CVIndependent

Mon08212017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Jimmy Boegle

What: The Tuna Hana bowl

Where: Pokehana, 78742 Highway 111, Suite A, La Quinta

How much: $11.95

Contact: 760-564-0004; www.pokehana.com

Why: It’s a tasty (and trendy) treat.

Another trendy food has come to the Coachella Valley—in a big way.

A year or two ago, if a desert denizen was craving poke—a Hawaiian-style bowl or salad starring raw fish—said denizen was most likely out of luck. However, that’s not the case today, thanks to a handful of new poke places—including Pokehana, which opened its doors in La Quinta just before the start of the new year.

I recently stopped by Pokehana for a late lunch. Being a Pokehana rookie, I asked the friendly person behind the counter what she recommended, and she pointed to the Tuna Hana bowl. It’s packed with ingredients: tuna, onion, cucumber, Hijiki seaweed, crab salad, avocado, mango, crispy garlic pieces, toasted sesame seeds, masago (fish eggs), edamame and sauce, all over a choice of white rice, brown rice or mixed greens. (I chose brown rice.)

Customers can customize any bowl—Pokehana is a fast-casual joint, and you watch as they assemble your bowl from ingredients behind the counter—but since I was a newbie, I chose to get the Tuna Hana bowl as it is on the menu. The resulting entrée was indeed delicious and endorsement-worthy. The temperature contrast between the hot rice and the cool fish and vegetables was pleasant, and the abundance of flavors and textures was a lot of fun.

However, on my next visit to Pokehana—and trust me, there will be a next visit—I’ll cut that number of ingredients in half, at least, and let some of the bowl’s high-quality contents shine without so many supporting cast members. That’s my personal preference—and one of the great things about places like Pokehana is the fact that any dish is fully customizable.

Watch for a second Pokehana coming soon to Palm Desert, and perhaps one in Palm Springs down the line.

Let’s face it: August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley.

If there’s onetime during the year that a restaurant will be closed, it’s probably going to be in August. August is the most popular month for us locals to take vacations—in part because the weather is scorching, and it’s already been scorching for several months, and we’re tired of it.

However, most of us are still here in August. Therefore, news and arts and foodie stuff still happens—and that’s why those of us here at the Independent don’t take the month off, and instead keep working as hard as we always do.

Still … August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley, and that goes for us here at the Independent, too. That’s why we have decided to hold our first-ever Supporters of the Independent membership drive this month—and while doing so, we’re going to celebrate some of the great journalism the Independent has done in our almost five years of existence.

From today through Aug. 20, we’ll highlight a story from our archives on our social-media platforms each day. Today's piece is the first-ever print edition cover story in the Coachella Valley Independent: "Coachella Valley 2035: Our Region Is Becoming Older, More Latino and a Lot More Crowded," published on March 29, 2013, and the cover story in the April 2013 issue. This piece analyzed local growth projections and talked about the future our valley faces—including serious problems and challenges.

To help us continue doing great stories like this, we are asking you to join our Supporters of the Independent program.

Our content is offered free to all, both in print and online—and it always will be. We don’t have pay walls, and we don’t sell subscriptions. However, a Supporters of the Independent membership gives readers a chance to contribute directly to the Independent and our mission statement: “The Coachella Valley Independent is the valley’s source of independent news, arts coverage, commentary and culture. We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain. We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. For example: Some other publications in this valley do puff-piece reviews or feature stories on advertisers to make said advertisers happy. We will never, ever do that. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.”

I hope you’ll consider joining our Supporters of the Independent program; you can join for as little as $10, and all members get cool perks. For more information, visit CVIndependent.com/supporters.

Also: Please pick up the August 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, now in 380-plus locations across the valley. As always, thanks for reading.

Three New Places Coming Soon From Local Restaurant Greats

In the coming months, at least three new restaurants are slated to open their doors in the Coachella Valley that are owned by veteran local restaurateurs.

In order of anticipated opening:

Acqua California Bistro—at The River, 71800 Highway 111, in Palm Desert—finally opened its doors to customers on Thursday, July 27.

A little history: Jerry and Barbara Keller got into the local restaurant business with Acqua Pazza California Bistro, located at The River, well before they opened their wildly popular Lulu California Bistro in downtown Palm Springs in August 2011. However, when the lease for Acqua Pazza expired in December 2014, the Kellers decided to walk away after 10 years, citing a desire to slow down and focus on Lulu.

