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Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week Returns May 31, With More Than 115 Participants

The bad news: Summer is almost here, meaning 100-degree temperatures will soon be a daily thing.

The good news: This also means Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here.

The annual event will return for 10 days—that’s seven days shorter than Restaurant “Week” was last year, alas—of great deals at restaurants valley-wide, starting on May 31. Here’s how it works: Participants offer special prix-fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner. Lunches, with at least two courses, cost $15, $20 or $25, while dinner, with at least three courses, costs $29, $39 or $49.

As of now, 117 participating restaurants are listed on the Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week website—a record, I believe. And this year, there’s a very cool charitable hook: A lot of the participating restaurants are offering reservations to be made through the Restaurant Week website, and $1 from each reservation made via the website will be donated to the FIND Food Bank, thanks in part to the generosity of the week’s sponsors, Agua Caliente Casinos and Sysco Riverside.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’ll leave you with just a little advice: Go to the Restaurant Week website; do your research by perusing the participants’ menus; and plan your visits. A lot of the restaurants offer truly amazing deals; others … not so much. Remember: This year, you’ll only have 10 days rather than 17 to enjoy Restaurant Week!

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week takes place Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 9. For more information, including menus, visit www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/dinegps/restaurant-week.


Opening This Week: Tac/Quila, From the Owners of Farm Palm Springs

Liz and Mark Ostoich are lawyers by trade—but they’ve proven themselves to be amazingly good restaurateurs with Farm, located in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza. Therefore, it’s very good news that they now have a second restaurant: Tac/Quila, located at 415 N. Palm Canyon Drive, which most recently housed Watercress Vietnamese Bistro.

“Farm allowed us to bring our love of the French countryside to a charming little courtyard, chock full of flowers and tucked away from the hustle and bustle,” reads a message from Liz and Mark Ostoich on the Tac/Quila website. “We love everything that has become Farm, but there was more to be said. So part of our life story involves food—but it also includes travel, history and, of course, tequila! Tac/Quila is our made-up word for combining gourmet Jalisco style cuisine with specialty tequilas and mezcals, in an effort to transport our guests south of the border and into a culture rich in flavor, color, art and authenticity.”

The pictures posted on the Tac/Quila Facebook page and website show a gorgeously renovated space—and the menu posted on the website made my mouth water. Three different kinds of ceviche? Yes, please.

Tac/Quila is slated to open Wednesday, April 24. For more information, including the menu, visit www.tacquila.com.


In Brief

Taco fans, take note: Plan on being at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Saturday, May 18, from 11 to 6 p.m., for the annual Morongo Taco Fest. Admission is $10, and 30 or so vendors will be selling $2 tacos. Lucha libre wrestling and live music will entertain, while tequila and margaritas will provide the buzz. Get information and tickets at morongocasinoresort.com. … New to Palm Springs: Glitch, a Southeast Asian restaurant and ’80s-style arcade. Wait, what? Let me check my notes … yep, that’s right. Wow. Enjoy items like num pang—that’s a Cambodian-style pork sandwich—while playing classic arcade games and table games. If you’re looking for something completely different, you’ll find it at 2080 N. Palm Canyon Drive; get more information at www.glitchpalmsprings.com. … New to Cathedral City: Romano’s, offering pizza, subs, salads and other goodies at 27800 Landau Blvd., at Vista Chino. Find more information and photos of the menu at www.facebook.com/Romanos-Pizza-373313373264165. … New to Rancho Mirage: Maria Jose Peruvian Gourmet, inside The Atrium at 69930 Highway 111. Check out the menu (including photos that made me very hungry) at www.mariajoseperuviangourmet.com. … Sad news: Desert Wines and Spirits, which had been located inside Go Deli at 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, is no more. Happy news: In the whole space starting sometime in May will be Bouschet, a “wine and gourmet food experience.” Watch www.bouschet.com for updates. … New to Palm Desert, from the folks at longtime sushi restaurant Musashi: Ramen Musashi. Find it at 44491 Town Center Way, and get more information at ramenpalmdesert.com. … New to La Quinta: Palm Tree Palace. We couldn’t find an online presence for this new Chinese restaurant, so we recommend stopping by 79660 Highway 111 to get the details.

