Savor slow-braised barbecued short ribs punctuated by tangy slaw at Jackalope Ranch. Bite into delicate lemon-enhanced, pan-seared sea scallops at Arnold Palmer’s. Inhale Pacifica’s fusion of soy-honey sea bass and curry coconut. These are only a few of the sensory adventures that await you during Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week, June 1-10 — a 10-day event showcasing the diverse dining and leisure opportunities throughout the Coachella Valley.
With more than 100 restaurants, hotels, and attractions — from golf courses to water parks, Jeep tours to spa days — on board this year, Restaurant Week continues to grow from somewhat humble beginnings. The event is the brainchild of Julianna Copley (Copley’s on Palm Canyon) and Michael Estrada (Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro). Together with a small committee, the pair produced the first Palm Springs Restaurant Week in 2008. It was a relatively small, but important start featuring some 30 West Valley hotels and restaurants. Offering $24 or $36 prix fixe three-course menus, the participating restaurants hoped this might extend business past Memorial Day weekend.
The following year, a bevy of mid-valley restaurants came on board, extending Restaurant Week to 10 delicious days.In 2011, the event rebranded with an out-of-area marketing campaign — called “Eat. See. Stay.” — targeting the drive-to markets of Los Angeles and San Diego. This year, the organization is introducing “Restaurant Week Uncorked,” held the Wednesday and Thursday nights prior to Restaurant Week, serving as the event’s official kickoff.
“During this two-night culinary event, a limited number of participating restaurants will offer specialty-themed dinners. Every course will be paired with a different wine, beer, or spirit,” says Kim Crandal, executive director of PSDR Restaurant Week.
While some restaurants offered prix fixe menus prior to Restaurant Week, this now-popular format has inspired many to keep the value-priced menu available throughout summer and even into season. The goal is to lure visitors to the valley and encourage residents to further explore their hometown for world-class cuisine and fabulous deals.
For additional information, visit www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com. Contact restaurants directly for reservations, and visit their individual websites for a look at their Restaurant Week menus.
10 Days, 10 Restaurants
There are more than 50 restaurants to choose from. these suggestions can get you started.
Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse
Savor Babe’s famous hickory-smoked baby back ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, or roasted chicken, perfect with one of their award-winning microbrew beers. Before or after dinner, cozy up around the outdoor fire pit with a cocktail and appetizer or dessert. Watch the sun set behind the mountains or folks walking around at The River. Restaurant Week menu: $24.
71800 Hwy. 111, The River at Rancho Mirage, Rancho Mirage.
Experience an epicurean treat as world-traveled chef Sean O’Connell prepares California cuisine infused with flavors from around the globe, including miso-glazed Chilean sea bass and braised Wagyu beef. Dine on bluEmber’s outdoor plaza with panoramic views and a fire-and-water feature or in one of three dining rooms. Restaurant Week menu: $36.
Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, 41000 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage.
Chef Bernard Dervieux offers his interpretation of modern French cuisine with fresh California ingredients in his Auberge farmhouse-inspired restaurant. Memories of a country childhood and classic culinary training result in innovative renditions of duck, rabbit, quail, lamb, and veal, as well as seaside tastes of lobster, clam, scallops, and shrimp in fragrant bouillabaisse. A large outdoor patio and stone fireplace sits in the back. Restaurant Week menu: $36.
72595 El Paseo, Palm Desert.
This is the destination for contemporary American cuisine in a fabulous country club setting. An architectural masterpiece with magnificent views from outdoor patios, intimate dining corners, or the main dining room, the IW Club offers a seasonal peak-of-flavor dining experience under talented Chef Chris Olson. From homemade stocks, soups, sauces, jams, preserves, and desserts to things that are pickled and preserved, cured and smoked, take advantage of IW Club’s seasonal fare. Restaurant Week menu: $36.
44500 Indian Wells Ln., Indian Wells.
Rather than raze an “outdated” midcentury Howard Johnson’s, hotel owners restored it. They unearthed a terrazzo floor, sandblasted flagstone walls, recovered booths in saddle leather, threw Mexican blankets everywhere, and hung macramé pot holders a la 1960s hippy-chic. King’s Highway redefines the roadside diner with quinoa salad, black bean vegetable chili, balsamic fig and goat cheese flatbread, wild mushroom pappardelle, “crazy-water” poached California sea bass, and harissa roasted rack of lamb. It’s cool, offbeat, and resourceful. Restaurant Week menu: $24.
Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
LG’s Prime Steakhouse
For one of the desert’s ultimate steakhouse experiences, try LG’s in Palm Springs or Palm Desert. LG’s uses only USDA Prime beef, which has a delicate marbling to impart quality taste and texture. Sizzle with nine different steaks or the rare Porterhouse, dry-aged on premise. Restaurant Week menu: $36.
255 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
78525 Hwy. 111, La Quinta.
Lulu California Bistro
Palm Springs’ hip downtown restaurant offers great people-watching from the open terrace on Palm Canyon Drive or from bar stools inside the iridescent white bar. Lulu’s innovative California bistro cuisine ranges from land to sea: a raw bar, steamers, and shrimp cocktails to domestic Kobe burgers, braised ribs, and duck to quesadillas and wood-fired gourmet pizzas. Sister restaurant, Acqua Pazza at The River at Rancho Mirage, offers the same menu and a riverfront terrace. Restaurant Week menu: $24
Lulu, 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Acqua Pazza, 71800 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage.
Enjoy a taste of eastern Mediterranean and central Europe in a charming, intimate, yet formal setting. The eclectic menu of Old World dishes from Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, Hungary, and Germany include cabbage rolls from Miro’s family recipe, burek (meat and potatoes in puff pastry), chicken paprikash, beef stroganoff, Budapest schnitzel, crispy duck, and rack of lamb. It’s off the beaten path and feels worlds away from downtown Palm Springs. Restaurant Week menu: $36.
1555 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Enjoy amazing Hawaiian fusion cuisine created byinternationally acclaimed Roy Yamaguchi. Roy’s combines fresh local ingredients with European sauces and Asian spices. Delicate seafood from the oceans surrounding Hawaii include ono, opakapaka, and onaga, plus sushi and fresh shellfish. Chef Charles Andres, who trained under Yamaguchi, also brings his own unique dishes to the Rancho Mirage restaurant.
71595 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage.
Chic. Modern. Unexpected. The sushi bar and Japanese restaurant created by young Turkish-born Engin Onural is an experience in sensual dining. Onural offers bites of tuna, yellowtail, eel, and octopus carefully draped over rice and wrapped with seaweed. Creative hand rolls include California Dream’n with crab meat and avocado topped with spicy tuna, aioli, and teriyaki sauce and The Venue with spicy tuna topped with seared salmon, spicy mayo, teriyaki, micro greens, and tobiko. Or go omakase — in the chef’s hands — for a total sushi immersion.
73111 El Paseo, Palm Desert.