BB’s at the River, owned by Jack Srebnik—who also owns The Slice and Maracas—soon opened in the space, but closed last year due to a lack of business. The owners of The River then did a very smart thing: They talked the Kellers into returning, and last September, they announced that Acqua California Bistro would open sometime in the winter.

Winter then turned to spring, which then turned to summer, without an opening date; Keller cited construction issues, in part due to the restaurant’s expansion, as one reason for the delay. However, opening time is finally here; to work out kinks, the restaurant served invited “pre-opening” guests July 22-24. (I was fortunate enough to be one of the guests, and the service and food were both top-notch—a good sign for a pre-opening meal, when the staff is still learning.)

If you know the menu at Lulu, then you know what to expect at Acqua, including the popular three-course menu for $19.99, and the all-day happy hour at the bar. As for the décor, the Kellers bumped things up a notch, including a sculpture featuring various colored forks out front, made by Karen and Tony Barone.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/AcquaRanchoMirage.

• A mile or two away in Palm Desert, crews are hard at work preparing AC3 Restaurant + Bar, at 45400 Larkspur Lane—just off El Paseo—for an anticipated fall opening.

AC3 is a joint project by some of the minds behind two of Palm Springs’ most popular restaurants: Tony Marchese of Trio Restaurant, and Andrew Copley and Juliana Copley from Copley’s Restaurant. The description on the AC3 Facebook page sums things up nicely: They’re “teaming up to pair the distinctive style of Trio’s hip local vibe with Chef Andrew’s vibrant progressive cooking.”

While no menu information has been posted yet, we know the décor will include the colorful work of young Rancho Mirage artist Nicholas Kontaxis.

Visit www.facebook.com/ac3palmdesert for more information, including pictures of some of Kontaxis’ art. Head on over to ac3palmdesert.com to sign up for emailed updates.

Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine has gained an increasing number of fans since opening early this year at 72695 Highway 111, Suite A6, in Palm Desert—and owner John Tsoutis delighted his restaurant’s west valley devotees when he announced in mid-July that a second Evzin would be opening in Palm Springs in October.

Despite serious grilling from friends and fans on Facebook, Tsoutis—as of our press deadline—had not revealed the location of the Palm Springs Evzin; he did, however, say it would be part of a hotel. Hmm.

Watch www.facebook.com/Evzinrestaurant for updates.


Details Revealed Regarding Restaurants at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs

The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, at 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way—part of the huge and controversial downtown redevelopment project—will be opening sometime in the fall, and we now have information about the restaurants that will call it home.

According to the news release: “Juniper Table, a casual all-day Mediterranean café, and 4 Saints, an intimate hideaway on the rooftop, will serve bold, chef-driven cuisine under the direction of executive chef Stephen Wambach, along with an extensive cocktail, beer and wine program. … Prior to joining Juniper Table and 4 Saints, he led the Four Seasons Chicago as executive chef, revamping Allium to receive three stars from the Chicago Tribune, in addition to being awarded the esteemed Esquire ‘Best New Restaurant’ award for his work at Epic in Chicago.”

Juniper Table “will be a vibrant upscale-casual eatery featuring rustic, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine spotlighting seasonal and organic ingredients,” according to the release, while 4 Saints’ menu “includes sharable plates that reflect internationally inspired ingredients, such as foie gras bread and butter, paring autumn flavors with salted caramel apple, Thai long pepper and gingerbread.”

Sounds fancy!

Watch the restaurants’ respective websites—www.junipertable.com and www.4saintspalmsprings.com—for updates.


In Brief

If you somehow missed the social media freak-out surrounding the news: A Krispy Kreme is supposed to come to Rancho Mirage in a yet-to-be-built development near Dinah Shore Drive and Monterey Avenue. The opening date, however, is at least a year away. … Our friends at Dish Creative Cuisine, 1107 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, have launched new menus both in the bar and dining room. The new creations by Joane Garcia-Colson and team include fried langoustine ravioli ($9) in the bar. Yum! Visit www.dishcreativecuisine.com for more information.

Updated July 27

A couple of years ago, Damon Rubio found himself at a career crossroads.

The executive vice president at UltraStar Cinemas had been with the company for more than 15 years, and in the movie-theater business since 1991. However, the owners of the company were getting older and had started selling off locations—so Rubio knew his time with UltraStar would be coming to a close.

