13 Best New Restaurants

A number of restaurants have opened since our last roundup of new local eateries. Here are the best based on menu, service, and atmosphere.

Donna Curran Restaurants 0 Comments

Cheeky’s in Palm Springs is a casual spot for breakfast and lunch with an upbeat staff serving an eclectic menu that is astounding for such an intimate restaurant with a tiny kitchen. Owner Tara Lazar, who was trained in Italy, says she comes from a family who always appreciated good food, so she decided to open a restaurant as crazy as it seemed to her. Judging from the crowded tables, her clients are glad she did. Everything is fresh, nothing frozen, and they use local and/or organic growers as much as possible. Breakfast is served all day using organic eggs and five different kinds of bacon from the Bacon Bar, and cheddar cheese scones, among other favorites. Deb Menduno with an impressive culinary background is the baker and she makes everything from scratch including ricotta cheese. The menu changes daily so they won’t get bored, with featured specials (do try the roasted yam sandwich with yellow tomatoes, feta cheese, cilantro and red onion), salads, great sides, and desserts (Cheeky’s Cheesecake!). Beer and root beer on tap and an interesting wine list to enhance your lunch. Patio dining too.

622 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.
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Circa 59, the signature restaurant at the refurbished Riviera Resort & Spa, now owned by Nobel House Hotels and Resorts, and restored to its sixties glitz, is a sleek and sophisticated eatery in a dynamic setting overlooking the huge pool and sexy Bikini Bar. Executive Chef Adam Votaw, award-winning Culinary Institute of America graduate has created an inventive menu of upscale seafood offerings along with a high-end coastal version of a steakhouse. Circa 59 serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and your choices for each meal are awesome. For breakfast, you can go continental, or feast on eggs any style — Benedict, huevas ranchero, and omelets; for lunch, there are small plates of carpaccio of smoked salmon, oysters, or short ribs, salads, sandwiches, and large plates such as Kobe flat-iron steak, and lobster pot pie with terrific sides. Dinner is a romantic adventure featuring an Iced Seafood Platter for sharing, organic chicken, an 18-ounce rib-eye, and yellowfin tuna. This entire menu was carefully thought out and will appeal to every taste. The sweets include a decadent warm dark chocolate cake with caramelized banana and banana foster ice cream and so much more. The wine list is extensive and pairs this menu perfectly.

Riviera Resort & Spa
1600 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.
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Dink’s Restaurant & Ultra Lounge has brought pizzazz and fun, along with unique dining, drinking and entertainment, to North Palm Canyon Drive. Its stunning architecture with multi-peaked roof and glass walls has made owners Denny Edwards, Darrell Kelley, and Michael Owings proud of their instant success for an environmentally friendly indoor/outdoor “green” establishment. Designed by Culinary Director Owings, this is a special dining experience with made-from-scratch international and regional cuisines — Caribbean, Pan-Asian, Italian, Southwestern, and Southern. The extensive menu is updated frequently and features small plates meant to be shared, great after-five specials and heavenly desserts, don’t miss the five-flavored crème brûlée for two! The wine list is sure to please. If privacy is your thing, there are indoor and outdoor cabanas and, if the night is chilly, there are hooded robes for the ladies. Amenities abound and every effort is made to make your evening spectacular. The bar is a lively place with signature specialty cocktails, mojitos, martinis, and tropical teasers. Dink’s (double income, no kids, in case you were wondering) is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and entertainment nightly from 7 p.m. to midnight.

2080 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.
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IW Club in the new clubhouse at the Indian Wells Golf Resort has become the hub of the community at its world-class golf facility. The golfer’s amenities are popular — two championship courses, home to The Skins Game, golf shop home to Callaway Performance Center and lighted putting green, plus their grab-and-go café. Executive Chef Matthew Pike has created fine dining and casual menus served in several indoor and outdoor venues that take advantage of the spectacular views of the golf courses and mountains. The fare is all-American with Asian influences and the IW Club is popular with patrons from all desert communities and resorts. The culinary team works with local farmers and cheese makers to ensure they are using organic products and sustainable line-caught seafood, cage-free eggs, free-range chicken, and hormone- and pesticide-free proteins. The wide-ranging menu contains delectable soups, chili, unique starters, salads, and sandwiches for lunch. Dinner choices include fresh seafood prepared the way you like it with your choice of sauces, steaks, pork, chicken, pasta, and sides designed for two. Both lunch and dinner menus offer heart healthy options and yummy desserts. The menu also offers suggested pairings from the first-rate wine list.

