CVIndependent

Tue01222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Cathedral City Police Chief Travis Walker stood tall—he’s 6 foot 4, after all—in December when he dedicated the Fallen Police Officer Memorial next to the police department building.

Among the speakers honoring the ultimate sacrifice by Officers David Vasquez and Jermaine Gibson—who lost their lives in 1988 and 2011, respectively—was Rep. Raul Ruiz. He was joined by representatives of other nearby law-enforcement agencies.

Walker unveiled the memorial along with the officers’ families. “We pray we’ll never have to add any new names to this memorial,” he said.

The memorial’s unveiling was the latest event in a busy first year as police chief for Walker, an accomplished law-enforcement veteran with 23 years in service—including a stint as the tactical commander during the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino.

During a recent interview with Chief Walker, we discussed topics ranging from the city’s recent removal of red-light cameras to his favorite basketball player, Magic Johnson.

“Magic was the best team player ever,” Walker said. “The game was not about him, but the team.”

Walker—the first black police chief in Cathedral City—said recent data shows the city has not been the site of any hate crimes since 2012.

“This is a very tolerant community for as diverse it is,” he said “… People may feel that there was a hate crime, but there are specific criteria that define truly what a hate crime is.”

Walker joined the Cathedral City Police Department as deputy police chief in 2016.

“I led a very blessed career that prepared me for making some decisions that you have to make from this office,” he said. “As law enforcement pros, we spend our careers preparing for different positions.”

One of the most buzzed-about ideas Walker implemented in his first year is the “police cab”—a decommissioned police cruiser painted as a half-police car, half-taxi cab that can be found on the streets of Cathedral City, sometimes parked in front of prominent local bars.

“We’re trying to give that final message. No matter how drunk you are, you still recognize the police car, and on the side of it is a statement: Chose your ride! Think before you drink!” Walker said. “You can get an Uber drive home for $10 to $15, or you can pick up a DUI that can cost $10,000 to $15,000!

“Sadly, the DUI drivers often don’t kill themselves; they kill innocent people.”

Walker said he’s proud of the fact that the city’s done so well at discouraging accidents that it did not receive extra grant money for DUI checkpoints this year.

“We did an effective job and work very hard, and we have reduced our traffic fatalities, so the funding is converted to another community,” he said.

That does not mean, however, that people are no longer driving drunk.

“No matter how much education you put out there about DUI … it’s still a struggle here in the community, and you still have drivers crashing under the influence,” Walker said.

Walker said he recommended the removal of the notorious and controversial red-light cameras that had been at three of Cathedral City’s busiest intersections

“I had motor officers who were sitting down and reviewing hundreds of images. For me, that’s not a good use of an officer’s time,” he said. “There is more going on throughout the city than at those intersections, and it was my recommendation to the City Council to remove the cameras—and we removed them.”

While Cathedral City has a reputation for gang violence, Walker said the city of 54,000—with a police force of 52 sworn officers—is heading in the right direction.

“Public safety has been a priority for the City Council and the city manager in recent years,” he said. “Year to date, we are already at (crime being) 10 percent down from last year.”

When I mentioned the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack, Walker said good training helped the police do their jobs. Sixteen people (including the two perpetrators) were killed, and 24 were injured in the mass shooting and attempted bombing.

“Dec. 2, 2015, was a tragic day that I wish had never happened … and I don’t think that day defines who I am today,” Walker said. “What made a difference that day was that I had good people who worked for me, and the training we received in dealing with an active shooter.”

Walker is a big believer in community engagement, including the use of social media.

“I’m big on marketing the work that the men and women of this organization do,” he said. “If you have a Twitter account or a Facebook account or an Instagram account, you can see that we’re very active, and we’re very engaged with the community. Social media … allows us to tell the story of the Cathedral City Police Department.”

Walker said it’s important the police department touts the positive—because it’s the negative that receives the vast majority of attention.

“There are many positive, comical, heartwarming stories that are not reported publicly—hence the department’s social media campaign,” he said. “… My Twitter feed (@CCPDWALKER) is my own feed; my Facebook (CCPDChiefWalker) and my Instagram (ccpdchiefwalker) are my own, but I have a staffer that does the social media for the department. It’s a sergeant, who as a part of his duty puts the department’s pics and stories out there on social media. He’s extremely engaging, extremely funny and extremely clever.”

Published in Local Issues

More than 80 people came to the Copa Nightclub on Wednesday, Dec. 12, with one goal: to celebrate the people, businesses and organizations that make the Coachella Valley a fantastic place to call home.

The Coachella Valley Independent and Copa Nightclub sponsored the fifth annual Best of Coachella Valley Awards Show and Party, an event that honors the winners of the Independent's yearly readers' poll, which features almost 130 categories ranging from the best place to hike, to the valley's best restaurants, to the valley's best sex-toy shop. (Our readers say it's Skitzo Kitty, by the way.)

The biggest contingents at the party—hosted by Independent editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle, with help from assistant editor Brian Blueskye—came to celebrate Barbara Carpenter, voted Best Real Estate Agent for the second year in a row, and Augustine Casino, which took the top spot in a whopping seven categories.

After the awards were given out, Best Local Band winner Avenida Music delighted the audience with a full set.

Below is a gallery of photos from the event, taken by Kevin Fitzgerald. In the media section, find the welcome video from Rep. Raul Ruiz, as well as a video of the event, courtesy of Tantalum Films. (Originally published on Dec. 13; updated with video Jan. 3.)

Published in Snapshot

This whole process started back in August, when voting began in the first round of the fifth annual Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll.

Now, after three months, two rounds of voting and ballots from more than 1,300 people, we’ve come to the glorious end of the process: Here are the results of the Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019!

From all of us here at the Independent: A huge, sincere thank you to all of the readers who voted. We realize that this is not an easy ballot to fill out—almost 130 categories is indeed a lot— but because you took the time to do so thoughtfully, the slate of winners and finalists presented here is truly impressive. It’s diverse; it’s valley-wide (even including representation of the high desert); and it shows how truly great the people, places, organizations and businesses are that call the Coachella Valley home.

Now, it’s time to celebrate. Please join us at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Copa Nightclub—your selection this year as Best Nightclub—244 E. Amado Road, in Palm Springs, for the Best of Coachella Valley Awards Party. All of the winners present will receive certificates and have an opportunity to say thank you; after that, your Best Local Band selection, Avenida Music, will take the stage and perform. I hope to see you there.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists … and welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2018-2019!

