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Dining Around The Desert

Dining Around The Desert: Zin American Bistro, Palm Springs

Open since 2004 in Palm Springs

I'm late to the party with knowing about Zin in Palm Springs as it's a favorite of my team member Betsy Justice.

Since opening in 2004, Zin American Bistro has been the place to go for wine, creative, fresh, locally sourced cuisine and craft cocktails. Their heated and cooled large patio is perfect for Champagne brunches, relaxed lunches and late night dining.

With 17 consecutive Wine Spectator Awards, including five consecutive Best of Award of Excellence and the incredible pricing, their wine list is one of the best in the valley.

Michael and I found ourselves in Palm Springs last week and since it was restaurant week, we decided to take the opportunity to try a  place that was new to us.

Although they have a very nice patio, it was the hottest day of the year at that point and we elected to sit inside at the bar.

Michael started out with a Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned made with Redemption Rye, Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur Orange Bitters and a Luxardo Cherry, and I enjoyed the Watermelon-Mint Gimlet with Racquet Club Vodka, Local Watermelon Juice, Mint and Lime. Both were very well made and we'd have them again.

The Restaurant Week menu was three courses. One of us had a Half Wedge Salad, Country Fried Chicken with creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and country gravy, while the other one had Cantaloupe Gazpacho and Classic Moules Mariners & Frites. You can likely figure out who had what. For desert we shared Creme Brûlée and Cheesecake. We also shared a nice bottle of Turnbull Sauvignon Blanc which was perfect for the weather.

The regular menu has a wide variety of items from Chicken Schnitzel to Braised Short Ribs, to Cauliflower Steak and White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

It's a pleasing atmosphere, right on the main drag with very good service, and excellent food. We'll be back!

Read more about Zin America Bistro and view the menu here...

HOURS & LOCATION

198 S. Palm Canyon Drive,
Palm Springs, CA 92262

760.322.6300

Lunch Everyday

Monday, Thursday, Friday,: 11AM - 3PM

Brunch / Lunch

Saturday & Sunday: 9AM - 3PM

Dinner

Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday:  Beginning at 4:30PM

Happy Hour

Monday - Saturday 11am - 3, 4:30 - 6

Open holidays with special prix fixe menu.

Reservations strongly recommended for dinner

Please call 760-322-6300 to be placed on Brunch waitlist

Dining Around The Desert: Porta Via, Palm Desert

My friend Ambria wrote this article and I thought she did a great job, so why reinvent the wheel? I've added my own notes and photos.

This New Palm Desert Restaurant Will Be Your Go-to Dining Destination

Add This Newbie to Your Foodie Bucket List

As you enter through the green front doors flanked by breeze blocks, a vibrant interior is unveiled with brass details, warm millwork and an exquisite terrazzo-tiled floor. Complete with heaters and misters, the patio of Palm Desert’s all-new Porta Via is shaded by a stunning pergola and offers diners a front-row view of the surrounding mountains.

Credit: George Duchannes

Porta Via at The Shops on El Paseo is the fourth restaurant location for owner Peter Garland. The new addition to Palm Desert fills the 5,000-square-foot space at the corner of El Paseo and Ocotillo Dr, which was previously occupied by Escada. For the restaurant design, Garland partnered with LA Times Top 25 Designer Sophie Goineau to incorporate the midcentury design elements the desert is so famously known for. This is the third time this duo has collaborated on a space, and guests are sure to be smitten by the stunning attention to detail throughout the venue. “A neighborhood restaurant with a world-class feel” is how Garland describes the vibe they embody at Porta Via Palm Desert.

Described as an upscale-California bistro, Porta Via features seasonal and organic ingredients while serving weekend brunch, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. The menu at Porta Via was inspired by Garland’s cooking philosophy: combine the best seasonal, organic ingredients and prepare them simply.

