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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Best Auto Service for Honesty’s Sake

Cam Stone’s Automotive

Cam Stone’s Automotive in Palm Desert is the kind of auto-service shop every woman dreams of—at least women (and men) like me who know little to nothing about car repairs.

The people at Cam’s do good work, are honest, and never seem to recommend anything you don’t really need. And if money’s really tight … you can ask them what absolutely, positively has to be done; they’ll let you know how far you can push the part you can’t afford to have replaced today before a major mishap occurs.

Guy Allchin (pictured here with his family), who runs it, and Karl, his excellent sidekick, are straight-up guys who explain things so you can understand them and so you can make the best decisions to keep your wheels on the road. 74867 Velie Way, Palm Desert; 760-568-2999; camstonesautomotive.com.

—Anita Rufus


Best Sandwiches Inside a Convenience/Liquor Store

Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli

From the outside, Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli looks like a run-of the-mill liquor store, selling the usual stuff. But … go inside, and you’ll see Larry’s is an unexpected, family-run treasure chest.

For one thing, the deli is really good. We’ve enjoyed everything we’ve gotten there, but our favorite is the meat-filled Don Veto specialty sandwich (pictured here).

Larry’s also has a variety of interesting gourmet items you might not find elsewhere. One example: On a recent trip, we got a box of delicious rose-flavored Turkish delight candy.

Along with a nice variety of beer and hard liquor, Larry’s carries a respectable wine selection that goes from very cheap to the $100-a-bottle range. There’s even a refrigerated wine room in the back that feels great in the heat of summer.

Just don’t go to Larry’s looking for lottery tickets. They don’t sell them … which, for us, classes up the place. 2781 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-832-7188; larrysgourmetmarket.com.

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best Place to Avoid If You’re Arachnophobic

The VW Spider on Indian Canyon Drive at Interstate 10

When you’re driving by, you can’t help but notice the massive spider looming large in front of a warehouse with “Hole in the Wall” emblazoned across the front. And you may have wondered, like me: What? How? Why?

After some sleuthing, I discovered that the 28-foot high, eight-legged hunk of metal formerly fronted a Volkswagen repair shop, Hole in the Wall Welding. The enormous recycled artwork (the spider body is a full-size VW bug) was created by owner/welder/mechanic/desert rat Bob Miner, who passed away in 2008. The repair shop no longer exists, but Bob’s family still resides in the warehouse.

If you’re into kitsch and not afraid of creepy crawlers, this hairy-legged arachnid is a quirky must-see landmark. If you are afraid … avoid Indian Canyon Drive (next to Jack in the Box), just south of the Interstate 10.

—Beth Allen


Best Place to Pretend You’re on the Set of a David Lynch Movie

Open-Mic Night at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley

The Palms is one of those middle-of-nowhere places that’s really a groovy hangout. It’s a throwback, with very affordable booze—$1.50 for a can of Pabst beer; $3 for a domestic bottle; shots starting at $4—and cheap tasty, eats (the onion rings and fried zucchini are delish), all in an atmosphere that’s weathered, worn-in, kooky and cool.

Every Friday at 7 p.m. (with signups starting at 6:30), The Palms hosts an open-mic night, where there’s a good chance reality may become fuzzy—all in the name of “entertainment.” Spoken word, comedic acts, genuinely gifted musicians, not-so-gifted musicians … there’s something for everyone. You may witness folks like “Grannie”—a toothless senior in a cute wig and cowboy hat—crooning “Stand by Me,” a cappella, in a gruff, “I’ve been smoking a pack a day for the last 60 years” voice. The Palms’ open mic is truly strange and endearing at the same time. The Palms Restaurant, 83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley; 760-361-2810. (Pictured: Guitar-player Karl Van Dyke performs at The Palms’ open-mic night. Photo courtesy of Joseph Barrett.)

—Beth Allen


Best Tapas and Wine Hideout

Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

With its semi-mandatory valet parking, fancy-schmancy main restaurant and well-heeled celebrity clientele, the Parker Palm Springs can be a bit intimidating … despite the hotel’s ostensible casual-hip vibe. However, we’re madly in love with Counter Reformation, the hotel’s cozy wine bar, featuring friendly service and great music.

The door to the bar is hard to find—head toward the pool and take a left—but discovering this well-designed and inventively Catholic-themed spot is serendipity. The wine choices are not extensive, but the selections are diverse and interesting enough. And at the prices … well, at the Parker, at least, they’re bargains.

We’ve sampled about half of the tapas on the menu, and everything so far has been delicious. These small plates, along with the free loaves of fresh-baked bread and the complimentary olives and cornichons, can make for a filling meal … a meal you can partially work off during the walk back to your self-parked car on the street outside. 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-770-5000; www.parkerpalmsprings.com/food-and-drink. (Pictured: The Jamón Iberico at Counter Reformation.)

—Jeffrey Clarkson


Best New Band

Mega Sun

Mega Sun arrived in early 2018—and the group quickly earned the admiration of the local music scene.

The band’s sound reminds of stoner rock, circa the early ’90s, and the group’s live shows are always loud and fantastic.

The power trio is currently in the process of completing some recordings. I’m excited to see what this band will do in 2019 … and beyond.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Album

Throw the Goat, The Joke’s On Us

Throw the Goat had a great year in 2018 after finishing off 2017 on a mind-blowing note: The group won a contest, as announced on New Year’s Eve 2017, put on by Dave Ellefson of Megadeth to release an album on his Combat Records label. The Joke’s On Us was released shortly thereafter.

The name of the album is a reference to the presidency of Donald Trump and has political themes. Produced and recorded by guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell, the album shows the band going heavier with more punk. It’s a great example of a musical evolution.

While Throw the Goat might confuse audiences who question whether the band is punk or metal, we can all agree: The Joke’s On Us is a great album.

—Brian Blueskye


Best All-Female Band

The After Lashes

I have enjoyed watching the all-female four-piece band The After Lashes improve its sound over the course of 2018; in fact, every time I take in one of the group’s shows, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much the talented band has improved since I first saw The After Lashes.

Why has the band improved? The members of The After Lashes put in the work. Combine that hard work with talent, attitude and energy, and The After Lashes are amazing.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Pizza Joint You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Pizzeria Bambinos

I’m kind of shocked that Pizzeria Bambinos wasn’t a Best Pizza finalist this year. But then again … this fantastic pizza joint seems to be flying under the figurative radar. In fact, it may be the valley’s best kept pizza secret.