Indian Wells Golf Resort
44500 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells.
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Jake’s Ready-to-Eat is an intimate respite from the daily grind for breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, or take-out. A sleek dining room and a charming courtyard with tables and umbrellas and a full bar set against a wall of greenery, where you can have a quick bite or a leisurely meal with friends or business associates. Owners Bruce Bloch and Chris Malm use only the freshest ingredients for their seasonal menu reflecting market availability. Despite the fact that their menu is gourmet and they offer expert catering services, they prefer to call themselves home cooks rather than chefs. Jake’s is their home and you are treated like a guest. The daily fare of sandwiches, salads, and dinner entrées is augmented by a display case containing fresh food made daily that will whet your appetite. Desserts are made on premises, a specialty is Jake’s Cake but all others are dreamed up as they go along. Always a surprise at Jake’s! By the way, Jake’s is named after Bruce’s West Highland Terrier, who spends a lot of time in the apartment above the courtyard. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to closing, Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

664 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.
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La Spiga Ristorante Italiano in a Tuscan Villa setting. Owners Vince and Connie Cultraro are celebrating the success of their new restaurant that they built from the ground up. A loyal clientele that enjoyed the intimate original Palm Desert location is delighted with the elegant and spacious dining rooms and patios. Multiple-award winning Chaine des Rotisseur Master Chef Vince is dedicated to presenting an innovative yet traditional Italian menu and an exceptional inventory of the finest wines. Everything is fresh and most house made. From the moment you enter and are greeted by Connie, you are in a world of beautiful woods, posh fabrics, and mountain views. The patios are surrounded by gardens of herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and more dining areas with two gazebos for special events, fireplace and a pizza oven, and a putting green! Many patrons come to watch the sunset while enjoying pizza and a glass of wine. The cozy lounge features a marble bar and an exhibition wine cellar. The menu features and cold appetizers, entrées of New Zealand lamb, free-range chicken, veal, beef, seafood and, of course, pasta. Their specialty bruschetta is served hot. Dessert and brandy is a grand finale. Open for dinner Monday to Saturday.

72557 Highway 111, Palm Desert.
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Lantana, the signature restaurant at Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas, and Spa is a dramatic setting for breakfast lunch and dinner. Located off the main lobby with a terrace overlooking the 10th fairway of the Indian Wells Golf Resort. The stylish design is contemporary with bold geometric designs and lighting fixtures that offer a sophisticated, intimate atmosphere. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a diverse menu, featuring the freshest meats, poultry, seafood and produce. Executive Chef Chris Mitchum and Chef de Cuisine Kieran Fleming present a contemporary California cuisine infused with herbs and spices to create delicate flavors. The inventive menu is fun to read and better to taste. For lunch, the soups, salads, sandwiches, and wood-fired pizza are hearty. Tasty additions, plus a daily vegetarian special accompany the dinner entrées of steaks, lamb, chicken, and seafood. All filets and steaks are dry aged on premises for 21 days. Desserts are billed as indulgences, so give in. The state-of-the-art stainless steel exhibition kitchen has a mesquite-burning grille and wood-burning oven. The temperature-controlled stainless steel wine cellar displays a mature wine list of California, Italian, and French vintages. Locals receive a bottle of wine at half price every day.

Hyatt Grand Champions Resort Villas, and Spa
44600 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells.
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Okura Robata Grill & Sushi Bar is the second venture of Jay Lee, whose popular La Quinta restaurant inspired her decision to create another dramatic upscale dining room in Palm Springs. Okura in Japanese means a place where the most valued treasures are stored and the contemporary Japanese cuisine here offers many treasures. Executive Chef Kaoru Ishii is a master sushi chef and accomplished fusion chef. His menu utilizes European and ancient robata cooking techniques and it changes seasonally. The sushi bar is a happy place where the chefs prepare fresh delicacies with a flair for their guests. Entrées such as Pan-Roasted Atlantic Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, and the popular Bento Box with your choice of beef, chicken, or seafood, plus the chef’s tasty specialties. Desserts include tempura ice cream and a crème brûlée trio. There is a full bar a fine wine list includes the best sakes. Okura has reduced their prices during these challenging times and their party planner will help you with a special event for small or large groups. Open for lunch from Monday to Saturday, happy hour and dinner daily. Join the bustle of downtown Palm Springs and step into Okura for a memorable meal.

105 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.
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Omri Goes Med. Longtime desert chef Omri Siklai has opened a restaurant at his original site in Palm Desert, much to the delight of his many fans. The cuisine is a fusion of Mediterranean and Eastern cuisines, featuring the spices and herbs found in the countries east of the Mediterranean Sea. Everything is fresh and produce is purchased locally. Omri includes the classic steaks, chops and seafood alongside the marvelous ethnic specialties such as a Mediterranean appetizer plate of hummus, babaghanoush, and tabouleh spicy Middle Eastern ratatoullle, paprikash, and so much more for adventurous eating. There are daily exotic specials and the homemade breads are extraordinary. General Manager and Sommelier Mark Sontz, who has been with Omri for 15 years presents a wine list perfectly paired to this unique menu. The cozy lounge with full bar and a comfortable leather sofa welcomes you as you enter. The décor is eclectic with original paintings by Omri and his father gracing white walls and metal sculptures by Omri at ceiling height. Omri’s touch is everywhere, as chef, host, and creator of a warm and inviting atmosphere. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m.