“I had to decide: Did I want to work for someone else, or take the plunge and do something for myself?” he said.

He didn’t want to move his family out of Southern California, and he’d maxed out his career opportunities in the area, more or less—so he decided to take that plunge.

UltraStar had been managing the Mary Pickford Theatre and the nearby Desert Cinemas, the former IMAX theater, in Cathedral City. However, the lease came to an end last year, so Rubio went straight to the landlord and cut a deal.

D’Place Entertainment was born.

Having been in a similar situation myself, I have an affinity for people who take that plunge and venture out on their own. While I have been petrified with fear at times as a small-business owner, Rubio said he’s had a calmer experience.

“I learned it’s maybe not as scary as I expected it to be,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s easy. But a lot of people dream of owning their own business, and the first step, diving in, is the hardest part.”

Of course, every small business faces challenges. Rubio is looking to expand D’Place beyond Cathedral City, and he said his company’s relative newness has led to some difficulties.

“We’re a young company, and I’m having to make a name for myself,” Rubio said. “My experience is obviously a huge part of what I go in and sell, but when I talk about all my experience with the previous company, (potential partners) sometimes will say, ‘That’s great! By the way, can you give us the phone number for that company?’”

The movie-theater business itself is facing some trying times, given the increasing number of ways that people can enjoy movies. However, Rubio said he’s confident movie theaters will be around for many years to come.

“People have been pronouncing theaters dead for years,” he said. “But none of those predictions came true. People have kitchens at home, yet restaurants continue to survive.”

Rubio said the key to theaters’ survival is making going to the movies a true experience, with better seating, higher-quality refreshments and enhancements to the movie-watching experience itself. He points to recent improvements at the Mary Pickford as examples: Recliners can be found throughout the cineplex, and D-Box motion-effects seating is offered with some films. One theater also offers the Barco Escape format, with the movie shown on a panoramic three screens.

However, all of these enhancements also have an up-charge—leading to another worry.

“My biggest concern is that theaters offering all of these high-end experiences will result in high-end prices,” Rubio said. “We don’t want that. We want to keep family-friendly prices.”

What’s the next big thing for the movies?

“It’ll be interesting to see how virtual reality plays a role, be it in the way movies are promoted, or in the actual exhibition of movies,” Rubio said. “The great thing about theaters is we’re able to provide a mass experience, and that gives us an opportunity to be a place where new technology can come.”

After a little more than a year of ownership, Rubio said things are going well for D’Place Entertainment. Owning his own company is just a continuation of Rubio’s love affair of movies, which began when he stood in line to see the original Star Wars as a kid at the Polar Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska. He said he still gets tingles when he thinks of the first moments of Star Wars, with the crawl and the star destroyer flying into the screen.

“There’s always been something in me that wanted to recapture that moment,” Rubio said. “I realize that I am not just selling movies; I am selling that experience I had as a child.”

For more information, visit dplaceentertainment.com.

What: The Super Cheesy Nachos

Where: Blackbook, 315 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs

How much: $10; $14 with carne asada (as shown) or marinated chicken

Contact: 760-832-8497; blackbookbar.com

Why: This is an elevated version of a bar-food classic.

Blackbook has only been open for a couple of months in the old Café Palette space, but its take on elevated bar food has already developed quite a following.

Salads, tacos, burgers, fries and even a jacked-up hot dog are all on Blackbook’s menu—but I’d been hearing quite a lot about two of Blackbook’s offerings: the fried chicken sandwich ($12; you pick the level of spiciness), and the nachos.

The hubby and I met our friend Darrell at Blackbook for a recent Friday lunch. I was hoping to have the best of both figurative worlds—I could order the chicken sandwich as my entrée, and we could all split the nachos as an appetizer—but I was out of luck: Darrell was dieting, and the hubby has sworn off carbs, so they declined the nachos. Therefore, I decided to order the nachos with carne asada, and save the chicken sandwich for another visit.

Before I get to my gushing praise of the nachos, a complaint: The kitchen was rather skimpy with the carne asada. Each piece, while tasty, was tiny—and there weren’t a whole lot of pieces. Even for the relatively modest $4 up-charge, there should have been more.

As for the rest of the nachos … they were stellar. Fried corn tortilla pieces were topped with cheddar, Monterey jack, “Blackbook dark salsa” (which tasted like a good mole-esque enchilada sauce), tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and guacamole. Served in a cute tray, the gooey, delicious nachos made for a filling entrée—and they’d have been perfectly good as an appetizer, too, had my dining companions not been so darned high-maintenance.