Maybe it has to do with the location; this small pizzeria is tucked away in the same shopping plaza as Big Lots in Cathedral City, and has limited seating … but it makes fantastic pizza, with other delicious options as well. 69040 Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 760-770-0505; pizzeriabambinos.com.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Comfort Food in a Desert Dining Wasteland

Two Guys Pies

I moved to Morongo Valley a year ago from the Bay Area … and my taste buds have been suffering terribly in this desert wasteland. Nearby Yucca Valley is more of a mecca for fast food (including ridiculous overexcited buzzing about the recent opening of a Popeye’s Chicken) than any sort of place for fine dining. However, all is not lost.

I am in the midst of a comfort foodgasm over my discovery of Two Guys Pies, aka TGP. Specializing in brick oven ’za, Guy and Guy, the two guys behind Two Guys Pies, promote rock ’n’ rolling all night and ’za-ing every day. Their double-decker pepperoni pizza ranked 24th in the world at an international pizza expo just last year!

Aside from the delicious pizza, Two Guys has salads, pastas and sandwiches … all with creative rockin’ names like Sound Tomato Garden, Bon Chovies, The Hungry Rollins Band, Spinach Tap, Weird Al-Fredo, Run DMCaesar, etc. The Basket Case bread balls with Love Potion No. 9 dipping sauce are an absolute must-have.

It’s hard for me to refrain from eating at TGP every night. My only complaint: It closes at 4 p.m. on Sundays. 56969 Yucca Trail; Yucca Valley; 760-418-5075; 2guyspies.com. (Pictured: A Two Guys Pies employee hard at work. Photo by Shawn Smith.)

—Beth Allen


Best Local Event for Car Lovers

McCormick’s Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions

Keith McCormick is a classic-car guru, and whether you’re looking for a rare foreign vehicle or a domestic beauty from the ’50s, a Porsche or a Corvette, chances are you can find one at McCormick’s showroom on Indian Canyon Drive downtown Palm Springs—or at his twice-a-year car auction.

McCormick is an import himself: He moved from the outskirts of Liverpool in England to Palm Springs in 1981.

“I’ve been into the cars since I was 18,” he said. “Moving my exotic car biz here was a no brainer: It was the same (here) as in England, except for the sunshine and no rain over here.”

In 1985, he put together the Palm Springs Vintage Grand Prix and Concours d’Elegance show to help promote local tourism.

“We raced the vintage cars where now the new Convention Center is,” he said, proudly pointing out that he himself owns a cool Ferrari 488 GTB.

The McCormick family—with his wife and son, Jason, working alongside—has put together 65 Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions so far. The event is held twice a year, in February and November, with more than 500 cars at each event.

The McCormicks sell and ship cars all over the world, from Japan to Germany.

“We have sold Sinatra’s, Liberace’s and Elvis’ cars—even the Batmobile,” McCormick said with a grin. “Classic cars are like art to me—it’s like looking at ‘Mona Lisa,’ but a lot less expensive.” www.classic-carauction.com. (Pictured: Keith McCormick. Photo by Brane Jevric.)

—Brane Jevric


Best Artery-Clogging Meal

The Disco Superfries at Blackbook

If you’ve ever been hungry while in downtown Palm Springs, you know there are many, many options for food … but when my friends and I are in the mood to be bad, we always pick the cardiac special of disco superfries at Blackbook on Arenas Road.

These little yummies are a home run every time. Think nachos … but instead of chips, you get fries! That’s right—fresh fries topped with gooey cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and hot sauce.

You can share them, or you can make them a meal—you get a whole small cookie sheet of them! Warning: This is an item that’s just begging to be shared, so even if you’re alone and intend the superfries to be your meal … you will always have “friends” magically appear, even if you didn’t bring any with you. 315 Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-832-8497; blackbookbar.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Karaoke

Peabody’s Café

The Coachella Valley is certainly not suffering from a lack of talented professional singers. But if you’re not a professional … it’s hard to carry your shower out on the town with you, so check out Peabody’s Café on Friday and Saturday nights for karaoke.

Even if you don’t want to croon yourself, you can kick back and hear some great singers … and some not-so-great singers. There is a great music selection, and the DJ is a nice guy. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m., but get there early—it fills up fast!

Enjoy the menu and bar while you’re waiting for your turn on the mic; Peabody’s has killer Bloody Mary’s. Heck, bring your friends and make a night of it! 134 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-1877; www.peabodyscafeandbar.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Weekend Culinary Classes

Wabi Sabi Japan Living

One of my favorite places to hang out is Wabi Sabi Japan Living. It may sound weird that I like to hang out at a small Japanese-goods store, but don’t judge.

Not only does Wabi Sabi have great merchandise; the owners, Darrell and Sam, offer amazing classes on how to enjoy and use their products. Check out the website for dates and times; the classes are usually held on Saturday afternoons. I have been to the bonsai tree and ramen classes … but I have yet to attend the class I want to take most of all: the sushi-making class. You learn how to make three rolls by actually making them … then you get to eat them! You have to sign up early; the class fills up quickly. Wabi Sabi also offers sake and Japanese-grilling classes.

Not only do Darrell and Sam know what they are talking about; you can feel their passion. Take note: Wabi Sabi is set back off of the road a bit; look for the Rising Sun flags. 258 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-537-3838; www.wabisabijapanliving.com.

—Dwight Hendricks


Best Seafood Towers and Tostadas

Mariscoco’s Culiacan

Because I am a west valley resident, I don’t get down to the east valley that much … but I can tell you that an east valley trip is coming soon. In fact, it’s probably already happened by the time you’ve read this.

The reason: I have a huge, honking hankering for the food at Mariscoco’s Culiacan.

The last time I was at this Coachella mainstay, I ordered the tostada especial (pictured here): an individual-sized plate of delicious, fresh and cool seafood, including shrimp, abalone, octopus, fish, sea snail and scallops—plus cucumbers, onion, avocado and other ingredients—all mixed in with Mariscoco’s special smoky-tasting sauce. It was really, really good.

Still, I looked longingly at the seafood towers—including many of the aforementioned ingredients, and then some—as they went by to other tables. These huge creations are meant for more than one mere mortal … so next time I go to Mariscoco’s, I won’t be going alone.

Hey, west valley friends: How about a short road trip? We can meet our east valley friends at Mariscoco’s. 51683 Harrison (Cesar Chavez) St., Coachella; 760-398-5666; www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

On a recent sunny but cool weekday afternoon, more than 200 children and teens, ages 7 to 18, were busy inside the President Gerald R. Ford Clubhouse at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley in La Quinta.

Just as they do every weekday afternoon during the school year, the kids happily immersed themselves in one of the myriad activities and programs offered here and at the other BGCCV outposts in Indio, Coachella and Mecca. (There are two other separately managed clubs in the valley: the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City, and the Boys and Girls Club in Palm Springs.) Sounds of laughter, chatter and serious discussion filled the rooms where kids can do their homework, learn about technology (including robotics), play sports and much more.