73675 Highway 111, Palm Desert.
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Picanha Churrascaria Brazilian Grill and Bar, has relocated to Cathedral City next to the IMAX Theatre and, as California’s first authentic Brazilian steakhouse, it continues to bring a new dimension to desert dining. Formerly on El Paseo, it quickly garnered an enthusiastic clientele there that enjoyed its new way of serving food. Using only the finest cuts of steak, chicken, lamb, pork, and sausage brought to your table by colorfully dressed gauchos with meats skewered on a sword in one hand and a carving knife in the other. Chef Daniel Alatriste’s menu features a lavish salad bar with many Brazilian and American choices including Feijoada (Brazilian black beans and rice) and a steaming soup of the day. The inventive desserts are a sweet ending to this feast. General Manager Yanni Linardakis presides over the festive dining room with its crisp white napery and cobalt blue glasses. A full bar and an extensive wine list, plus many special Brazilian drinks and entertainment Wednesday to Saturday add to the fun. Owner Atef Taher has added Pronto, an inexpensive food-to-go venue next to the restaurant with a hearty menu of Churrasco favorites. Open Tuesday to Thursday 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 10 p.m.

68510 East Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City.
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POM, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, is a multi-million dollar restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a sleek and sophisticated environment. Evolving from a serene setting for breakfast, to a bright casual lunch, to a sexy, ultra hip nightspot for dinner. The table settings change for each phase and you may choose to dine on the patio overlooking Executive Chef Freddy Rieger’s herb garden. Guests are welcomed in the elegant mezzanine foyer and descend a grand wooden staircase to the dining room. Every table has a view of the surrounding courtyard. State-of-the-Art lighting and an art wall add to the refined ambiance. Set apart from the casino, you may come just to dine or join in the wagering. Chef de Cuisine Juan Gonzalez presents Chef Freddy’s fusion of California cuisine with Latin American and Italian tastes on a menu that changes twice yearly and is true global fare. The concept is simple — serve only the freshest and healthiest ingredients prepared creatively and presented eloquently. The menus are too extensive to pick highlights, just be assured your palate will be well served. The wine list is superb and the bar offers a fine mix of libations. Open seven days a week.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio.
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The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge, a modern supper club with big tropical drinks inspired by upbeat Palm Springs-style supper clubs of the fifties and sixties, the creation of partners Tony Di Lembo, Rob Kenzi, and Ranz Wienert, all with food and restaurant backgrounds. Di Lembo was trained at the Culinary Institute of America and designed the extensive menu of Asian, Pacific Rim and Latin small plates, fresh salads, gourmet pizzas, and grand entrées of steaks, chicken, pork, and seafood, including Ahi Tuna and Mahi Mahi — world cuisine at its best. A large outdoor patio offers al fresco dining and seats as many guests as the dining room. It has become a hot gathering place to enjoy the exotic fruity drinks, daring Cosmos, Mojitos and the signature Tropicale Hurricane. The patio bar mirrors the bar off the dining room providing dual opportunities to check out the action. The chic dining room with its circular high-back booths and flickering candles sets the stage for a wonderful evening. Open seven days a week for dinner Sunday to Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

330 East Amado Road, Palm Springs.
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Waterscafé, at Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa is a delicious array of culinary creations from around the world. Located in the hotel portion of the resort, you may dine inside or on the patio with a beautiful view overlooking the pool and the San Jacinto Mountains, a great vantage point for sunset watching. Serving breakfast (all day), lunch, and dinner from a varied menu created by Executive Chef Tim Wilcox and Chef de Cuisine Andrew Verrier. From the breakfast specialties with favorite classics such as eggs Benedict and huevas rancheros and a kid’s breakfast including silver dollar pancakes and pigs in a blanket to the all day menu of great starters, soups, salads, pizza and pasta, prime burgers and sandwiches, and entrées of New York Steak to Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi. The Asian menu is outstanding as are the desserts such as house made New York cheesecake and a Belgian chocolate ganache cake. The wine list features California and international wines, as well as premium sake and domestic and premium draft beer. The décor is soothing with various shades of blue and white and a stucco wall simulating waves of water. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Aqua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa
32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage.
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 Photography by Arthur Coleman

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