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Restaurant & Food News

24 Dec 2015
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Looking Back and Looking Ahead at the Local Restaurant Scene As we turn the calendar from 2015 to 2016, it’s worth examining the year gone by in the local food scene—and speculate about what’s coming up. What did we learn about the local restaurant scene in 2015? A few top-of-the-mind thoughts: • Intriguing restaurants can still create a buzz. Think for a moment: What was the last local restaurant that opened and created a buzz like Eight4Nine did? Unless I am forgetting something (which is entirely possible), it’s been years since a new place created such a fervor. In some ways, Eight4Nine represents a perfect restaurant-buzz storm: It has an excellent pedigree, thanks to the team of co-owner Willie Rhine, the longtime general manager at Lulu California Bistro; renowned photographer John Paschal; and veteran executive chef Chuck Courtney. It has an exciting location, in the burgeoning uptown design district of…
23 Nov 2015
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New to El Paseo: WP Kitchen + Bar The Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar in Palm Desert is no more—but that doesn’t mean the celebrity chef is ditching the Coachella Valley. In fact, he’s chosen the Coachella Valley to launch his newest restaurant concept. Puck has opened WP Kitchen + Bar in the space at 73130 El Paseo that previously housed his eponymous pizza bar. The restaurant website describes the place thusly: “Wolfgang Puck’s newest restaurant concept (is) serving globally influenced fare in a family-style format. Inspired by how the acclaimed chef dines and entertains at home, the menu boasts a seasonal offering of small plates, fresh salads, pizzas and handmade pastas, as well as a variety of seafood, steak and other proteins.” The menu—which really does encourage the family-style dining concept—includes pastas, trout, snapper, chicken and a braised beef short rib, as well as steaks and a decent selection of…
26 Oct 2015
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The Falls Steakhouse, R.I.P. The Falls, the steakhouse known for its gorgeous downtown Palm Springs views and bubbling martinis (thanks to the addition of dry ice), has closed for good. “After 15 years, we have closed the doors of The Falls,” reads a message on the restaurant’s website. “Our lease was up, and we decided to pursue other interests. It has been a privilege serving Palm Springs for so long.” The Independent sent a message via The Falls’ Facebook page seeking further comment, but had not yet received a response as of our press deadline. As is the case when any long-tenured restaurant closes its doors, the demise of The Falls saddened many people who spent special times there. I first learned of the closure from a friend on Facebook who was bemoaning the fact that he could not go there to celebrate his anniversary with his husband; I personally…
28 Sep 2015
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Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe Opens On Sunny Dunes On Wednesday, Aug. 26, things in the Sunny Dunes area of Palm Springs got a whole lot tastier. That’s when Townie Bagels Bakery Café opened its doors at 650 E. Sunny Dunes Road, in the space Tlaquepaque used to call home. Owners Andy Wysocki and Bill Sanderson had been selling bagels for quite some time at the Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market before moving into the Sunny Dunes space, where they serve breakfast, lunch and coffee from Joshua Tree Coffee Company, in addition to their tasty bagels. One of the things I like the most about Townie is the space: The café has a definite neighborhood coffee-shop vibe, with comfy seating, a welcoming atmosphere and all sorts of friendly faces from the surrounding area(s). It’s exactly the thing this part of Palm Springs needed. I’m a Palm Springs resident, and every time…
25 Aug 2015
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The whole mess started, as far as we can figure, when somebody walking by Oscar’s Café and Bar noticed the restaurant had posted its recent “C” rating from the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, as required. He or she took a photo, and then posted it on Facebook. After that, things got really stupid, really fast. The picture on Facebook went locally viral, and became the talk of area foodies. It was even posted on a prominent local blog or two. Then, in a move that would cause any decent journalism-school professor to weep in despair, KMIR News showed up, did a story on the Oscar’s rating, and inexplicably led off a newscast with it. As a result, Oscar’s—located at 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs—was unfairly maligned. This is not to say that Oscar’s didn’t deserve the “C” rating, or that Oscar’s customers didn’t have a…
27 Jul 2015
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When the Summer Closure Becomes a Permanent Closure I may have been one of Margaritas’ final customers. We decided to go the restaurant, located at Avenida Caballeros and Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs, for dinner on Sunday, June 28. We couldn’t decide what we wanted, and since Margaritas offered a decidedly unusual mix of Mexican fare and sushi, with a little Italian thrown in to boot, it was a logical choice. When our server told us the restaurant was closing that day for the summer, with a planned reopening on Oct. 1, I thought: Oh, no. Here we go again. It’s a Coachella Valley tradition: A popular restaurant suddenly announces it is closing for the summer, never to open its doors again. Last summer alone, this happened at three of my fave restaurants—Figue in La Quinta, and Jiao and Hamburger Mary’s in Palm Springs. This is not to say…