Credit: George Duchannes

Menu highlights include the Porta Via Salad (fresh butter lettuce, sweet Maui onion, dill, chervil, French feta and avocado, all tossed in a housemade champagne shallot vinaigrette) along with the Grilled Ōra King Salmon, Butternut Squash Tortellini and Chef Brennens daily oyster and raw-bar selections. Also featured are artisan-inspired cocktails using locally sourced fruits, herbs and wines from small producers with sustainable and organic practices, in extension of the restaurant’s philosophy. A selection of champagne and sparkling wine are offered for celebratory events.

From healthy to hearty, the innovative menu will have something for everyone. “We are looking forward to opening the doors and welcoming the community,” shares Porta Via General Manager Rebecca Elliott. “Personally, I’m so excited to build upon the relationships I’ve nurtured in my years of hospitality and provide a warm welcome to the people of Palm Desert.”

The restaurant hopes to create a place in Palm Desert where locals and tourists alike will be welcomed by a hospitality-centered staff. “Whether it be brunch with friends, a business luncheon or a date night out, Porta Via Palm Desert will be the place you’ll want to meet,” says Elliott. Those familiar with her know the special touches she adds to a dining experience and the genuine warmth she brings to each guest.

Officially opened on May 5th, Porta Via is a vibrant and welcomed addition to El Paseo and the desert dining scene.

Sheri's notes:

Michael and I were greeted warmly by the several hosts and seated quickly at one of the half booths with views out to the patio and street.  I really like the entire vibe and color scheme as it echoes my office colors and feel.

We started off with a couple of the house specialty drinks. I had Summer In A Glass which is organic vodka, watermelon, lemonade, and mint. Michael had the Island Old Fashioned, made with 15-year aged rum, pineapple, Luxardo Cherry, orange syrup, and bitters. Both were great and we can't wait to try more of the specialty drinks.

We then shared the Tuna Tower as an appetizer which was light and refreshing. I had the Butternut Squash Ravioli with arugula and a white wine sage cream sauce, and Michael had the Brick-Pressed Roasted Chicken with sauteed green chard, mashed potatoes, and a rosemary citrus sauce.

Everything was expertly prepared, our server, Sebastian, was very attentive, as were the bussers and the rest of the staff.

Clearly, the owners of Porta Via know what they are doing, and have good training in place. We'll be returning for a team dinner in a couple of weeks and we are all looking forward to it.

Porta Via Palm Desert

Porta Via Palm Desert
73100 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260
760.610.6670

Dining Around Laguna Beach: Splashes, Sapphire, Ysidro

Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I lost my late husband, Bill, in 2016 to a glioblastoma brain tumor. In 2018, I met Michael, and we got engaged in 2019. Well, we finally pulled the trigger and got married on April 1st!

We went to the Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach for a few days as a quick get-away. One of the wonderful things about that area is so many great restaurants and the fabulous ocean, of course. And it’s only 2 hours away from the desert.

I’m not going to detail every last meal, but rather give you the highlights, as I highly recommend all of these restaurants.

The first night we dined with good friends Dean and Debbie at Ysidora at The Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The service was outstanding, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, the company couldn't have been better, (along with that vintage bottle of Dom from Dean and Deb) and we all went away very glad that we’d had our first night’s dinner there.

The next night we went to Sapphire in Laguna Beach. We sat outside on their spacious patio and made good use of all the heaters as April at the beach is NOT April in the desert!

We started with cast iron roasted brussels sprouts, Romanesco cauliflower, and Kurobuta Pork Belly. Outstanding!

Michael had the crispy duroc pork schnitzel with maitake mushrooms, garden herb spaetzle, baby rainbow carrots, Meyer lemon, and basil emulsion.

I went lighter and had the chardonnay steamed Manilla clams, Mexican white prawns, and P.E.I. mussels with saffron pearl couscous, Spanish chorizo, melted garlic, and charred tomato broth.
Even though we were stuffed, we managed to find room for the Meyer lemon crème Brulee.

We will definitely be back the next time we are in the area.

As we stayed at the Surf and Sand, we had lunch at Splashes one day, which was very good. I had the Avocado Toast with heirloom tomatoes, poached eggs, shaved radish, and everything seasoning. Michael had the Grass-Fed Burger with Fresno onion jam, pepper jack, tomato, pickles, and truffle aioli.