—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. Heather James Fine Art

3. Shag

4. Beatnik Lounge

5. Michael Weems Collection

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. The Show at Agua Caliente

3. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

4. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

5. The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Empire Polo Club

3. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

4. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

5. Rancho Mirage Amphitheater

 

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

Avenida Music

 

Runners up:

2. Frank Eats the Floor

3. Mega Sun

4. The Flusters

5. Sunday Funeral

 

Best Local DJ

DJ Day

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Alex Harrington

DJ PWee

4. Sugarfree

5.Pedro Le Bass

 

Best Local Musician

Matt King

 

Runners up:

2. Giselle Woo

3. John Stanley King

4. Justin Ledesma

5. Nick Hales

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Elena Bulatova

3. Nancy Worthington

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. TIE

Camelot Theatres

Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

2. Palm Springs Air Museum

3. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Company

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Desert Ensemble Theatre Company

5. Coyote StageWorks

6. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group

Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Animal Shelter

3. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

4. Desert AIDS Project

5. L-Fund

 

Best Gym

World Gym

 

Runners up:

2. 24 Hour Fitness

3. EOS Fitness

4. Planet Fitness

5. In-Shape

 

Best Yoga

Urban Yoga

 

Runners up:

2. Power Yoga Palm Springs

3. Yoga Central

4. Bikram Yoga Plus

5. Bikram Yoga Palm Desert-El Paseo

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes at Morongo

4. Yucca Bowl

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Gear Leather and Fetish

4. Q Trading Co.

 

Best Auto Repair

Ramona Tire and Service Center

 

Runners up:

2. Andy’s Auto Repair

3. Lou’s Automotive

4. Downtown Shell Palm Springs

5. Singh’s Automotive Repair

 

Best Car Wash

Quick Quack Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Executive Car Wash

4. Airport Quick Car Wash

5. Desert 100 Percent Hand Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

Moller’s Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Vintage Nursery

3. Bob Williams Nursery

4. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Petco

3. Bones ’n’ Scones

4. Pet Oasis

5. PoshPetCare

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Palm Springs Pride

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Walk (Desert AIDS Project)

3. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

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

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 News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6/NBC Palm Springs

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bryan Gallo, KMIR Channel 6/NBC Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

5. Haley Clawson, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Best Radio Station

Jammin’ 99.5

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. 93.7 KCLB

5. Big 106

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Q102.3/Big 106

3. Bill Feingold, KNews 94.3 FM

4. Randy Houston, The Big 106

5. Joey English, KGX 99.1 FM/920 AM

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Rancho Mirage Library Book Nook

The Book Rack La Quinta

4. Sagebrush Press

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

The Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Vinyl Records and Collectibles

3. Vista Music and Video

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Game Stop

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Comics

3. Comic Asylum

4. HooDoo!

 

Best Hotel Pool

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

 

Runners up:

2. The Saguaro

3. Riviera Palm Springs

4. Renaissance Palm Springs

5. Arrive

 

Best Urgent Care

Eisenhower Medical Center Urgent Care

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Oasis Urgent Care

3. Executive Urgent Care

4. TIE

Centro Medico Urgent Care

MedPost Urgent Care

 

Best Indoor Fun/Activity

Escape Room Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Get Air Trampoline Park

3. Laser Oasis

4. Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym


Valley Professionals

 

Best Doctor

Dr. Lisa Bodon

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Amanda Curnock

4. Dr. Geoffrey Block

5. Gennady “Henry” Nosovitsky, PA

 

Best Eye Care

Milauskas Eye Institute

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. David Esquibel (Desert Vision)

3. Dr. Greg Evans (Evans Eyecare)

4. Old Town Optix and Optometry

 

Best Dentist/Orthodontist

Hospitality Dental and Orthodontics

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Frank Hernandez (Hernandez Dental)

3. Dr. Larry Kunkle (Palm Desert Dental Center)

4. Dr. Natalie Le (Palm Springs Modern Dentistry)

5. Dr. Ray Cros (Cros Dental)

 

Best Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Mark Sofonio

 

Runners up:

2. Dr. Timothy Jochen

3. Dr. Suzanne Quardt

4. Dr. Natalie Driessen

 

Best Attorney

Walter Clark

 

Runners up:

2. Barbara Barrett

3. Christopher Heritage

4. Emily Benjamini

5. James Jackson

 

Best Air Conditioning Service

TIE

Comfort Air

General Air Conditioning

 

Runners up:

3. Nexgen Air Conditioning and Heating

4. Blair Heating and Air

5. On Call Air Conditioning and Heating

 

Best Personal Trainer

Jaime Jimenez

 

Runners up:

2. Brandon Wertz

3. Ted Guice

4. Francisco Serrato

 

Best Chiropractor

Jim Cox

 

Runners up:

2. Daryl Richardson

3. Nazemi Chiropractic

4. Vincent Savarese

 

Best Real Estate Agent

Barbara Carpenter

 

Runners up:

2. Bob Ross

3. Paul Zapala

4. Valery Neuman

5. Michael Benthall

 

Best Electrician

Desert Pro Electrical

 

Runners up:

2. Hegge Electrical Contractors

3. Electrician4Hire

4. Collins Electrical Services

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta City Councilman Robert Radi

3. Palm Springs Mayor Robert 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. Bobby G’s

3. Trina Turk

4. Wil Stiles

5. Grayse

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Revivals

 

Runners up:

2. Angel View

3. Goodwill

4. Plato’s Closet

5. Unity Home

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Ashley HomeStore

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. West Elm

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

Misty’s Consignments

 

Runners up:

2. Victoria’s Attic

3. The Estate Sale Co.

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Tiffany and Co.

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. Leeds and Son

4. Hephaestus

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Brush Palm Springs

3. Dishwater Blonde Salon

4. Wondercuts Inc.

5. Alankara, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

 

Runners up:

2. Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

3. Two Bunch Palms

4. Miracle Springs Resort and Spa

5. Feel Good Spa at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

Revive Wellness Center

 

Runners up:

2. Studio M Salon and Spa

3. Desert Serenity Float and Spa

4. Bliss Chakra Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Indio Florist

3. The Flower Company

4. Mami’s Floral Boutique

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

Bloodline Tattoo and Body Piercing

 

Runners up:

2. Anarchy and Ink Tattoo

3. Oasis Tattoo and Body Piercing

4. Strata Tattoo Lab

5. Solid Tattoo

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Milauskas Eye Institute

3. Desert Vision Optometry

4. America’s Best

5. Panache Optical Gallery


Outside!

