Palm Springs--Trip Report February 6-13 (part 1)
I better post this before I forget what I ate when in Socal.
My wife and I had a fabulous time in the Coachella Valley. We loved the hiking in the Indian Canyons, in nearby Joshua Tree, and in Anza-Borrego state park. We loved walking around and admiring the midcentury modern (MCM) architecture and MCM retail outlets in Palm Springs. We loved the weather compared to what we are used to at this time of year in our home and native land of Canada. And we found some good food.
Day 1: We arrived in the evening, so dinner was our only meal on this day. We headed to Citron because I had liked their menu when I was doing my pre-trip research. I had the watermelon and heirloom tomato salad to start. It was okay but not great. The flavour of the tomatoes was MIA IMO. I am a heirloom tomato fan but, to me, these did not have the distinctive taste of perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes (perhaps overpowered by the sweetness of the watermelon?) The menu said that my salad came with French feta cheese but there was only a minuscule amount. My wife had a classic wedge salad which was fine but a boring choice, I thought.
My main was the Viceroy burger, which I thought was fantastic. I loved that there were two kinds of cheeses on the burger--gruyere and blue cheese. Real flavour bomb, and everything else about the burger was great too (the bun, the meat). Mind you, I expect a great burger for $18.
My wife's main was the rustichella pasta with toasted garlic, olive oil and parsley. Disappointing, we both thought. The pasta was overcooked for our liking (WAY past al dente). The flavour was one-note. The parmesan they brought for the pasta was the powdery kind (NOT reggiano or grano padano).
The cocktails were good but frankly overpriced (13 for the signature margarita was too steep). The service was great, and the room and complex itself are beautiful. Overall I cannot give Citron a wholehearted recommendation based on our experience, but I would certainly go to the bar for a drink now and then if I lived in Palm Springs, if only because the all-white decor is so stunning.
Coffees at Koffi, then breakfast at Cheeky's. I love Cheeky's. I have been to Palm Springs before,and I think that Cheeky's is a real gem, perhaps the best food I have had in Palm Springs. I love that the menu changes weekly and I appreciate how everything I have tried there is good. The service can be a tad brusque but I expect that from a busy breakfast place. On this day I had their huevos rancheros, which were among the best I have ever tasted. We wife had their eggs benny special, I believe (my memory is already fading). We really enjoyed our food. I find that the flavours at Cheeky's are always vibrant, fresh, and balanced.
That night we headed to the outlet mall and had our first ever date shakes at Hadley's. They were pretty good, and VERY sweet, but did not blow us away. Maybe we should have gone to Shields' instead?
Later that night we went to El Gallito for dinner. I ate WAY too much and felt like the goodyear blimp after my meal. I had the the El Gallito especial, a "generous serving of both the chile verde and the chile coloroda." The menu does not lie...there was a lot of beef on my plate. Both sauces were delicious and distinct from one another, but I think I would go with just one of the meats in the future. My wife had a combo plate with a chile relleno and an enchilada, I believe. The food was good and inexpensive, and the servers were very friendly. The place had a nice family vibe to it...toward the end of our meal, just before closing time, the restaurant staff all sat down for a meal together at the table closest to the kitchen.
Day 3: Cheeky's was closed, so we grabbed some coffees and bran muffins from Koffi and headed straight out to Joshua Tree to meet some friends who happened to be in Palm Springs at the same time we did. Later that night we met said friends at the Amigo Room in the Ace Hotel. I had a salad (can't remember which one and the online menu is not jogging my memory) and the fish tacos, which were good but not distinctive. My wife had the spaghettini with prosciutto, lemon, and chilies for her main. The pasta was better than what she had at Citron but still had issues. The prosciutto went rubbery in the hot pasta. Personally I think that fried, cubed pancetta is a better fit for pasta than thin slices of prosciutto. Anyway, the food was decent, the cocktails were good, and the ambience was really fun (we were there on karaoke night, which seemed to attract a diverse and unpretentious crowd). Our table of six also split a few mezza platters which were decent but perhaps a touch overpriced and not particularly creative.
To be continued...
El Gallito Restaurant
68820 Grove St, Cathedral City, CA 92234