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Feb 17, 2011 09:27 AM

Good Food in Palm Springs/Coachella valley

I am a major foodie, we just bought a 2nd home in Rancho Mirage (next to Palm Springs).. Any suggestions on great restaurants in the area.. We will be in Coachella valley this Sat nite for a concert.. PLEASE HELP.. price does not matter.. just good food

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  1. I actually have an extensive file on that subject (one of several regional restaurant files I maintain), having lived there somewhat in recent years and dined out a lot. It may be helpful to your query, but it could be some time before I have the leisure to post it; in the meantime I notice that postings from the Coachella Valley / Palm Springs area are frequent here in Winter, even appearing in recent days here on the California board. A little experimenting with the search feature on this board should reveal many helpful and reasonably current suggestions.

    A personal observation: I've spent time in many metropolitan areas in the US and elsewhere and paid close attention to their dining options, simple and fancy. The Coachella Valley has an extraordinary number of decent independent restaurants for its population. Some quirks: An unusual number of steakhouses (both chains and decent local independents like Chop House and LG's Prime), I assume it partly serves the particular "snow-bird" as well as year-round demographic which tends (according to restaurateurs I've asked) to be older, northerly in origin, and with conservative palates. Same reason one good local Chinese restaurateur told me he can't feature spicy food and stay in business (he and his wife flee to San Diego periodically for good spicy Chinese food). Also (for California) an unusual number of traditional US Southern-Italian restaurants. ("You'd think the mafia were here," I quipped to a longtime local. "They were," she answered seriously. "Mostly they were gone by the 1980s." The town of Desert Hot Springs even has a health spa that I'm told was the former villa of Al Capone.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: eatzalot

      We loved both of our meals at BluEmber and Wally's Desert Turtle. Tommy Bahama's Cafe also has good food in a tropical ambiance. :)

      Wally's Desert Turtle
      71775 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

      1. re: syrahgirl

        Thanks for reminding me about Wally's, syrahgirl. I haven't tried it yet and have been longing to do so for years because of historical associations. Wally's is said to've been the orginal of the Velvet Turtle chain, which flourished on the West Coast in the 1970s and will be remembered by many people who were dining out then. By the 1990s the chain was dying. "Continental" cuisine, a buzzword of the 1970s.

        Tommy Bahama's, in Palm Desert anyway, is very popular, a real crowd-pleaser, eclectic for a chain and moderately priced. It's in The Gardens on El Paseo, a very upscale outdoorsy commercial complex that also hosts a couple of very popular more specialized restaurants of high quality: Pacifica Seafood and Sullivan's Steakhouse. Pacifica has been a wine-geek mecca with its large sophisticated list and Free Corkage [BYOB] days. Sullivan's, a brand of a vast chain, has had a WAY-above-par kitchen in my experience, and excellent live jazz certain nights. Some people go there specifically for the music. Sullivan's displays the competitiveness evident among the many steakhouses in the area, surely one reason why even the chain steakhouses tend to surpass their counterparts in other regions. Both Pacifica and Sullivan's also have offered amazingly inexpensive early or bar-menu dining, which again is typical in the region. Their schedule changes so check current details.

        My big list is not in a form easily posted without more work, but my experience centers on the Rancho Mirage - Palm Desert - Indian Wells part of the valley. A few varied favorites in Palm Springs proper and RM:

        Davey's, PS. A "locals' place," comfort-foody American menu well executed; piano, cocktails.

        Johannes, PS. _Wiener Küche_ in Palm Springs. The thriving distinctive exuberant cuisine of Vienna, faithfully and creatively realized in stylish setting. A must for anyone who knows that Wiener Schnitzel has nothing to do with sausage.

        Piero's "Acqua Pazza" at The River, Hwy 111, RM -- Bustling, casual. Famous small-plates menu and "happy-hour" food deals.

        196 South Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, CA 92262

        Tommy Bahamas Tropical Cafe
        73595 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

        Pacifica Seafood Restaurant
        73505 El Paseo, Suite F-2608, Palm Desert, CA 92260

        Sullivan's Steakhouse - Palm Desert
        73505 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

        Davey's Hideaway Restaurant
        292 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

        Piero's Acqua Pazza
        71800 Highway 111 Ste A167, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

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