Eat Your Way Around the World



Patio at The Tropicale Restaurant & Coral Seas Lounge.

the tropicale restaurant

One of the delights of traveling is experiencing regional dishes. You could fork over a hefty sum for airfare to carry you tens of thousands of miles — or you could avoid the expense and hassle of flying by embarking on a local gastronomical getaway. Throughout the desert, you can find restaurants specializing in ethnic cuisines from countries around the globe or even the good old California and American repertoire. You could cover a lot of mouthwatering territory in just a week. Feel free to use the dining listings in this and the monthly Desert Guide to route a course. To whet your appetite, here are some suggestions for a well-traveled dining experience.

AMERICAN/CALIFORNIAN
Sitting in arnold palmer’s restaurant is like visiting the king of golf in his private club. Palmer’s trophies and memorabilia create a comfortable, classic atmosphere. The menu changes seasonally and includes specialties such as honey/soy-glazed sea bass and porcini ravioli with black truffles. Arnie’s Favorites include comfort food darlings beef stroganoff and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. 78164 Avenue 52, La Quinta, 1-760-771-4653; www.arnoldpalmersrestaurant.com

Trio Restaurant offers an energetic atmosphere with a midcentury vibe and great American modern food. Dishes such as crawfish pot pie and Trio Mac & Cheese exemplify this orange-hued eatery’s commitment to wholesome dining. Trio uses sustainable, organic seafood and all natural, organic meats and local produce whenever possible. 707 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-864-8746; www.triopalmsprings.com

Agual Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa’s poker deli offers uncomplicated food perfect for a gaming break or pre-concert nibble. For upscale dining, The Steakhouse features an extensive wine list, delicious food, and great service — a winning combination. 32250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. 1-888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com

Circa 59 at Riviera Palm Springs offers a contemporary twist on traditional menu items. Reinvented versions of age-old classics complement the resort’s 1960s-inspired motif. Circa 59 sources ingredients from regional farms. Menu selections are updated regularly. 1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-866-588-8311; www.psriviera.com

Those craving a New York, kosher-style deli adore Sherman’s Deli and Bakery; a locals’ meeting place to savor East Coast favorites. Specials include potato pancakes, rib-eye steak, barbecued baby back ribs, and more. 401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 1-760-325-1199

Babe’s Bar-B-Que Grill & Brewhouse at The River at Rancho Mirage boasts award-winning beer and food to match. Feast on Southern favorites such as pulled pork sandwiches with sweet potato fries and baby back ribs with baked yams smothered in honey butter and pecans. 71800 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage. 1-760-346-8738; www.babesbbque.com

hog’s breath inn in Old Town La Quinta is the desert  version of Clint Eastwood’s famous Carmel eatery.  Steeped in cool Western elegance with a Hollywood vibe, the restaurant blazes with fireplaces, rustic décor, and murals, along with patio views, saloon, piano bar, and food with a California twist. 78065 Main St., La Quinta. 1-760-564-5556

Another Kaiser Family Restaurant, Jackalope Ranch offers barbecue using a combination of apples, almonds, and oak in the smoker to add richness to the meats. 80400 Hwy. 111, Indio. 1-760-342-1999.

Indulge in a seafood bounty at the Crab Pot, where butcher paper overflows with Dungeness crab, snow crab, king crab, clams, mussels, shrimp, andouille sausage, corn on the cob, red potatoes, and more. It’s a wild ocean foray that encourages hearty appetites and messy participation. 78121 Avenida La Fonda, La Quinta. 1-760-564-7333, www.crabpotlaquinta.com and 70030 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage. 1-760-321-7635; www.crabpotranchomirage.com

FRENCH
Le Vallauris is one of the most romantic places to dine in Palm Springs, whether you’re outside in the softly lit courtyard or inside enjoying the French country house ambiance. The menu offers delicious continental fare, from sauteéd foie gras and tuna tartare to seared whitefish with mustard sauce. Grand Marnier soufflé tops off a heady dessert menu. 385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 1-760-325-5059; www.levallauris.com

Sitting on a prime El Paseo corner, Cafés des Beaux-Arts reminds one of dining at a French sidewalk café, complete with local art. Depending on when you come, the menu offers everything from salads and French-inspired sandwiches to short ribs Bourguignonne. 73640 El Paseo, Palm Desert. 1-760-346-0669; www.cafedesbeauxarts.com

Pomme Frite combines French and Belgian cuisine in a cozy sidewalk bistro in Palm Springs. With a variety of preparations, this is a haven for mussel lovers. Complement your meal with a French wine or Belgian beer and be sure to leave room for a Belgian chocolate mousse with pistachio crème Anglaise, pears poached in Burgundy wine, or another gourmet dessert. 265 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-778-3727; www.pomme-frite.com

