By Daniel Vaillancourt
In 1999, when Clint Eastwood asked his good friend Kaiser Morcus to reopen the Original Hog — which the A-list actor-director-producer had owned for more than three decades in Carmel — the now 80-year-old patriarch of the Palm Springs-based Kaiser Restaurant Group jumped at the chance. And when, in 2004, the developers of Old Town La Quinta offered Morcus a choice spot on Main Street, the veteran restaurateur had the stroke of genius to retell his Northern California success story in this charming, set in Southern California, Spanish-style village. Thus was the Desert Hog born.
This explains the murals, movie posters, and vintage Hollywood photos depicting Eastwood that pepper the walls throughout this warm, Southwestern-themed, second-story eatery that won both a Diner’s Choice Award from Open Table and a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor in 2013. With the spacious saloon, rustically sophisticated dining room, private boardroom accommodating up to 36 people, and sun-drenched patio all offering stellar views of the Santa Rosa Mountains beyond and Old Town La Quinta Plaza below, guests are invited to recline, unwind, and savor the mid-to upper-level, all-American classics cooked up by seasoned Chef Gabino Reyes.
“Restaurant success always comes down to the three same things,” says Lee Morcus, company CEO and son of Kaiser. “Food, service, and atmosphere. Our menu and food are consistently excellent, and we have a longterm staff that’s well-trained and that cares.” Praising the soothing Mission-meets-Tinseltown décor, Morcus points to the interior’s rich hardwood floors, cool granites, exposed red brick, and ornate Mexican tile.
With the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and La Quinta Resort & Club just a stone’s throw away, guests who come to the Hog for lunch, happy hour, or dinner can expect to rub elbows with Grand Slam champs and gold-medal golf pros galore. Should Dirty Harry himself walk in, go ahead, make his day. Open daily: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., lunch till 3 p.m., happy hour 3 to 6 p.m.; dinner starts at 4:30 p.m.
Hog’s Breath Inn
78065 Main Street, Old Town La Quinta 92253
• Crispy Calamari — Lime ginger and sweet chile sauce
• Prosciutto Wrapped Medjool Dates
• Ahi Tuna Poke
• Steak and Tomato Salad
• Classic Cobb Salad
• Bay Shrimp Stuffed Avocado
• Seafood Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
• Margarita Pizza
• Dirty Harry Burger
• “Prime” Pork Chop
• Pistachio Crusted Sea Bass
• USDA Prime N.Y. Strip Steak
• Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding
• Warm Peach Cake with Blueberry sour cream ice cream
• Espresso Chocolate Pot du Crème with house made almond brittle
• Cabernet Sauvignon, Jordan, Alexander Valley
• Syrah, Chateau Potelle, Paso Robles
• Pinot Noir, Chalone, Chalone Pinnacles
• Chardonnay, Mer Soleil, Monterey
• Sauvignon Blanc, Frog’s Leap, Napa
• Pinot Grigio, Morgan, Santa Lucia
• “Dirty” Harry Martini — Stoli, olive juice, dry vermouth
• Hog Cadillac Margarita — Sauza Commemorativo, Cointreau, organic agave, fresh lime, Grand Marnier
• Hogsmopolitan Martini Citron and mandarin Vodkas, Cointreau, fresh lime, cranberry