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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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

A sold-out crowd of more than 100 people enjoyed nine fantastic cocktails—all made with Ketel One Botanical vodka—at the Third Annual Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Championship, held Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Moxie Palm Springs.

Carlos Argumedo, of Farm, was declared the champion of the event, earning an amazing 92 points (out of 100 possible) on the judges’ scoresheets. The tally was close—three points separated first place from fourth place. Argumedo follows in the footsteps of 2018 winner Hunter Broggi, of Lulu California Bistro (who also participated in this year’s event), and 2016 winner Sherman Chan, of Trio Restaurant.

Trio’s Garrett Spicher was the Audience Choice winner.

Nine bartenders competed in the event, which sold out for the first time in its three-year history. Each competitor made tastes of their drinks for each attendee, before making full drinks for the judges: Ketel One’s Leslie Barclay; Brad Fuhr, of media sponsors Gay Desert Guide and KGAY 106.5 FM; and representatives of Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week’s beneficiaries: the Desert AIDS Project’s Darrell Tucci, and the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Alexis Ortega.

The championship is the highlight of Palm Springs Craft Cocktail Week, a production of the Coachella Valley Independent. During the week, which continues through Saturday, Feb. 2, participating restaurants create a special drink for the week, or highlight an existing drink from their menus, and donate at least $2 from each drink sold during the week to the Desert AIDS Project and the LGBT Community Center of the Desert. A complete list of drinks and participants can be found at PSCraftCocktails.com.

Below is a collection of photos from the event, taken by the Independent’s Kevin Fitzgerald.

Published in Snapshot

Welcome to the bar lull, the time when thirsty, hard-working citizens’ insidious New Year’s resolutions interfere with my ability to ply them with high-quality wares.

Is your humble bar correspondent succumbing to such self-deception? No, no false resolutions for me. Instead, I am using the New Year to explore some new-to-me places—perhaps making a questionable decision or two along the way.

My first stop of the evening was an early dinner at Rooster and the Pig (356 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs). I would be lying if I said that I was going there for cocktails and not for the food, and this brings up an important issue: There are great restaurants all over the country without a full liquor license. I imagine that for every over-ambitious restaurant popping up with a confused menu and an unnecessarily overwrought craft-cocktail program, there are 10 places without a full liquor license making focused and passionate cuisine—and it is always interesting to see what bartenders can do with wine, sake, lillet, etc., when forced to compromise.

Bartender Trish mixed me a Green Lantern—a tasty mix of cilantro, cucumber, lime and what chef/owner Tai referred to as “gin-ish,” a 20-proof non-distilled gin. Boozy? Well, no, but it was oh-so refreshing. It went down smooth, like an agua fresca or a green smoothie, hold the kale. The freshness complemented the flavors of plate after plate of Vietnamese-American cuisine and accompanying sriracha. This seems like it could also be a great non-alcoholic drink—perhaps for you “resolution” people. If you are looking for boozy, they clued me in about some exciting plans for the near future, so stay tuned.

Belly full, I went to meet some friends at the Dråughtsman (1501 N. Palm Canyon Drive). I was anxiously waiting for this place to open—like everyone else, it seems. Unlike everyone else, it seems, I waited to check it out. (I hate waiting for bar seats, as you might know.) Despite my gluttony at Rooster and the Pig, Paul and Robbie behind the bar convinced me to try some “off the menu” pretzel bites with ale-cheese sauce—who could say no to that? Thinking I required Irish whiskey, because I often require Irish whiskey, I ordered the Delorean. This is a mixture of Powers whiskey, lemon, house Irish cream, Guinness syrup and sarsaparilla bitters. It came out with spices grated on top—looking quite like a dessert cocktail or eggnog. The looks were deceiving, however, because the flavor was bright, with citrus as the main note, whiskey coming through, and the cream just adding a little mouth-feel. It drinks like a whiskey sour with an Irish-American twist.

