Driving around the nine interconnected cities that make up Greater Palm Springs is extremely easy. So much so that often you don’t even notice the posted sign that signals your entry into a different community.
However, soon enough you do realize it because each street sign has both the name and logo of the community you are driving through.
With about 50 thousand residents per community that had its own character and development before each expanded with the flow of people into them to touch the neighbouring city at each border.
Each community saw its own evolution of restaurants and bars, along with golf courses and other tourist attractions.
Because of tourist demand for quality there are many quality food outlets from which to choose, and many styles of service to satisfy the tastes of every traveller.
Here is a review of a number of restaurants I dined at during this Greater Palm Springs visit which I recommend with some comments about the atmosphere and menu choices.
41000 Bob Hope Drive
The Bluember is the dining room in the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort.
We ended up having a breakfast and dinner at this resort property restaurant.
For breakfast I can say without hesitation that the corn beef has was the best I have ever had. Normally the dish is a mixture of fatty corned beef almost like it came from a can, along with a potpourri of other ingredients.
This dish was served with real corned beef, the kind you might expect at a Montreal smoked meat restaurant.
The dinner was excellent although I think Carey and I were on a beef craving and both selected steak again.
If you want to know about golf just ask for the golf addicted server. I wish I could remember his name but he will give you a run down on every course in Greater Palm Springs if you like as he has already golfed in 65 of them and clearly knows his golf.
VUE Grille and Bar
44500 Indian Wells Ln
Located right above the club house of the Indian Wells Golf Course it is called the VUE for its obvious outlook directly over the golf track.
For a public golf club venue the menu selection and quality cuisine was definitely a surprise.
I had one of the best servings of rack of lamb that I have had in a very long time. Later in the week, at the conference I was attending, I was back at the restaurant for a cocktail party put on by the golf resort for the travel agency group I was with.
The mixture of appetizer dishes was also impressive and the pulled pork was also as good as I have tasted.
Find out more at www.wellsresort.com .
Mimmo’s Italian Restaurant
73540 California Hwy 111
This was perhaps the best surprise of the trip.
It was well after dark. I had golfed earlier in the day and went back to the room to catch up with work. At some point I got quite hungry and decided to change the venue and not order up or dine in one of the hotel restaurants.
I got in the car and just started to drive down Highway 111, which as you can surmise from above seems to go through most of the Palm Springs cities, or quickly connects to them.
As I passed the Mimmo’s lit sign for this strip mall type restaurant, I decided a simple spaghetti, or other Italian style dish was just what this doctor’s mind suddenly ordered.
I made the U-turn expecting to find myself in some fast food version of Italian food.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
This is a tablecloth restaurant, clearly supported by the numbers of patrons that were seated in the restaurant, and who seemed to all have been there before given the interaction between the owners and customers.
I stuck with my original vision of spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs are all made on site and the sauce was delicious.
Still I wish I had selected something else from the menu.
The server explained that it was Canadian veal, the other choices looked interesting, and the flow of dishes being passing before me to be set in front of other guests looks appetizing. Given the accolades the owners were receiving they clearly were.
The restaurant is less than two years old but, to me, clearly here to stay.
See more at www.mimmospd.com
Kings Highway Restaurant
701 E Palm Canyon Dr
This was another surprise in a very different way.
Carey’s friend in Winnipeg, who travels to the Palm Springs area on occasion, recommended this restaurant for its great breakfasts.
We decided to find and try it.
The Ace Hotel is not a big property so it did not have the bold facing and private roadway entrances we had come to expect from many of the resorts.
We had to double check if it was the right place since at first we couldn’t even figure out the King’s Highway restaurant moniker since all Carey got was the Ace Hotel name.
Walking in we almost turned around. What! These floors are not covered and look like they have been that way for decades.
Well, that’s because they have.
The Ace Hotel was an old Best Western and the restaurant was an old Denny’s.
When the new owners took the property over they decided to keep the look but deliver only fresh quality foods at a fair price.
