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What's Chow-ish in Palm Springs?

  • liu Apr 30, 2007 08:30 PM
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I am a Los Angeles 'Hound headed for Palm Springs at the end of the week. We enjoy great food of any kind; we will be dressed casually for our other activities, so we don't want anything too formal.

I am looking for restaurants AND specialty markets and other chow-ish places that carry unusual or high-end food items for gifts.

Thanks!

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  1. i'm in l.a. too. was in palm springs about a month ago. here is where we dined.
    copley's: (cary grant's old estate) delicious comfort food with a great patio and fire pit.
    johannes: austrian cosmopolitan fare. very highly reccomended.
    sullivan's steakhouse: noisy, crowded but charming steak house. jazz trio playing in bar. great service.
    norma's @ parker palm springs: over priced, trendy.
    zin: great american food, awesome wine list.

    3 Replies
    1. re: woofer

      My boyfriend and I actually very much liked Norma's. They had a macaroni and cheese with lobster that we still talk about... and their breakfast is great. It's the same Norma's as in NYC.

      We also celebrated a great birthday dinner at the Chop House, the service was excellent.

      1. re: wenster

        My boyfriend and I went to chop house since it was advertised as "the best steak house in the desert cities." I guess those things don't really mean anything. Everything there was somehow doused in balsamic vinigrette with grease and the quality of the scallops and steaks we had were only so so. For those prices, I would've really rather cooked something at home myself. On the flip side, the service IS good. They gave us a free dessert (decent creme brulee) after asking what we thought of the food and since we mentioned the unsatisfactory things in our dishes.

        1. re: wenster

          Second the mac/cheese/lobster richness there although a month or so back felt there wasn't as many pieces of lobster!

      2. If you do a search, you'll get a lot of info. Keep your expectations down & hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised.

        1. Really pretty slim pickings out there. For pricey, and occasionally uneven, but often very good food you can try mister parkers at the parker palm springs. They do some french bistro things very well (standout steak tartar and a french onion soup that merits a mention--and french onion almost never merits a mention). The attitude there can be annoying at times as well, but its generally a fun room. Zin is a great place. I have been there 4-5 times when out in Palm Springs and it has always been great food, great wine, and a goat cheese cheesecake that you have to have. There is also a pizzeria called matchbox (its almost directly across the street from zin) and it has better pizza than almost anywhere i have been in LA.

          1. Thanks to all of you who are posting. I am reading you with great interest and appreciation!

            1. I am from Palm Springs and like someone before said, its pretty slim pickings. If your looking for casual places to eat that are not part of chains and kinda chow-ish here are my recomendations:
              -Sherman's Deli on Taquitz, So good!! Classic deli style sandwiches with large portions and yummmy desserts!
              - Las Casuelas, Great Mexican food in the middle of downtown life
              - Kaiser Grill, Terrific food at affordable prices
              - Las Casitas, another great mexican resturant, they offer a lot of different combinations to share, its one of my top favorites!!
              Hope this helps Enjoy!!!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mango87

                Anybody interested in Mexican cuisine should skip Palm Springs and hit Desert Hot Springs... there are a number of very good, casual places that specialize in just a few things like Birrierias etc., In fact, I think Desert Hot Springs was the last place I can remember having Caldo Miche... and it was very, very good.

                1. re: Mango87

                  Pretty slim pickings??? Yeah if your favorite places include Las Casuelas and Kaiser Grille, notorious tourist traps!

                2. Spencer's
                  http://www.spencersrestaurant.com/

                  Chez Pierre, Palm Desert (tucked behind the Trader Joe's

                  )

                  I like Kaiser Grille but disagree about the other above recs. Used to go to Shermans until they served me raw chicken.

                  1. Guess it all depends when you're there. After being served a grotesque dinner salad with rock-hard rolls, our medium-rare filets came to us well-done (and then some). We walked out of the place, the manager trailing us claiming what a great restaurant the Kaiser Grill was..

                    Las Casuelas didn't disappoint us a bit, and contrarily, served us very tasty dishes three times within a two-week span. I believe this is their 50th year in business---that says something...

                    Zin was OK, but we could take it or leave it. All in all, we enjoyed the tram ride up Mt Jacinto lots more than our Palm Springs dining experiences....