My mom joined us for dinner one night. She had fish tacos, I had seared scallops with crisp enoki mushrooms, pickled cauliflower, puffed quinoa, and a tellicherry pomegranate reduction. Michael had lobster bisque and Icelandic cod in brick dough with purple sweet potato, heirloom carrots, heart of palm salad, yuzu, and white soy gel.

I’ve never had anything less than a stellar meal at Splashes, and this was no exception. It’s the one place I always go to in Laguna.

Dining Around the Desert: Los Arcos, La Quinta

 

Los Arcos is a 10-month-old, family-run, Mexican restaurant in La Quinta. Located in the “old” Ralph’s shopping center at the end of Washington, across from Starbucks.

I’d been seeing glowing reviews on Nextdoor, and so Michael and I decided to try it as there’s always room for another good Mexican restaurant in my book!

We arrived around 6:15 PM and the place was already pretty full. We opted to sit on the patio and soon Jesus arrived to greet us and take our drink order. They have applied for a liquor license, but for now, it’s just beer and wine.

Along with our beers, we started with chips, salsa, and Fresh Tableside Guacamole. Made with avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, and their secret spices, it was very tasty and chunky, just how I like it. The chips were fresh, thin, and perfectly salted. The salsa was very good and came with a kick.

I had a Taco Salad with shredded Chicken which was fine, but nothing spectacular. Next time I’ll try something different as the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked great.

Michael, on the other hand, had the Mojarra Frita. A deep-fried whole tilapia fish served a bed of mixed bell peppers piled on a cast-iron skillet. Served with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. Garnished with pico de Gallo, lettuce, and avocado. It was presented sizzling on a platter and was wonderful. Moist, with crispy skin, just like a whole fish should be.

 

Los Arcos has an extensive menu with a nice selection of burritos, tacos, chile Rellenos, etc…everything you’d expect. The prices are very reasonable with nothing over $24.

Our server, Jesus, is also one of the owners, and couldn’t have been more personable, as was all the staff. We will be back soon!

Open from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, 7 days a week.

50855 Washington St, La Quinta

760-992-5133

 

https://losarcoslq.com/

 

Click here to see the full menu….

Dining Around the Desert: Cunard’s Sandbar, La Quinta

Anyone who has been coming to the desert for any amount of time has likely dined at the Sandbar, or at the very least wanted to.
Owned by Bob and Tina Cunard since 1982, the Sandbar is an institution in La Quinta, and it’s not to be missed.
I’ve personally been friends with Bob and Tina since about 2005, having dined there many, many times and I’m friends with them outside the restaurant as well. Their hospitality cannot be beaten, and the entertainment is something you have to see to believe. Featuring Bill Baker at the grand piano, playing all the standards, it's a hoot!
It’s one of those kinds of places where you know the staff by name, you know their kids, their pets, etc…and now, full disclosure, Kayla Cunard, one of my rock star agents, is married to their son. Regardless, if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t bother to review it.
Michael and I went about a week or so ago, and it was delightfully just the same as always. Comfort food in an old-school ambiance.
Michael had the BLT Wedge which is a wedge of crispy chilled iceberg, topped with Applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, chopped tomatoes and creamy ranch dressing. As his entrée, he had the Filet Mignon, a Tender center cut 8 oz Midwest corn fed filet, presented with garlic herb butter. It was cooked perfectly medium rare.
As all entrees come with soup or salad (it’s that kind of a place), I had the salad with blue cheese crumbles. Then my favorite dish at Cunard's, the Calamari Steak – Abalone Style, slightly pounded and breaded, served with lemon, butter, and capers.
We both had the baked potato, fully loaded, and fresh garden vegetables.
We’ll be back again soon!
78-120 Calle Tampico
La Quinta, CA 92253
• Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1265,
La Quinta, CA. 92247
• (760) 564-3660
• Open Tuesday - Saturday Serving
Dinners from 5:00 PM

Dining Around the Desert: Pom, Fantasy Springs Resort

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in one of our local casinos, due to Covid, but also, I honestly can’t take the smoke. So I was thrilled to hear that there is no longer any smoking whatsoever which made the decision to have dinner at Pom in Fantasy Springs Resort last week easy since we were headed to Fantasy Lanes to check it out.

