin (gin and lemon-honey pale ale) beer cocktail. Bar offers about 20 bottled beer choices, including Blazing World and Black House from San Diego’s Modern Times; the beers on tap rotate.

For upscale, neo-retro dining, head over to Trio, near Buzz stop No. 5, in an historic midcentury building in Palm Springs’ sophisticated Uptown Design District. Trio serves a fine selection of craft beers and delicious cocktails, and offers a three-course $19 prix-fixe menu 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Happy hour brings $3 well, $5 call, $8 premium and $5 bar bites at the bar and on the patio.

Nearby is Birba, a modern outdoor pizzeria. Birba translates from Italian to “little rascal.” Enjoy a carefully crafted cocktail like the “Hello Nancy” in the courtyard, surrounded by white-light-wrapped trees. While the eight signature cocktails are delicious, Birba also offers a selection of local craft beer.

Get off at Buzz stop No. 4 to enjoy the friendly and chic Workshop Kitchen + Bar. The popular spot has a nice selection of craft beer, but also specializes in cocktails inside the restored 1926 Spanish colonial revival building. I have been known to be a cross-drinker—and you might become one, too, among the cool concrete tables and souring wooden ceilings. Gourmet farm-to-table restaurants like Workshop are no stranger to the craft-beer “revolution,” and Workshop offers sublime pairings with locally sourced ingredients. The rich herbes de Provence fries are cooked in duck fat; pair them with a crisp Belgium beer. On tap, you’ll find brews from Salzburg, Colorado, San Diego and the Coachella Valley, as well as a great bottled-beer selection. Don’t be afraid to check out the spirits menu, showcasing “underdog” whiskeys, vodkas and gins. My personal favorite handcrafted cocktail here is the “Palm Springer,” with vodka, fresh pineapple juice, house-made grenadine, angostura bitters.

The Buzz has four buses, ensuring that riders can hop on at any of the 30-plus stops every 15 minutes. Check out the new fun and responsible way to catch a buzz in Palm Springs—and Tweet to @TheBeerGoddess if you’re checking out the #PSBuzz!

For more information and a route map, visit buzzps.com.

Published in Beer

It’s now been more than seven months since an Arenas Road murals project, planned and funded by Venus Studios Art Supply owner Debra Ann Mumm, was shut down by Palm Springs police after city officials claimed the project was illegal—even though the city Public Arts Commission had endorsed the project.

It’s now been more than six months since the Palm Springs City Council, in the wake of the controversy caused by the shutdown of Mumm’s mural project, approved a much-needed mural-approval process.

However, since these two events, it’s been all quiet on the Palm Springs murals front.

Mumm still has plans for mural projects in the city, she said. In fact, she has a mockup of a mural she’s planning for the Arenas Road side of LuLu California Bistro. However, she has not yet started the daunting and expensive journey that is now the city of Palm Springs mural process.

Still, Mumm said she is happy there is finally a policy and process in place.

“They made a process where there wasn’t one,” Mumm said. “In that sense, there’s a procedure now, and that’s fantastic. Is it harder? No, because there’s nothing to compare it to previously. My feeling is that’s progress, and that’s an improvement on the situation. At least there’s a way to actually do it legally now.”

One of the reasons Mumm has not yet started the approval process is that she needs to raise the money for the mural—including almost $1,900 that would go to the city just to apply.

The procedure set forth by the city of Palm Springs includes a processing fee of $1,000, plus a notification fee of $872, which must be submitted along with detailed drawings including samples, and background information on the mural artist. Also required: a detailed site plan, photos of the proposed mural location (including neighboring properties), notice labels for all property owners within 500 feet of the proposed mural site, an agreement by the property owner, and a maintenance plan.

Mumm said she figured the process will take at least three months.

“You go before the Planning Commission first, and then the Planning Commission sends your application to the Architectural Advisory Committee to make notes. … After the Architectural Advisory Committee makes notes, then you go to the Public Arts Commission, and then after all those approvals have been met, it finally goes to City Council.”

Murals done before the approval process was enacted, such as the one at Bar, located at 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, were not grandfathered in, meaning owners will need to go through that process. In fact, it was the mural at Bar, painted in November 2013 by Fin DAC and Angelina Christina, that started a debate among Palm Springs residents and city officials about murals.

Reggie Cameron, a Bar spokesman, said via e-mail that the Funkey family, which owns Bar, is currently going through the process of getting the mural approved. “(They) are currently working on the application, but had to wait until the new Art Commission and Planning Commission came into place. … They were sworn in this September/October, so it won’t be on the agenda for some time. They have been in communication with the city regarding the mural.”

Mumm said she did not feel like the city is trying to make it overly difficult to get a mural approved.

“I don’t think the application process is meant to be a deterrent,” she said. “I think it’s meant to make sure that what does go up is of quality, and it’s something that everyone has an opportunity to voice their opinion on before rather than after.”

City Councilmember Paul Lewin cast the sole vote against the mural-approval process in May. (Ginny Foat was absent from that meeting.) He declined to speak to the Independent about the process in person or over the phone, but agreed to answer questions via email. He said he still has concerns about the process.

“I do believe that having a process for murals to be approved is a good thing, because art in public places should have a process where the public can weigh in with their opinion. I do not, however, think that we came up with a particularly good process. That is why I voted against the ordinance,” Lewin wrote.