Knowing this was a Chad Austin menu (best known as the drink engineer of Bootlegger Tiki), I went for a rum drink next. The Tubular Dude is Banks 7 rum, Cynar 70, pineapple gomme syrup and tiki bitters served over a large ice cube. It’s part tiki old-fashioned, part stripped-down Jungle Bird—a 1970’s tiki classic from the Aviary Bar in Kuala Lumpur that features Campari and pineapple, also one of my favorites. If you are looking for a sweet and sour tiki drink, look elsewhere; this one is for an amaro fan, a Negroni lover. Don’t fret if you don’t like bitter; it looks like they have options on the menu for all kinds of palates, and a really nice back bar to boot!

I finished the evening at a nearby dive bar, not to be named by (possibly tongue-in-cheek) request. Some kind soul with a Prince Valiant haircut bought the bar a round, in between muttering to himself and watching TV. Two 21-year-olds celebrated their new legal tippling with Flaming Dr. Peppers and Incredible Hulks (Hennessy and Hpnotiq … yeah, I started my bartending career in a nightclub) amongst other drinks with which I am not so familiar.

Here’s a poorly kept secret: Craft bartenders don’t always drink craft. When I see a round of sugary, hangover-inducing booze-bombs appear and think about the year gone by, I often say: “To hell with it; give me one of those!” I ask the bartender what’s in it, he says: “Alcohol!” Fair enough!

I put a ’90s hip-hop song on the jukebox. One of the guys says, “You like this music? You must be my mom’s age!”

Cut to the next day. My head was in a proverbial vice, and I walked the rainy streets of Palm Springs in search of a remedy. I pulled up a table for one at Farm (6 La Plaza), where the rain, chansons d’amour and rustic ambience transported me away from downtown Palm Springs and last night’s follies. I ordered a Bloody Mary—advertised on the menu as the best in town, with jalapeño-infused vodka, house-made hot sauce and bacon.

An aside about the Bloody Mary: Nearly every time I order one, I wish I’d ordered something else. At best, I like the first one and order a second, and I generally regret the second one. Why? Well, most of them are horrid. The mix has sat too long, congealing the horseradish and tomato into an astringent gel, with the vodka drawing those offensive flavors out and delivering them straight to the palate. The tabasco sauce turns the whole thing to a vinegary mess, garnished with a pale stick of what was at one point celery, limply hanging over the side of the glass. I made my living for a period hawking Bloody Marys to hungover tourists, so I am a tough critic. Still, it is one of the most popular cocktails around, so I would be remiss to ignore it.

After all that, I must say … this was a darned tasty Bloody Mary! The jalapeño was subtle; the tomato juice was thin, not pasty. The horseradish, if there (the server wasn’t sure, but I thought I tasted a tiny bit), wasn’t overbearing, and the hot sauce wasn’t just vinegar. The drink tasted super fresh and light, rare for the species. Only complaint: Bacon should stay dry and never go into the drink. Nobody wants soggy bacon.

So … is it the best in town? Let’s go find out!

Just kidding … I know better than to push my luck. Instead, I am going to make myself my a Oaxacan Brunch, a great way to get rid of that leftover sage (and hangover) from the holidays.

• 2 ounces of mezcal

• 1 ounce of lime juice

• 1 ounce of simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)

• 1 egg white

• Fresh sage

Muddle several leaves of sage into the simple syrup in the small tin of a metal shaker (the back of a spoon works nicely), and add the rest of the ingredients. Shake without ice, and then with ice. Pour on the rocks, and garnish with a sage leaf. Enjoy with an omelet … and Happy (Belated) New Year!

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

Coming Soon: Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

After many months of construction, Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise—located at 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive, surrounding the Starbucks at the Tahquitz Canyon Way intersection—is getting closer to opening.

The signs for the much-delayed restaurant are up; several photos of the interior have been posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, too.

Gyoro Gyoro will be a sister restaurant to Oto-Oto, which includes locations in Monrovia and West Covina; and the Gyoro Gyoro in Encino. The menu posted online at otootorestaurant.com will make the mouth of any Japanese-food-lover water: A wide variety of sushi, sashimi, ramen dishes, rice clay-pot entrées and appetizers are listed, as are many other goodies.