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Moorten’s Botanical Garden

4. Shields Date Garden

5. El Paseo

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Creek Loop

3. Bear Creek Path (La Quinta)

4. Palm Canyon Epic

 

Best Recreation Area

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

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

3. Tahquitz Canyon

4. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind Trail

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Canyon Trail

3. La Quinta Cove to Lake Cahuilla Trail

4. Ladder Canyon Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Sunrise Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

3. Tri-A-Bike

4. BikeMan

5. Pedego Electric Bikes

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5 Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Country Club

3. SilverRock Resort

4. The Lights at Indio GC

5. Classic Club Golf


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Demuth Park

4. Ruth Hardy Park

5. Ironwood Park

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Target

 

Runners up:

2. Walmart

3. Mr. G’s Toys and Expressions

4. The Lumpy Bunny

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. The Children’s Place

3. Carter’s

4. Gap

5. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Shakey’s Pizza

3. Red Robin

4. Old Spaghetti Factory

5. Laser Oasis

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 

Runners up:

2. Boomers

3. Laser Oasis

4. Get Air Trampoline Park

5. Escape Room Palm Springs

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

3. Laser Oasis

4. Get Air Trampoline Park

5. Shakey’s Pizza


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Eureka!

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

3. Katherine King Catering and Special Events

4. TRIO/Liquid Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Goody’s Cafe

3. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

4. Rick’s Restaurant

5. Sunshine Café

 

Best Organic Food Store

Trader Joe’s

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Whole Foods

5. Nature’s Health Food and Cafe

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Real Italian Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

Runners up:

2. Over the Rainbow

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

5. Jensen’s Foods

 

Best Desserts

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. French Corner Café

5. Over the Rainbow

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Ben and Jerry’s

3. Great Shakes

4. Lappert’s Ice Cream

5. Kreem

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Oasis Date Gardens

4. Great Shakes

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Yogurtland

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Beach House

4. Jus Chillin’

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

TKB Bakery and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. French Corner Café

4. Carousel Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Jackalope Ranch

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Zobo and Meester’s

 

Best Burgers

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

Tyler’s Burgers

Grill A Burger

Eureka!

Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

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

4. TIE

Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Sandwich

TKB Bakery and Deli

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

3. The Sandwich Spot

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Real Italian Deli

 

Best Pizza

Bill’s Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Blaze Pizza

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Piero’s PizzaVino

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Wingstop

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

4. Smoke Tree BBQ

5. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Bagels

Panera Bread

 

Runners up:

2. Townie Bagels

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Bristol Farms

 

Best Smoothies

TIE

Fresh Juice Bar

Jamba Juice

 

Runners up:

3. Juice It Up

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 Local Coffee Roaster

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Coffee Co.

3. Joshua Tree Coffee Company

 

Best Coffee Shop

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. IW Coffee

4. Ristretto

5. Joey Palm Springs

6. Sip Coffee House and Juice Bar

 

Best Breakfast

Broken Yolk Café

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. Wilma and Frieda’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Rick’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Acqua California Bistro

3. Kaiser Grille

4. TRIO Restaurant

5. Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms

 

Best Brunch

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Wilma and Frieda’s

3. Broken Yolk Cafe

4. Escena Lounge and Grill

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. City Wok

4. Bobby Mao’s Chinese Kitchen and Bar

5. New Fortune Asian Cuisine

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

3. Athena Gyro

4. Evzin Mediterranean Cuisine

5. Koutouki Greek Estiatoro

 

Best French

Le Vallauris Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. L’Atelier Café

4. Cuistot Restaurant

5. Joey Palm Springs

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Sam’s Indian Food and Pizza

 

Best Italian

Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Ristorante Mamma Gina

3. Ciro’s Ristorante and Pizzeria

4. Il Corso

5. Venezia Restaurant and Pizzeria

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Shogun Restaurant

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Otori Japanese Cuisine

 

Best Korean

Maru Korean B.B.Q. and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. JOY at Fantasy Springs

3. Umami Seoul

 

Best Sushi

Dragon Sushi

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. Sam’s Sushi

4. Misaki Sushi and Grill

5. The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

 

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. Roy’s

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

 

Runners up:

2. LG’s Prime Steakhouse

3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

4. The Steakhouse at the Spa Resort Casino

5. Chop House at Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. My Thai

3. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

4. Le Basil

5. Thai House

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. 533 Viet Fusion

4. Fuzion Five

5. Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

4. Wildest Greens

5. Luscious Lorraine’s

 

Best Upscale Dining

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Morton’s The Steakhouse

3. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

4. Wally’s Desert Turtle

5. Johannes

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Spencer’s Restaurant

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Eureka!

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

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Rincon Norteno

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Rincon Norteno

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Pueblo Viejo

 

Best Burrito

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Chipotle

3. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Blanca


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. The Beer Hunter

4. Eureka!

5. Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Best Local Brewery

La Quinta Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Billiards

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Big Rock Pub

5. Red Barn

 

Best Cocktail Menu

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Tonga Hut

4. Seymour’s

5. Truss and Twine

 

Best Craft Cocktails

TRIO Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Bootlegger Tiki

3. Seymour’s

4. Purple Palm Restaurant at the Colony Palms

5. Truss and Twine

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Chill Bar Palm Springs

3. Hunters

4. Blackbook

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Happy Hour

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza

3. La Quinta Cliffhouse

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Jackalope Ranch

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. Red Barn

4. Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails

5. Score

 

Best Margarita

TIE

Las Casuelas Terraza

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

3. Blue Coyote Grill

4. El Mirasol

5. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Purple Room Palm Springs

5. Zin American Bistro

 

Best Nightclub

Copa Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. The Nest

3. Zelda’s

4. Hunters

5. Costa’s Nightclub at the JW Marriott Desert Springs

 

Best Sports Bar

TIE

The Beer Hunter

Burgers and Beer

 

Runners up:

3. Big Rock Pub

4. Playoffs Sports Bar

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Wine Bar

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. La Fe Wine Bar

3. Dead or Alive

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

BevMo!

 

Runners up:

2. Total Wine and More

3. Desert Wines and Spirits (Go Deli)

4. The Wine Emporium

5. Larry’s Gourmet Market and Deli

 

Best Bar Ambiance

The Tropicale

 

Runners up:

2. TRIO Restaurant

3. Dead or Alive

4. Paul Bar/Food

5. Counter Reformation at the Parker Palm Springs

Published in Readers' Picks

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

Here are the results of the third annual Best of Coachella Valley readers' poll!

An all-time-high number of people voted in both rounds this year—and the slate of winners and finalists represent all parts of the valley.

Come celebrate the winners with us during the Best of Coachella Valley 2016-2017 Awards Show and Celebration, presented by Renova Solar. It will take place at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Copa Nightclub—this year's Best Nightclub winner.

Thanks to all of you who voted in this year's poll!

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2016-2017.