ITALIAN/PIZZA
For authentic Napolitano cuisine, head to Johnny Costa’s Ristorante. True to their Gulf of Naples heritage, the Costa family has created a vast menu that includes many pasta dishes with seafood (including clams, mussels, salmon, lobster, shrimp, anchovies), as well as meat and vegetarian dishes. There’s also a menu of Italian brick-oven baked pizzas. 440 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-325-4556; www.johnnycostaspalmsprings.com

A top-rated Zagat-rated award-winning restaurant featuring an Italian flare, Sirocco tantalizes taste buds with sophisticated dishes and a bountiful wine lists. Boasting an emphasis on fresh, many items on the menu are made from scratch and all the breads, pastas, and desserts are created daily. For a true Italian culinary adventure, try the Carpaccio Casanova (thinly sliced beef tenderloin) followed with Raviolini d’Aragosta: lobster, crab, and shrimp ravioli in a lobster brandy sauce. Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, 44400 Indian Wells Ln., Indian Wells. 1-760-773-4444; www.renaissanceesmeralda.com

California Pizza Kitchen offers hearth-baked pizzas featuring a wide array of toppings — from traditional sausage to buffalo chicken to pear and gorgonzola. But pizzas are only part of CPK’s wide-ranging appeal. Pasta dishes, hearty salads, appetizers, and popular curbside service make CPK a well-rounded dining experience. 123 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-322-6075  and 73080 El Paseo, Palm Desert. 1-760-776-5036; www.cpk.com
 
MEDITERRANEAN
For people-watching and a sidewalk café ambiance, try zini café mediterrano. The cuisine is simple, healthful, and especially flavorful — comfort food with panache. Its sister restaurant, Zin American Bistro, features a phenomenal menu with memorable entreés, such as Belgian veal and ricotta meatballs in sweet and sour gravy, and a distinctive wine list. 140 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-325-9464. Zin American Bistro, 198 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-322-6300

MEXICAN
Sparkling ambiance, family tradition, exquisite food, and generous hospitality transform a food establishment into a memorable dining experience. The ever-popular las casuelas terraza in downtown Palm Springs has achieved this elusive distinction, with rich family recipes handed down through generations. 222 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-325-2794; www.lascasuelas.com

For an inspired Mexican meal, Rio Azul Mexican Bar and grill in Palm Springs offers an innovative menu using only the freshest ingredients. Executive Chef Ernesto Gastelum incorporates the slow food philosophy, where everything is made to order and freshly prepared. Try the tableside guacamole appetizer with a Blue Rio Azul Margarita for starters, then dive into one of their delicious entrées. 350 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-992-5641; www.rioazulpalmsprings.com

After a full day of shopping, what’s better than an icy cerveza and chips and spicy salsa? Not much. Armando’s Dakota Bar & Grill presents a casual dining experience on an elegant avenue. Patio seating allows for some great people-watching and the food is on par with its upscale surroundings. Try their fajitas and the tortilla soup, which has received rave reviews. 73260 El Paseo, Palm Desert. 1-760-346-0744

PACIFIC RIM

For island dining in the desert, Roy’s offers fresh morsels from the Pacific Ocean — ono, onagi, and more — in addition to hand-cut meats, sushi, and fresh shellfish. The flavors and textures of the islands engage European sauces and Asian spices for a blast of Hawaiian fusion. 71959 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage. 1-760-340-9044; www.roysrestaurant.com

Escape from standard fare at Mikado Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. Arrive at the teppan-yaki-style restaurant by boat or arched Japanese bridge. Gaze on gardens and waterfalls while skilled chefs slice and dice chicken, steak, seafood, and fresh vegetables in samurai tradition. 74855 Country Club Dr., Palm Desert. 1-760-341-2211; www.desertspringsresort.com

The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge, an Open Table’s Diner’s Choice Award winner (2009, 2010), offers stunning patio views of the San Jacinto Mountains. Inside, enjoy the retro vibe of dinner clubs and themed cocktail bars. The menu features Pacific Rim specialties, from Chilean sea bass with Thai shrimp curry to Kahlua-barbecued pork chops. They’re an. 330 E. Amado Rd., Palm Springs. 1-760-866-1952; www.thetropicale.com

THAI
Celebrate the inspiration of Southeast Asia at Bangkok 5. Enjoy authentic cuisine that makes even the most discriminating Thai visitors feel at home. Using the freshest ingredients, they artfully balance hot and spicy with soothing earthiness, contrasting the distinctive flavors of lime, coconut, peanuts, and lemongrass with curry, chili, ginger, and cilantro. A full bar offers domestic and imported beer (including Thai) and wines, as well as exotic specialty drinks. 70026 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage. 1-760-770-9508; www.bangkok5.com

Delight in an abundance of flavorful spices at Thai Smile. Enjoy pungent roots and aromatic leaves, such as galangal, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves, artfully blended with other delicious ingredients, including coconut, palm sugar, and chiles. The bold preparation of herbs and spices lend distinction to the dining experience. 651 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. 1-760-320-5503; www.thaismilepalmsprings.com
 

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