The restaurant was fully booked, and the wait was over an hour; however, a couple of nice guys at the bar were heading into the concert, and we snagged their seats.

We started with the unique seasonal Old Fashioned, which had a splash of apple instead of orange. It was made how it should be with one large ice cube, and the bartenders were excellent.

For dinner, I had the Cobb salad with chicken, bacon, egg, avocado, blue cheese, black olives, tomato, and blue cheese dressing. It was a nice presentation and very fresh and tasty.

Michael had the 14 oz. Rib Eye Steak with garlic whipped potatoes, tobacco onions, and a burgundy demi-glace. It was cooked perfectly, and as with the salad, it was a nice presentation.

We took our cocktails outside, just past the bar where the Rock Yard is. It’s a nice open-air concert area, and there was a decent band playing. They’ve got a Boston Tribute band on the calendar and a Bruno Mars Tribute band this weekend. During the week, they have a variety of different groups.

The main concert venue has everything from Dionne Warwick, Temptations & Four Tops, Bill Burr, Los Hurachanes Del Norte, Il Divo, Righteous Brothers, to Pit Bull and Toto. Pretty much something for everyone.

We'll be back!

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
84-245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio, CA 92203
1-800-827-2946 or 760-342-5000

Dining Around the Desert: Kitchen 86 El Paseo, Palm Desert

Kitchen 86 El Paseo

The Sheri Dettman & Associates team got together for a night out at Kitchen 86 El Paseo last week. Although they are open for inside dining now, it was a nice night and we sat outside.

Sheri Dettman & Associates team

I’ve reviewed Kitchen 86 in the past, but it’s now under new ownership so we wanted to check it out. Locally owned & Locally Grown - Kitchen 86 is a fantastic, welcoming spot to gather and enjoy an eclectic menu of modern, curated small plate continental cuisine. Using local, organic ingredients, offerings include a tableside cheese wheel pasta, house-made curry, ramens, wood-fired pizzas, plenty of entree selections and shareable small plates. None of that has changed, and I doubt anyone would notice that there was any kind of a change in ownership.

We started out with cocktails and wine to accompany our Boom-boom Shrimp which are lightly breaded in a Thai chili glaze with organic greens.

Boom-boom Shrimp

We then moved on to Penne Pomodoro in an organic tomato basil sauce for Kayla, East Indian Curry with Basmati rice, and a mango chutney for Lisa, Salmon Buon Gusto, with asparagus, tomatoes, portobellos, spinach, and Basmati Rice, for Betsy, the Cognac Rib Eye with a wild mushroom cognac cream sauce, potatoes, and grilled asparagus for Michael, and I had the Penne Alla Vodka with sautéed shrimp in an organic tomato vodka cream sauce.

Salmon Buon Gusto Cognac Rib Eye

Everything was very good, the service was attentive, and the only disappointment for me was that due to COVID restrictions they are not currently using the huge cheese wheel to make the special pasta. But once they are allowed to do that, that will be my next order.

They have live music quite often and it had just started by the time we were done, but we’ll be back to enjoy it in the future.

 

Kitchen 86 El Paseo

73-130 El Paseo, Suite 1

Palm, Desert, CA 92269

760-890-1586

Dining Around the Desert: Mankas Grill, Fairfield, CA

This last weekend, Michael and I attended a wedding in Napa, CA, and had a free night before the festivities, so I did some investigating and found a gem of a place, Mankas Grill in Fairfield.

Two brothers, Kyle and Jason Barraza, opened Mankas Grill recently and are doing a bang-up job. Named after one of the original owners, the building was established in 1853 as a major stagecoach stop. Today, they offer new and sensational twists on culinary staples that they are excited to share with the community.

We arrived very early, but they managed to get us seated within about 10 minutes at a great table. The place was packed and everyone was having a great time. There was truly a really nice buzz about the place that no doubt starts with the brothers who are very visible, including at the hostess stand where they are there to greet their guests. I’d say about half of the diners were regulars, and it’s easy to see why.