He suggested what he believes would be a better plan.

“I would have rather seen an easier, more-streamlined process,” Lewin wrote. “I think that if we had asked the Public Arts Commission to identify five or six buildings that would be good candidates for murals, and took public comments during that process, we could have created an environment where there was far less uncertainty for proposed murals. In essence, the locations could have been pre-approved, and thus the (application fees) would be lower. All that would be debated would be the artistic merits of the piece.”

He expressed concerns that the process may be too difficult for artists and property owners.

“Nothing in life or public policy is perfect. So again, it is good that we now have a process that will allow for mural art,” he wrote. “However, I feel that the ordinance as crafted is simply too burdensome on the artists and property owners, and does not really further the cause of bringing mural art to the community.

“I hope to be proven wrong.”

Published in Local Issues

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015!

Here’s how these results came to be: Between Aug. 29 and Oct. 3, Coachella Valley Independent readers voted at CVIndependent.com in an open ballot in the categories listed below.

No finalists were selected in advance; readers had to write in their selections.

We then took the top three to five finishers in each category and put them on a final-round ballot, which ran at CVIndependent.com from Oct. 8 to Nov. 7. 

Readers had to provide an email address, and were allowed to submit only one ballot in each round. We sent an email to each voter; if the email bounced, we did not count the ballot associated with that email address.

Here are the results of this first-ever Coachella Valley Independent readers’ poll.

Enjoy!


Arts

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Gallery 446

3. Heather James Fine Art

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Stewart Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Show at Agua Caliente

4. The Hood Bar and Pizza

5. The Date Shed

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. Backstreet Arts District

 

Best Local Band

Queens of the Stone Age

 

Runners up:

2. Machin’

3. The Rebel Noise

4. TIE

CIVX

Slipping Into Darkness

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. All Night Shoes

3. House Whores

4. TIE

CoffeeBlvck

Femme A

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. Mark Gregg

3. Giselle Woo

4. Charles Herrera

5. Gene Evaro Jr.

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Elena Bulatova

 

Runners up:

2. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

3. Michael Weems

4. Jennifer Stern

5. Lon Michels

 

Best Movie Theater

Camelot Theatres

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford

4. Regal Palm Springs

5. Century Theatres at The River

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley History Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

5. Palm Springs Art Museum Palm Desert

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Empire Polo Club

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs

5. The Palms Restaurant


Life in the Valley

Best Alternative Health Center

Stroke Recovery Center

 

Runners up:

2. Nature’s Health Food and Café

3. All-Desert Wellness Centers

4. Live Well Clinic

5. Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres

3. Old Town La Quinta

4. Palm Desert (Chamber of Commerce)

5. Joshua Tree Certified

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. Shelter From the Storm

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Gym

Gold’s Gym Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. World Gym Palm Springs

3. World Gym Palm Desert

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. 24 Hour Fitness

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Mayor Steve Pougnet

3. County Commissioner John Benoit

4. Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez

5. Assemblyman Brian Nestande

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. TIE

Coachella Valley Art Scene

Power Yoga

5. Evolve Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Lanes at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Not So Innocent

 

Runners up:

2. Skitzo Kitty

3. Q Trading Company`

4. Gay Mart

5. Red Panties Boutique

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. Performance Plus Automotive

3. TIE

Chuck’s Automotive

European Auto Service

Palm Springs Tire and Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

TIE

Airport Quick Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash (pictured)

 

Runners up:

3. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

4. Executive Car Wash

5. Red Carpet USA Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Vintage Nursery

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Cactus Mart

5. Moorten Botanical Gardens

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. Bones ’n’ Scones

4. Cold Nose Warm Heart

5. Exotic Birds

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Evening Under the Stars, by the AIDS Assistance Program

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Walk, by the Desert AIDS Project

3. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, by the Desert AIDS Project

4. Paint El Paseo Pink, by the Desert Cancer Foundation

5. Center Stage, by the LGBT Community Center of the Desert

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Spa Resort Casino

4. Spotlight 29

5. Augustine Casino

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. CBS Local 2

3. KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

 

Runners up:

2. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

3. John White, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Brooke Beare, CBS Local 2

5. Thalia Hayden, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Big 106 (KPLM)

3. KDES FM 98.5

4. TIE

KWXY FM 107.3

K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

 

Runners up:

2. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Joey English, K-News 94.3

5. Dan McGrath, EZ-103

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

3. Best Buy

4. Barnes and Noble

5. Video Depot

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Hoodoo

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Video Game Store

GameStop

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Video Depot

Walmart

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Saguaro

5. Renaissance Palm Springs


Fashion and Style

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Glossy Boutique

3. R&R Men’s Wear

4. Fine Art of Design

5. Wil Stiles

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Resale Therapy

3. Angel View

4. The POP Shop

5. Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Plummers

 

Runners up:

2. Ashley Furniture HomeStore

3. Marc Russell Interiors

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Gypsyland

4. Pioneer Crossing Antiques

5. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

El Paseo Jewelers

 

Runners up:

2. Smoke Tree Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Hephaestus Jewelry

5. ASC Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Heads Up Hair Designs

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Turquoise A Salon

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

DHS Spa Hotel

 

Runners up:

2. JW Marriott Desert Springs

3. Studio M

4. The Canyon Spa

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Florist

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Jensen’s

5. Blooming Events

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Bloodline Tattoo

TG Tattoo

5. Flagship Tattoo

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. TIE

Elegant Eye Optometry

Oh La La de Paris Eyeware

5. Desert EyeCare Center


Outside!

