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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club Offers a Taste of Santa Fe

Last month in this space, we wrote these somewhat prophetic words about the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs (emphasis newly added): “If everything goes according to plan, the Hacienda … will quietly open its doors the weekend of May 30. It’ll be a baptism-by-fire sort of opening for the Hacienda: Just two weeks later, the new restaurant/beach club/events space will be hosting thousands of people as one of the three venues that are part of the second annual Splash House.”

Well, guess what? That May 30 soft opening didn’t happen, because … well, things didn’t go according to plan. In fact, even the first day of the Hacienda’s Splash House lineup had to be moved to The Saguaro because of delays.

That meant that the Hacienda finally opened its doors for the second (and heaviest) day of Splash House on Saturday, June 14.

And it was executive chef Robert Wepplo’s job to make sure his brand-new crew and brand-new kitchen were up to the task. How’d it go?

“That was a really fast learning curve, that’s for sure,” he said in what we’re going to call the Understatement of the Month.

Of course, Wepplo and his crew now have several weeks of serving the Hacienda’s decidedly Mexican-inspired menu under their figurative belts, and the kinks are being worked out.

What led Wepplo to create lunch, dinner and brunch menus with such a Mexican/Southwestern theme?

“I moved here from Santa Fe, New Mexico,” said the veteran of Piero’s PizzaVino on El Paseo. “I love green chiles and red chiles, and really lean on those two sauces.”

When I asked him what his go-to dishes are, he picked the shrimp adobo taco for lunch, and the fresh catch with his cilantro-saffron sauce for dinner; on the day I talked to him, he said the restaurant had gotten in some nice barramundi.

And more food’s on the way at the Hacienda: He said he’s in the process of developing a small, taco stand-like kitchen for the Hacienda’s pool area, which will serve simple yet tasty fare such as empanadas and tacos. He’s also honing the late-night bar menu.

The restaurant at the Hacienda is currently open from Wednesday through Sunday; call 760-778-8954 to confirm hours, and visit www.haciendacantina.com for more information.

Summer Specials in Abundance!

We keep finding out more news about various summer specials being offered by local restaurants. Here’s just a small sampling:

Cello’s American Bistro, at 35943 Date Palm Drive in Cathedral City, is offering $5 specials each week during the summer to celebrate the restaurant’s fifth birthday.

• Each weekday in the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, from 3 to 6 p.m., enjoy half-off “small plates” as well as drink discounts.

• A number of restaurants on El Paseo are teaming up to offer great summer specials, including Café des Beaux-Arts (happy hour every day in the bar from 4:30 to closing), and Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar (happy hour every day from 3 to 6 p.m.).

Know of any other amazing summer specials? Share the details by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

PS Underground Gets ‘Light’

The people responsible for the wandering supper club known as PS Underground continue to innovate.

The next event being put on by Michael Fietsam and David Horgen, called “Light,” has already been extended from two dates to four due to the extensive demand. The $150-per-person event, held at a location not disclosed to attendees until the day of the event, is shrouded in even more secrecy than some previous PS Underground events: All the briefs for the event say simply that it’s “an avant-garde dinner experience,” and that attendees should wear white; a Vimeo teaser video for the event includes a lot of pictures of light bulbs, and little else.

Hmm.

PS Underground is currently taking “Light” reservations for Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19. Make said reservations or sign up for updates at www.psunderground.com.

In Brief

The folks at the Kaiser family of restaurants—which includes the Kaiser Grille, Chop House and Grind Brgr Bar in Palm Springs, as well as Jackalope Ranch in Indio—are continuing to mix things up. A couple of months after closing the Hog’s Breath Inn in La Quinta, they announced they will convert the Palm Desert Chop House, located at 74040 Highway 111, into a Kaiser Grille. … Level 2, the LGBT bar located at 67555 Highway 111 in Cathedral City, has closed, about a year after the latest ownership change. Who knows what will come of the spot previously known as Sidewinders and Elevation? … Citron at the Viceroy, located at 415 S. Belardo Road, is offering special summer cocktails using No. 209 barrel-aged gin. If you’ve never tried barrel-aged gin, you’re in for a treat. Call 760-318-3005 for more details.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

The busy season is here—and to celebrate, the city of Palm Desert has moved its El Paseo Art Walks from Thursday to Friday, as part of an expanded “First Weekend” arts and culture celebration.

I went down to the season’s first El Paseo Art Walk on Friday, Nov. 1, to check out the scene. The event will happen every first Friday through May.

“This was a very positive change to the Art Walk schedule—and with a great turnout,” said Rick Royale, of Royale Projects: Contemporary Art, where the gallery celebrated the opening of Gustavo Godoy: Fast-Formal Metal Constructions. “It’s bringing a good many people interested in art—and also in the social aspect that this event brings to everyone.”

Royale relocated the gallery from Indian Wells earlier this year, so he’s kicking off his first full season at 73190 El Paseo, Suite 3 (760-742-5182; www.royaleprojects.com).

“This location offers greater convenience for new clients to explore the art programs and broaden their interest and awareness,” he said.

