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5 Days in Palm Springs: Qs and comments

Hi all--

I'm going to Palm Springs for five days week after next (late March) and have read all the posts about the area, so instead of just asking for suggestions let me summarize my current thoughts and questions, and if the local experts have anything to add or answers to the questions, that would be great. I'm looking for a range of places, maybe do a couple upscale dinners, but also would like to try Mexican food (mid- and low-range) and anything else that's good (diners, bbq, etc.). Here's what I've distilled from the boards so far:

The clear Chowhound consensus appears to be that Zin is the best high-end eatery in the area. I'm going to make sure I go here (though perhaps not on a weekend night in order to avoid hectic crowds). As a second choice, people seem to say great things about Johannes so I want to try that place as well. I've also heard mention that the Chop House on Palm Cyn Drive is good, though I'm not sure it's particularly special (I live in Chicago and am surrounded by such places). Aji Cuisine sounds intriguing, as does Citron, but people haven't said as much about these places, so I have less of an impression of them.

I loooove sushi and have done searches on Chowhound and elsewhere for PS sushi, but the only thing I've come up with is a few oblique references to Kyosaku (sp?) on E. Palm Cyn. Any thoughts about this joint? Alternatively, if sushi is simply not something one should spend a meal on in PS, that would be good to know--there is plenty of good sushi in the Windy City.

I'm also very excited about the Mexican options. People seem to love El Mirasol for slightly more upscale Mexican, so I'm going to put that on the list. Reviews of Las Casuelitas have been mixed to poor, so that one's out. As for cheaper taco joints, I'm considering Crazy Coyote Taco (in Cabazon) and El Gallito (in Cathedral City--though is that very far away?). Or are there any comparably good places right in PS?

Although I'm not wild about Thai food, Thai House on S. Palm Cyn seems to be the best of the several Thai places in PS.

Other eateries that appear promising for a mid-range but tasty meal that I'd love to hear more about are: Wally's Desert Turtle; Dale's Lost Hwy; and Matchbox (pizza?).

I've also heard that Palm Canyon shuts down on Thursday nights to become a ped mall with street food--how is this, and does it warrant reserving a night to eat there?

Finally, I haven't seen much about places to go out. The bar in the Falls seems to be popular, but that's the only suggestion I've seen.

I'd much appreciate any thoughts about the above. Your posts have already been very helpful, but if anything's changed or if I'm on the wrong track, please let me know. Thanks in advance, and I promise to write up a full report when I get back.

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  1. I don't know if this helps much, but I just wanted to say that a trip to P.S. always means going to the Matchbox for Stromboli and a nice Belgian beer.

    Im not a big fan of the dining options in P.S., but I love this place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: naven

      Thanks, Naven. There's a place in DC called Matchbox with good pizza and drinks that sounds quite similar--I wonder if they're related?

    2. We just returned from a week in P.S. The sheer number of restaurants we knew nothing about were a bit overwhelming. I already posted about Manhattan in the Desert, which worked well for my family for a number of reasons: we go to Zin-style restaurants in San Francisco often and were expecting to be dissapointed because we're spoiled. AND Zin is likely a great place for folks with fewer children and more money than we have. :-)

      (we sell to SF restaurants so we have a business reason to go a pay $$ to eat out....)

      We also live in a VERY Mexican-centric farm town on the central coast where over 80% of the restaurants are Mexican, a few of them are quite good! So going south and eating Mexican food in restaurants, even if it's great, didn't appeal to us. We had a hotel room with a kitchenette and made great sandwiches and went desert hiking.

      The two meals we had were at Manhattan in the Desert (authentic Jewish deli with an extensive menu and good service. and a great pickle plate with half sours, sauerkraut and regular dill pickles as soon as you sit down. a nice touch!) and also at California Pizza Kitchen: a chain that works well for our middle sized children.

      BUT I can comment on some food/chow things about Thursday Nights downtown!

      Yes, it's called Village Fest: Yes: it's a festival of the village of Palm Springs and it's a great place to people watch, eat fresh kettle corn, eat other street foods that looked good but I didn't buy any, including wood baked pizza by the slice right on the street. It's a good place to either be delighted by/horrified by LOTS of tchotchkes and trinkets and crafts and art. OOPS, let's stay chow centered here.

      It's NOT a farmers market in any sense of the word: and they no longer claim to be a certified farmers market. There are a few fruit and maybe even one vegetable vendor on the north end of the strip that sell Ecuadoran bananas and pineapples, chilean avos, etc. It's no different than going to a small fruteria or grocery store. There's also fudge and other chocolates to be purchased, hookah hits (yes, really.). And dates! And from 4-8pm the Palm Springs Art Museum is free for anyone to enter and wander, instead of their usual $12.50 entrance fee: another reason to head down to Village Fest and grab a Polish Sausage, a date shake, a hookah hit if you're a tobacco type (I'm not at all, I hate it, but I'm trying to be equal opportunity here and I did like that the hookah lounge/coffee house offered free wifi....) and then wander over to the museum (just behind the street off Museum way I think, near where the donkey and mule rides are.) There's a great David Hockney (sp?) exhibit right now, and a good architectural one too.

      -cg

      1. What about St. James on the Vineyard? It's been awhile since I've been, but sounds like something you'd like.

        The bar at the Viceroy can be fun, or Melvyn's for real throw-back atmosphere. Most of the good/lively bars are gay in PSP, so whether or not that's good or bad news is up to you :)

        1. Crazy Coyote in Cabazon is about 10 miles northwest of downtown Palm Springs. El Gallito in Cathedral City is about 5 miles east. I assume you will have a car since you can't get around Palm Springs easily without one.

          Another good place no one has mentioned is Wang's. It is very good upscale Chinese food.

          1. I searched very hard for sushi in the desert and found only two noteworthy: Okura Robata Grill & Sushi bar in La Quinta, and Mikado, the sushi bar in the Mariott Desert Springs resort.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cecilbee

              Thanks. Did you try Kyosaku and find it subpar, or just not go (or does the place even exist? I'm beginning to doubt it!).