“The beauty of the Boys and Girls Club is that we give all of our children a place to belong—a place where they feel like they can be useful, a place where they get some positive influence from good, positive people, and where they can feel like they’re accomplishing great things,” said Siah Nix, a 22-year BGCCV veteran who is the unit director of the Ford Clubhouse.

Earlier in the day, BGCCV CEO Quinton Egson talked to me at his administrative office in Palm Desert. Egson, who has worked with the club for 36 years in various capacities, explained how the different program options at each of the clubs are developed and implemented.

“When we first went out into Mecca in 2012, we were sitting at a table with maybe eight to 10 teenagers, and I asked, ‘By a show of hands, who’s going to go to college?’ Nothing. I guess their aspirations were to finish high school, which is commendable, and then go to work. So we saw a need to make sure that the kids were prepared to go to college. We started a series of programs called Next Step Prep, Goals for Graduation and College Bound. Fast forward, and now we have over 40 kids who have gone to college out of Mecca.

“Academics is really big at all of our clubs. We help kids with their homework and make sure that they are ready to get promoted to the next grade. Grade progression is important, as is the goal that they graduate on time with a plan for the future.”

Nix said the Boys and Girls Clubs have adapted as technology has advanced.

“Now all children have laptops or tablets at their schools,” Nix said. “So we have specific computers that are designed just for them to do their homework if they don’t have their laptop or tablet with them. There are no excuses now for not doing the homework.

“We’ve made it into an incentive program based on how much time they put in here doing their homework. We count every 15-minute interval they spend here, and at the end of the month, we have an incentive party for the top 10 children participating. Children watching from outside the classroom see these children doing something different from the norm and enjoying this party atmosphere, and they inquire as to how they can become a part of that experience. Then we tell them all that’s required is doing your homework, and we get more kids wanting to join in. Initially, they just want to be a part of that party—but we know that having them get their homework done right after school when the learning is still fresh in their heads is important.

“Also, now when the kids go home, they can enjoy quality time with Mom and Dad,” Nix added with a smile.

In recent years, the BGCCV has made a daily meal service a priority as well.

“(During the school year) we’re open from 2 to 7 p.m.,” said Egson, a College of the Desert graduate who was the 2017 recipient of the prestigious national Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Herman Prescott Award, for visionary leadership and exemplary field work. “During the summer, we’re open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to accommodate the working parents. We started feeding our kids dinner every night during the school year, because we saw that the kids were getting their best meal each day at their school’s lunch. Now they can get a second good meal at our place. Also, in the summer, we give the kids both free breakfast and free lunch. When a kid is hungry, he’s not worried about getting an ‘A’ in class. What l try to do with our team is assess our kids constantly in conversations and by keeping our ears to the ground. Then we can meet them where their needs are—and once we can meet them where their needs are, we can help them get to where they should be.”

Such a multifaceted organization delivering services on such a grand scale—more than 6,000 youth members are served by the four BGCCV facilities annually—requires a substantial fundraising effort. Egson explained how his group raises the required $3.5 million each year.

“Just recently, we had a special event called Putting Party With a Purpose. We did the glow-golf thing at Indian Wells Golf Resort and we had about 200 people there,” Egson said. “It was excellent. We raise about one-third of our annual budget with events, and they give us a chance to introduce ourselves and our mission to a lot of people. We do a lot of grants as well; we’re working over 20 grants right now. Also, we do private donations. We get out there, and we shake the trees.

“Every year, in my mind, we start at zero and we have to raise that $3.5 million. We’ve been around since 1966, so through trial and error, we’ve been able to put together some reliable funding sources to help us be a sustainable organization.”

Major fundraising events planned for the near future include the Sports Heroes Luncheon (which may become a dinner event) sometime in January 2019, and the annual gala called the Grand Auction, slated for March 9, 2019.

“It’s going to be at the Hyatt in Indian Wells,” Egson said. “That’s our signature fundraiser, so to speak. Last year, we raised over $1 million. We draw about 600 to 700 people who know what they are there for.”

Any child between the ages of 7 and 18 can become a member by getting registered online or at a BGCCV clubhouse; membership fees vary based on the ability to pay. Adults can volunteer by calling or contacting the BGCCV via the website.

“You have to go through a background screening,” Egson said. “… Next, we hook you up with our volunteer coordinator, who takes you through a little questionnaire to determine what your goals are for volunteering. Finally, we put you in the right spot, and we get you started. A lot of times, we help volunteers share their passions with our youth.”

It’s obvious a lot of great work is being done at the clubs to keep local kids on the right path.

“One of my life’s philosophies is to build kids now, so that we don’t have to fix adults later,” Egson said. “It’s hard to fix adults.”

For more information, call 760-836-1160, or visit www.bgcofcv.org.

Published in Features

For Avenida Music—voted as the Best Local Band by readers of the Independent in the annual Best of Coachella Valley poll—music revolves around family.

The band includes three brothers—and may be the only local group to be the subject of a song by another local band (Frank Eats the Floor). Avenida Music has played all over Southern California for weddings and corporate events, and has a weekly residency at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells.

When I sat down with Josiah Gonzalez (piano/synth), he told me some fascinating stories about the musical journey that led to the formation of Avenida Music.

“The band is composed of two of my brothers (Vincent and Samuel), myself and Sean Poe (also of the Hive Minds),” Josiah Gonzalez said. “My brothers and I have been playing music together since we were 9 years old. My dad scrounged money together to get us lessons and instruments, and we were playing in church or just for fun. We’ve been playing for about 15 years together.

“We all found ourselves back in the Coachella Valley after college and decided we should continue to play. It started as a cover gig for my aunt’s birthday party; she wanted us to play some Beatles tunes. We liked doing it so much that we started playing with friends and playing in garages in 2015. We had no idea what we were doing and were just looking for some gigs playing covers.”

Avenida, like some other local bands, is named after an element of a local neighborhood.

“We spent the first two or three months playing in a garage trying to come up with a name. We couldn’t come up with anything anybody liked,” Josiah Gonzalez said. “We went through 50 or 60 different options no one could agree on. We were originally playing in Cathedral City, and every other street is called Avenida something. We thought, ‘Why not Avenida?’ It stuck.”

While Avenida Music started off playing covers, it is not just a cover band … although when you see “Avenida Music” on the bill, you should expect covers.

“We do have original music. We made an interesting pivot after we picked up Sean,” Josiah Gonzalez said. “We started playing covers and original stuff, but it was hard to differentiate. … When we started making more money as a cover band, we decided we really needed to focus on that. We wrote our five-year plan based on the idea we’d play corporate gigs and weddings. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been writing original stuff—and that’s what we’ve been working on right now in side projects not named Avenida Music. We really try to separate the two to remain consistent in what we do as a band.”