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


ARTS

 

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. CODA

3. Heather James

4. Melissa Morgan

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

5. The Date Shed

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. McCallum Theatre

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

 

Best Local Band

Venus and the Traps

 

Runners up:

2. The Flusters

3. Brightener

4. The Myx

5. War Drum

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. DJ Pwee

5. Tommy Locust

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. Nico Flores

3. Keisha D

4. Kal David

5. EeVaan Tre

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Elena Bulatova

3. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

4. Marconi Calindas

 

Best Movie Theater

Century La Quinta and XD

 

Runners up:

2. Camelot Theatres

3 TIE

Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9

Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and IMAX

5. Century Theatres at the River

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

3. Coachella Valley History Museum

4. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

5. La Quinta Museum

 

Best Outdoor Venue

Empire Polo Club

 

Runners up:

2. The Living Desert

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Best Producing Theater Company

Palm Canyon Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote StageWorks

5. Dezart Performs


LIFE IN THE VALLEY

 

Best Alternative Health Center

La Quinta Wellness Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Healing Center

3. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center

 

Best Farmers’ Market

College of the Desert Street Fair Farmers’ Market

 

Runners up:

2. Certified Farmers’ Market Old Town La Quinta

3. Certified Farmers’ Market Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs VillageFest

5. Certified Farmers’ Market Palm Desert

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Animal Shelter

3. Desert AIDS Project

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Shelter From the Storm

 

Best Gym

24 Hour Fitness

 

Runners up:

2. World Gym

3. EOS Fitness

4. In-Shape

5. Planet Fitness

 

Best Public Servant

Rep. Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon

4. Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors

 

Best Yoga

Urban Yoga

 

Runners up:

2. Bikram Yoga Palm Desert-El Paseo

3. TIE

Evolve Yoga

Yoga Central

5. Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Best Bowling

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo

 

Best Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Classic Cars

3. Desert Lexus

4. L&L Automotive

5. Singh’s Automotive Repair

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. Indio Car Wash

4. Airport Quick Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Vintage Nursery

4. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

Petco

 

Runners up:

2. Bones ’n’ Scones

3. PetSmart

4. Miriam’s Poochella Grooming

5. Desert Feed Bag

 

Best Annual Charity Event

Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

3. Ramblin’ and Gamblin’ (Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert)

4. Dinner in the Canyons (Agua Caliente Cultural Museum)

5. Center Stage (LGBT Community Center of the Desert)

 

Best Place to Gamble

Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Spa Resort Casino

4. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

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

Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6

 

Runners up:

2. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

3. Karen Devine, KESQ News Channel 3

4. Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Local Radio Station

Mix 100.5

 

Runners up:

2. 93.7 KCLB

3. Jammin 99.5 FM

4. K-News 94.3

5. La Ponderosa 96.7 FM

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jimi “Fitz” Fitzgerald, CV 104.3 FM

 

Runners up:

2. Bradley Ryan, Mix 100.5

3. Mozingo, Mix 100.5

4. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

5. Dan McGrath, Sunny 103.1 FM

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes & Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Public Library Booknook

3. Revivals

4. The Book Rack

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Game Stop

 

2. Desert Oasis

3. Interstellar Comic Books and Collectables

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

3. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

4. The Riviera

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Spencer’s Gifts

4. GayMart


FASHION AND STYLE

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

2. Wil Stiles

3. Glossy

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

Angel View

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Gypsyland

4. Penny Lane Boutique

5. Plato’s Closet

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Ashley Furniture Homestore

4. Mor Furniture for Less

 

Best Antiques/Collectables Store

TIE

The Estate Sale Co

Victoria’s Attic

 

Runners up:

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Classic Consignment

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

El Paseo Jewelers

 

Runners up:

Leeds and Son

Hephaestus

Daniel’s Jewelers

Robann’s Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Salon 119 and Spa

3. Dishwater Blonde Salon

4. Revive Salon and Spa

5. Read Brown

 

Best Spa in a Resort/Hotel

Spa La Quinta (La Quinta Resort)

 

Runners up:

2. The Spa at Desert Springs (JW Marriott)

3. Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente

4. Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

5. Well Spa at Miramonte

 

Best Day Spa (Non-Resort/Hotel)

Massage Envy

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Zen

3. Studio M Salon and Spa

4. Revive Wellness Center

5. Bliss Chakra Spa

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Indio Florist

3. Rancho Mirage Florist

4. Palm Springs Florist

5. Lotus Garden Center

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

TIE

Art and Ink Tattoo Studio

The Tattoo Gallery

 

Runners up:

3. Flagship Tattoo

4. Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

5. Strata Tattoo Lab

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Milauskas Eye Institute

4. Walmart

5. Old Town Optometry


OUTSIDE!

 

Best Urban Landscaping

El Paseo

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. Downtown Palm Springs

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Civic Center Park

3. Sunnylands

4. El Paseo

5. Ruth Hardy Park

 

Best Place for Bicycling

La Quinta

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs

3. Palm Desert

4. Highway 74

5. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Tahquitz Canyon

3. Whitewater Preserve

4. Lake Cahuilla

5. Coachella Valley Preserve

 

Best Hike

Bump and Grind

 

Runners up:

2. Indian Canyons

3. Tahquitz Canyon

4. Palm Springs Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Freedom Park (Palm Desert)

Ruth Hardy Park

4. Rancho Las Flores (Coachella)

5. Demuth Park (Palm Springs)

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Desert Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Cyclery

3. Tri-A-Bike

4. Joel’s Bicycle Shop

 

Best Sporting Goods

Big 5 Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods

3. Yellow Mart

4. Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis

5. PGA Tour Superstore

 

Best Public Golf Course

Desert Willow Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. PGA West

3. Eagle Falls Golf Course at Fantasy Springs

4. The Golf Club at Terra Lago

5. The Lights at Indio Golf Course


FOR THE KIDS

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Rancho Mirage Community Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us

 

Runners up:

2. Mr. G’s for Kids

3. Target

4. Walmart

5. Big Lots

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. The Childrens Place

3. Tillys

4. Fallas

5. Revivals

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Shakey’s Pizza

3. Red Robin

4. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

5. Old Spaghetti Factory

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

3. Boomers

4. Chuck E. Cheese

5. Desert Ice Castle

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Living Desert

3. Boomers

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Desert Ice Castle


FOOD AND RESTAURANTS

 

Best Casual Eats

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. In-n-Out Burger

3. Lulu California Bistro

4. Eureka!

5. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Jennifer’s Kitchen and Catering

4. Dash and a Handful

5. Cello’s Pantry

 

Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at the Augustine Casino

3. Elmer’s

4. John’s

5. Rick’s Restaurant

 

Best Organic Food Store

Trader Joe’s

 