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: mardy

                      Las Cazuelas is owned by a childhood friend of my mom (from Jalisco)... lets just say when they eat out, they hit the Jaliscan restaurants in Desert Hot Springs... in a strip mall almost adjacent to the Kmart.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        So, you don't like Las Cazuelas at all...or you don't recommend it?

                        1. re: liu

                          I am saying the other places are so good, the people that own & run Las Cazuelas go eat there.

                          1. re: liu

                            If you're coming from LA there is no reason to try it. It's like a nice Acapulco.

                            1. re: mlgb

                              Thanks to both mlgb and Eat Nopal for this advice! Yes, we are coming from LA and Acapulco just doesn't do it for me.

                            2. re: liu

                              Las Cazuelas sucks!!!!!!! If you are looking for good Mexican food, don't go to Las Cazuelas. I ate there and thought I was eating Taco Bell. There beans are not that good, and there salsa has no heat or taste. It reminded me of Acapulcos, El Toritos, Chevy's or El Cholo's.

                              1. re: iknowfood64

                                So which places are better?

                        2. It always amazes me to read other hounds impression of the food in the Coachella Valley. My family has been in the Palm Springs area since the early 70's and I have watched the restaurant scene develop. Contrary to popular belief, we actually do have a few good restaurants here.

                          For Jewish deli food, forget Sherman's and go to Mahattan in the Desert on East Palm Canyon in PS.

                          We have eaten at the original Las Casuelas in PS and remember the Mr/Mrs Delgado that started the restaurant so many years ago. It has lost alot of it's homestyle charm, although Las Casuelas Terraza in downtown PS is alot of fun at the bar with live music in the evening starting about 6 PM.

                          If you are yearning for good tex/mex homestyle, run to El Gallito in Cathedral City.
                          Make sure you bring cash, because they don't take credit and be prepared to wait. They do a brisk business.

                          I personally love Zin in downtown Palm Springs. The wife runs the front of the house and the husband runs the kitchen. They are well worth it.

                          Also consider Europa Restaurant off of East Palm Canyon. Wonderful high end restaurant tucked away off the main drag at a small hotel. The food and service can't be beat.

                          Stay far way from Kaiser Grill or any of their other restaurants. Mediocre and unreliable on a good day.

                          Agree with the other post that mentioned Matchbox. Had a wonderful meal there a few weeks ago and plan to return this weekend for pizza.

                          Hope this helps. Good eating and enjoy your stay in our beautiful valley!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Stuffy

                            Funny how many people seem to like Kaiser Grill and the Chop House, isn't it?

                            1. re: mlgb

                              I second or third your opinion of Kaiser. Those of us who live here know how long they went without an A (health department grade) in their window for one thing!

                            2. re: Stuffy

                              any recommendations for interesting food markets or specialty stores?

                              1. re: jamtart12

                                Jensen's Finest Foods
                                www.jensensfoods.com
                                102 S Sunrise Way
                                Palm Springs, CA 92262
                                (760) 325-8282

                                Trader Joe's
                                www.traderjoes.com
                                67720 E Palm Canyon Dr,
                                Cathedral City -
                                (760) 202-0090

                            3. I do thank everyone here for all their very helpful responses. The few standouts for our purposes are Norma's for breakfast or lunch, Zin perhaps, Matchbox for pizza for sure, and maybe Sherman's Deli or Manhattan for breakfast.

                              Several others have been mentioned, and I am taking your list with me. Thanks again!

                              1. If you are having a casual night out don't miss Zin. Their wine list alone is worth the visit but the food is great. I just had Veal Cheeks that were to die for and my partner had a NY that was better than most steak houses! The cheese cake is wonderful as well. If you are dressing up a little - we are a resort town - you shouldn't miss Johanne's. More $$$ but very good. I think the Mexican food is better at El Mirasol than Las Casueles but the music and atmosphere as Las Cas is fun and probably the reason the locals go there.

                                1. We have returned from Palm Springs, and my regrets that there just aren't more meals in a day! I would like to have tried more of your suggestions because we only made it to two of the places on this wonderful Hound list.