Blackbook has elevated bar food a notch or two—and this is a very good thing.

What: The jamón Iberico

Where: Counter Reformation, inside the Parker Palm Springs, 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $14

Contact: 760-770-5000; www.theparkerpalmsprings.com/dine/counter-reformation.php

Why: It’s a treat in every sense of the word.

I was fortunate enough to spend several days in Barcelona at the end of a cruise a while back—and during those several days, I enjoyed some of the best food I’ve ever had.

I was reminded of those glorious meals one recent late afternoon when I met friend and colleague Kevin at Counter Reformation, a hidden gem of a wine bar tucked inside the Parker Palm Springs hotel.

However, Counter Reformation is much more than a mere wine bar; it also serves some of the most decadent small plates around. Along with your glass of lovely wine (all of which are $6 for 3 ounces, $11 for 6 ounces, or $40 for a bottle) or champagne ($11 for 5 ounces, or $40 for a bottle), you can enjoy more than a half-dozen delights such as the grilled prawn brochette ($11), or the fingerling potatoes with a poached egg ($11) or the downright-intriguing foie gras macaron ($12).

However, when I saw the jamón Iberico on the menu, I knew that’s what I had to have. The cured meat from the black Iberian pig was one of the culinary highlights of my Barcelona stay, and the see-through-thin slices on offer at Counter Reformation—served with a tomato relish and two crostini with a creamy spread—were every bit as delicious (if a bit more pricey) as the stuff I enjoyed in Spain.

Almost (but not quite) as great as the jamon were the complimentary jars of olives and cornichons served with the tapas and wine. Wow. Just … wow.

The hours at Counter Reformation are limited (3 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Monday), but it’s worth finding some time to treat yourself there. It’s one of the best wine bars in the Coachella Valley—with some of the best tapas in the Coachella Valley. 

It’s a question I often get asked by people who are unfamiliar with the Coachella Valley Independent: “What sets your newspaper apart from the other local publications out there?”

After briefly mentioning the history of the alternative press (and explaining how the Independent fits into that history), I answer by suggesting what I call, somewhat jokingly, the “Independent Challenge”: “Take five minutes, and thumb through the Independent. Look at the articles, the design, the breadth of coverage, and the quality of the reporting and writing. Then, do the same with any other local publication. You’ll understand the difference right away.”

Yes, I am proud of what we accomplish every day at CVIndependent.com—and I am also proud to announce that for the second time, the Independent is receiving a national journalism award.

The Independent has been named a finalist in the 2017 Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) Awards, this time in the Column category. Anita Rufus’ “Know Your Neighbors” is one of three finalists in the category for publications with a circulation of 45,000 or less. Judges were impressed by her columns on a post-election meeting of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union; the battle against cancer being waged by the wife of a radio-station colleague; and the work by Palm Springs residents to clean up dangerous explosives and other remnants of war in Vietnam via Project RENEW.

A total of 67 publications across the United States and Canada entered the competition, and we’ll find out where we placed on July 29, during the annual AAN Conference in Washington, D.C. You can find a complete list of finalists here.

Two years ago, the Independent’s Brian Blueskye took third place in the Arts Feature category.

While there are a lot of journalism contests out there, the AAN Awards are the only one we enter here at the Independent. It’s a highly competitive contest, and all of the papers we’re competing with have larger staffs and more resources—so winning one of these awards means something.

Congrats, Anita!

Perhaps one of the stories we’ve published over the last month in the Independent will win an award one day. I’m both proud of and alarmed by the article that serves as our July cover story, about the charges being pursued by the federal government against journalist Aaron Cantu. He was covering an Inauguration Day protest that got out of hand—and because he was wearing a shirt that was the same color as the shirts of many of the protesters, he’s being prosecuted. Check it out here.

As always, thank you for reading the Independent. Take the “Independent Challenge” yourself—and email me with questions or feedback at the email address below. Also, watch for our July print edition, being distributed throughout the valley this week.

Local Restaurants Offer Splendid Summer Specials

The summer giveth to Coachella Valley foodies … and the summer taketh away.

As for the “taketh away” part: This is your annual reminder to call ahead before heading off to your favorite local bar or restaurant … because it may very well be closed. Some places take a couple of weeks off; others take off the whole damn season.

