I have been an event planner for a national non-profit for over 10 years. It has also allowed me to chow down at some of the best restaurants the U.S. has to offer.Since I am not paid by any of the following, I can give you my unfiltered perspective and say whatever the heck I want to, Here are my reviews of some of the Palm Springs/Palm Desert restaurants I like!
Eureka! Burger (American Cuisine)
This little joint uses local ingredients and makes their grub from scratch. They also have small batch craft beers, a win/win for everyone! Normally, I try to support chain restaurants but this place with its approach to regional ingredients made me change my mind. The place is small with a decent amount of outdoor seating.
Let’s face it when you can make Brussel sprouts a starter that’s saying something. And not just your mother’s Brussel sprouts but crispy orange chile glazed sprouts with chimichurri and peanuts, I mean c’mon!
Oh but wait! If you REALLY love Brussel sprouts try the shaved brussel sprout salad with chicken, chives, dates, pecan, parmesan, grapes and lemon vinaigrette. Even a spout hater might change their mind.
But if you want to treat your taste buds to an orgasm try the Fresno Fig Burger. (Yeah, okay, this is before I went all vegetarian). Seriously! Fig Marmalade, goat cheese, bacon, tomato, red onion, arugula and porter mustard. Yes, please.
In the name of not playing favorites, I did also try my colleagues’ Bison Burger, Bone Marrow Burger, and the Blues Burger. You know you are all hooked when you spend the entire time talking about the food!
They do have a veggie beet burger for the struggling vegan in me. When I go back, I will get that. Oh and don’t skimp on the calories and skip the sweet potato fries, you’ll regret it.
5 eaters, and 5 out of 5 said this little burger joint makes My List.
74985 CA-111, Palm Desert, CA 92260 |(760) 834-7700 | eurekarestaurantgroup.com/eat/
Pacifica Seafood Restaurant (Steak & Seafood)
Yes, you had to climb the stairs to get here but it’ll be worth it. Inside it’s a little fancy, a little spendy, a little dark (however, they do have a lovely outdoor seating area).
First off order the heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad. And I know I am going to sound like a snob here but order the roasted beet salad with crumbled goat cheese, arugula, pine nuts and passion fruit vinaigrette too. You can thank me later. It’s ridiculous to hear twelve grown adults “mmming” at the table through the appetizers.
I know you are not supposed to order seafood when you are in the desert. But we are death-defying that way. We took our chances on the Sautéed Atlantic Diver Sea Scallops, Grilled Pacific Swordfish, Pan Seared Chilean Seabass, Seafood Stew and the Prawns and Scallop Pasta. Not only did we not die but we were so busy bragging about our own dishes they got passed around like a potluck buffet.
I had the scallops. If I had false teeth (which I don’t) I could have taken them out to eat the scallops. No rubber here! We have a Seabass snob in the group and he was “pleasantly surprised” at how delicious it was. I am not sure if it is sheer luck or if the chef was on his game but there was nary a dried out piece of fish in the bunch. Lord knows I have had my share of dried out swordfish! (Yes, yes, I know but I wasn’t a vegetarian until fairly recently. Don’t judge me!)
Usually, in a group, this large somebody is going put their fork down and turn up their nose, but not this time. Nice work Pacifica!
I am not gonna lie but we were too full of appetizers and fish to have dessert. You are on your own there.
12 out 12 eaters said this place made the list.
73505 El Paseo #2500, Palm Desert, CA 92260 |(760) 674-8666 | www.pacificaseafoodrestaurant.com
Ristorante Mamma Gina (Italian)
Our party of 7 started out with Bruschetta Mamma Gina, Caprese Mama Gina and Insalata “Saporita”. I am a sucker for salads with pears, blue cheese, and walnuts. Our adventuresome little group gravitated to the Paella. Three of us picked that. Now in all fairness, we had heard that they don’t serve it all the time and it is not on the menu. However, if the rest of the food is as good as the Paella, you are in for a treat. Our eyes might have rolled back in collective pleasure as we shoveled it’s seafood infused creamy goodness into our mouths.
Apparently, the veal scaloppine topped with prosciutto and sage in a white wine reduction was no slouch either.
And last, but certainly not least, the scallops (Capesante Allo Zafferano). Fresh Atlantic diver jumbo scallops on a bed of asparagus and saffron sauce, served with mashed potatoes.
Yeah, it was Italian and what’s not to like about Italian food? But Mama Gina’s rocked out socks and I have no doubt we’ll be back! If this is what Florentine is, Florence might have just made my bucket list.
73705 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260 |(760) 568-9898 |http://www.mammagina.com
Blue Coyote Bar & Grill (Southwest Mexican)
Not the least bit high-brow. Every time we come for dinner we have a great time. It has all the familiar southwestern Mexican food you have come to expect in a place like this. The food is as rustic, colorful and vibrant as the decor.
We especially like guacamole…chunky, avocado-y deliciousness. They have seafood, fajitas, Asado de Carnes, bbq and all the traditional dishes. It was this restaurant that turned me back on to scallops. I was put off of scallops years ago because every one I had ever had was a chewy, rubbery blob. But I had an avocados scallop ceviche that turned me on to scallops in a way I had never been! I am also quite partial to the fajitas.
Who are we kidding, no Mexican meal would be complete without a margarita. Try the “Wild Coyote”. They are so good you don’t mind the mariachi band!
If I lived in the Palm Desert or Palm Springs, this might be my Saturday night “go to”. The food is reasonably priced, the service is great, the staff is fun and even the mariachi band was funny (but that might have been the margarita).
No matter how many people I bring here, they always agree it makes Lea’s List!