It will be a excellent place to take your children for the green eggs and ham. or the amazingly large servings of pancakes with a delicate orange flavour built into them.
All the food we had was excellent and would pass on to you, as passed on to us, a worthwhile breakfast visit.
See more at http://www.acehotel.com/palmsprings/dining
Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill
73-325 Highway 111
This is a most difficult review for me.
The restaurant was really busy with loads of servers making sure orders were taken and delivered quickly. From my perspective too quickly as I felt pushed.
But the people patronizing the place suggested quality Mexican cuisine, and other review sites seemed to bear that out when I looked them up later.
I started with a Tortilla soup which truly was excellent. But then I ordered a combination plate. I thought the food was as bland as could be with no hint of spices whatsoever.
There seemed to be no sauces to add on any table. I should have asked for some but was so shocked at the lack of taste I only at about half of the offering.
While I cannot recommend this place, if I were here longer I would do a second try. I can’t believe the numbers of people there and the reviews on the other sites.
Upper Crust Pizza
67-555 Highway 111
This franchise can be found all over the place but again I wanted a quick evening fill and the idea of a pizza fit my palate.
I had never eaten at a Upper Crust restaurant and knew little about them.
Once seated, do not wait to be served. You need to walk up to the counter and order from the wall menu or one you go to the counter yourself to pick up.
You will be given a number after you order and the server will drop the food in front of you once it is ready.
You pick up your own beverages from the order counter.
While this does not sound to exciting what is good about the place is the open kitchen where you can see the fresh pizza dough being tossed and turned as well as the rest of the staff behind the counter as they prepare dishes for the clientele.
I have to say I quite enjoyed the pizza and once served was able to appreciate the fact the meals were reasonably priced and all seemed to be a good size and value.
The main franchise website is www.uppercrustpizza.com to find this and other locations
71800 Highway 111
I previously reviewed Babes in a blog last week.
This is a great place for ribs and other pork dishes that are their specialty
It is a busy and noisy environment but definitely kid friendly so an excellent place to take teenagers and younger ones.
They also have a selection of their own beers which were quite tasty.
The Tonga Hut
254 North Canyon Drive
I referred to this Tiki inspired bar in a previous blog as well.
The servers here are tremendous, knowledgeable about the history and vision of the Tiki concept and make a tremendous mix of drinks.
This is a great place to go for fun and as I said do see the secret room.
But for food I would have to say it just was not the place to eat. However we were told a new menu was on its way and could be in place soon.
The current menu is essentially a mix of appetizers and bar food. The new menu apparently will be more varied.
There is a new location just opened in Palm Desert, which I believe may also be on Hwy 111.
I have saved this and Le Vallauris to the last, both because I reviewed them in a previous blog, and because we really tried a number of items on the menu and found them all consistently of a very high quality.
The staff at the Kaiser Grille are relaxed and friendly and easy to chat with.
The outdoor patio is on the street but it is at the further end of North Palm Canyon drive and the traffic was not a problem at all, yet the pedestrian traffic was enough to provide a reasonable busy ambiance.
The restaurant was full, yet we received prompt attention with no desire to rush us.
We both had prime rib for our main courses and it was excellent.
This restaurant could best be described as one of casual luxury.
385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Hwy.
Please look at my previous blog below.
I cannot say enough about this 40 year old icon of a restaurant.
We introduced ourselves to the owners and they really appear to be a class act from beginning to end. In fact, I made a most interesting observation.
Near the end of the evening they both sat at a table not that far from where Carey and I were dining.
I was able to watch them and their body language. They clearly enjoyed each others company and at one point actually clinked their wine glasses in a sense of clear satisfaction and friendship.
You just don’t see that happen very often and it signaled, for me, something that was the intangible for success in this exceptional restaurant.
Don’t miss this place if you are here. It may be on the more expensive side but the ambiance, quality cuisine, and service are all well worth it.
All in all we found the dining in Palm Springs to be really excellent in most places we dined for breakfast lunch or dinner.
I hope I will be back to this area sooner rather than later