The Gonzalez brothers had no choice but to play music growing up.

“That was predetermined. Literally: Before we were born, our parents decided what instruments we were going to play, and when they were going to have us,” Josiah said. “They knew they wanted a quartet that had a piano, bass, drums and a sax. They ended up with four boys (each) two years apart. … My dad has been a minister for most of his life, and he would do jobs for people, saying, ‘I’ll do your landscaping for free if you teach my son how to play piano.’ That’s how he got all of us lessons. We’d come out of the womb, and two years later, they’d be introducing us to the instrument as if it was propaganda, like, ‘Isn’t the piano great?’ We all ended up playing those instruments, and we all still do play those instruments.

“They didn’t let us quit. I tried to quit piano a couple of times, and my parents said, ‘We’re sorry, but that’s not really an option.’ I’m grateful in retrospect. They made sure to tell me, ‘We work really hard to make to get you these lessons, and this is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life.’”

The Gonzalez brothers’ parents believed music would help instill character.

“I remember being really scared, because they were making me play in a convalescent home. I got really mad and said I didn’t want to be playing in convalescent homes and church events for old ladies,” Josiah said. “I was about 11 or 12, and my dad told me, ‘I didn’t work this hard to get you these lessons so you could go hide in a corner and play by yourself. Your job is to go use this gift you have to help other people.’ To this day, that is one of the things I remember. … It made an impression on me, and it really resonated as to why we still play music today. The reason we play is not for us; whatever we have is to be used to bless other people.”

Josiah Gonzalez said he was surprised to learn Avenida Music had been voted Best Local Band.

“We were blown away when we were nominated and when we won,” he said. “We have a big family; my dad has six brothers and sisters, as well as a lot of cousins. But I think more than anything, we’ve really tried to be as supportive of other musicians as much as possible, and we’re really grateful, because some people reciprocated that and voted for us. … We’re really grateful that people appreciate what we do and the music we do.”

Avenida Music will perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Copa Nightclub, 244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information on Avenida Music, visit www.littlestreetmusic.com.

Published in Features

Matt King of Frank Eats the Floor was shocked when he learned he was voted Best Local Musician by the readers of the Coachella Valley Independent—beating out local greats including Giselle Woo and last year’s winner, John Stanley King.

After all, King is not even out of high school yet—but it goes to show how Frank Eats the Floor is quickly developing an enthusiastic fan base.

King credits his older brother for spurring his interest in music.

“When I was 5 or 6, my brother played in this metal band called Fistful of Glass, and there are pictures and videos of me sitting on the front porch behind the drum set,” King said. “Music has been an integral part of my life, whether I’ve been watching it or listening to it—or in recent years, playing it. I always wanted something to do within music, and I started my record collection when I was 12. I went to my first concert at 14. My love for music really started when my brother showed me the Beatles.”

King and I discussed his influences, and he was extremely attentive when I suggested some musicians and bands for him to check out.

“The Beatles influenced me for sure. There was a point in time I knew all of their songs and no songs by other bands,” he said. “I started to branch out, and I went from The Beatles to hip hop and rap. I listen to Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye and all of that.

“When I first started playing bass, I was trying to emulate pop and hip-hop beats into my bass-playing. When I met the rest of the guys in Frank Eats the Floor, they expanded my mind and showed me all these other bands, like Primus and The Doors, that have shaped my style.”

King said he easily related to the bass guitar.

“Les Claypool of Primus has this great quote about how the bass was just the crown he picked out of the box, and I feel like that relates to me, too,” King said. “My brother played guitar, and the bass-player in the band was not that great, so it made me think, ‘I could do that! It doesn’t seem that hard!’ The bass just sort of found me, I guess.”

King is a senior in high school. I asked him what he plans to study in college, and whether it will be related to music.

“It is application season, and I’ve been trying to get all my stuff together,” he said. “(I am interested in) something along the lines of music, but something I can combine with performing arts, because I’ve been doing drama during my four years of high school as well. It’d be awesome to have music as a path for a career, but one of the problems I’m having now is this success that I’m seeing at 17: Will it translate to 20-year-old me? 30-year-old me? It’s hard to tell, and it’s hard to tell if it’ll translate if I go to Los Angeles, San Diego or somewhere out of state.”

King was said he was humbled to even be a finalist in the Best Local Musician Category.

“I’m huge fans of Sunday Funeral and Justin Ledesma. I love Nick Hales of Sleazy Cortez, Giselle Woo and John Stanley King, and they’re all amazing people in our local music scene,” he said. “I’m really grateful to have been paired with those names, and winning is not setting in with me yet.”

Given that college is approaching, King said the future of Frank Eats the Floor is uncertain.

“We just released our album, and we started promoting it. But as for next July, it’s time for me and Aleks (Romo) to go to college, and that’s what we’ve been talking about,” King said. “We’re trying to make a plan where we’re able to pick this back up every month or every few months and still work as long as everyone is down. But it’s really starting to come down to the time when people grow up and grow out, which happens. The future is uncertain, but I think it’ll work as long as we all put in the work and try to make the Frank Eats the Floor train go for as long as we can.”

King said he’s enjoying the ride on that aforementioned Frank Eats the Floor train.

“Being onstage in drama is fun, but being onstage playing music and singing my songs is a step above,” he said. “My favorite memories of high school are kids coming up to me, saying, ‘Hey! You’re in that band, Frank Eats the Floor! “School Food Sucks!”’ Aleks doesn’t like to own up to it that much, but I think it’s cool being in high school and playing in a band. The only downside would be the fact that we were sort of looked down upon by some of the people around here, saying, ‘You can’t play this venue! You’re too young!’ Some people say that we’re just a novelty act. But we’re just having fun right now.”

Frank Eats the Floor will perform as part of the CV Music Showcase at 9 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on Frank Eats the Floor, visit frankeatsthefloorfetf.bandcamp.com.

Published in Features

Some items worth noting as we head into the much-welcomed fall season:

• Thanks to all of you who voted in the first round of our Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019 readers’ poll.

Whether you voted or not in the first round … well, now’s your chance to vote in the second and final round!

The top three to six finalists (five, in most cases) from the first round are now up for your consideration at CVIndependent.com. Polls are open through Monday, Oct. 29.

Unlike other “Best Of” contests ’round these parts, for the Best of Coachella Valley, we only ask you to vote once per round. While a goal of other “Best Ofs” is for their sponsoring publications to get as much web traffic as possible from people visiting their websites over and over again, we’d rather have everyone vote just one time, so our list of winners can be as fair and accurate as possible.