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

Mark Your Calendars: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week Happens June 2-11

It’s the favorite time of year for many Coachella Valley foodies: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here! This year, it will take place from Friday, June 2, through Sunday, June 11.

Why is the week so fantastic? Well, when else can one have a full, three-course dinner at Wally’s Desert Turtle for just $39?

For the uninitiated: During these 10 days, restaurants valley-wide offer special, discounted prix-fixe menus. In the past, the event has been dinner-focused—but this year, restaurants can offer special lunch menus, too. Three-course dinner prices are $29, $39 or $49, while two-course lunch prices are $15, $20 or $25. Participating restaurants should offer their regular menus during these 10 days, but emphasize the special Restaurant Week offerings.

As of our press deadline, the new Restaurant Week website had an ever-growing list of participating restaurants, along with the prices of their menus—but only a few of the actual menus had been posted. However, that handful of posted menus looked inviting. For example, Vicky’s of Santa Fe, in Indian Wells, is offering entrées including a 10-ounce flat iron steak, boneless beef short ribs or New Zealand lamb chops, among other offerings, plus an appetizer and dessert, for just $29. That’s one hell of a deal.

Check out visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/restaurantweek for more information.


Pho 533 Is Now 533 Viet-Fusion

Chad Gardner, the man behind the successful Dash and a Handful catering business, purchased Pho 533—then a longtime family-owned pho joint in Palm Springs’ Smoke Tree Village Shopping Center—back in 2015.

Ever since, Gardner has been guiding the restaurant through a series of changes. First, he revamped the menu. Next, he expanded the restaurant into an adjoining space, and completely revamped the décor—including the addition of a spring roll bar. Now he’s making even more changes to the menu—and to the name as well.

In fact, the only significant thing remaining from the old Pho 533 are those numerals: The restaurant is now called 533 Viet-Fusion.

“I had a vision of what it would be even before I first heard Pho 533 was for sale,” said Gardner in a press-release quote. “I have always wanted to blend classics with contemporary Vietnamese.”

New menu items include a Maine lobster-claw spring roll; ahi Viet-nachos (wonton chips and topped with avocado, spicy ahi tuna, cilantro, Fresno chili and various sauces); tamari-glazed Atlantic salmon; red curry “ramen”; and chile-braised osso bucco.

By the way, there’s a good reason Gardner is keeping “533” as part of the name: That was the number on the side of the USS Cheboygan County, an old Navy tanker that transported nearly 300 Vietnamese refugees who were fleeing the fall of Saigon in 1975. One of those passengers was 10-year-old Anh Ho Rock—the founder of the original Pho 533.

533 Viet-Fusion is located at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 625. For more information, call 760-778-6595, or visit 533VietFusion.com.


In Brief

Coming soon to the under-construction downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project: a Tommy Bahama restaurant. … Also coming soon to downtown Palm Springs: Urban Crates, an indoor farmers’ market sort of thing at 358 S. Indian Canyon Drive, just a door or two down from Rooster and the Pig. There’s a sign up in one of the windows that says vendor stations are available by calling 760-808-3756. We’ll watch and see what develops. … Oops! We missed the opening of the Wine Emporium in Old Town La Quinta last September. Well, better late than never! The restaurant and live-music venue features a big retail wine room, and seems to have lots of cool stuff going on. Stop by 78100 Main St.; call 760-565-5512; or track down the place on Facebook for more information. … Add UberEATS to the growing list of services offering restaurant deliveries in the Coachella Valley. While I am morally opposed to the company’s management, I tested out the delivery service recently; I got some breakfast delivered from one of my favorites, the Broken Yolk Café. Pros: The delivery was fast, and the food came hot and fresh; it only cost 99 cents for the delivery itself. Cons: There’s no way to tip the driver via the app. Yeah, the app emphasizes that driver tips are neither necessary nor expected, but I still felt like a major ass when I realized I had only $1 in cash on me to give for a tip. Lesson learned.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Restaurant Week Returns With a Slightly Different Name, Higher Prices

The 10-day foodie feast known by locals simply as Restaurant Week is back and celebrating 10 years of existence—but things will be slightly different in 2016 than in years past.

Less important: Out is the clunky full name of Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week; in comes the more streamlined Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week.

