515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cuisine: Californian. Menu is seasonal, featuring salads, soups, and cheese and quiche plates. Specialties include chicken salad with Asiago dressing and Black Forest ham, brie, and green onion quiche, using gourmet products for sale in the shop. Afternoon chocolate tea. Coffee served in a French press.
Vibe: A mix of Southwestern and Art Deco architecture. The interior is intimate and surrounded by tempting displays of fine chocolates and gift items. There are two patios, one for sidewalk dining and one with great mountain views.
Serving: Lunch is served Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., desserts from 3 to 5 p.m. The largest party that can be accommodated is 28.
Pocket Factor: $6 to $10.
The “It” Factor: The combination of a French bistro-styled café and chocolate shop.
Plaza La Quinta
78477 Highway 111, La Quinta
Cuisine: New York-style deli serving house-made bagels and rye breads, grilled Reuben sandwiches, matzo ball soup, sirloin tip over noodles, and truffle torte chocolate mousse cheesecake.
Vibe: Established by Robert Gary, owner of La Quinta Baking Co., with classic leather booths, dark woods, slate floors, and a warm and inviting ambiance designed by Mary Gary. Prints of New York scenes abound. Dogs are welcome on the patio.
Serving: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ten guests can be accommodated at one table. Also offering takeout, delivery, and catering.
Pocket Factor: Dinners from $14 to $20.
The “It” Factor: A typical New York deli experience with an exhibition kitchen.
ERNIE’S BAR & GRILL AT PGA WEST
56150 PGA Blvd., La Quinta
Cuisine: Gastro pub American, a dining experience styled in the 1900s at the Eagle Restaurant in London. The hallmark of gastro pub is an adventurous twist on familiar fare prepared from scratch daily with palate-arousing ingredients. Presenting eclectic items to typical pub cuisine and offering a sense of comfort and relaxation make it gastro pub. The hottest items are the double-stack grilled cheeseburger with on a toasted brioche, smoked buffalo-style chicken wings, and cedar plank roasted salmon.
Vibe: Overlooking the Jack Nicklaus and Stadium golf courses with a grand entrance. The ambiance is contemporary with rich wooden tables and comfortable chairs. The terrace with two fire pits, awning, and misters is a popular choice. Ernie’s is a public clubhouse. PGA West members, visiting golfers, locals, and tourists love the action and the menu of Sous Chef Casey Milner, who hails from the Arizona Biltmore.
Bar/Lounge: Ernie’s centerpiece is the always-buzzing circular bar, featuring premium brands, festive cocktails, draft beer, and fine wine. Happy hours 3-6 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. Ten plasma screens feature sporting events.
Serving: Breakfast from 6:30 a.m. Friday-Sunday, lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, and dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. A party of 15 guests can be seated at one table. A private wine room and catering are available.
Pocket Factor: Entrées from $16 to $28.
The “It” Factor: No other club compares in bringing elegance to the pub experience in such a grand setting.
THE GROVE ARTISAN KITCHEN
Miramonte Resort and Spa
45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells
Cuisine: Farm-to-table Californian. A specialty is braised short ribs with bleu cheese ravioli. The chef uses produce from local growers, farm-raised meats and poultry, and Pacific seafood. Produce and herbs are grown on property. Everything is fresh, not overworked, letting the natural flavors come out.
Vibe: Inside the Mediterranean-inspired resort with an exhibition kitchen and great views from the patio and courtyard. The ambiance is sleek, contemporary, and energetic.
Bar/Lounge: The adjacent Vineyard Lounge draws a lively crowd, featuring local entertainers. Open from 10 a.m. to midnight, with a lounge menu from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The wine list is perfectly balanced with Californian, Italian, and international choices.
Serving: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Reservations can be taken for 24 guests at one table.
Pocket Factor: Entrées from $18 to $29.
The “It” Factor: No one in the valley goes as far as in presenting farm-to-table cuisine in such a sophisticated atmosphere. Executive Chef Robert Nyreck has 30 years of experience with top hotels.