The winners will be announced on Monday, Nov. 26, at CVIndependent.com, and in our December 2018 print edition.

Thanks. Now … go vote!

A few months ago, I used this space to mention the tariffs that had been placed on imported Canadian newsprint—and how those tariffs were so severe that they were threatening the survival of many U.S. newspapers, because some publications’ print bills were being jacked up by as much as 30-40 percent as a result. (The Independent’s print bill had “only” gone up about 12 percent … which is painful nonetheless.) I also asked concerned readers to contact our elected officials to encourage them to fight these tariffs—which were being requested by just one U.S. paper manufacturer, owned by a private-equity firm.

These tariffs were truly unfair and misguided. If all five U.S. paper mills that make newsprint operated at full capacity (due to the decline in the newspaper industry, there aren’t as many as there used to be), they couldn’t come close to producing enough newsprint for U.S. newspapers.

Well, I have some good news to report: The United States International Trade Commission, after hearing from a number of concerned members of Congress, overturned the tariffs in late August.

Thanks to all of you who heeded the call and spoke out against these tariffs.

Be sure to pick up the October 2018 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting news stands this week. As always, thanks for reading; if you have questions or feedback, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Editor's Note

An enthusiastic and community-minded crowd packed The Hood Bar and Pizza—the choice of Independent readers as the valley’s Best Dive Bar—on Friday, Dec. 15, for the Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 Awards Show and Party.

Hosted by Jimmy Boegle and Brian Blueskye of the Independent, the awards portion featured a couple dozen winners coming onstage and thanking readers for voting them as the valley’s best—but only after Boegle emphasized the importance of supporting honest, ethical local media.

Following the awards, The Flusters—voted Best Local Band two out of the last three years—capped a busy week by performing to an enthusiastic crowd.

After The Flusters’ set, DJ Tommy Locust spun before the after-party launched with the spooky organ tunes of Herbert; he was followed to the stage by Sunday Funeral and Black Water Gospel.

Below are some photos from the event, by Independent contributor Kevin Fitzgerald. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Published in Snapshot

As you probably know by now, the results of our fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll were released earlier this week.

This marks the culmination of a process that started back in August, when Round One voting began. We asked you, our readers, to tell us what your area favorites are, via an open ballot—with no pre-selected finalists or recommendations. We compiled all of those results to determine the slate of Best of Coachella Valley finalists, and then launched the Final Round of voting.

I’d like to thank Brian Blueskye, Mark Duebner and Robyn Tanzer, all of whom put a lot of work into the corresponding December print edition—and all of us at the Independent would like to thank you, the readers, for taking the time to vote in the Best of Coachella Valley.

Other local publications also do “Best Of” readers’ polls … but these Best of Coachella Valley results, while certainly far from perfect, offer a truer sense of what is really the best of the Coachella Valley. Why? We ask readers to vote only once per round—as opposed to some of these other publications’ polls, which encourage readers to vote multiple times. While allowing people to vote multiple times brings those publications’ websites more traffic, it also makes those polls more susceptible to skewed results. We here at the Independent would rather have a truer, more accurate slate of winners and finalists than a temporary bump in website traffic.

I hope you’ll joinus at The Hood Bar and Pizza (the Best Dive Bar winner!), at 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, on Friday, Dec. 15, for annual Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party. We’ll start the awards at 6:30 p.m. sharp; all of the winners who are there will be invited up to accept their awards and say a few words. After the awards, your pick for Best Local Band, The Flusters, will take the stage. The Hood and the Independent will then continue the great music, with sets from Black Water Gospel, Sunday Funeral and Herbert. It’ll truly be a great night as we gather to celebrate the best the Coachella Valley has to offer.

As always, thanks for reading; if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to send me a note to the email address below. Oh, and be sure to pick up our December 2017 print edition, being distributed this week to more than 380 locations valley-wide.

Published in Editor's Note

At long last … here are the results of the fourth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers' poll!

From all of us here at the Coachella Valley Independent, we’d like to thank the many, many readers who voted this year. The results, as you’ll see below, represent the amazing diversity of the Coachella Valley, with winners coming from all parts of the valley.

We’d also like you to come and celebrate with us! The Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018 Awards Show and Celebration takes place Friday, Dec. 15, at The Hood Bar in Pizza in Palm Desert—this year’s winner for Best Dive Bar! The awards start at 6:30, and will be followed by a performance from Best Local Band winners The Flusters. The event will be followed by an after-party featuring Herbert, Sunday Funeral and Black Water Gospel.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists … and welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2017-2018!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

CODA Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. Shag

3. Melissa Morgan Fine Art

4. Hohmann Fine Art

5. J. Willott Gallery

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Show at Agua Caliente

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Date Shed

5. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

 

Best Outdoor Venue

Empire Polo Club

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Indian Wells Tennis Garden

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. La Quinta Arts Foundation

4. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

5. CREATE Center for the Arts

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. John Stanley King Band

3. Sunday Funeral

4. Drop Mob

5. The Hellions

 

Best Local DJ

DJ PWee

 

Runners up:

2. Jesika Von Rabbit

3. Alex Harrington

4. Alf Alpha

5. DJ Chub Jim

 

Best Local Musician

John Stanley King

 

Runners up:

2. Lisa Lynn Morgan

3. Dan Dillinger

4. Michael Keeth

5. Dave Burk

 

Best Local Visual Artist

TIE

Sofia Enriquez

Shag

 

Runners up:

3. Ryan Campbell

4. Cristopher Cichocki

5. Marconi Calindas

 

Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD

 

Runners up:

2. Mary Pickford Is D’Place

3. Century The River and XD

4. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

5. Camelot Theatres

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Air Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

5. La Quinta Museum

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Dezart Performs

5. Coyote StageWorks


Life in the Valley

 

Best Farmers’ Market

College of the Desert Street Fair

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Village Fest

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market

4. Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

5. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley

4. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

5. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

6. AAP-Food Samaritans

 

Best Gym

World Gym

 

Runners up:

2. EOS Fitness

3. Planet Fitness

4. Palm Springs Fitness Center

5. In-Shape

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga Plus

 

Runners up:

2. Urban Yoga

3. Yoga Bliss

4. Power Yoga Palm Springs

5. Yoga Central

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Yucca Bowl

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Q Trading Co.

