340 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
- Louisiana chef Julia Anne Scarborough creates the first authentic French Cajun restaurant in Palm Springs.
- “Encore” references a restaurant revitalized out of a former dive bar and shuttered 1940s hotel on Palm Canyon Drive. Owners have plans to renovate the rest of the property, New Orleans style.
- Creatively wrought interior: Tiffany blue with gold deer antlers, gold-painted farm table and accents, French crystal chandeliers, oversize sexy boy-girl photos.
- Outdoor smoking patio (gold couch!) and side dining patio, draped with fun fabrics and Moroccan lamps.
- Very cool, retro ’40s with 2012 attitude.
- Must try: Fried green tomatoes, Kentucky Derby salad, gumbo, jambalaya, sweet potato brulée.
Tinto & El Jefe at The Saguaro
1800 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
- Iron Chef of America Jose Garces brings creative macho to two restaurants in Palm Springs’s new hotel, The Saguaro, a partnership with the Sydell Group and Joie de Vivre Hotels.
- El Jefe, inspired by motorcycles and the Wild West, offers diverse Mexican street food and more than 100 tequilas and mescals. A dismembered Harley sits at the entrance.
- Tinto, an authentic Basque tapas restaurant and wine bar, recreates
- small plate epicurean delights found in northwest Spanish pintxos (Tinto is Spanish vernacular for red wine).
- Study in contrasts: Cool and dark with rustic woods and iron fixtures against The Saguaro’s vibrant, multihued, abstract decor.
125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way (at Indian Canyon Dr.), Palm Springs.
- On the ground floor of a Mediterranean-style building, this revamped patio restaurant and rotunda bar also has a large indoor dining room and exhibition kitchen.
- View of the stars above at night and black-and-white star photos (Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, etc.) throughout.
- Extensive menu, from American comfort food (pot roast, chicken-fried steak) and Italian dishes (eggplant Parmesan, chicken Marsala) to pizzas, burgers, sourdough melts and salads.
- $5 draft beer, house wines, half-off appetizers all day at the bar.
- Located in downtown Palm Springs, set in the path of pedestrians walking from the Spa Hotel to Palm Canyon Drive.
73722 El Paseo, Palm Desert.
- Locally known Italian restaurateur Piero Pierattoni’s newest venture — a casual pizza and wine sidewalk café on El Paseo.
- Pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy, fires up to 900 degrees and produces delectable, crisp, and charred crust, topped with Neapolitan delights.
- Casual and contemporary, wood, and natural textures, patio doors open to sidewalk.
- Lusty craft beer and international wine list.
- Very busy weekend nights with a wait list, reservations suggested.
ROC’s Firehouse at The Cantina
Eldorado Polo Club
50950 Madison St., Indio.
- Fireman-turned-restaurateur Roland O. Cook (ROC) “ponied up” to take over the lease at the Eldorado Polo Club’s Cantina. The original 1950s cantina burned to the ground and was rebuilt at twice the size (5,000 square feet) in 2010.
- Huge covered patio overlooks acres of green polo fields. Watch a fast and furious game, then see the sun set over lavender layers of the Santa Rosas.
- Outdoor fire pit makes a cozy spot for drinks and hanging with the international polo crowd.
- Casual dining room: horseshoe-shaped bar faces the fields, copper-colored booths or wood high-top tables.
- American fare includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, ribs, and chicken-fried steaks.
- Dog friendly, featuring water bowls and dog cookies for critters.