Best Urban Landscaping

El Paseo

 

Runners up:

2. Downtown Palm Springs (general)

3. College of the Desert

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Moorten Botanical Gardens

4. Ruth Hardy Park

5. El Paseo

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness (Top of the Tram)

4. Salton Sea State Recreation Area

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Mount San Jacinto

4. Tahquitz Canyon

5. Mission Creek Preserve

 

Best Park

Whitewater Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Wellness Park

5. Dateland Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Off the Grid

4. Second Amendment Sports

5. Walmart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. BikeMan

 

Best Sporting Goods Store

Big 5

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Sports Authority

4. Lumpy’s

5. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek

3. Indian Wells

4. Eagle Falls

5. Escena


For the Kids

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Demuth Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. La Quinta Park

5. Whitewater Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Mr. G’s for Kids

 

Runners up:

2. Toys “R” Us

3. Target

4. Walmart

5. Goodwill

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Janie and Jack

4. Goodwill

5. Justice

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Ruby’s

4. Islands

5. Dickie O’Neal’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

Wet ’n’ Wild

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Boomers!

Rock-N-Roll Mini Golf

4. Palm Desert Aquatic Center

5. Chuck E. Cheese

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Children’s Discovery Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese

3. Boomers!


Food and Restaurants

Best Casual Eats

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sherman’s

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Caterer

LuLu/Acqua Pazza

 

Runners up:

2. Lynn Hammond

3. Fusion Flair

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Savoury’s

 

Best Diner

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. Sunshine Café

4. Rick’s

5. John’s

 

Best Organic Food Store

Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Sprouts Farmers Market

Whole Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Appetito

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Pastry Swan Bakery

3. Sherman’s

4. Exquisite Desserts

5. Jensen’s

 

Best Desserts

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Crave (now Plate | Glass)

5. French Corner Café

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Lique at Fantasy Springs

5. Ben and Jerry’s

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Hadley Fruit Orchards

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

TIE

Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

Tutti Frutti

 

Runners up:

3. Beach House

4. Yogurt on Tap

5. Cactusberry + Frozen Treats

 

Best Bakery

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

4. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

5. TKB Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Pappy and Harriet’s

 

Runners up:

2. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

3. Cowboy Way

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Big Willie’s Catering

 

Best Burger

In-n-Out

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s

4. Tyler’s

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Grill-A-Burger

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. Woody’s

Ruby’s Diner

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Aspen Mills

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Giuseppe’s

5. Ciro’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

3. LuLu California Bistro

4. Bar

5. Village Pub

 

Best Bagels

New York Bagel and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Panera Bread

3. Sherman’s

4. Townie Bagels

5. Bagel Bistro

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Juice It Up

4. Jamba Juice

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Buffet

Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

3 TIE

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

3. Old Town Coffee Company

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Starbucks

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. Ernest Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Tea

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Ristretto

4. Old Town Coffee Company

5. Espresso Cielo

 

Best Breakfast

Elmer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Cheeky’s

3. Sunshine Café

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Louise’s Pantry

 

Best California Cuisine

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO

3. Acqua Pazza California Bistro

4. Jake’s

5. POM—The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Brunch

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Pinocchio’s

4. Escena Lounge and Grill

5. Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Best Chinese

Wang’s in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. China Wok

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. New Fortune

5. Supreme Dragon

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Miro’s Restaurant

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Café

Pomme Frite

4. La Brasserie

5. L’Atelier Café

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Shabu Shabu Zen

 

Runners up:

2. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

3. Gyoro Gyoro

4. Otori Japanese Cuisine

5. No Da Te

 

Best Italian

Nicolino’s

 

Runners up:

2. Giuseppe’s

3. Il Corso

4. Johnny Costa’s Ristorante

5. Mimmo’s

 

Best Sushi

Wasabi

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Edoko Sushi

5. The Venue

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Ruben and Ozzy’s

3. Shanghai Reds

4. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

5. Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Chop House

3. Mastro’s

4. The Bistro at Fantasy Springs

5. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile Rancho Mirage

3. Peppers Thai

4. Le Basil

5. Thai Kitchen 1

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Pho 533

3. Bangkok Noodles

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Le Vallauris

4. Johannes

5. Figue Mediterranean Cuisine (no longer in business)

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Spencer’s

4. Las Casuelas Terraza

5. The Falls

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

LuLu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Village Pub

3. Bar

4. Alicante

5. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel

 

Best Mexican

El Mirasol

 

Runners up:

2. El Gallito

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. La Tablita

5. Tlaquepaque

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Nuevas

 

Runners up:

2. Rincon Norteno

3. Maracas

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Margaritas

 

Best Burrito

El Gallito

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

La Tablita

Santana’s

4. El Taco Asado

5. Jalisco Restaurant


Spirits and Nightlife

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

TIE

2. The Beer Hunter

Eureka!