                                  Tex-Mex was perfect for Friday night as we arrived in Palm Springs late and hungry. El Gallito in Cathedral City was close, and when we arrived close to 9:00pm there were several people sitting outside waiting to get in. The place is small and our wait was 30 minutes. The space is rather dive-y, but everything we ordered was delicious and perfect for what we wanted. Thanks to Stuffy who gave us the good information that the place would be crowded and that we needed to pay cash.

                                  We tried to get to Matchbox for wood-fired pizza, but that just didn't happen.

                                  We had a wonderful brunch at Norma's in the Parker Palm in Palm Springs. I thank several of you who recommended Norma's. The space is lovely with a brightly covered canvas patio or a very pretty space inside. The food is nicely and creatively served; one of our sandwiches was wrapped in tissue and tied with a large bow. They also served us complimentary watermelon smoothie-slushes that were delicious: blended ice with watermelon, yogurt, apple juice, honey and coconut milk! Also, I had a tuna sandwich that was made with fresh tuna and served on a delicious whole grain bread. Our brunch for two was just around $50 and well worth it! I will return and I would highly recommend this to others heading to Palm Springs.

                                  1. Any opinions on Le Saint Germain in Indian Wells? Someone recommended it to me but couldn't find anything on chowhound. I guess a lot of the nicer places are closed till the end of august.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Josh90004

                                      Haven't been there for awhile. I prefer the atmosphere of their sister restaurant, Le Valluris inPalm Springs, but LSG is a very nice restaurant, with excellent service. I like sitting on the patio & have never had a bad meal there, although I remember my favorite dish at LV, the whitefish in the dijon champagne sauce, not being as memorable here. Did really enjoy the soft shell crabs one night, though!

                                    2. I am in SF but heading to Palm Springs this weekend... I have to say Zin's website is really cheezy but based on the recommendations I'm going to hit Zin on Friday, Norma's for brunch at some point, and the Oasis in 29 Palms after a day of Joshua Tree hiking. Sound good?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: karenitasf

                                        I hope you're not as disappointed as I was by the food at Zin. Indifferent and uninspired. Service was very good and the owner/sommelier is quite pleasant but, all in all, it was pretty ordinary for a bit of a premium price.

                                        1. re: deckape

                                          The valley has improved dramatically over the last 15 years, and now many of the great places stay open year round. For Mexican food I like El Mirasol (the original in PS) and Ros Amarillos in Indio. I have always liked El Gallito in Cathedral city, but the lines are long whenyou are hungry.

                                          I know everybody disagrees on the best steak house in the valley, but I prefer LGs in Palm Springs for steak many of their wait staff have been there since they opened, and it shows. I have had questionable steaks and service at the falls and the chop house. If you do go to LG's stay at the Palm Springs or Palm Desert.....The La Quinta location still needs some work on their service.

                                          For a fancy night you you have many choices. I have always had a great meal, and wonderful people watching at Melvyns at the Ingleside Inn. Dining on the patio at Spencer's always makes for a wonderful evening. If you want a perfect meal with some of the best service in the valley, a great wine list, and a talented bartender you have to go to Shame On The Moon in Rancho Mirage.

                                          If you do not want to go that fancy, Johannes does a nice weinershcnitzel. You also have Acqua Pazzo in Rancho Mirage, but the crowds are a pain at the river during the season. great happy hour deals.

                                          The only thing really lacking is some competition among the ethnic places. I would not say that there are slim pickings in the valley any more, but we could still use some improvement.

                                          1. re: sobastrace

                                            just wanted to report back from our christmas trip to palm springs. went to acqua pazzo for christmas eve dinner and we were extremely happy with the meal and the service. they were very accommodating of our 2 year old, and our early reservations beat the crowd. had the tuna avocado tower as an app and it was superb, very fresh fish. a bit heavy handed on the gari (ginger) garnish but otherwise well done. as we have a chowbaby who wouldn't touch anything on a standard children's menu (and they did offer the usual suspects), we ordered her a bowl of the seafood chowder and she devoured it. nicely spiced, with generous chunks of seafood.

                                            i had the lobster and shrimp salad, and it was very good, although i found the dressing to be just a tad on the tart side. big chunks of fresh lobster meat and fresh fruit to accompany, it was definitely the 'light' dinner i was looking for. my husband ordered the trio of lobster rolls and as a former summer resident of block island, he ordered it to take a trip down memory lane. he was very happy with the generous rolls as well as the matchstick fries which accompanied it.

