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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival Grows in Its Second Year

When I talked to David Fraschetti about the inaugural Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival a year ago, he promised me that the fest, taking place at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater and Community Park, at 71560 San Jacinto Drive, would feature great food—but the primary focus would be on the wine, with no booze, beer or cooking demonstrations.

“This is a marketing event for our wineries,” he told me. “… We’re not trying to be everything to everyone.”

Seeing as Fraschetti, a Coachella Valley resident, is also the organizer of the popular VinDiego Wine and Food Festival, it should come as no surprise that he apparently knew what he was doing—and that an expanded Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival will return this year, taking place Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

A couple of five-course wine dinners at restaurants will happen on Wednesday, Jan. 30, with the Rare and Reserve Tasting happening at the park on Friday, Feb. 1. But the main event is the grand tasting, taking place at the park on Saturday, Feb. 2.

“When we started doing this business seven years ago in San Diego, we had a great business plan: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Fraschetti told me recently. “Last year really proved to be the same out here in the desert.”

This year’s grand tasting will feature 18 to 20 restaurants—most, but unlike last year, not all based in Rancho Mirage—and about 45 wineries.

Fraschetti said he loves the community aspect of the festival; related to that, a portion of the proceeds will again benefit the Desert AIDS Project.

“I live four minutes from the festival site,” Fraschetti said. “The people who come are neighbors of mine. Everybody seems to know everybody out here.”

Tickets to Saturday afternoon’s grand tasting start at $85. For tickets and more information, including a complete schedule, visit ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.comf.


Enzo’s Bistro and Bar Replaces the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar

So it’s a good-news, bad-news sort of thing.

The bad: The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar, which took over the old Crab Pot digs at 70030 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, has closed its doors. (It had no relation to the Fisherman’s Market and Grill locations in Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta, for the record.)

The good news: The space is now home to the second Enzo’s Bistro and Bar location.

The first Enzo’s opened at 78121 Avenida La Fonda in La Quinta last spring and has gathered a lot of great buzz. I have not yet had a chance to check out the “elegant and authentic” Italian fare at either location—but you can bet your bottom dollar I will soon.

Get more info at www.enzosbistroandbar.com.


In Brief

One of the culinary centerpieces of downtown Palm Springs’ redevelopment project is open: Il Corso, the much-liked Palm Desert-El Paseo Italian restaurant owned by chef Mario Marfia and, uh, indicted developer John Wessman has opened its second location at 111 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 180; get info at ilcorsocv.com. … Save wildlife “one brew at a time,” according to the news release, at the 10th annual Brew at the Zoo event, happening at and benefiting the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, 47900 Portola Ave., in Palm Desert, at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9. Tickets start at $60 (for members) and $65 (nonmembers) and will get you access to more than 30 beer, wine, liquor and non-alcoholic beverage vendors; 10 food trucks will offer food for purchase. Designated drivers get in for just $20; call 760-346-5694 or visit www.livingdesert.org for tickets or details. … Celebrate the Academy Awards in style and support AAP Food Samaritans at the same time by heading to Trio Restaurant at 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, for the annual “Hollywood’s Biggest Night” shindig. The event will sell out, so get your seats, starting at $125, ASAP at aidsassistance.org; you’ll get a six-course dinner and beverages with your reservation, and most of what you’ll pay is tax-deductible. Yay! … The River giveth, and The River taketh away. The Rancho Mirage shopping center, at 71800 Highway 111, recently welcomed the second location of the locally owned Apong’s Philly Steak, while the only valley location of MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Company, which was located at The River, has shut its doors. Learn more about the yumminess at Apong’s at apongsphillysteak.com. … This announcement brings me joy: Mariscocos Culiacan, one of my favorite valley seafood places, has opened a second location: In addition to the original Coachella location, there’s now one at 16760 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs. Yes! More info at www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760. … Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has recently made some nice changes—including the opening of 360 Sports, a big, beautiful sports bar and restaurant. Learn more at www.hotwatercasino.com/360-sports-bar.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, From June 1-17, Boasts 100-Plus Participants

Hey, foodies: That wonderful time of year known as Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here!