5. Sensuality a Store for Her

 

Best Auto Repair

Andy’s Auto Repair

 

Runners up:

2. European Auto Service

3. Cam Stone’s Automotive

4. Singh’s Automotive Repair

5. OMAG Automotive

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Airport Quick Car Wash

4. Indio Car Wash

5. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Vintage Nursery

5. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Pet Supplies

Bones ’n’ Scones

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. PetSmart

4. Pet Oasis

5. Miriam’s Poochella Grooming

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Desert AIDS Walk (Desert AIDS Project)

 

Runners up:

2. Evening Under the Stars (AAP-Food Samaritans)

3. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

4. A Miracle on El Paseo (Bighorn Behind a Miracle)

5. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (Desert AIDS Project)

 

Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

3. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Gino Lamont, KMIR Channel 6

5. Bryan Gallo, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

Q 102.3 Classic Rock

 

Runners up:

2. Mix 100.5

3. Jammin 99.5 FM

4. Mod FM 107.3

5. K-News 94.3 FM

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Q 102.3/KPLM 106.1

3. Jimi “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CV 104.3 FM

4. Joey English, KGX 99.1 FM/920 AM

5. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3 FM

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Just Fabulous

3. Rancho Mirage Library Book Nook

4. The Book Rack La Quinta

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectables

3. Best Buy

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Game Stop

3. HooDoo!

 

Best Hotel Pool

Riviera Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Ace Hotel and Swim Club

4. Arrive

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Urgent Care

Eisenhower Medical Center Urgent Care

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Healthcare Immediate Care

3. VIP Urgent Care

4. MedPost Urgent Care (Desert Regional)

5. Premier Urgent Care


Valley Professionals

 

Best Doctor

Dr. Amanda Curnock

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Michael Hughes

4. Dr. Michael Jardula

 

Best Eye Doctor

Dr. Albert Milauskas

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Camille Harrison

3. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision)

4. Dr. Athena Brasfield (CV Optometry)

 

Best Dentist/Orthodontist

Dr. Larry Kunkle (Palm Desert Dental Center)

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Dr. Rene Dell’Acqua

Dr. Frank Hernandez

4. Dr. Maria Aguilar (Mirage Lane Dentistry)

5. Dr. Duane Nishikubo

 

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Timothy Jochen

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Mark Sofonio

3. Dr. Scott Aaronson

4. Dr. Bruce Chisholm

5. Dr. Suzanne Quardt

 

Best Attorney

Walter Clark

 

Runners up:

2. Brian Harnik

3. David Humphrey

4. Christopher Heritage

5. J. John Anderholt III

 

Best Air Conditioner Repair

Comfort Air

 

Runners up:

2. Esser

3. General

4. All Seasons

5. Priority One

 

Best Chiropractor

Dr. Jim Cox

 

Runners up:

2. Nazemi Chiropractic

3. Dr. Kristen Bohnet

4. Dr. Paul Ross

 

Best Real Estate Agent

TIE

Barbara Carpenter

Brady Sandahl

 

Runners up:

3. Valery Neuman

4. Deirdre Coit

 

Best Electrician

Desert Pro Electrical

 

Runners up:

2. Electric Man

3. So-Cal Electric

4. Wired Up Electric

5. DCH Electric and Lighting

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Mayor Jan Harnik

3. Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon

4. Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia

5. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Oooh La la

 

Runners up:

2. Trina Turk

3. Grayse

4. Blonde Clothing Boutique

5. Wil Stiles

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. Goodwill

4. Plato’s Closet

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. West Elm

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Erik’s Furniture

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Victoria’s Attic

4. Sunny Dunes Antique Mall

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Tiffany and Co.

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Robann’s Jewelers

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde Salon

3. Alankara, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon

4. Josef Saliba

5. Jake Turner Salon

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Two Bunch Palms

 

Runners up:

2. The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

3. Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

4. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

5. Well Spa (Miramonte)

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

TIE

Revive Wellness Center

Studio M Salon and Spa

 

Runners up:

3. Bighorn Golf Club

4. Massage Rx

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Jensen’s Foods

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Palm Springs Florist

5. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Bloodline Tattoo

 

Runners up:

2. Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

3. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

4. Iron Palm Tattoo Parlour

5. Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. LensCrafters

4. Panache Optical Gallery

5. CV Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Moorten’s Botanical Garden

5. Desert Healthcare District Wellness Park

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Bear Creek Path (La Quinta)

4. Highway 74

 

Best Recreation Area

Tahquitz Canyon

 

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Mount San Jacinto State Park (Top of the Tram)

4. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Ladder Canyon

3. The Cross Trail

4. South Lykken Trail

5. Art Smith Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. Rancho Mirage Community Park

4. La Quinta Civic Center Park

5. Ironwood Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Tri-A-Bike

3. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

4. BikeMan

5. Velo Bum Elite Cyclery

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons Golf Resort

3. Indian Springs Golf Club

4. SilverRock Resort

5. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. Ruth Hardy Park

3. La Quinta Civic Center Park

4. Ironwood Park

5. Dateland Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys R Us

 

Runners up:

2. Uncle Don’s Hobbies

3. Mr. G’s for Kids

4. The Lumpy Bunny

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. The Children’s Place

3. The Lumpy Bunny

4. JadaBug’s Kids Boutique

5. Janie and Jack

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Old Spaghetti Factory

4. Shakey’s Pizza

5. Billy Reed’s

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Boomers

5. Laser Oasis

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Chuck E. Cheese’s

3. Boomers

4. Laser Oasis

5. Shakey’s Pizza


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

5. Blaze Pizza

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. TRIO/Liquid Catering

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. John’s

5. Rick’s Restaurant

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Clark’s Nutrition

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Real Italian Deli

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Jensen’s Foods

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. Over the Rainbow

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Jake’s Palm Springs

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Lappert’s Ice Cream

4. Creamistry

5. Ice Cream and Shop(pe) at Arrive

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

TIE

Beach House

Jus Chillin’

 

Runners up:

3. Yogurtland

4. Tutti Frutti

5. Yogurt Island

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. French Corner Café

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Frankie’s Italian Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Smoke Tree BBQ

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Zobo and Meester’s

 

Best Burger

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Tyler’s Burgers

5. Grill A Burger

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

5. TRIO Restaurant

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Blaze Pizza

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Upper Crust Pizza

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Smokin’ Burgers

3. Wingstop

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Kaiser Grille

 

Best Bagels

Townie Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. Bagel Bistro

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Luscious Lorraine’s

4. Koffi

5. Palm Greens Café

 

Best Buffet

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet Agua Caliente

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Ernest Coffee

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Koffi

4. Teavana

5. Panera Bread

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Elmer’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Cheeky’s

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Jake’s Palm Springs

4. Kaiser Grille

5. Acqua California Bistro

 

Best Brunch

Wilma and Frieda’s

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. The Tropicale

5. TRIO Restaurant

6. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. City Wok

4. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

5. China King

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

3. Athena Gyro

4. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

5. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

 

Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. Cuistot Restaurant

4. L’Atelier Café

5. Café des Beaux Arts

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runner up:

