Monday, January 08, 2007

Lounging in Palm Springs

shrimp diablo -- muy caliente!

Eating L.A.
has been in Palm Springs the last few days, hanging out at the Palm Springs Film Festival and as usual, trying to find something edible in the vast culinary wasteland of the desert. Even though dozens of new restaurants have opened there in the last few years, I think Variety editor Peter Bart's recommendation of a martini and some good bar snacks at the Falls is probably the safest way to go. Our first night we took the kids to El Mirasol, a nice Mexican place on East Palm Canyon that has been my fallback for the last few years. Their margaritas are large and potent, and I always order the shrimp diablo which comes with a stern warning: "this is really hot, we can't make it less spicy." I'm sure the fiery sauce overrides the subtle flavor of the shrimp, but I don't care, I can't stop eating that sauce spooned onto tortillas and mixed up with the rice and beans. The next day we finally tried Tyler's Burgers in downtown Palm Springs, which everyone says makes a great burger. Well, they make a good burger, a large burger, but great might be stretching it, since I needed to salt it repeatedly while eating it. The fries are pretty good though, they have fresh lemonade, and Matt was happy with his chili cheese dog. The quality ingredients don't come cheap though, especially when phantom $10 charges appear on the bill, so check your check carefully.
I also tried breakfast at eat. at my hotel, the Zoso, which is the Palm Springs outpost of the Hollywood Eat owned by the Patina Group. Our granola and omelette were fine, but the concept of frequent coffee refills, a no-brainer at any common diner, seemed to elude the rather spacey waitstaff at this more-trendy place. The rest of the time I ate at various film fest parties, but really, two or three restaurants in the desert is all a person can really take. A Chowhound recommended Simba's Soul Food, which is located in a rather dimly foreboding former Denny's type building -- I didn't get to try it out, but I guess it could be promising for next time.
In case there aren't enough "Berry" yogurt shops in L.A., you can try Cactus Berry, naturally, in Palm Springs. But instead, I highly recommend Lappert's Ice Cream on Palm Canyon Dr., one of the few Californian outlets of this excellent Hawaiian ice cream shops.


Anonymous said...

"...vast culinary wasteland of the desert..."
Like a dagger through the heart of this longtime desert resident!
Next time, head down 111 to Big Mamma's Soul Food, tucked next to the Imax in Cathedral City. The entry area features a couch slip-covered in sturdy plastic, rolls of paper towels serve as napkins and the catfish is a marvel.

Pat Saperstein said...

Will do...if only I had known. Is it better than Simba's?

Anonymous said...

"...vast culinary wasteland of the desert..." -- I have to agree completely with this statement, as I'm always saying this to my husband. I was born and raised in LA and I miss its diversity of restaurants and price levels. There are not a lot of good, unique restaurants at a mid-price range. Too many steakhouses and tourist traps, or unhealthy fast food outlets. Not enough authentic ethnic food (except for Mexican probably). My favorite place is Native Foods (Palm Desert, but there are also locations in Palm Springs, Costa Mesa and Westwood) because the food is consistently tasty. It is a vegan restaurant, and I'm not a vegan, but I'm rarely disappointed with a meal here. Tyler's is great for fresh homemade potato salad and coleslaw. Their sandwiches are very large, also. I don't eat the burgers, but my dad did the same thing as you did (salt the burger frequently). My husband and I enjoy sitting at the counter to watch the cooking action. Wolfgang's Bistro in Palm Desert offers German home cooking and is very tasty and satisfying. My husband likes the schnitzel made with an extremely tender pork filet. And it's a nice change from the proliferation of steakhouses and mediocre/generic Italian restaurants or chain eateries.

Anonymous said...

you should check out BLEND the next time your in the PS area - actually in La Quinta - the chef worked to TK at the French Laundry for years...extraordinary! Not at all what you would expect in this area!