Dawson Cole Fine Art manager Marty Raichle declared the move to Fridays to be an instant hit.

“This far surpassed the former Thursday Art Walk. … This is truly special for the city and the galleries,” Raichle said.

The gallery, at 73199 El Paseo, Suite H (760-303-4300; www.dawsoncolefineart.com), is currently showing James Galindo; Soft Edges. The December exhibit, Jim Lamb, will be celebrated with a reception on the next First Friday, Dec. 6.

Nearby Christian Hohmann Fine Art, at 73660 El Paseo, Suite 2 (760-346-4243; www.christianhohmann.com) also opened its doors for the November party.

“I was a part of the committee that worked on the change,” he said. “… Personally, I have participated in the art walks for over 10 years now, and I hope that it will be a constant work in progress … so it can grow into a much larger event over time with broader participation.”

He said the galleries all benefit from the monthly Art Walk.

“Every opportunity to share our passion for art ... (and) meet prospective clients … (and) mingle with collectors benefits us,” he said. “At our price level, we have very few instant sales ... but we have planted countless seeds during art walks.”

The Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (aka The Galen) is opening its doors for free every first Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. Live music, performance art and film screenings are happening both inside and outside at the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden. (By the way: The museum’s big “Meet the Galen” takes place on Friday, Nov. 22; tickets are $40 to $50 for individuals, or $80 to $85 for couples. Get info at the website.)

Overall, the response at the November event to the change to Friday was overwhelmingly positive; it was nice to see the streets alive with people and traffic—including free pedestrian tours led by a docent.

Of course, the Art Walk is just part of the goings-on that are part of the expanded First Weekend Palm Desert offerings. For example, Cruise Night is part of the First Weekend fun. Classic cars will be parked on the upper level of the Gardens on El Paseo beginning at 3:15 p.m. The cruise on El Paseo starts at 4:30 and continues for an hour. The public is invited to participate or just enjoy. Cruise Night takes place on the first and third Fridays; get more details at www.elpaseocruisenight.com.

Check out all of the First Weekend events at www.pdfirstweekend.com.

And now, it’s time for some self-promotion: Those interested in an art excursion who don’t want to wait until December’s First Friday can delight in VIP treatment while viewing world-class art during one of my Desert Art Tours. Our tours go to an array of local artists’ studios and galleries throughout the valley. Special looks at blue-chip private collections also included. This is a great way to enjoy the vibrant art scene in Greater Palm Springs. The next tour is set for Saturday, Nov. 16. All transportation is included, and space is limited, so reservations are advised; the cost is $65 per person. For reservations or information, call 760-219-5647, or go to www.Desert-ArtTours.com.

Published in Visual Arts

The Desert Art Collection and Sculpture Garden, located in the heart of Palm Desert’s tony El Paseo district, is a true gem.

The tucked-away location, at 45350 San Luis Rey Ave. (just south of El Paseo), is a stone’s throw from the iconic eateries, luxury stores and boutique shops that have made El Paseo a place of choice for designer fashion and world-class art. The unique building is one of the oldest in the area and offers an inviting, well-designed space.

Bright decorative flags waving from the entrance welcome visitors into this elegant building. The artisan metal doors open to a delightful courtyard with wonderful sculpture. One experiences serenity and aesthetic enjoyment, thanks to bright colors and beautiful stone creations in the garden courtyard.

The gallery features an array of North American artists and sculptors that are all award-winning in their respective mediums. Credit the fine curating by the director, Jana Koroczynsky; she and owner Mike Fedderly are experts in corporate, residential and public art/architectural projects.

You will find collections of exotic African art and contemporary African sculptures that would complement any collection. The Native American collection is another important presence; after all, carvings and other works by American Indians have always been part of the culture and arts in the area. Bronze sculptures depicting a way of life relevant to our relationship with the horse are displayed with the tribal collection in the east wing of the gallery.

The heart of the interior space focuses on contemporary art. Sculptures of crystal and stone can be found throughout the compound. Bright-colored metal sheaths serve as decorative sculpture and are joined by original paintings by the 18 artists represented by the gallery. More 20 sculptors on the gallery roster are all a part of the gallery.

The landscape is credited to another force: the Lotus Garden Center, where a talented team creates custom landscape design installations. Beautiful ceramics in azure glazes beckon among the on-site succulents.

The glass and crystal collection consists of works by six different artists featured in the gallery. Free-standing 7-foot-tall works tower over guests, while smaller pieces join them in seamless synchronicity. The art gallery and sculpture garden share an architectural tone that stems from its creation decades ago by the Fedderly Group.

I recommend this as a destination spot where one can enjoy good art and pleasing surroundings before lunch or perhaps dinner at one of the many restaurants along El Paseo. Those who haven't yet experienced this secret spot will be surprised to discover the treasures in art and sculpture that are rather well-priced, considering they’re usually one-of-a-kind pieces.

During the summer, of course, appointments are suggested, as the hours of operation are limited. Call 760-674-9955.

Richard Almada is the CEO and president of Artistic Relations and heads up Desert Art Tours. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Visual Arts

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