HARRY’S OKLAHOMA STYLE SMOKEHOUSE BBQ
47150 Washington St., Suite B, La Quinta
Cuisine: Slow-smoked barbecue ribs, tri-tip, and pulled pork, plus home-style sides. Meats are smoked in a state-of-the-art, closed-pit smoker. Harry’s motto is “low and slow.”
Vibe: Fun with red-and-white checkered tablecloths and a peanut-filled cowboy hat on the table (you may throw shells on the floor). Walls are filled with celebrity photos from owners Jon (Harry) and Margot Bayouth’s restaurant in Tulsa. There’s no lounge, but entertainers perform on Friday and Saturday nights.
Serving: Lunch and dinner daily, plus an all-you-can-eat buffet Friday-Sunday. Hog Hour Sandwich Special daily and Monday-Thursday dinner specials. Free delivery in a three-mile radius for orders of $25 or more. Can serve 20 to 30 people at one table.
Pocket Factor: $8.95 to $26. Early birds specials served 4-6 p.m. Sunday-Friday.
The “It” Factor: Authentic cuisine from family recipes and very hands-on service.
78045 Calle Cadiz, La Quinta
Cuisine: Swiss-born Owner/Chef Roger Meier, with classic European training, does American comfort food and some Italian favorites with élan. Specialties include sand dabs meunière and chicken pot pie.
Vibe: The Homestead is owned by John Reynolds and Roger Meier, owners of Chapelli’s in La Quinta, on the site formerly known as Cunard’s. Just look for the home with all the American flags. The converted private home is conducive to relaxation. Three dining rooms are cozy and comfortable. The patio and courtyard offer additional enclaves for conversation before and after dinner. You may roast marshmallows over the fire pit with friends and enjoy a cup of coffee. Typical crowds are locals happy to see this property awakened and hotel visitors.
Bar/Lounge: Cocktail service on patio and courtyard with grill and fire pit. Full bar. Entertainment on weekends. You won’t be bored just because you are in a classic setting. The varied wine list complements the menu. Locals are welcome to stop at the courtyard to enjoy the serenity of the grounds.
Serving: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with special prices for all servings, as well as menu prices. Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parties of six to 10 can be seated at one table.
Pocket Factor: $15 to $28.
The “It” Factor: An iconic 1930s-era, three-acre estate.
THE JACKALOPE RANCH
80400 Highway 111, Indio
Cuisine: Progressive Southwestern, featuring barbecue, steaks (even bison), chicken, seafood, and locally grown produce. A signature entrée is shrimp stuffed with crabmeat wrapped in bacon. Executive Chef Steve Quinones changes his personal creations daily.
Vibe: A finely crafted lodge on artfully landscaped six-and-one-half-acres offering charm in all dining areas. Rocks, timber, outstanding lighting fixtures, Western artifacts, and a hand-carved Harley-Davidson blend to make an inviting place to dine and party.
Bar/Lounge: The Palapa and Saloon are bustling with weekly events, live entertainment, and dancing on weekends. Happy hour nightly. The Palapa has a large fire pit for congregating. The wine list covers a full range of moderately priced to special selections.
Serving: Lunch and dinner daily and Sunday brunch in season. Happy hour daily from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Can accommodate parties of 20 to 30 guests inside or on the patio.
Pocket Factor: Dinner entrées $22 to $29.50.
The “It” Factor: The whole package — a beautiful destination, quality food, fine service, and fun.
Ace Hotel & Swim Club
701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cuisine: American “peasant food,” with international influences. Special entrées include T-bone steak and frites, locally raised vintage beef with cowboy relish, and Harissa lamb with smoky eggplant purée and chickpea ragout. Featuring Stumptown coffee.
Vibe: Formerly a Denny’s circa ’40s-’60s diner, now upgraded and part of the Ace Hotel. The diner atmosphere remains intact; the ambiance is upbeat and frequented by local retirees and a hip, artistic crowd of 20- to 40-somethings on weekends. Poolside dining is available.