From June 1-17—so, yeah, it’s more of a Greater Palm Springs Restaurant 2 1/2 Weeks—restaurants valley-wide will be offering special prix-fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner. Those lunch menus, with at least two courses, will cost $15, $20 or $25, while dinner menus, with at least three courses, will be $29, $39 or $49.

As of this writing, the Restaurant Week website listed a whopping 104 participants, from AC3 Restaurant + Bar to Zin American Bistro.

There are truly fine offers available at every price point for both lunch and dinner. However, because I earn a journalist’s salary (read: a half-step above “pauper”), I tend to focus on the $29 dinners—and, man, there are some great deals to be had. For example, we can go to Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine in Rancho Mirage and get the amazing paella (or one of five other main courses) and one of three first courses and one of two desserts for just $29. Or we can go to Jake’s in Palm Springs and choose one of six mains—including petite filet mignon!—plus a starter and dessert, again for just $29.

And now, a word of caution: While the majority of the Restaurant Week prix-fixe meals are indeed good deals … not all of them are. I’ll be diplomatic here and won’t name names … but some restaurants are offering menus under the Restaurant Week banner that are no better and no more exciting than what’s usually available. So, I recommend doing due diligence and researching the menus first.

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week takes place Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 17. For more information, including a constantly updated roster of participants with their menus, visit www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/dinegps/restaurant-week.


New: Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar Opens in Downtown Palm Springs

The ever-controversial downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project is now home to yet another place to dine—and there’s nothing controversial about saying that the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar is a whole lot of fun.

The Marlin Bar, located at 111 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 150, is—like the Tommy Bahama restaurant and bar in Palm Desert on El Paseo—attached to the beachware-themed clothing store. However, the Palm Springs menu is a bit more limited than the Palm Desert one, although there’s still plenty of food to satisfy any appetite—and the prices are quite reasonable

At a recent media preview, I was able to sample some of the Marlin Bar’s signature offerings. The coconut shrimp ($9) were simply divine, while the ahi tuna tacos with wonton shells ($8) were fresh and delicious. The Cuban sandwich ($11) was a messy delight, while the all-American burger sliders ($10) were juicy and delectable.

Beyond the ample selection of appetizers and “hand-helds” (i.e., tacos, sandwiches and burgers), the Marlin Bar also offers entrée salads ($13-$16) and mains ranging from a vegetarian bowl ($13) and a Thai shrimp bowl ($14) to guava-glazed baby back pork ribs ($18) and steak frites ($22).

What about the cocktails? There are a lot of yummy rum and island-themed drinks—no surprise there—along with martinis and standards that’ll cost you from $11 to $13.50. Select wines and cocktails are knocked down to $6 during happy hour, weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., during which you can also enjoy select martinis for $8; select beer for $4; and well drinks for $5.

Oh … and the patio, just off Palm Canyon Drive, is pretty epic.

The Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar in Palm Springs is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily. Call 760-778-0019, or visit www.tommybahama.com for details.


In Brief

As promised … Grand Central Palm Springs is finally open! The restaurant is located inside the historic building at 160 La Plaza; for now, coffee, breakfast and lunch are being served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Tuesday, with dinner to come later. Oh, and there’s a full bar, too! For more information, including menus and a history of the building, visit www.grandcentralpalmsprings.com; you can call ’em at 760-699-7185. … New to Indio: Sushi Bento, located in the old China Jo’s location at 82280 Highway 111. The place opened in March; get more info by calling 760-775-3444, or visiting this very odd and apparently in-progress website: sushi-bento-pan-asian-restaurant.business.site. … New to La Quinta: Enzo’s Bistro and Bar, at 78121 Avenida La Fonda. Enzo’s opened its doors in April and offers upscale Italian fare; the bar opens at 3 p.m., daily, with the dining room opening at 5 p.m. For more information, call 760-564-7333, or visit www.enzosbistroandbar.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News