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Whole Foods

4. Harvest Health Foods

5. Clark’s Nutrition

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. TKB Bakery and Deli

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Real Italian Deli

5. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace

 

Best Custom Cakes

TIE

Over the Rainbow

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

 

Runners up:

2. French Corner Café

3. Pastry Swan Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Manhattan in the Desert

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Cold Stone Creamery

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Brandini Toffee

5. Creamistry

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Hadley’s

3. Great Shakes

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Yogurtland

 

2. Beach House

3. Golden Spoon

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

French Corner Café

 

Runners up:

2. Aspen Mills

3. Over the Rainbow

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Peninsula Pastries

 

Best Barbecue

Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

3. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

4. Jackalope Ranch

5. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

 

Best Burger

In-n-Out Burger

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Tyler’s Burgers

4. Eureka!

5. Smokin’ Burgers and Lounge

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Palm Greens Café

4. Trio

5. Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge

 

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

Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

4. Piero’s PizzaVino

5. Blaze Pizza

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

3. Wingstop

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Billy Q’s

 

Best Bagels

Townie Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. Panera Bread

3. Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

4. Einstein Bros. Bagels

5. Manhattan in the Desert

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up

4. Beach House Yogurt

 

Best Buffet

Café 54 at Augustine Casino

 

Runners up:

2. Grand Palms Buffet at 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

Starbucks

 

Runners up:

2. Koffi

3. IW Coffee

4. Vintage Coffee House

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Old Town Coffee

4. IW Coffee

5. Ernst Coffee

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Teavana

4. Koffi

5. Ristretto

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Café

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Sunshine Cafe

5. John’s

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Cliffhouse

3. Zin American Bistro

4. Spencer’s Restaurant

5. Trio

 

Best Brunch

Pinocchio in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wilma and Frieda’s

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Louise’s Pantry

5. The Tropicale

 

Best Chinese

PF Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. JOY at Fantasy Springs

5. New Fortune

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Miro’s Restaurant

3. Nina’s Greek Cuisine

4. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

5. Athena Gyro

 

Best French

La Brasserie

 

Runners up:

2. Si Bon

3. Le Vallauris

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre

 

Best Indian

Monsoon Indian Cuisine

 

Runners up:

2. India Oven

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

3. JOY at Fantasy Springs

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Shogun Restaurant

 

Best Italian

Mario’s Italian Cafe

 

Runners up:

2. Ristorante Mamma Gina

3. Castelli’s

4. Trilussa

5. Livreri’s Palm Springs

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge

Shogun Restaurant

Dragon Sushi

Edoko Sushi

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market

 

Runners up:

2. Café 54 at Augustine Casino

3. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Ruth’s Chris Steak House

3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

4. TIE

Morgan’s in the Desert

Steakhouse at the Spa

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai House

3. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

4. Le Basil

5. Blue Orchid

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Pho 533

3. Rooster and the Pig

4. Watercress Vietnamese Bistro

5. Pho Na

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

4. Luscious Lorraine’s

5. Café Jasmin

 

Best Upscale Cuisine

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Le Vallauris

4. Johannes

5. Jillian’s

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Spencer’s Restaurant

3. Las Casuelas Terraza

4. Lavender Bistro

5. The Tropicale

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Alicante

4. Smokin’ Burgers

5. Bongo Johnny’s

 

Best Mexican

La Casita

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill’

5. Casa Mendoza

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas (Original)

 

Runners up:

2. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

3. Las Casuelas Terraza

3. Las Casuelas Quinta

5. Felipe’s

 

Best Burrito

Taqueria Guerrero

 

Runners up:

2. Castaneda’s Mexican Food

3. Chipotle

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza


SPIRITS AND NIGHTLIFE

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. The Beer Hunter

4. Eureka!

5. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brew House

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brew House

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Bart Lounge

5. Score the Game Bar

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar

 

Runners up:

2. The Tropicale

3. Eureka!

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5. Trio

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s

 

Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. Hunters

4. The Tropicale

5. Spurline

 

Best Happy Hour

Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Applebee’s

3. The Tropicale

4. La Quinta Cliffhouse

5. Mitch’s on El Paseo

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Neil’s Lounge

3. Hair of the Dog

4. Red Barn

5. Score

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas (Original)

 

Runners up:

2. Fresh Agave

3. El Mirasol

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. Casa Mendoza

 

Best Martini

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Mitch’s on El Paseo

3. Mastro’s Steakhouse

4. The Tropicale

5. Trio

 

Best Nightclub

Copa

 

Runners up:

2. Zelda’s

3. Hunter’s

4. Bart Lounge

5. Chill Bar

 

Best Sports Bar

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Burgers and Beer

3. Buffalo Wild Wings

4. Alicante

5. Village Pub

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. La Rue Wine Bar

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Dead or Alive

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. Costco

4. Trader Joe’s

5. Fame Lounge

 

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Chill Bar

3. The Tropicale

4. Matchbox

5. Workshop Kitchen+Bar

Published in Readers' Picks

Rep. Raul Ruiz upset Mary Bono Mack four years ago to become the California District 36 congressman.

This year, state Sen. Jeff Stone hopes to pull off an upset of his own.

The Democratic Party has high hopes this year. Party leaders think it’s possible to retain the presidency, regain control of the Senate, and increase the number of Democrats in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

Given this electoral outlook, incumbent Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz is in what seems like a fairly favorable position. He garnered 58.5 percent of June’s primary vote and had raised close to $2.5 million through June.

District 36 is a former Republican stronghold that includes all of the Coachella Valley, yet Ruiz’s challenger, State Sen. Jeff Stone, attracted only 31.6 percent of primary voters in June. (Another Republican received 9.9 percent of the vote.) He had raised only about a tenth of Ruiz’s haul through June—around $250,000.

What a difference four years makes.

Stone is measured when asked about his chances for an upset this year. “I’m not presumptuous to tell you that I will be elected—but I hope to be elected,” he said during a recent interview with the Independent.

When asked about the major differences between him and Ruiz, Stone mentioned last year’s nuclear deal with Iran. “It’s my belief that the (Iran nuclear) deal, that Congressman Ruiz supported, has aided and abetted a rogue country like Iran, the largest sponsor of terrorism on the globe, to continue their sponsorship of terrorism. But more importantly, it allows them a pathway to get to a nuclear bomb.”

Of course, Ruiz views his vote differently. “I voted for the Iran nuclear agreement,” he told the Independent, “because its purpose is for Iran to never, ever, ever—not now, not in 10, not in 15, not in 20, not in 50 years, not ever, ever—get a nuclear bomb. And already, we are seeing results.”

Stone also takes issue with the way that he said Ruiz arrived at his stance on the controversial deal.