Bar/Lounge: The Amigo Room, once a rancher hangout, serves food all day, specialty cocktails from 4 p.m. to closing, international beers, and a California and imported wines by the glass and moderately priced bottles. Happy hour 4-7 p.m. Entertainment on weekends, DJ on Sunday, fun theme nights.
Serving: Breakfast (all day, featuring a singer!), lunch items from 11 a.m. and dinner entrées from 5 p.m. Up to 35 guests can be seated at one table.
Pocket Factor: Entrées $7-$28.95.
The “It” Factor: Locally grown and organic food, inspired but never pretentious, in an atmosphere of buzzing excitement, like the most amazing backyard barbecue you’ve ever been to.
78073 Calle Barcelona, La Quinta
Cuisine: Californian with French influence. A specialty is Oregon dover sole over a bed of sautéed spinach and basmati rice with lemon caper beurre blanc. The chef’s daily selection is a Lavender Bistro Country Dish. Executive Chef Emmanuel Janin from Alsace, France, is a connoisseur of gourmet and international cuisine.
Vibe: Situated in a country-style home with a tree-shaded patio with fountain. Casually elegant and comfortable. The faithful clientele is from area country clubs and a local, younger crowd.
Bar/Lounge: Happy hour 5-7 p.m. nightly in the bar lounge and terrace. Entertainment changes nightly. The wine list features fine Californian and French wines.
Serving: Dinner only from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Can accommodate a single reservation for up to 16 people.
Pocket Factor: Entrées from $22 to 27.
The “It” Factor: Casual ambiance; attentive service; and fresh, organic ingredients.
MORGAN’S IN THE DESERT
La Quinta Resort & Club
49999 Eisenhower Dr., La Quinta
Cuisine: Contemporary California cuisine focusing on traditional methods, such as open grilling, slow roasting, braising, pickling, and curing, drawing inspiration from the Coachella Valley bounty and sourcing the best local products grown and raised responsibly. Executive Chef Jimmy Schmidt creates deliciously rustic and healthful dishes, such as pan-roasted breast of duck and foie gras with caramelized two-apple salad, porcini-crusted Angus filet with grilled mushrooms, wild Washington coho salmon steak, roasted split spiny Santa Barbara lobster, great starters, and fabulous desserts.
Vibe: The legendary La Quinta Resort & Club partnered with celebrated chef, author, and restaurateur Jimmy Schmidt in evoking the glamour of the original 1926 venue. The new signature dining venue (formerly Azur), named for La Quinta Resort founder Walter Morgan, has been completely refurbished and re-outfitted to reflect its historic roots. While the cuisine is modern, the décor incorporates many attributes of the original restaurant with hacienda-style ambiance and seductive spaces. Famed for his Rattlesnake restaurants in Detroit, Trump 29 Casino, and The Classic Club, Schmidt is a pioneer in America’s farm-to-table dining experience.
Bar/Lounge: A 26-seat U-shaped bar, featuring handcrafted cocktails created with fresh ingredients, is open from 4 p.m. to midnight, weekends to 1:30 a.m. The wine list is extensive. The adjacent lounge is the hub for live entertainment Wednesday to Sunday from 7 to 11 p.m. Two cozy patios feature misters, heaters, and fire pits.
Serving: Dinner nightly from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Parties of 12 to 150 can be accommodated. A private dining room seats 38. Reservations are highly recommended.
Pocket Factor: Entrées average $18 to $36.
The “It” Factor: A legendary dining opportunity created by a famed chef in an historic desert landmark.
OLD CREEK HOUSE
1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cuisine: Primarily American. Generous portions of comfort food, steak, and prime rib, integrated with European classic and California casual cuisine. Fabulous desserts. Executive Chef Jorge Mendez has been at the helm here for 22 years, having served as executive chef when the building housed Cedar Creek Inn.
Vibe: A Spanish colonial building with high ceilings, tapestry chairs, plants, and patio with a fireplace. Frequented by a mix of seniors and families.
Bar/Lounge: Featuring an extensive wine list to fit any budget, by the bottle or the glass, the lounge also is used for overflow diners.
Serving: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a bountiful menu. Can accommodate 12 guests at one table.
