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Palm Springs--Trip Report February 6-13 (part 3)

a
anewton Feb 27, 2011 08:48 AM

Friday morning--Early start as we headed to Anza-Borrego for a day of hiking. We were pleasantly surprised that there was a farmer's market when we arrived in Borrego Springs. There was one vendor who grew 3 or 4 different types of limes...I loved the taste of the fresh kaffir lime. Another vendor grew some orange varieties that I had never heard of, such as strawberry oranges. Eating so many varieties of freshly picked citrus is one of the highlights for me when I am in SoCal.

Ate at Carlee's in Borrego Springs for burgers. The meat and bun themselves were mundane, and the service was slow because the place got slammed for lunch. The housemade potato chips were a nice touch, though.

Upon our return to Palm Springs we headed to Monsoon for Indian food. We did not know what to expect from Indian in a smallish city like Palm Springs, but we were pleasantly surprised. We told our server that we like our food hot, and he said a spice level of 5 (out of 10) would suffice. I was quite pleasantly taken aback at what a kick the food had. Typically when I have eaten spicy cuisine in smaller cities, the heat level has been toned back to appeal to the average caucasian palate, but Monsoon brings the heat. I think a 7 or 8 would be downright blistering.

We started with a delicious deep fried cauliflower appy that came with two distinct condiments. We then had an eggplant dish cooked in the tandoor oven, a chicken curry, and a lamb curry. All of our dishes had distinct flavour profiles and they all had plenty of heat. The garlic naan was one of the better renditions I have tasted. We were very pleased to find decent Indian here.

Saturday morning we decided to splurge and try the Parker for breakfast. This lobby in this place had surprisingly eccentric decor, including a large piece of art built around the word "DRUGS" (not something I would expect in a resort hotel catering to the wealthy). The food was okay but not as good as Cheeky's and twice as expensive. I got some lemon griddlecakes with devonshire cream. The cakes were fine but a touch dry and not especially creative. I have had better for half the price. My SO had huevos rancheros that were beautifully presented but had disappointingly mild (read: bland) flavour and cost $22. The huevos at Cheeky's were 10 times better than these. You are definitely paying for ambience and exclusivity at this place. I would not return, but it was an interesting experience.

Dinner that night was an altogether better experience. We decided to take a chance on the Purple Palms restaurant at the Colony Palms Hotel. I had read quite mixed reviews both on this forum and elsewhere online, but I guess we ordered well that night because everything we had was good. The service was also friendly and efficient.

First off, I must say that the Purple Palms has the best decor of any restaurant at which we ate in Palm Springs. We ate inside because the room was lovely. I started with the butter lettuce salad with quail eggs and herbs. I love almost any salad with eggs, and I have a soft spot for butter lettuce salads. My main was a beautiful piece of meat, a ribeye (about 12 oz) that was perfectly marbled, marvellously juicy, and better than any steak I have had in a steakhouse (including the famous Gibson's bone-in ribeye in Chicago). I can't even recall the sides because my steak itself was so tremendous.

My wife had 2 appetizers (no main): a calamari with chorizo, potato, lemon, and frisee, and a crab mac and cheese with fontina and gruyere (loved it). Both were good but the calamari was somewhat prosaic (she should have known).

Dessert was awesome. I had a chocolate croissant bread pudding that ranked up there with the best bread puddings I have ever eaten. My wife's dessert, a raspberry pavlova, was good but did not measure up to my bread pudding.

Sunday morning: Our last meal in Palm Springs. We finished off with Mexican food at Taqueria Tlaquepaque. A good initial sign was that we were the only non-Mexican people in the joint. I had beef enchiladas with chile verde. They were very good. My wife had her favourite combo (chile relleno and enchilada) and it measured up to what she had eaten at El Gallito and El Mexicali. This large brunch kept us full for a long day of travel back home.

All in all, the food we ate in the Coachella Valley exceeded our expectations, especially given that some cynical posters have taken to dismissing the dining scene in the Valley altogether. I think the area does fairly well given its population and demographics.

Thanks for all of your suggestions, and I will certainly post following my next trip to the area.

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resort hotel
66540 San marcus road, Desert hot springs, CA

El Gallito Restaurant
68820 Grove St, Cathedral City, CA 92234

Purple Palm Restaurant
572 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Taqueria Tlaquepaque
650 E Sunny Dunes Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264

El Mexicali Restaurant
82720 Indio Blvd, Indio, CA 92201

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  1. g
    glbtrtr RE: anewton Feb 27, 2011 09:21 AM

    Thank you so much for the dining adventure in what we often think of as a dining wasteland. Cheeky's, Purple Palms and the local mexican offerings sound well worth exploring. The rest appear to validate the ho-hum culinary reputation for this locale. It was great you did all this trial and error and came away with some fresh new ideas for the rest of us. Your descriptions were vivid that tell us you know your food and can make the best of any dining experience, which is true even when it ranges from good, bad to indifferent.

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    Purple Palm Restaurant
    572 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, CA 92262

    3 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr
      a
      anewton RE: glbtrtr Feb 27, 2011 09:24 AM

      Actually, Johannes was probably the best dining experience I had in Palm Springs. But if you don't want to go upscale, Monsoon (Indian) is quite delicious too. Also, Cheeky's on weekends is impossible as it appears there is a large influx of Angelenos. I think weekdays (closed Tuesdays) is the way to go for Cheeky's.

      1. re: anewton
        g
        glbtrtr RE: anewton Feb 27, 2011 10:47 AM

        My oversight, thanks for the reminder. Yes, Johnnes did sound wonderful. Would you mind creating a condensed list of your choices so readers can print it out for future reference? Palm Springs restaurant questions seem to come up here a lot and leave most of us stumbling around with few good options.

        Your reports have been the best so far. Love to see it become a list in a single follow-up post. (Hey, I could do this too ......... but if it is easy for you to do while it is all fresh in your mind, it would be great.)

        1. re: glbtrtr
          m
          marshallcj77 RE: glbtrtr Feb 4, 2012 02:24 PM

          Marisol does great authentic and relatively inexpensive Mexican food. They do a great chille rellenos and their Camaron diabla is nice and spicy.

    2. k
      kel RE: anewton Jun 30, 2011 03:54 PM

      Thank you. Terrific details and descriptions !

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