                                            we unfortunately deferred on dessert as we were more than satisfied, but there were several nice sweets on display including a flourless chocolate ganache cake, which would have been my selection if it weren't for the fact that i was stuffed.

                                            all in all, well executed with nice ambience. it did get on the noisier side as it got busier, but the air was festive and not annoyingly loud. the service was attentive, even as they filled up during the course of the evening.

                                      2. Reporting back after a november trip to PS... we had a great meal at Zin, but I will agree that some of the food was amazing while other dishes were just, pretty good. Still for PS I would recommend it. We had fantastic service there.

                                        Norma's brunch was tasty, a little pricey, but can't beat the setting and the people-watching- I think it's a must.

                                        And one of our favorite spots was the 29 Palms Inn in Twentynine Palms- just outside the entrance to Joshua Tree. After a long day of hiking, it was so fantastic. It's very funky and retro - we enjoyed sitting outside (around the swimming pool) because the stars are so pretty and there was a loungey singing duet out there- in spot-on Palm Springs throwback style. But, even though much of the food sounds like old Palm Springs standard fare, it's very well-executed and more up to date. Great small wine list and mojitos there too! Incredibly friendly and knowledgable service by guys who have clearly worked there happily for many years. If you are planning a day at Joshua Tree I would definitely make a reservation there for, oh, just after the sun sets!

                                        1. Helllo Chow-ish folks....we can't believe so many of you like Zin. We thought it was friendly but insipid. The burger everyone's raving about? Goodness. Why? I mean, there's the the low-end, great griddle type burger and then the high-end, this is fabulous burger like the one at the Spotted Pig in NYC. But the Zin burger....eh. We had the mussels too and they were nice. The Romaine salad was blah. The really bizarre thing is that Palm Springs has SO many rich people who certainly know what good food is, yet it seems very hard to find. The best meal we've had so far (outside our own kitchen) was some okay Thai food.

                                          1. Anyone dine at Chez Philippe for lunch or breakfast in Palm Springs?
                                            Thinking of bagging Norma's at the Parker..
                                            Any sushi rec's for me..yeah, I know, sushi in the desert.

                                            www.chezphilippeps.com

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                              Wonder if Chez Philippe is trying to confuse people looking for Chez Pierre (in Palm Desert)

                                              http://www.chezpierrebistro.com/

                                              Sushi

                                              Kiyosaku supposedly the best.

                                              1. re: mlgb

                                                Thanks mlgb!

                                                1. re: mlgb

                                                  FYI Chex Philippe, no longer in biz in Palm Springs. Agree still like Kiyosaku the best for sushi in Palm Springs, always fresh and friendly.

                                                  1. re: psfoodgirl

                                                    Any 2010 updates?

                                              2. I brought this thread with me to Palm Springs where I am with my two mini foodie/clotheshorse daughters and we tried Johannes last night and really loved it!!! People are often put off by "Austrian" or "German" cooking and whatever that connotes, but this was very light, new style European cuisine, with friendly good service. HIghly recommended.

                                                We started out with the "cheese spaetzle" which was such a great twist on this Germanic classic -- my daughters thought it tasted like very high end mac n cheese -- spinach, cheese, carmelized onions all gave this dish an almost meaty feel to it. We also had one of the salad specials, which was cold brussell sprouts drizzled with a lemony vinagrette -- very light and the brussells were not whole, but entirely deconstructed and sort of looked like tiny arugula. I had the wiener schniztel, excellent, and my daughters split the beef tenderloin, cooked medium, in a slightly spicy brandy peppercorn sauce with wonderful fries and carrots. For dessert we split the trio of strudel, chocolate mouse (tinged with chipotle!) and lavender creme brulee. Everything was great, as was my glass of Gruner Veltliner, a citrusy white wine that marries well with the cooking.

                                                They have NON germanic food as well -- lamb chops, a thai curry dish, a mahi mahi special -- so dont' get put off by the generic description of this place.

                                                Now we are looking for the best italian in Palm Springs -- we love Castelli's but that is in Indian Wells and we are not sure we want to drive that far tonight....suggestions???

                                                The decor is airy and modern -- I loved the blond wood tables.

                                                -----
                                                Castelli's
                                                73098 Highway 111, Palm Desert, CA 92260