Pocket Factor: Entrées $4.95-$12.90.
The “It” Factor: The restaurant’s slogan says it best: “Food and prices like they should be.”
SAMMY G’S TUSCAN GRILL
265 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cuisine: Italian, with fresh house-made pasta and risotto. Specialties are filet mignon bruschetta and chicken carbonara. Executive Chef Salvatore Zavala spent 20 years at Riccio’s Restaurant. Owners Sam Pace and Larry Krammer also own Trilussa Ristorante in Cathedral City.
Vibe: In a Tuscan-styled building formerly housing St. James Tuscan Grill. Stonework has been added and the interior redone to a cosmopolitan setting with changing artwork. Dressy casual attire requested. Two patios and fountain. Very personal service by servers referred to as “captains.”
Bar/Lounge: Lively Sex in the City-type bar with live music and dancing Wednesday-Sunday. Happy hour 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Featuring boutique California wines and extensive Italian selections.
Serving: Dinner only 5-10 Tuesday-Sunday.
Pocket Factor: Entrées $12-$36.
The “It” Factor: Dinner, entertainment, and dancing in artful surroundings.
THE SLICE – N.Y. PIZZERIA RISTORANTE
Monterey Marketplace 2
72775 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage
Cuisine: New York-style pizza and full Italian menu. A specialty is stuffed pizza with double crust, double cheese, sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. In addition to pizza, subs, and calzones, The Slice serves Others include cioppino, balsamic grilled Atlantic salmon, and chicken and spinach stuffed ravioli.
Vibe: Comfortable fun ambience with an exhibition kitchen, brick walls, and black-and-white checkered flooring to giving a classic New York pizzeria feeling. Background music and three TVs for sports lovers. Clientele is made up of lots of locals and Monterey Plaza shoppers.
Bar/Lounge: No formal lounge, but the wine list includes domestic and Italian vintages, some by the glass, at affordable prices. The house wine is Tiziano Chianti. Domestic and imported bottled beers and beer on tap.
Serving: Open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m.
Pocket Factor: Entrées range from $15 to $22.95, $6.95 for children under 10 years old.
The “It” Factor: The New York experience.
TRIO RESTAURANT AND BAR
707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cuisine: American modern, blending California comfort food with an American flair. Specialties include slow-roasted Yankee pot roast and seafood stew with a tomato and fennel vegetable broth. Owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen are committed to sustainable organic seafood, meats, and local produce.
Vibe: Color, modern décor, and changing artwork for sale create panache. Typical crowd is a mix of locals and out-of-towners exploring uptown Palm Springs.
Bar/Lounge: An energetic, open conversation-style bar comes alive at night, featuring premium brands and wines from California and international vintners. Happy hour 4-7 p.m.
Serving: Dinner from 5 p.m. Can seat 15 guests at one table in the dining room and 30 in a semi-private room.
Pocket Factor: Entrées $14 to $24.
The “It” Factor: Location, style, excellent food, and service at an affordable price point.
ZINI CAFÉ MED
140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cuisine: Italian-Mediterranean. Featuring a seasonal menu that includes sole, mussels, and shrimp in a tomatoes, white wine, and saffron broth, using sustainably farmed produce and meats and environmentally sound seafood.
Vibe: A sister restaurant to Zin American Bistro just down the street, this is a people-watching sidewalk café in downtown Palm Springs. The atmosphere is cozy, eclectic, and art-filled.
Bar/Lounge: The full bar features Spanish tapas and wine flights. Happy hour 4-6 p.m. and 11 p.m.-closing. A belly dancer, Flamenco guitarist, and others entertain. A fine list of imported and California wines are moderately priced, and wines by the glass are paired with the changing menu.
Serving: Open for lunch, dinner, and tapas 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays and until 12:30 a.m. weekends. Six guests can be accommodated at one table.
Pocket Factor: Entrées $12 to $20.
The “It” Factor: Wine Director/Owner Mindy Reed is a multi-award winner, as was her late husband, Chef Nicolas Klontz.