“I was in the room (in Washington, D.C.) with members of the Coachella Valley contingent when Raul Ruiz made it very clear that he was not going to support any deal with Iran that allowed them to continue with their nuclear program. He flip-flopped for reasons I’ll never understand,” Stone said. “(Ruiz) said in a subsequent Desert Sun editorial that (paraphrasing), ‘It is with great humility that I am supporting this deal with Iran.’ Well, that humility could translate into future generations of Americans being the beneficiaries of a nuclear bomb on our soil.”

Ruiz said keeping his constituents safe is a major priority.

“We’ve got to keep the pressure on (Iran),” Ruiz said. “We will continue to conduct aggressive inspections which will give us intelligence that gives us the upper hand, now and in the future, to always maintain strict vigilance and ensure that they never get a nuclear bomb.”

Each candidate shared their views on other issues of concern. Ruiz mentioned the economy.

“We have to make sure that life is more affordable,” Ruiz said. “A lot of the American people and a lot of my constituents are struggling, working hard and still finding it hard to make ends meet. We need to make sure we expand the middle class by empowering our consumers and giving them a raise in the minimum wage.

“Locally, I’ve worked very closely and aggressively in promoting and helping our small businesses. I’ve successfully brought the first and only Small Business Administration office in the entire Inland Empire right here to the Coachella Valley so that our businesses have the tools, the equipment, the information and the capital they need to expand and create more jobs.”

Stone sees border security as a major challenge.

“I believe we need to secure our border—and I’m not for doing it the way that Donald Trump has been stereotyped,” Stone said. “We need to secure our borders in the name of national security. I am so worried that we are going to have a person from the Mideast who is going to transport radioactive material that is smuggled into Mexico and then smuggled into the United States and used as a dirty bomb.

“In addition, the scourge of narcotics that is claiming the lives of so many youngsters in our country … all of it is coming from Mexico because of our porous borders,” Stone said. “I’m not an advocate of building a big wall. I believe that with technology and allowing our Border Patrol agents to do their jobs, we can accomplish these tasks.”

Ruiz weighed in on the topic as well.

“I’ve got to make sure that we secure America and that we keep my constituents safe,” he said. “We need to make sure that our military and law enforcement have the tools that they need. That’s why I have voted repeatedly and consistently to give them those tools.”

Ruiz touted his achievements in supporting U.S. veterans.

“I’m very proud that we started the first-ever Veterans University that brought in over 500 veterans, their family members and community members who care about veterans in order to give them the tools necessary to improve their access to the benefits that they’ve earned,” Ruiz explained. “We help them navigate the health-care system so that they can get the mental-health services they need to prevent suicides and reduce the effect of post-traumatic stress disorder. In terms of legislation, last cycle, one of my bills … made it into the CHOICE Act that became law.

“Locally, I’ve been working hard to expand the VA Palm Desert clinic to bring in more mental-health specialists. We just successfully brought in a mobile veterans’ center that will be making stops in Hemet, Palm Springs and Indio. But you know, I miss seeing patients in the emergency room, so I’m doctoring by seeing my constituents on the case work when they come into my office. We’ve been very successful in bringing in over $2 million in benefits owed to our veterans and cutting through the red tape to make sure they get the health care that they need, when they need it.”

Stone shared his thoughts on how to improve veterans’ services.

“To me, it’s very tragic when you have 22 veterans (nationwide) who are committing suicide every single day,” Stone said. “Now I appreciate that he (Ruiz) has got this van that’s going to provide for some mobile services. … I commend him. But my plan is completely different. It will allow people not to wait for a van in a district as large as our 36th Congressional District. If I am elected, one of my first bills is going to be to completely privatize the VA—to sell off the Veterans Administration hospitals to private-sector hospitals and to enroll every veteran into the Medicare program or a Medicare-like program that allows them the freedom of choice to get the physician they want and go to the hospital that they choose. This will eliminate the backlog of people who are falling prey to a monstrous bureaucracy within the Veterans Administration.”

We asked the candidates about the failure of Congress to approve any funding thus far to combat the increasing presence of the Zika virus.

“I think that it’s an example of the partisan gridlock that puts partisanship against the best interests of the citizens of the United States of America,” Stone said. “I strongly support funding for the development of a vaccine quickly, because we’re seeing the horrific birth defects caused as a result of the virus. I think that something needs to be done in the next 30 days. They need to sit down like adults and come up with the appropriate funding, and let’s get that Zika vaccine out there before we see an epidemic of the Zika virus … infecting a lot of pregnant women who will have severely disabled children on their hands.”

Ruiz said he’s also concerned about the virus and its possible effects on families.

“I’m concerned not only about potential stressful and emotional experiences tied to giving birth to infants with microcephaly, because that means they’ll have to cope with the burdens and emotional stress of caring for a developmentally challenged loved one for the rest of their lives, but also about the struggle with a $10 million or more financial burden for the lifetime of that loved one,” he said. “That is why I’m advocating for the full funding that the scientists and public-health experts and health-care providers have said they need.

“I am thoroughly disappointed that the House Republicans introduced a bill that only had a third of the funding necessary. Still, there are things that I can do locally. I’m holding town halls, and educating my constituents through social media and PSAs so that they know how to keep themselves safe from the Zika virus. I’ve visited the Coachella Valley (Mosquito and Vector Control District) and discussed ways that we can collaborate so that they have the resources and information that they need to move forward. I’ll encourage (Speaker Paul Ryan) not to play politics and put riders into a bill. … There is no ‘wait and see’ here, because once a child has microcephaly, they will always have microcephaly in their lifetime.”

Stone said he supports a bipartisan approach to tackling problems.

“You know, it shouldn’t depend on whether you have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ after your name. If you come up with a good solution to a problem, it should be embraced in the best interests of the state of California, or if you go to Congress, in the best interest of the 339 million people living in this country,” he said. “It shouldn’t be based on just partisanship. Those are areas that I think the public is frustrated with, and I think that’s why you’re seeing the popularity of Donald Trump. I think that’s why you saw the popularity of Bernie Sanders, because people are tired of politically correct speech and people just toeing party lines and not getting things done. This is going to be a very unique election.”

Ruiz expressed optimism about his chances in November.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to represent my constituents in my home area for another two years,” he said.

Rep. Raul Ruiz and state Sen. Jeff Stone will take part in a debate at 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 16. The debate will air live on News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2, and will be streamed live at KESQ.com and Desertsun.com.

Published in Politics

Just after 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, Omar Mateen walked into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and started firing at the 320 or so people who were still in the club after the bartenders announced last call. In the three terrible hours that followed, at least 50 people lost their lives.

