Locals nominated attractions, restaurants, and experiences throughout Greater Palm Springs in Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best contest. The 2018 votes are in, and we’re revealing the results city by city. Congrats to our Indio and Coachella winners.
The Big Winner: Jackalope Ranch
Visit to experience Indio’s best … Alfresco Dining, American Fare, Attraction, Barbecue, Catering, Continental Dishes, Craft Cocktail, Live Music, Sports Bar, Sunday Brunch, Wedding Venue.
Taking the gold in 11 categories, this 21,000-square-foot bar and restaurant on 6½ acres in Indio opened in 2008 and is locally famous for its warm and welcoming design and expansive menus — from farm-sourced salads and Mediterranean-inspired seafood and pastas to signature barbecue dishes, like a melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket that’s smoked for a full 14 hours before it graces your plate.
BEST OF INDIO
Food + Drink
It’s often out-of-towners’ first stop when they arrive in Southern California. Look up the secret menu before your visit and add chopped chilies to your burger for a little extra Indio kick.
Shields Date Garden
The morning menu, available until 2:30 p.m., features hearty omelets, fluffy pancakes, and toast with date butter, as well as Mexican favorites like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros con nopales, and menudo. Let the kids roam the gardens and chase ducks by the lake, then order date shakes for the drive home.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ETHAN KAMINSKY
The Cafe at Shields Date Garden.
In Indio, you’ll find four locations at which to get your iced-venti-half-caf-quad-two-pump-vanilla-nonfat-macchiato fix.
Mario’s Italian Café
Founded in 1972 by a New Yorker who fell in love with the desert after vacationing here, Mario’s is a local chain lauded for its large-pour $5 glasses of wine and traditional Italian eats (try the garlicky cheese bread).
Nigiri and saucy specialty rolls mingle with ramen, dumplings, and yakitori on the menu at this customarily decorated spot. But you might be surprised by the bar lineup: nacho fries, street tacos, burgers, and chalupas de pepino.
Rub shoulders with the locals in this dimly lit Western dive, open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. 365 days per year. The crowd is diverse, the drinks are cheap, and there’s a free bar shuttle to drive you home.
El Mexicali Café
Chiles güeritos are a favorite here — small yellow peppers stuffed with shrimp, then broiled and plated with condiments. To properly enjoy, squeeze a little lemon, add a splash of soy sauce, and go for a decent mayo dunk.
Customize pizzas, salads, and panini at this counter-service spot, choosing from toppings like Italian sausage, feta cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil. They serve gelato, too.
Chop House at
Residing on the gorgeous, sprawling property of Jackalope Ranch, Chop House is a prime steakhouse. It serves center-cut and bone-in filets and 35-day dry-aged cowboy rib chops, as well as seafood dishes like branzino with braised fennel and olive tapenade and curried jumbo diver scallops.
Things To Do
Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival
This annual event started in 1921 as a way to celebrate the area’s date harvest. Today it’s 10 days in February of carnival rides, agricultural competitions, concerts, camel races, and funnel cakes, all with an Arabian theme.
Rock the Ride Desert Cancer Foundation
It’s a pre-party at Big Rock Pub for the annual Dr. George Car Show (held in February), benefiting Desert Cancer Foundation. More than 200 vintage cruisers park alongside the 18th green at Indian Springs Golf Club for an only-in-the-desert kind of car show.
Jesus Yvette Salon
While specializing in Brazilian blowouts and balayage with Olaplex, the homey salon also has a barbershop, and hairdressers provide old-fashioned shaves. They also offer lash extensions.
Hotel/Resort and Casino
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
The 250-room resort hotel is surrounded by fantasy mountain views. Guests get prime access to nightly entertainment, golf and bowling, and, of course, the casino — with 2,000 slots and 40 table games.
Visit some of the valley’s oldest buildings, the 1926 adobe Smiley-Tyler House and the 1909 Indio Schoolhouse, plus the world’s only date museum.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY COACHELLA VALLEY HISTORY MUSEUM
The Coachella Valley History Museum was incorporated in September 1965.
Public Golf Course
The Golf Club at Terra Lago
Terra Lago’s North and South courses deliver 36 holes of picturesque play with complete panoramic views. The North Course features a par-3 “island” green nearly encircled by water.
James H. Clark, D.V.M.
Dr. Clark stands apart from his peers with an equine specialty. The clinic has a pasture for horses and provides standard wellness programs as well as reproductive care and surgery.
BEST OF COACHELLA
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY AUGUSTINE CASINO
Augustine Casino earned top votes in two categories.
food + drink
Ha Ha Chinese Restaurant
Flavors are anything but funny at Ha Ha. And with more than 150 items on the menu, you can try something new each time you visit.
Breakfast and Burger
Café 54 at Augustine Casino
The breakfast menu consists of everything from filet mignon omelets to bananas foster French toast. For lunch and dinner, the Black & Blue Burger is a solid choice; it’s loaded with bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and savory blue cheese. Case of the late-night munchies? Café 54 also serves breakfast from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Asadero Los Corrales
Asadero is an unhurried, no-nonsense restaurant favored for its muy auténtica Sinaloan cuisine, heavy on seafood and soups. Try the pozole, the fish tacos, the chiles güeritos, and the tacos gobernador (cheesy shrimp tacos).
JEM Cafe at Spotlight 29 Casino
Open for lunch and dinner, the casino steakhouse makes it easy to extend your evening … just stay and play. Popular lunch options include ahi poke “nachos” and the loaded Poker Deli sandwich, with three kinds of meats piled high on jalapeño focaccia. For dinner, all eyes are on the prime steaks, fresh seafood, and the house-favorite fettuccini alfredo.
things to do
Fundraising Event and Attraction and Casino
This laid-back casino is home to more than 760 slots and table games, from blackjack to three-card poker. For newbies, dealers are happy to instruct on how to play. Augustine puts on a toy drive in November and December that benefits local charities and aims to brighten the holidays for families in need.
Spotlight 29 Casino
The Spotlight 29 Casino Showroom has played host to Grammy-winning vocalists and musicians across genres, from Ziggy Marley to LeAnn Rimes, as well as some of the top names in stand-up comedy, including Jim Jefferies.