However, an increasing number of places are choosing to stay open throughout the summer, because they recognize that most locals and even a fair number of sun-loving visitors are, in fact, here. Some restaurants offer up amazing deals, too—which leads me to believe that the summer is the best time to be a foodie in the Coachella Valley.

Here are four of the summer deals out there that have caught my eye thus far:

Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge (849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) is offering a $29 three-course meal Sundays through Thursdays. I’m partial to Willa Jean’s fried chicken, by the way.

Bernie’s (69830 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage) is offering a $29 three-course menu daily; options include a 7-ounce cut of prime rib, and Wagyu meatloaf.

The Purple Palm Restaurant (in the Colony Palms Hotel, 572 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) has its three-course “love to the locals” dinner for $39, Sundays through Thursdays. The almond wood-roasted strip steak sounds amazing!

Shame on the Moon (69950 Frank Sinatra Drive, Rancho Mirage) is giving diners three great deals: a three-course dinner (soup or salad, entrée and dessert) for $21; and two different four-course dinner menus (soup or salad, appetizer, entrée and dessert), for either $29 or $38, Sundays through Fridays. Wow!

Visit the restaurants’ Facebook pages and websites for more information—and let me know about other great specials not listed here; if we get enough, we’ll publish a roundup of these suggestions at CVIndependent.com!


Taste of Summer Returns to Rancho Mirage

Rancho Mirage restaurants are again teaming up to offer up delicious food at a discount—and benefit great causes while doing so.

Here’s how it works: People can buy $10 wristbands, and anyone with those wristbands will be able to enjoy $4 offers at participating restaurants during the promotion periods: July 7-16, Aug. 11-20 and Sept. 8-17. All of the wristband proceeds will go to an impressive list of charities.

Wristbands are available from the charities themselves; at the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce (71905 Highway 111, Suite H); or at the launch party, taking place from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, July 6, at Pirch, also located at 71905 Highway 111, in Suite H.

RSVP for that launch party, and get a list of participating restaurants and charities, at www.tasteofsummerranchomirage.com.


In Brief

Now open and earning rave reviews: Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, at 706 S. Eugene Road, over in the industrial area near Ramon Road and Gene Autry Trail in Palm Springs. The “plant-based kitchen that’s totally bitchin’” is a vegan restaurant, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday (with expanded hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesday), helmed by Tanya Petrovna, the founder of Native Foods. Visit www.cheftanyapetrovna.com for more info. … After being closed for nine months due to the sudden death of the owner, Willie Boys finally reopened on June 2. The Morongo Valley barbecue joint and music venue, a popular destination for valley denizens, is located at 50048 Twentynine Palms Highway; get updates and information at www.facebook.com/willieboyssaloon. … The Arrive Hotels empire continues to grow: Chris Pardo and co. christened the Palm Springs Fan Club with a shindig on June 3. What exactly the space, adjacent to Arrive, at 1541 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs? “Palm Springs Fan Club is a cocktail lounge and event space,” according to the Facebook event page for that aforementioned shindig. “Designed with a nod to the iconic wind farms just outside Palm Springs city limits, Palm Springs Fan Club is a playful and unique location for pop-ups, receptions, meetings and weddings.” OK then! In other news, Pardo recently announced an Arrive hotel will be opening in Austin, Texas, in 2019. … Coming soon: Venezia Restaurant and Pizzeria, to the former Spaghetteria/Caffé Italia space at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. While a slightly faded sign on the building inaccurately says to expect an opening in “early 2017,” the restaurant’s Facebook page says the opening date is close enough that the restaurant is now hiring. Visit www.facebook.com/veneziapalmsprings for more info. … Just in time for the scorching temps: Vinny’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, at 190 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in downtown Palm Springs, is open for business. Get info at www.facebook.com/vinnysitalianiceandfrozencustard. … Popular La Quinta poke joint Pokehana, at 78742 Highway 111, is opening a second location in Palm Desert this summer—and we’re hearing rumors that yet another Pokehana could come to the valley by the end of the year. Watch www.pokehana.com for updates.

When Desert Rose Playhouse opened David Dillon’s Party last year on June 24 for a six-week run, the circumstances surrounding Desert Rose—the valley’s only LGBT theater company—and the LGBT community as a whole were rather bleak.