They have a small menu, but they cover all the bases. From Shrimp Cocktails, Lobster Bisque, Gorgonzola Wedge Salad to Hungarian Rubbed Ribeye, Pasta Bolognese, and a Grilled Portabella Burger.

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We started out with Pork Belly Nachos, with a beer cheese sauce, pico, and sour cream. These are not your usual nachos! We could have licked the plate.

In keeping with the pork theme, Michael had the special that night, a perfectly cooked Pork Chop. To be honest, I don’t remember what the sauce was, but it was heavenly.

I tried the Cajun Shrimp & Truffle Infused Grits with bacon and cheddar. Unbelievably good.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_5135-1-dragged.tiff

We had a very nice 2018 Prohibition red blend from Vino Godfather Winery in nearby Vallejo.

Next time I’m up in the area, I will absolutely go back. In fact, the whole corner is so quaint that I can’t wait to explore what else is around.

We are open for Lunch & Dinner

Wednesday 4-8

Thursday- Sunday 11:30-8!

Thank you for all the support this last year!

Our dining room is now open with our regular menu.

Please check open table for availability or call us

at (707) 428-1600 during business hours to make your reservation!

See you at Mankas Corner!

Dining Around the Desert: Joolz in Bend, OR

This August I returned to Bend, OR for the first time in six years with Michael in tow. Bill and I owned a home at Crosswater years ago, and I had friends that I was eager to see – both from Bend and also recent transplants to the area.
 
Our first stop was at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Joolz on Main St in downtown Bend. Joolz is owned and operated by two of the best people I know, Julie (Joolz), and Ramsey Hamdan. I was so excited to see them and partake of their Middle East Meets The Wild West food. 
 
Suffice it to say that absolutely everything on the menu is fabulous. I’ve never been disappointed, and I’ve eaten there a LOT! We actually visited them several times over the course of our stay so what follows was not all in one sitting.
 
 
We started with DUKKAH WITH HOUSE FOCACCIA BREAD 
Hazelnuts, almonds, pistachio, sesame seeds & cumin roasted & crushed, focaccia, olive oil
 
JOOLZ CAULIFLOWER 
Flash-fried cauliflower tossed in lemon and parsley, tahini dipping sauce
 
FALAFEL SIDE 
Three house-ground falafel, fried crisp with tahini sauce and arugula garnish
 
KIBBE  
Lamb meatballs with bulgur wheat, garlic tomato sauce, pine nuts
 
HUMMUS ON THE RANGE  
Hummus topped with sauteed elk, lemon, parsley, olive oil, sumac & pine nuts

For our main courses, I had the dish I had been dreaming of, FORBIDDEN BLACK RICE CHICKEN BOWL 
Moroccan barbecue braised chicken over rich black rice, garlic toasted nuts, chilled tzatziki
 
Michael had the TROPHY ELK CHILI 
Braised organic elk, chickpeas, secret spices, tabbouleh, feta and Frito chip garnish, which as a chili aficionado, blew him away.
 
On the night our friends came along, they had the SMASHED FRIED FINGERLINGS WITH WICKED GARLIC SAUCE
 
- OREGON BEEF Kabobs.
Wicked garlic sauce, Yemeni shoog
 
BEEF SHAWARMA PLATE 
Shawarma spice-rubbed Oregon beef, grilled onion, hummus, tabbouleh, Armenian pickles, naan
 
And even though we were stuffed, we ended it all both nights with the STICKY TOFFEE DATE CAKE  
Our sticky toffee Medjool date cake with warm caramel sauce, whipped cream
 
Joolz also has a delightful wine list that has a lot of affordable, surprising wines, as well as wonderful craft cocktails.
 
Joolz is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00PM to 9PM.
 
If you are in Bend, OR, you owe it to yourself to make a reservation and experience this food. You will not be disappointed.
 
Another fave is 900 Wall just a few doors down from Joolz. I’ll save that review for another time, but I will say that on this trip we had the Powdered Sugar Beignets with bittersweet chocolate sauce, raspberry, and vanilla mousse, twice! They were that good.
 

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