The country woke up to this horrifying news on Sunday morning, and the LGBT Community Center of the Desert quickly assembled a vigil to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs. 

Mike Thompson, the LGBT Center’s chief executive officer, explained how the vigil came together.

“It was really kind of a matter of minutes,” Thompson told the Independent. “A few people already coordinated some activities, so it was immediately getting together with them and organizing the community organizers. It was great to have something to rally around, and the support has been tremendous.”

Thompson said that he had not spoken with anyone at The Center, Orlando’s LGBT community center, but he said he was heartened to see how many similar vigils and events had been scheduled in solidarity with Orlando.

“I’m on a list with a bunch of other community centers, and it’s been phenomenal to see the kind of support that’s being shown. There are 152 events scheduled over the next couple of days in 32 states, including San Juan, Puerto Rico and in Mexico City. In a 12-hour period of time, what’s been able to come together when communities mobilize—it’s pretty fantastic.”

He said it was important for the vigil to be held on Arenas—the epicenter of gay nightlife in the Coachella Valley.

“Because this event in Orlando happened in a gay bar, and we had our own tragedy with George Zander on Arenas back in November, it was important for us as a community to gather on this street and show our solidarity in our community. This is significant on so many levels for this community.”

Richard Noble, who walked across America with the rainbow flag to promote LGBT civil rights, was present holding a sign that said “Enough Gun Violence.”

Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2016, Christopher Durbin, said he felt sadness, followed by anger, when he heard about what is now the deadliest mass shooting ever in the United States.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “We’ve had many incidents like these of gun violence in the past, and nothing is being done. Maybe with the largest and most severe one in American history, something will be done.”

Durbin said the vigil offered inspiration on what was otherwise a dark day.

“I am so filled with pride and joy right now. This incredible turnout happened in a matter of a few hours,” he said. “It is heartwarming to see, and it is incredible to see what can be done so quickly in our beautiful town of Palm Springs.”

Just before the vigil started, the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus gave a beautiful performance of “God Bless America,” which resulted in some people choking back tears during the moment of silence that Thompson led, shortly before Congressman Raul Ruiz started to speak.

Ruiz spoke at length about the need for better gun-control laws.

“This is a time where we reaffirm our commitment to defeat terrorism around the international community,” Ruiz told the audience to applause.

At that moment, a man screamed, “Raul! What are you going to tell the NRA when you get back to Washington?”

Ruiz’s response: “I’m going to tell them to stop their bullshit!” he said to thunderous applause.

Ruiz ended his speech on a high note.

“I want to say that I stand with you; I mourn with you; and I dream of an equal America that demonstrates its greatness through the equality of its values, and I will always march with you,” Ruiz said.

When Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon spoke, he emphasized that safety was a priority.

“I want to assure you as your mayor that the city of Palm Springs and your Palm Springs City Council recognizes public safety is the No. 1 responsibility of our city and our City Council,” Moon said.

Moon added a call for solidarity.

“We must put a stop to this violence and tragic loss of life,” he said. “We must continue to work together, to support one another, and not give up the fight for equality for every person in the United States—regardless of their gender, their gender identity, their age, their religion or their sexual orientation. Let’s keep fighting until we win this battle.”

The first of three religious leaders to speak was Rabbi David Lazar, of Temple Isaiah.

“Look where you are standing, because you’re standing on holy ground,” Lazar told the crowd. “We are sanctifying this ground, this street, this row of clubs by being here and saying and doing and just being here. We’re sanctifying this ground. A place where other people come to be together to hold hands and celebrate—that place was defiled. While we can’t go to Orlando right now to do what we’re doing, we symbolically do it here.”

Imam Reymundo Nour from the Islamic Society of Palm Springs spoke out in support of the LGBT community.

“The Islamic Society of Palm Springs wants you to know that we stand with other Islamic organizations, civic leaders, human rights organizations, the clergy and the LGBT community,” Nour said. “We stand together in condemning this senseless act of violence.” 

Imam Nour reminded attendees what happened to the Islamic Society of Palm Springs back in December—an attack which made national headlines.

“Recently, in December, our mosque was firebombed by an individual who had similar hate sentiments,” he said. “The LGBT community stood behind us, so we’re here to stand behind you today. We pray for the victims and their loved ones, and we urge the residents of our valley, we urge the citizens of our nation, to stand with them in their time of need as they stood with us in ours and consistently stand with us in our time of need against bigotry, hatred, and discrimination.”

Kevin Johnson, of Bloom in the Desert Ministries, referenced the jigsaw-puzzle pattern on the stole he was wearing.

“It is a time for drawing together, and we are doing that,” he said. “It is also a time when we are called to action. The ordination stole I am wearing right now is rainbow-colored puzzle pieces. I wear it because it represents the intersection of oppressions … in the LGBT community. Let’s eliminate the lines, but until that can happen, but like jigsaw puzzles, our communities are connected to one another, and we can live, support, and work for one another.”

Johnson said it was important to speak out against violence and included the old ACT UP slogan, “Silence = Death.”

“Thoughts and prayers are fine, but they are not enough,” Johnson said. “Ending this madness will take votes, and I encourage everyone of good faith to cast votes to elect leaders and pass laws to bring sensible gun laws into our communities.”

Lisa Middleton, a transgender woman who is a member of the Palm Springs Planning Commission and former board member at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, choked up when she first started speaking.

“We remember Harvey Milk; we remember Matthew Shepard; and we remember Brandon Teena,” Middleton said. “We did not need another reminder, but now we have Orlando.

“I have news for the haters: You are going to lose! There are more of us than there are of them. We are stronger than they are; we are better organized; and we have a pulse. It is time that people like Omar Mateen cannot get an AR-15. It is past time for that to happen. We know the club he went to; we know why he went to that club; we know who he targeted; and we know who he was after. He’s not going to win. They have tried to stop us before, put us in jail for who we loved, fired us when we came out, tried to stop us from getting married—and it didn’t work out too well for them. We are stronger; we are together; and this is our town and our country. It is our time! We’re going to stand together. We will stand strong, and ladies and gentlemen, we shall overcome!”

Published in Local Issues

On June 7, Coachella Valley voters will go to the polls to cast their votes in the California primary—and the Republican Party is going all-out to reclaim the 36th Congressional District seat, currently held by Dr. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat.

So far, two Republicans have declared their intentions to take on Ruiz (who did not return repeated requests for comment for this story).

“When I entered the field, there was no Republican who had thrown their hat into this race and stayed in the race,” novice candidate Dwight Kealy told Independent. “We’re looking at a district where a strong Republican should have a good showing. Historically, it’s been a Republican district.”