More important: Prices have gone up. In recent years, participating restaurants have offered three-course prix fixe menus for either $26 or $38. This year, however, there are three price points: $28, $38 or $48.

The good news is that most of the participants are sticking with the lower two price points. Organizers say that more than 90 restaurants across the valley will be participating; as of our press deadline, the Restaurant Week website listed an impressive 94 participants, 83 of which had posted their menus. Of those 83, a majority of restaurants were going with the $38 prix fixe—43 of them, to be exact. Meanwhile, 26 restaurants were offering $28 menus, while just 14 of them were offering $48 menus.

New participants this year include Cathedral City’s Bontá Restaurant and Bar, Palm Desert’s Koutouki Greek Estiatorio, and Palm Springs’ Chi Chi at the Avalon, Reservoir at Arrive, and SO•PA at L’Horizon.

Also new this year: The folks at ever-mysterious PS Underground will be offering a $48 menu at Velvet, a supper-club experience at a secret location created just for Restaurant Week. Very cool!

Also very cool: Beyond the restaurant deals, all sorts of other local businesses, attractions and hotels offer specials during Restaurant Week, too.

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week takes place Friday, June 3, through Sunday, June 12. For more information—including a list of participants and their menus—visit visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/restaurantweek.

New: Blaze Pizza Opens in Palm Desert

A growing pizza chain that does things a little bit differently has opened a new location in Palm Desert.

Blaze Pizza opened at 73393 Highway 111 on May 10, and here’s its shtick: You walk in and get in line; you tell the employees what sauce and ingredients you want placed on the made-from-scratch dough; one of those employees puts your creation in a very hot stone-hearth oven; and three minutes later, your pizza’s ready. It’d kind of like Chipotle … just with pizza, and without all the terrible press the burrito chain has gotten recently.

Actually, the press that Blaze Pizza has received lately has been just the opposite of that of Chipotle: It’s been downright glowing, as the fast-casual chain continues to grow. One of the investors in the “Fast Fire’d” pizza chain is NBA superstar LeBron James, who went to work at a Los Angeles Blaze location not to long ago, posing as an employee named “Ron.” Of course, this appearance became fodder for a commercial.

Learn more at blazepizza.com.

In Brief

As previewed in this space a couple of months back: In the very same shopping center as the aforementioned Blaze Pizza, you can find the second valley location of The Habit Burger Grill, a chain that claims to have the best burger in America according to Consumer Reports. The Palm Desert location—that address again is 73393 Highway 111—opened in May and is the second Coachella Valley location; the other is at 79174 Highway 111 in La Quinta. More info at www.habitburger.com. … Good news for West Valley boozehounds and wine snobs alike: A little store called BevMo! has applied for a liquor license to do business at 333 S. Palm Canyon Drive, the location that was The Alley furniture/gifts for many years. The building is currently under construction. We’ll be keeping a close (if slightly bloodshot) eye on the progress and will keep you updated. … The family of Crater Lake Vodka’s Kathy Schriefer has been through hell recently—but the community is stepping up to help. In December, her son, Thomas, suffered serious brain damage after drinking too much water. On May 17, local publicist Jeff Hocker, Live Magazine and Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge joined forces at Eight4Nine to raise funds to help cover Thomas’ medical bills. The goal was to raise $3,500 at the event, but Hocker reports that the “Take 2 for Thomas” party actually raised $5,501. Great work! If you want to help, the Schriefer family has a donations page set up at www.gofundme.com/d9mfr6dw. ... Speaking of good causes: Some Fabulous Leos—the local nonprofit organization, co-founded by the late George Zander, which celebrates the Leo astrological sign while raising money for worthy charities—will be having a “Pre-Party” at Eight4Nine, 849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, at 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25. For $10, you get a raffle ticket and entry to the party. It’s one of two events—the other being a happy hour at the Hard Rock on Wednesday, July 20—leading up to the big event: The annual Leo Party, taking place Sunday, Aug. 21, at Toucan’s Tiki Lounge, 2100 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. This year’s beneficiaries: The L-Fund, a lesbian philanthropic group that assists locals in need; and the Raina Chessman Fund, which aids the local transgender community. RSVP and get more info at www.somefabulousleos.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News