4. Village Pub

5. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Local Brewery

TIE

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runner up:

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

TIE

Hunters

Palm Springs Lanes

 

Runners up:

3. Pappy and Harriet’s

4. The Beer Hunter

5. Sharky’s Family Billiards

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Purple Room

3. Eureka!

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Streetbar

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

4. Score

5. Digs

 

Best Happy Hour

Twin Palms Bistro and Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. LuLu California Bistro

3. TIE

Hunters

Stuft Pizza

5. Village Pub

 

Best Dive Bar

Neil’s Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Score

4. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Maracas

5. Blue Coyote Grill

 

Best Martini

The Falls

 

Runners up:

2. Tropicale

3. Zin American Bistro

4. Copley’s

5. Workshop Kitchen and Bar

 

Best Nightclub

Hunters

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. LIT at Fantasy Springs

4. TIE

Schmidy’s Tavern

Village Pub

 

Best Sports Bar

Burgers and Beer

 

Runners up:

2. Yard House

3. The Beer Hunter

4. TIE

Tilted Kilt

Village Pub

 

Best Wine Bar

3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

Zin American Bistro

4. Wine Bar Bistro

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

4. Fame Lounge

5. LQ Wine

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Schmidy’s Tavern

5. Copa


Staff Picks

Best Story From an Annual Festival

“The Moneymaker”

A woman who appears to be about 65 and who is here for the American Heat Bike Weekend event in downtown Palm Springs comes in to Crystal Fantasy and wants to use some tape, because her “moneymaker” is broken. I give her some packing tape, and she takes something out of her pocket she is trying to fix.

After a few moments, she says, “OK, I’ll see if it works”—and proceeds to swallow a foot-long (now-taped) all-beef hot dog down her throat; she then pulls it out of her mouth. The tape wasn’t really sticking, and all I had otherwise was some purple duct tape.

That seemed to do the job. She very professionally deep-throated the hot dog, thanked us and left.

—Joy Brown Meredith, as told to the Palm Springs Neighborhoods Group on Facebook, adapted with permission by Jimmy Boegle


Best Band Militia

Machin’

I first met David Macias of Machin’ for an interview at Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, and I was rather surprised when he told me about what he called the “Machin’ Militia”—the band’s loyal fans who turn up for their shows.

Well, I’ve seen Machin’ perform several times over the last year—and I’m not surprised that the Machin’ Militia is growing rapidly.

Perhaps David’s military background explains his terminology. He was born in Mexico and completed two deployments to Iraq as a Navy corpsman. When he gets together with classically trained violinist Bri Cherry and upright-bass-player/accordionist Andy Gorrill, they make attention-grabbing music that combines Latin, hip-hop and rock sounds. Their sound is instantly recognizable wherever they go.

Crowds of all sorts adore Machin’. They have a weekly residency at the Purple Room in Palm Springs; they busk on street corners in various places while on tour. Wherever Machin’ is, people can’t help but clap or dance along when the group performs.

Machin’ is truly what the name means in Spanglish slang—supremely excellent.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Food and Drink Trend That’s Finally Arrived in the Valley

Craft Cocktails

Tucson, Ariz., the city in which I used to live, is the home of one of the leaders in the craft-cocktail revolution. Scott and Co.—a speakeasy-style bar that’s received national attention for its amazing and innovative drinks—was perhaps the place I missed the most when I moved to the desert several years ago.

Look at the Best Cocktail finalists here, and you’ll see why I used to miss Scott and Co. so damned much: When I first started making preparations to move here, four of the five finalists picked by our readers weren’t yet in existence.

Today, however, I don’t miss Scott and Co. all that much—because over the last couple years, the craft-cocktail revolution has belatedly arrived in the Coachella Valley. In addition to our readers’ five Best of Coachella Valley finalists (great picks, readers!), you can find fantastic hand-crafted beverages at locations all across the valley, from Indian Wells’ Vue Grille and Bar, to retro-tiki newcomers Tonga Hut and Bootlegger Tiki in downtown Palm Springs, to Citron at the Viceroy (pictured), also in Palm Springs.

Cheers, folks. The local craft-cocktail scene is getting better by the month.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Local Social Trend

The Increasingly Busy Summer

Let’s face facts: The business and tourism cycle in the Coachella Valley will always have seasonal highs and lows. The power of the weather is undeniable: Temps in the 70s and 80s will always draw people to the valley during the winter, and temps in the 110s will always push people out during the summer.

However, that seasonality is beginning to lessen—just a little.

I live in downtown Palm Springs, and last summer, the streets near my home weren’t as lonely as they used to be in years past. In fact, on some summer weekend nights, Palm Canyon Drive foot traffic was even something approaching busy. (Not April busy, but still.) The reason? More people are starting to brave the toasty temps to come to the valley, thanks to great events like Splash House (which was so nice, they did it twice during the summer of 2014; pictured), fantastic deals (like those offered during Restaurant Week) and the realization that the slower summer pace here has its benefits. (No snowbirds on Highway 111?! YES!)

Can one argue that the Best Season here in the Coachella Valley is, in fact, the summer? No … we won’t go that far. But the summers here are certainly not as dead as they used to be—and that’s something worth celebrating.

—Jimmy Boegle

Photo credits: Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash courtesy of elephant-carwash.com. The Living Desert courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB. Machin’ courtesy of Chris Miller via Machin’ Facebook. Splash House by Guillermo Prieto/IROCKPHOTOS.NET.