2. India Oven

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. Mario’s Italian Café

3. Castelli’s

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. La Spiga Ristorante Italiano

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Gyoro Gyoro Isakaya Japonaise

4. Joyce’s Sushi

5. Shabu Shabu Zen

 

Best Korean

JOY at Fantasy Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Maru Korean B.B.Q. and Grill

3. Umami Seoul

4. Domo Sushi

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Dragon Sushi

3. The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Edoko Sushi

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

 

Runners up:

2. LG’s Prime Steakhouse

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

5. Suillivan’s Steakhouse

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

3. Blue Orchid

4. My Thai

5. Thai House

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. TIE

533 Viet Fusion

Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

5. Fuzion Five

 

Best Vegetarian

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Luscious Lorraine’s

3. Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

4. Palm Greens Café

5. Nature’s Health Food and Cafe

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Le Vallauris Restaurant

3. Wally’s Desert Turtle

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Johannes

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

5. Alicante

 

Best Mexican

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Loco Charlie’s

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Blue Coyote Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza

 

Best Burrito

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Taqueria Tlaquepaque

4. Casa Mendoza

5. La Perlita Mexican Food


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Draughtsman

5. Eureka!

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. The Hood Bar and Pizza

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Red Barn

 

Best Cocktail Menu

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Eureka!

4. Dish Creative Cuisine

5. Seymour’s

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. Hunters

4. Streetbar

5. Blackbook

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. The Tropicale

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. The Nest

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Red Barn

5. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails

 

Best Margarita

Blue Coyote Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

5. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. TRIO Restaurant

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Kaiser Grille

 

Best Nightclub

The Nest

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Hunters

4. Zeldas

5. Bart Lounge

 

Best Sports Bar

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Playoffs Sports Bar

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Mastro’s Steakhouse

3. The Wine Emporium

4. Dead or Alive

5. La Rue Wine Bar

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. Costco

3. BevMo!

4. Desert Wines and Spirits (Go Deli)

5. The Wine Emporium

 

Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Big Rock Pub

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

Published in Readers' Picks

Best Local Album

Thr3 Strykes, CMNCTN-BRKDWN

When I interviewed them last year, the members of Thr3 Strykes told me that putting together the album that would become CMNCTN-BRKDWN was a proving to be difficult task—and taking a long time.

All that hard work and time was worth it: The final result is awesome, and I can’t think of another album put out this year by a local band that matches its energy and insanity. The track with J. Patron and Christina Reyes of Caxton, called “The Colony,” is a must-hear.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Re-established Band

Sunday Funeral

Sunday Funeral was a worthy Best Local Band finalist this year—and what a year it’s been.

The band that Justin Ledesma has fronted for more than a decade has made a remarkable transformation. At the end of 2016, the members set the foundation by cutting back from a four-piece to a trio; meanwhile, Andrea Taboada took over bass duties.

The members found themselves in the finals of CV Weeklys Battle of the Bands in 2017, and have been playing more shows while putting together some great new original material. They’re a definite contender for Best Local Band honors next year; keep your eye on ’em.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Local Live Music Event

The 4/20 Coachella Inbetweener featuring The Flusters and The Yip Yops

The days between the two Coachella weekends are simply packed with great music events throughout the valley—but the one held this year on April 20 at The Hood Bar and Pizza may have topped them all.

The Flusters and the Yip Yops packed The Hood for the 4/20 Coachella Inbetweener, with the bar having to turn away patrons when the venue reached its capacity. Both bands put on spectacular co-headlining sets—after collaborating on marketing materials that were genius and went above and beyond.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Benefit Show

The Concert for Autism

Josh and Linda Heinz, the husband-and-wife duo in Blasting Echo and 5th Town, have now been producing the Concert for Autism for 10 years—and every year, it continues to grow.

Because Josh and Linda are the parents of autistic children, this is a cause that is very near and dear to their hearts—and their efforts to help others facing the same challenges that their family faces are simply remarkable.

Of course … the show is always fantastic, too.

—Brian Blueskye; photo of Josh Heinz by Cory Courtney.


Best Customer Service for Those Quitting Smoking

Desert Vapors

I recently transitioned from cigarettes to vaping—I tried to quit cold-turkey, but needed help with the transition away from cigarettes. I had a lot of questions, and I went to a few shops to get some information and ask questions.

Desert Vapors, with locations in Palm Desert and Indio, had by far the best customer service of the vape shops I went to—and I wound up purchasing my first vaping kit from them. I went back a few days later after having some problems and got service that went above and beyond.

Also, the flavors that they offer are fantastic.

—Brian Blueskye


Best Pet Grooming

Desert Pet Grooming

Let’s face it: When a pet groomer is named something like Royal Canine Resort and Day Spa, and the cutesiness level of the place is off the charts, that fluff is for human companions. All Fido cares about is that the potentially stressful grooming experience goes quickly and without a hitch. As for us human companions … if the grooming shop is welcoming, clean and safe, who needs to feel as though our pet is in the line of succession for the British throne?

Desert Pet Grooming, in Cathedral City at Vista Chino and Landau Boulevard, offers everything you need in a quality pet groomer—without the silliness and added cost of massaging the human companion’s ego. The functional shop is spic and span, and all the grooming is done out in the open. The groomers we’ve tried there have all been great, but Brenda in particular will treat your furry friends like her own.

—Jeff Clarkson


Best Great (but Unpretentious) New Restaurant

Justin Eat and Drink

We like this restaurant on Highway 111 in Cathedral City for the very reason that it’s unpretentious. The Coachella Valley can always use more restaurants like this—serving tasty, interesting food, at reasonable prices, in a simple but hip atmosphere.

This place doesn’t go over the top like some of the restaurants geared toward tourists here in the valley. It’s just a casual, contemporary setting where one can enjoy a relaxed dinner. The portions aren’t huge, but they’re price-appropriate, and while the menu is not extensive, everything we’ve ordered has been delicious.

Although the service is sometimes slow, it’s always friendly—and the food is definitely worth the wait. Now that the restaurant is becoming more popular, reservations are recommended. Justin, the owner/chef, may even pop out and greet you at your table.

—Jeff Clarkson; photo courtesy of Justin Facebook page


Best Local Restaurants (on a National Scale)

TKB Bakery and Deli

Shabu Shabu Zen and Sake Bar

It’s simple math: If there’s a list of, say, 100 top places to eat in the United States, that means the average state will be home to two places on the list. Right? Right.

That means if, say, a not-huge community like the Coachella Valley by itself were home to two places on the list, that would be freaking amazing. Right? Right!