There’s an interesting story behind Gyoro Gyoro and Oto-Oto. According to otootorestaurant.com, the restaurants are owned by Ramla Inc.: “Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1980 by Akira Murakawa, Ramla has grown … into Tokyo’s third-largest restaurant operator. With 154 restaurants comprised of 32 brands, Ramla’s restaurants span a spectrum of cuisines ranging from traditional Japanese, to French, to Italian, to Spanish and more. … Ramla is embarking on an ambitious expansion into the U.S. with its plan to bring 150 Ramla-branded restaurants to American cities both large and small.”

Beyond Thai food, downtown Palm Springs is in serious need of more Asian-food offerings—so count us as excited. If you’re excited, too, follow Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise on Facebook for updates.

Now Open: Smoke Tree Supper Club

The Funkey Family has done it again: The folks behind Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta and downtown Palm Springs’ Bar have finally opened the much-anticipated Smoke Tree Supper Club.

The restaurant—located next to Giuseppe’s at 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs—appeals to lovers of grilled meat: In addition to starters and salads, the menu features reasonably priced steaks ($18 to $23), a 12-ounce pork porterhouse ($17) and slow-smoked baby-back ribs ($16), as well as a burger ($11), salmon ($16), a sea-scallop skewer ($16) and a pounded free-range chicken breast ($16). Prime rib—$26, with two sides—is the house specialty.

Vegetarians, take note: Aside from the aforementioned salads, you can enjoy a jumbo marinated portobello mushroom burger on a brioche bun ($10).

The Smoke Tree Supper Club is open for dinner every day but Monday. For more information, call 760-778-6521, or visit www.stsupperclub.com.

New: Nothing Bundt Cakes Opens in Palm Desert

Veteran Southern California chef Jeffrey Tropple, along with partner Ellie Koch, has opened the valley’s first Nothing Bundt Cakes location, at 72216 Highway 111, No. F-3, in Palm Desert.

Nothing Bundt Cakes is a chain, based in Las Vegas, with about 90 locations in 20 states. The Palm Desert location celebrated its “soft” opening on Friday, April 11.

The concept behind Nothing Bundt Cakes is simple: The bakery sells bundt cakes, 10 flavors of ’em (nine regular, with one flavor of the month thrown in), in various sizes. That’s it.

What Nothing Bundt Cakes does may be limited, yes, but they do what they do well: Store manager Lauren Bright offered us a sample of the cinnamon swirl cake, saying it was her favorite flavor. Why is the cinnamon swirl her favorite, as opposed to the carrot, or the red velvet, or the pecan praline?

“Because it’s amazing,” she said.

Turns out she was right: The moist, yellow cake with cinnamon, sugar and a signature frosting was indeed amazing. In fact, it was one of the best cakes we’ve had in the valley.

More good news: Tropple and Koch are celebrating the grand opening of their locally owned store by giving a little something back. On Friday, May 2, 20 percent of sales will go to local no-kill shelter Animal Samaritans.

For more information, call 760-346-3440, or visit www.nothingbundtcakes.com.

In Brief

While some restaurants have struggled in what is considered “downtown” Cathedral City—for example, Picanha Churrascaria never found its footing after moving from Palm Desert to 68510 Highway 111, next to the IMAX theater, before closing last year—fast food seems to be taking hold there: A Subway recently opened not too far from the Mary Pickford Theatre, and a Taco Bell is on its way. … Another sad note from downtown Cathedral City: Daniel Webster Jr., 44, the man who owned Big Mama’s Soul Food, has passed away, reportedly due to a heart condition. His highly regarded restaurant closed late last year. Our condolences go to Webster’s family and friends … Farm, the lovely breakfast/brunch place located in downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza, is expanding, sort of: Just around the corner is Farm 2, a spot that will be offering “super foods and juices.” … On Tuesday, April 8, Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, located at 71800 Highway 111, No. A176, hosted the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Child Abuse Awareness Lunch at the center, located on the Eisenhower campus at 39000 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The luncheon offered thanks to detectives, prosecutors and other professionals who fight child abuse.

Published in Restaurant & Food News