Published in Readers' Picks

While many great local bands have come and gone, The Hellions are still going strong after 16 years.

Fans will get several chances to see them in March. They’ll be opening for Powered Wig Machine at The Hood at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, and they’ll be headlining the benefit show I am putting on for The NestEggg Food Bank, at Bar in Palm Springs, starting at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28.

When The Hellions came together 16 years ago, they didn’t anticipate becoming an ongoing, serious band. Angel Lua (aka Angel Shakedown, lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Bob Llamas (aka Bob Smack, drums) remembered how the band began to come together.

“I think the way we met was Angel was one of the only people in the desert who had a leather jacket,” Llamas said. “(Former member Christian Reyes) and I had leather jackets, and we met Angel because he had a leather jacket. He was into the same bands that we were—The Cramps, Social Distortion and other old punk bands and rockabilly music. He stood out, because wearing a leather jacket out here in the summer isn’t too common.”

Lua said fate led him to meet Llamas and Reyes.

“The cool thing about it was we met, and we never asked each other, ‘Hey, you want to play music?’ or anything like that,” Lua said. “We knew on instinct that we were musicians, and we were going to play music. We had common interests in movies and music, and it was weird.”

The Hellions first played at house parties—and anywhere else they could.

“There wasn’t anything out here,” said Llamas. “There was no place to get music or find cool shit. We both somehow found ways to get all the cool shit, and we had a lot in common that way. Back then, there was Record Alley, but even back in those days, we’d have to go in and ask them to order us stuff. That was also back when there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done over the Internet.”

Lua said he remembers those days well.

“You had to have money,” Lua said. “We had to drive two hours to go to the record store in places like San Bernardino or Ontario, and make a whole day out of it. You’d come home with hours and hours of music.”

Llamas and Reyes were already playing music. They invited Lua to come over one day; they began to write songs as a band. Because some of the members were younger than 21 at the time, they couldn’t play in a lot of places. One of the few was the former Rhythm and Brews in Indio, owned by Mario Lalli of local-band Fatso Jetson.

Eventually, the band added Jamie Hargate (aka Colonel Lingus, guitar). They soon discovered their band name was not all that unique.

“Later on, thanks to computers, we started finding other bands who were called The Hellions,” Lua said.

Hargate chuckled when he brought up one band that e-mailed them.

“We were threatened with a lawsuit once, but that was 10 years ago,” said Hargate. “(It was) some metal band, and they went away; they didn’t try too hard.”

“Generator parties”—often thrown in the desert, with the help of generators—helped launch Kyuss and some of the other desert-rock-scene bands.

“I did a shitload of those,” Hargate said. “I was inspired as a kid going to these parties with older friends. We would drive to these parties in the middle of the desert, and I was blown away every night by these rad bands like Kyuss and Unsound. I caught the last wave of their parties, so I tried to do what I could in high school to bring that back. My stepdad had a generator; I would take it, put it in the back of my little Honda Civic, and drive to the middle of the desert. … Today, you can’t do that—you’ll get arrested.”

While The Hellions are known for energetic shows, they’re also known for their trademark denim jackets. The jackets pay homage to the Norwegian band Turbonegro. “Turbojugend,” which is printed on the back of their jackets, references the Turbonegro’s “Navy” of fans. Turbojugend chapters have popped up all around the world, and The Hellions make up the Palm Desert chapter.

“We came across Turbonegro in late 2003,” Lua said. “I used to read this magazine called Gearhead, and they had a lot of punk and rock ’n’ roll shit in it. There was this chick in there who used to do all these reviews of records, and she talked about Turbonegro, who were broken up at the time. I said, ‘Fuck it; I’ll buy a CD or whatever I could find.’ I bought their Apocalypse Dudes album at Virgin Records in Ontario. On the way home, I put it on, and I was blown away by it.”

That album led The Hellions out of a hiatus.

“There was a point where the original drummer went to school, and Christian moved to Texas, and we almost stopped playing,” Llamas said. “When Angel came over and played us that CD, we started jamming again. That’s where we got Travis, and really got something going. That album really inspired us to keep playing.”

When the band first added Travis Rockwell (Travis Rawkhard) on bass, he had never played the instrument.

“I couldn’t even play standing up,” Rockwell said. “I had to sit for the first seven months, because standing up and trying to play was just too hard—and I’m still learning. … It took a couple of months before I was comfortable playing during practice. I’d fuck up a lot, but I just learned and kept going with it.”

One fabled bit of the band’s history came when they played at a Video Depot Christmas party—with Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes on the drums.

“Somewhere, someone has a video of that, but I’ve yet to see it,” Hargate said. (In fact, if anyone has footage of that show, the band would like to hear from you.)

Since Rockwell joined The Hellions around 2004, the band has been playing on an ongoing basis. They’ve played shows out of town, and have opened for some of the national acts that have passed through town—most recently The Angry Samoans.

The band also recorded six songs at the Rancho de la Luna recording studio up in the high-desert; it’s the studio responsible for some of the recordings of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and the Arctic Monkeys. The sessions led to a three-song demo.

“The only time we’ve really recorded and finished something was at Rancho de la Luna,” Llamas said. “We all took the weekend off and did that for a few days. It was awesome. You go up to that place, and you don’t feel like you’re in a recording studio; you feel like you’re in someone’s home.”