Well, that’s exactly what happened in the case of Yelp’s 2017 list of the Top 100 Places to Eat for 2017. Rancho Mirage’s Shabu Shabu Zen and Sake Bar, long an Independent staff favorite, was No. 78 on the crowd-source review website—an amazing accomplishment. However, what Indio’s TKB Bakery and Deli has accomplished is even more fantastic: It came in at No. 5 on the list—making the Top 5 for the third straight year, something no other restaurant in the whole country has done.

TKB and Shabu Shabu Zen prove that despite some deficiencies, the Coachella Valley dining scene has much to be proud of.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Quail

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

I grew up eating quail—not all the time, or even regularly, but often enough that I knew what to expect whenever one of these gorgeous but silly small birds wound up on my dinner plate.

Well … at least I thought I knew what to expect.

That all changed the first time I enjoyed the codorniz estilo Ernesto at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill in downtown Palm Springs. The grilled quail with sautéed tomatoes, potatoes, Anaheim peppers, garlic, green onions and cilantro is very, very good by itself. However, when it’s paired with Chef Ernesto’s diablo cream salsa, which is served on the side … well, let’s just say that none of the quail dishes I had while growing up were anywhere near this good.

A plate of codorniz estilo Ernesto, paired with a Rio Azul house margarita, is about as close as one can get to culinary nirvana here in the Coachella Valley, as far as I am concerned. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

—Jimmy Boegle


Best Prime Rib

TRIO Restaurant

TRIO is one of my favorite restaurants—but the place used to frustrate the heck out of me.

Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.

Several years ago, TRIO would occasionally offer prime rib as a special—and after ordering it a time or two, I was hooked: It was the some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had. (Considering I grew up on a cattle ranch, this is high praise, indeed.)

Problem is … because it was a special, the prime rib wasn’t always on the menu. Therefore, there was a time or three that I got a hankering for prime rib, went to TRIO with my fingers crossed … and got frustrated when the server told me prime rib was not on offer that particular night. However, that’s no longer an issue: Every Tuesday at TRIO is now Prime Rib Tuesday—and the meal costs a downright-reasonable $26.

This system is not perfect—a prime-rib hankering can occur on non-Tuesdays, after all—but at least now I know precisely when I can go to Trio to get that hankering satisfied. And that is a very good thing.

—Jimmy Boegle

Published in Staff Picks

It would be nigh impossible to find a band more deserving of being voted Best Local Band by the readers of this fine publication than The Flusters.

The “California dreamsurf quartet” ended 2016 by releasing a well-received EP. They played a wildly successful Coachella “4/20 Inbetweener” show at The Hood—a year after playing at Coachella itself. The group then mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised an impressive $21,000. That money helped the band members quit their day jobs to prepare for their first national tour—which was a rousing success. And The Flusters are now working hard on a sophomore EP, slated for release early next year.

In other words, it’s been one hell of a year for The Flusters, who were voted Best Local Band for the second time in three years. They’ll perform at the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Dec. 15.

I rode along with The Flusters when they recently headed to Hollywood to play at the Viper Room. The crowd loved them, with one person remarking that they will do very well in Los Angeles if they continue to play there.

In mid-November, the band performed in front of a nearly sold-out audience at The Hood to celebrate the release of the music video for “Everyday Dreaming.” After the show, we discussed their Best Local Band win.

“Frankly, we were surprised,” frontman Doug Van Sant said. “You go away on tour all summer, and we came back, and we had this post-tour blues going on. We were our own bosses for the first time. None of us had a job to go back to, and we were kind of twiddling our thumbs—and you think people have forgotten about you after you haven’t played a local show in seven months. But when you get talked about, win something like this, or have a successful show like we did tonight, it feels like nothing changed, and we weren’t forgotten.”

Guitarist Danny White said he felt gratified after returning home from the national tour.

“We were all extremely relieved to have completed the task at hand,” he said. “There was a lot of … what I wouldn’t call doubt, but people trying to put doubt in our heads by telling us what we needed to do and how we needed to do it, and people telling us, ‘When you get to here, this is how you’re going to feel.’ We talked about it nonstop, and we had to find peace within ourselves and realize we’d given up control over what’s going to happen. All we can do is do our best, get there and be on time—and it led us to the end.”

Bassist Mario Estrada discussed one of the tour stops—in Iowa City, Iowa.

“There were about two people in the bar when we started playing, and by the end of the set, there were a bunch of people walking in, who were all saying, ‘Our friends told us to come over and check you guys out. We just rushed down here. Are you guys still going to keep playing?’ We had already started packing up and had somewhere to go. They were all bummed out.”

Van Sant said he has fond memories of being on the road, including a regular occurrence when White and photographer/videographer Wolf Mearns would be driving and navigating at night.

“(Mearns) would hit a rumble strip, and it would wake me up. I’d feel a blast of cool air, smell a cigarette being lit, and hear the crack of the tab of a Red Bull,” Van Sant said with a laugh. “You should have heard some of the late-night conversations that (White) would have with Wolf. Wolf got some of them on camera, and they were some the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard in my life.”

The Flusters could teach other local bands a lesson on how to market themselves: They know what they’re doing, and are very creative while doing it.

“Marketing, to me—it’s presence and pulse,” Van Sant said. “(It’s important to) make yourself present digitally and through merchandising—and the advantageous thing through merchandising is it’s a two-fold thing. Yes, you can make some good money, but merchandising (means) your name is everywhere, and the advantageous thing about your name being everywhere is that you become a household name. All I do is create a presence for us where there is not one, and I think outside the box. I try to connect us as a band to things that other bands might not find interesting. For me, it’s just about being persistent.”

As the band sat in the green room of The Hood after performing at that November show, drummer Daniel Perry said the feedback on the show was almost entirely positive.

“A lot of people tonight told us, ‘I saw you at the 4/20 show the last time, and you guys have really improved, and you’re so cohesive. Everybody really thought you had achieved that next level.’ It’s amazing to see how our local support has continued to grow more and more.”

Perry joined The Flusters just two weeks before that 2016 Coachella performance.

“It was a flood out of the gates,” he said. “As soon as I joined The Flusters, one of the first shows I played was Coachella. It was amazing and one of the most anxious moments I’ve had in my life. … We’ve been doing nothing but leaps since then, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since I’ve joined.

“I can’t wait to see where we go next.”

Of course, every band is going to have its critics, and Van Sant said after that Hood show that he doesn’t worry about them; instead, he focuses on his fans.

“We’re getting the corporate events; we’re getting the outdoor events, and that’s all good, but the people who were in here tonight—those are the people we really, really want to please,” he said. “The people who buy the tickets and have watched us since Day 1 and compare our shows—we try to give them something rad and new, and throw in some surprising moments.”

Published in Features

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