Desert Rose’s future was up in the air, thanks to a substantial financial loss caused by the company’s critically lauded yet poorly attended production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches earlier in the year. Meanwhile, the LGBT community was reeling from the Pulse Nightclub massacre, which had taken place just 12 days before.

Party turned out to be just what Desert Rose needed: The raucous comedy, about a “Truth or Dare”-style game played by seven gay friends at a house party, was such a box-office smash that the production was extended from six weeks to nine, returning Desert Rose to firm financial footing. The playhouse also took up a collection for Pulse Nightclub-related charities at each show—and raised more than $7,000 during the run.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that Desert Rose is reprising Party for a six-week, non-extendable run this summer, opening Friday, June 23. The playhouse will again be passing the hat to raise money for various charities at each show.

Artistic director Jim Strait, who directs the play, said the show was written by David Dillon in the early 1990s because the playwright couldn’t find a positive, uplifting gay play.

“Everything was about AIDS or coming out,” Strait said. “He thought of a party he was once at where everyone at the end of the night ended up naked and dancing. So he wrote the play, and it had this wonderful, positive message.”

Take note: Everyone onstage indeed winds up naked by the end of Party. In other words, the play is meant only for mature audiences.

Robbie Wayne played James, a butch, leather-wearing party attendee, in last year’s show—and he jumped at the chance to play the role again this year, he said. In fact, five of the seven actors from last year’s production returned to their roles.

“We were pressing Jim: ‘Please, we hope we can do it again,’” Wayne said.

Acting is a hard enough thing to do while fully clothed, so I had to ask: How difficult is it to perform while buck-naked in front of a room full of strangers?

“Being in front of strangers is actually the easy part,” Wayne said. “The hard part is when your neighbors come to see the show, or your best friend’s mom is there. The people we knew in the audience made it scary—not the people we didn’t.”

The LGBT community was still in shock following the Pulse shooting when Party opened last year. This year, circumstances are different—but still disconcerting, given the less-than-LGBT-friendly presidential administration now in place. Strait promised that Party will make attendees feel better about things, if only for a couple of hours.

“We are, first off, having a good time and selling tickets,” Strait said. “But we are also spreading the gospel of a positive gay lifestyle. It’s such a wonderful bonding experience (for the characters), and the audience feels that, too.”

Wayne said that for a lighthearted play, Party has a surprising amount of depth.

“There are a lot of layers to this play,” he said. “There are some punch lines that are a lot more meaningful this year.”

Party will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, through Sunday, July 30, at the Desert Rose Playhouse, 69620 Highway 111, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $34 to $37. For tickets or more information, call 760-202-3000, or visit www.desertroseplayhouse.org.

What: The Don Veto sandwich

Where: Larry’s Gourmet Market, 2781 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $7.99 (8 inches); $12.99 (12 inches).

Contact: 760-832-7188; larrysgourmetmarket.com

Why: It’s a damn good sandwich.

From North Palm Canyon Drive, Larry’s Gourmet Market does not look like much.

I’ve zoomed by the reddish brick-walled building many times and have never really given it a first thought, let alone a second one. However, I once overheard someone raving about the sandwiches there. Then a friend sang those sandwiches’ praises to me. Thus, I decided it was time to check out Larry’s for myself.

I was the only customer inside the cute market (which, by the way, features a great selection of liquor and wine). I went up to the deli and asked the pleasant woman behind the counter what sandwich she recommended; she suggested the Don Veto, with roast beef, capicola, mortadella, salami, provolone, veggies and Larry’s “famous” vinaigrette dressing. As my side, I picked the house-made pasta salad over potato salad and coleslaw.

She said several sandwich orders had come in before mine, so I’d have a brief wait. I sat down at one of a very small handful of tables and chairs … and watched and listened as a steady stream of orders got called in. I may have been the only customer actually at the market at the time, but I was far from the market’s only customer.

Turns out Larry’s—which also offers pizzas, salads, hot dogs and some Mediterranean specialties—does a lot of call-in business, and also offers delivery, for a $15 charge or more, depending on your Coachella Valley location.

After a brief wait, my sandwich was ready, and I took it home to eat it. It was splendid—the roll was crispy and flavorful, and that “famous” vinaigrette added a perfect tangy and sweet complement to the salty and savory meats.

Good stuff. Sandwiches are one of my favorite foods … and Larry’s is now one of my favorite local sandwich places.

Page 1 of 39