Right now, their only release is a self-made EP on a CD-R, which the band selectively distributes.

“That’s the Best of The Hellions at this point,” said Hargate. “That has about four songs from the Joe Dillon era, when Joe Dillon played guitar. … There are three songs … we did at Rancho de la Luna, and then a live song. We made it just to show everyone how we’ve progressed over the years and what’s available.”

They’re looking toward the summer, when they hope to write more songs and finally make it into the studio to record a proper album.

“We’re writing, rehearsing and figuring things out for a new release,” said Hargate. “We finally have some coin in The Hellions fund, and we look forward to getting back into the studio for the first time in five years. It’s time to get back in the studio and give our fans a proper release.”

The Hellions will play with Powered Wig Machine and Fever Dog at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 15, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook. They’ll also perform at The NestEggg Food Bank Benefit Show, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 28, at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; $5 suggested donation.

Published in Previews

The land of martinis and honey is undergoing a seismic shift toward summery saisons, infused IPAs, savory stouts and bourbon-barreled beers.

So, where in the Coachella Valley can you go to find these intoxicating craft creations?

With locations in New York, Los Angeles, London, Seattle, Portland and, of course, Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel (701 E. Palm Canyon Drive) keeps up with trends in music, art, food and drink. The boutique hotel boasts a nice selection of craft beer in the Amigo Room. In fact, the ever-changing craft-beer variety gets its own chalkboard near the bar. Ace is also home to the popular “Craft Beer Weekend,” a pool party complete with music, grub and beer—perfect for craft connoisseurs and beer beginners alike.

Up Palm Canyon Drive to the north lies a restaurant offering a farm-to-concrete-table dining experience that’s industrial chic and progressive. While the menus at Workshop Kitchen + Bar (800 N. Palm Canyon Drive) are heavy with cocktails and duck fat, the spot also offers a nice selection of beers in their downtown-L.A.-esque bar.

As stated on Workshop’s liquid menu, this is a carefully chosen, opinionated mix of products. The beer bottles are sectioned by “crisp,” “yeasty,” “malty,” “strong or dark’ish” and “hoppy.” The tap list rotates, but offers a nice selection of lighter brews. Available as of this writing are Abita Lemon Wheat, hailing from Louisiana; Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils, from Colorado; Stiegl Goldbrau Märzen, all the way from Salzburg, Austria; and our own local brew, the Belgian-Style Vanilla Blonde Ale from Babe’s. The rotating menu calls attention to Southern California seasonal products, from lemon cucumber and dates to pattypan squash.

Located down the street several blocks is Bar (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive). I’m enamored with Bar’s beer cocktails, its dark and seductive surroundings, the DJ parties and the Picnic Eggs—deviled eggs with Sriracha and wasabi. Pair them with the War Gin (gin and lemon honey pale ale) beer cocktail. If you favor bourbon, order the Burning Bush, made with bourbon, lemon, house grenadine and pilsner. Not daring enough for the beer-and-cocktail blends? The small selection of craft beers will satisfy.

The Purple Room is the swanky new kid at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive. In bottles, you can enjoy San Diego beers like Ballast Point Longfin Lager and Stone Pale Ale. On tap, enjoy what the Coachella Valley has to offer with brews from Coachella Valley Brewing Co. and Babe’s.

In the heart of downtown Palm Springs, Fame Lounge (155 S. Palm Canyon Drive) is an upscale cigar, wine and microbrew lounge. At the bar, you’ll find a rotation of beers on tap. Recent finds: Ommegang’s Hennepin, Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA, and New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Coconut Curry Hefeweizen.

Heading east, the aforementioned Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms) is brewing up some one-off specialty beers perfect for the cooler nights that have arrived. Their Fall Harvest Saison is a 7.3-percent-alcohol, Belgian ale brewed with pumpkin, sweet potatoes and Lance Davis’ 100 percent pure desert gourmet honey. Only two kegs were brewed, so if it’s not already gone, hurry! The Volstead India Pale Lager is a light yet flavorful 7 percent alcohol pre-Prohibition pilsner made with hops from the Czech Republic, as well as lively Motueka hops from New Zealand. Coming up in Coachella Valley’s brewing rotation is Oasis, a hard apple medley—brewed with fresh Julian apples. Look for this release around mid-December. The guys at CVB also just brewed a saison with Torulaspora delbrueckii, a strain of wild yeast isolated from an apple orchard on a deserted island in Denmark. Brewed with rye and spelt, the release is as of yet unnamed, but keep an eye out for this beauty.

Their first collaboration beer has been a tasting-room success. Coriolis is a 9.5-percent-alcohol, 120 IBU, wet-hop imperial IPA. Brewed along with Rocks Brewing in Sydney, Australia, with hops from New Zealand and Australia, this is a mouthwatering hop bomb. It’s down to the final keg, so visit their tasting room to check it out. Their brand new Framboysenberry is a raspberry and boysenberry sour wild ale made with Pedio, Brett and Lacto yeasts. This won the peoples’ choice award in Redlands recently and is now on tap for tasters and glasses. Crave more spice in your life? The Monument on Fire, just released, is a double IPA is infused with habañero and hatch chiles, papaya and mango. The Conquistador Quadruple ale will be available in early December, and watch for a special treat: They are stashing some in bourbon barrels.

The appropriately named Burgers and Beer (79815 Highway 111, La Quinta, and 72773 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage) has a list of more than 50 bottled beers, like Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA. On draft, you'll find local brews like Babe's Honey Blonde Ale and CV Brewing’s Monumentous, a West-Coast rye double IPA.

Neighboring Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage)—the granddaddy of local brewers—is Southern California-started chain Yard House. Each Yard House features 100 to 250 tap handles, depending on the location. The Rancho Mirage tap room has 155 beers on tap, ranging from Allagash White and Lost Coast Apricot Wheat to Bootlegger's Black Phoenix and Port Brewing Shark Attack Red. Also rotating in are seasonal drafts, which are displayed electronically above the bar. Currently tapped are IPAs like Firestone Wookey Jack and Green Flash Hop Head Red, joining Belgians like The Bruery Autumn Maple and Gulden Draak 9000 Quad. Of course, if you’re really thirsty, you can order a draft in 3-foot-tall glass container. Make it a yard!

Schmidy’s Tavern (72286 Highway 111) is a relaxed (unless there’s live music!) craft-beer bar in Palm Desert, with rotating selections like Stone Enjoy By 12-13-13, CV Brewing’s Volstead and Game of Thrones: Take the Black Stout. Enjoy learning more about the craft-beer revolution at their beer school, hosted the last Wednesday of most months. (Beer School is on hiatus during holidays, but the popular class will return on Jan. 29.)

The Beer Hunter (78483 Highway 111, La Quinta) offers a great choice and selection in their sports-themed “Hall of Foam.” Enjoy the game while drinking an Alaskan Amber Ale, Firestone Pale Ale or Ranger IPA from Fort Collins, and log your drinks in the Hall of Foam to eventually have your name emblazoned on the beer plaque. You’ll find local beers from brand-new La Quinta Brewing and CV Brewing.

So Cal chain Eureka! Burger (74985 Highway 111) is helping Indian Wells discover American craft, one burger, whiskey and beer at a time. The craft-beer selection is carefully selected by beverage director, sommelier and company ambassador Jonny Barr. Currently, the selection boasts 20 taps ranging from Drake’s Brewing Bavarian-Style Hefeweizen and Eagle Rock’s Manifesto Wit to Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter and Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout. All of their bartenders are certified beer servers, which is the first level of a cicerone—the craft-beer equivalent of a sommelier. Artisan recipes and fresh, organic ingredients accompany their signature hand-cut fries and gourmet salads.

Despite the gorgeous display of fermented grain mash available at Eureka!, the suds are not to be overlooked. Even a couple of the whiskeys on offer are made by—you guessed it—breweries. Check out what Anchor has to offer with their Anchor Distilling Old Potrero, single malt 19th-century straight rye whiskey. This is distilled with 100 percent rye malt mash and aged in new charred oak barrels—and is a silver medal winner!

It’s exciting to see restaurants and bars in the valley getting in on the craft-beer revolution, serving a varied choice of beer alongside aperitifs and main courses.

Choice matters. Taste matters. Check out what the Coachella Valley has to offer.

Below: The Coachella Valley Brewing Co.'s Fall Harvest Saison.

Published in Beer

The Town Troubles are a developing local band—but their signature sound has already made them a new jewel of the Coachella Valley music scene.

Take a listen to their Bandcamp page, and you’ll find a delightful sound, similar to that of Radiohead’s OK Computer era.

Formed in 2010, the Town Troubles consist of Bolin Jue (guitar, vocals), Derek Timmons (bass), Bryan Garcia (drums) and Rafael Rodriguez (drums). They can’t deny that they were influenced by Queens of the Stone Age and the White Stripes.

During a recent interview, Jue and Garcia explained that the band members have been friends for years.

“I was in another band, and then I just happened to break up with that band, and Bryan called me up. So, it was like an old girlfriend calling me back,” Jue said.

Said Garcia: “And I was the rebound.”

While the Town Troubles have been around since 2010 and have played a handful of local shows, Jue and Garcia insist their sound is still a work in progress.

“We’re still forming our sound right now. We’re in the middle of it. It’s very wet cement right now,” said Jue. “As far as live shows go, every live show is different, or (else) I get bored very easily. We try to make each show very different, and every show is a new set—a new song, a new member—and we’re always trying to change it up.”

Both Jue and Garcia laughed when asked how the two-drummer setup works during live shows.

“It doesn’t work,” said Jue. “It’s still a headache, and we’re still trying to get it to work.”

“It’s adding a little spice to the percussion, I think,” said Garcia.

“The idea isn’t necessarily to get them to play different rhythms. We want them to be in sync, and not in sync at the same time. It’s really weird,” said Jue.

They have played at The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert, Bar in Palm Springs, and the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. Jue admitted there’s been some hesitation at times to play live shows.

“I don’t like to play live shows too often,” said Jue. “We play once a month if we’re lucky. There aren’t a lot of places in the desert that I’m really trying to get into that we haven’t been able to. We used to play a lot of backyard shows.”

As for those backyard shows: The element of surprise and the suspense regarding potential trouble makes backyard shows more entertaining, Jue said.

“You don’t know if the cops are going to show up, which makes them more fun. The crowds are hit or miss. Sometimes, backyard shows are packed; sometimes, it’s just a few underage kids,” said Jue. “The cool thing about backyard shows is a lot of people go, because there’s nowhere to go and see bands play if (music fans) are under 21. The kids just really like the music, and they want to see a band play.”

Added Garcia: “Word gets out, and they want to go see somebody play. It’s better than just sitting around at home.”

Jue said the band is working on new material for a limited-print vinyl release sometime in the near future. Jue explained that he tries to keep his songwriting at a high creative level.

“I try to take different approaches,” Jue said. “Lately, I’m on this thing where if you write a poem, a lot of the time, the form matches the content of the poem, or at least it’s aiding the content. So I believe in writing songs where the music is the form, and the words are the content of the song. In other words, (I’m) getting away from verse, chorus and verse, chorus—and it’s sort of flowing together.”

The band’s apprehensiveness regarding live shows has nothing to do with laziness or a poor work ethic. What material they have released has caught on, and they are becoming one of the better-known local acts in the Coachella Valley—and when they do play a live show, everyone knows it won’t be like a previous show.

“Basically, I like to keep it fresh. I like to keep our shows changing, and it takes a while to make that happen sometimes—sometimes longer than I would like,” Jue said. “I’m a fan of the process of writing and recording. I think the main reason I would want to play live shows is to not only travel, but get the music out there. It’s the best way to get music out. I feel there’s only so much more we can do in the desert—but I feel that we haven’t done as much as we can actually do.”

For more information, visit thetowntroubles.bandcamp.com or www.facebook.com/TownTroubles.

Published in Previews

What: The picnic eggs

Where: Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $6

Contact: 760-537-7337; www.barwastaken.com

Why: A deliciously spicy twist on an American classic.

Question: Is there anything more all-American than the deviled egg?

Answer: Well … yeah, there is: mom, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Vin Scully, for starters. Still, deviled eggs are pretty gosh-darned American—they’ve been a picnic and party staple for years, after all. And at downtown Palm Springs’ Bar, one can enjoy this all-American classic—with a distinctly Asian twist.

The menu says it all: Picnic eggs. Eggs siracha wasabi. Yeah, they misspell “sriracha,” but we’ll forgive them, because these deviled eggs are splendid. The eggs definitely have a back-draft-style kick, so if you don’t like spicy foods, either start liking spicy foods, or get something else from Bar’s charmingly unique menu.

While bar-food standards like burgers, sandwiches and fries are indeed present, they all have a decidedly non-bar-food twist. The burger is a Caprese burger with tomato chutney and basil. The sandwiches include a chicken club with a “spicy Vietnamese” flair. And the fries come with garlic freakin’ aioli.

In other words, this is bar food … that’s not bar food.

We recommend dropping in for a before-dinner nosh, or an after-dinner snack. Or, hell, drop in for dinner. Order a drink. (We’re partial to the whiskey sours. And don’t skip the egg whites.) Enjoy some live music.

Have an all-American good time.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

You know where Anthony “A.J.” Araiza, aka DJ Aimlo, will be every third Saturday (including Saturday, May 18): Along with Pawn, he’ll be DJ’ing at Bar, 340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. DJ Aimlo, 28, works as a mail carrier, and now lives in La Quinta; he’s been a CV resident all his life, and grew up in Indio. Things kick off at Bar at 10 p.m., and there’s no cover. To learn more about DJ Aimlo, visit dj-aimlo.com, where you can find links to his Soundcloud, Facebook and other WWW pages; for more on Bar, visit www.facebook.com/Barwastaken.

What was the first concert you attended?

It was in 1991 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. MC Hammer was the headliner, and Boyz 2 Men and TLC were the openers. I was 6.

What was the first album you owned?

Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Looking back, I was probably a little too young to own that album at the time.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Right now, I'm really into Toro Y Moi, Disclosure, Tame Impala, Rhye, Danny Brown, and a lot of bass-driven electronic dance music.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I really don't get what all the kids are raving about today—e.g. Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Avicii, Steve Aoki. I love electronic dance music, but some of the more popular stuff, I just can't get into.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

It would have to be Portishead. I saw them once before at Coachella and was so blown away that I would love to see them again.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Female British pop. I really love AlunaGeorge, Amy Winehouse, and Lily Allen. There’s a quirkiness to their writing that I don't hear much of here in the States that I love.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Locally, I would say the Date Shed. They have an awesome sound system. Otherwise, I (liked the now-defunct) Knitting Factory in Los Angeles. I don't go to many shows, to be honest.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

The first thing that comes to mind is "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue. But seriously, I always have the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show in my head. Not exactly lyrics, but I can't stop whistling at work.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

DJ Shadow. Prior to hearing Endtroducing, I really didn't put any thought into how the music I was listening to at the time was made. When I found out that album was made entirely with samples of old records, it blew my mind. It completely changed the way I listened to music. At the time, I was really into hip hop, downtempo, acid-jazz, drum-and-bass, and house, which was all sample-based music. I didn't really think about how the music was made. After hearing and learning how Endtroducing was made, I had to have a sampler and turntables.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Michael Jackson: "Michael, did you, or did you not …?"

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Santo and Johnny, "Sleep Walk." It gives me chills every time I hear it.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Avalanches, Since I Left You. It was made using more than 3,000 samples and is absolutely genius, in my opinion.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Jai Paul, "Jasmine." (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

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