That historical advantage was altered dramatically in 2012, when Ruiz, then a novice candidate himself, upset heavily favored Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack in a tight race. In 2014, Ruiz won re-election, handily beating Brian Nestande.

“Right now, there’s a pretty likable Democrat in office, quite frankly,” Kealy admitted. “He’s from the district, and he obviously appeals to the Latino vote as well.

“(The Republicans) needed someone with a good story, so I was encouraged to explore this opportunity. I talked to a bunch of people throughout the district and introduced myself, and they were excited about it. I talked to the state leadership and at the national level to the Republican Party. They all seemed really excited.”

But not long after Kealy had committed, 24-year political veteran Jeff Stone, currently serving in the state Senate, made public his intention to challenge Dr. Ruiz as well. (Shortly after this story was published, Kealy announced he was dropping out of the race.)

“When the paperwork becomes available, we’ll expeditiously acquire the general-nomination papers and get them filled out,” Stone said. “We’ll get 40 registered voters in the district to sign those, which should not require much of an effort, and we’ll get them filed, and we will be officially in the race.”

Stone said he has been working hard to gather endorsements and raise funds for his likely battle against Ruiz, who already has $1.5 million in the bank for his campaign.

Is Stone concerned how voters will react to his decision to run for national office less than halfway into his four-year term as a state senator?

“I have to balance my responsibilities as a state senator, which are going to come first,” he said. “I’ll use what spare time I have to get into the district and talk to constituents—and, of course, you’ve got to be able to raise money to get your message out. So we have roughly 10 fundraisers that are planned between now and June at various areas of the district, in the state of California, and some that will actually be outside of California.”

Stone said his decision to jump into the congressional race resulted from a string of unexpected occurrences, beginning last March, when he made a trip to Washington, D.C.

“I went there to hear Benjamin Netanyahu and to show that there were a number of us in the country who did not believe the Iran deal was a good deal,” said Stone, “and also to lobby members of Congress to not support that deal the president was proposing with Iran. I walked the halls of Congress and met with our state delegation, including Dr. Raul Ruiz. While we were sitting with Dr. Ruiz, he made it very clear he was going to stand with Israel. I walked away from that meeting, just as many people did, thinking he was not going to support this horrific deal.”

But according to Stone, Ruiz broke his word when he ultimately voted to support the deal.

“He got a message from (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi that he had to support the president of the United States, and he was pretty much told what to do, and he flip-flopped on the vote. I was so disappointed, because that rarely has happened in the 24 years I’ve been an elected official, that somebody would make such a major policy shift on such an important issue, namely national security.”

Stone wrote a “Valley Voice” piece for The Desert Sun, voicing his opposition to the nuclear deal, last September.

“After that, I was getting phone calls and emails from people saying, ‘Senator Stone, where do we sign up? And where do send funds?’ And I said, ‘Well, what are you talking about?’ And they said, ‘Aren’t you running for Congress?’ I said, ‘I’m not running for Congress.’”

In November, Stone said, he returned to Washington, D.C., to lobby for federal assistance for his California district, and encountered two longtime Republican congressmen from California, Darrell Issa and Ken Calvert.

“‘You know Jeff, we really need you to get into this race,’” Stone recalled them telling him. “‘This is a race that’s about 50-50 Democrat-Republican. And frankly, Dr. Ruiz has been in Congress now long enough that he has a record that can be scrutinized. … So we’re asking you to step up to the plate.”

Although Stone has been in his state Senate seat for less than two years, he also has a voting record that is scrutinized by some groups. For instance, the California League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club California and the California Teachers Association all gave Stone unfavorable ratings for the votes he cast in 2015 on legislative matters affecting their interests.

On the other hand, the National Rifle Association gave him high marks for the votes he cast.

“There are many things that will show a dramatic difference between Dr. Ruiz and myself,” Stone said. “People will have a clear choice on one ideology and vision for our country or another. I look forward to challenging Dr. Ruiz to a series of debates. I’m hoping we can get five debates in before the primary (June 7) so that the wonderful constituents of the Coachella Valley and the Hemet Valley and the Idyllwild area will have an opportunity to vet both of us.”

How did first-in candidate Dwight Kealy responding to Stone’s candidacy before dropping out?

“The goal has been to have the best Republican candidate. So if every one in the Republican Party and all the groups get together and say, ‘Hey, Dwight, Stone’s better than you, and we’re not giving you any money or any votes,’ then this would be a horrible hobby to spend my next six months doing.”

Published in Politics

On the surface, this “Best Of” package may seem pretty simple: It’s a list of winners and finalists in more than 115 categories, as voted on by Coachella Valley Independent readers, along with a handful of staff picks and photos—with a feature on the Best Local Band thrown in for good measure.

But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see these results paint a fairly interesting picture of the Coachella Valley as it stands today. For example: The fact that such varied and diverse local bands, musicians and DJs were chosen by our readers as winners and finalists points to an increasingly varied and diverse local music scene. If you peruse the places selected as winners and finalists in the various food and restaurant categories, you’ll discover the vast majority of them are locally owned places—pointing to an increasingly good local food scene.

On the flip side, you can find hints of deficiencies in the valley as well. For example: Because there are only three finalists in the Best Indian food category, one can guess there aren’t all that many Indian-food joints in the Coachella Valley. (In fact, you can guess there are probably three, give or take.) And a chain won in the Best Chinese category. ’Nuff said.

I could go on and on, but I won’t; I’ll simply leave you to the results instead.

Oh, one more thing (maybe two): Thank you to all of the many, many readers who voted—and congratulations to all of the winners and finalists. And mark your calendars: The Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 Awards Party will be on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Details coming soon.

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016!

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


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Heather James Gallery

3. CODA Gallery

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Hohmann Fine Art

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Show at Agua Caliente

5. Fantasy Springs Special Event Center

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Palm Springs Art Museum

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. IIIZ (formerly The Yip Yops)

3. War Drum

4. Thr3 Strykes

5. R. Buckle Road

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. House Whores

5. One4All/Tommy Locust

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. EeVaan Tre

3. John Robbins

4. Steve Madaio

5. Kal David

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Michael Murphy

3. Elena Bulatova

4. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

5. Michael Weems

 

Best Movie Theater

Century Theatres at The River

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford Stadium 14

4. Camelot Theatres

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. La Quinta Museum

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Empire Polo Club

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. La Quinta Civic Center

 

Best Theater Company

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote Stageworks

5. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Alternative Health Center

Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center

3. Neuro Vitality Center (formerly the Stroke Recovery Center)

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Runners up:

2. College of the Desert Street Fair

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market (Saturday)

4. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market (Wednesday)

5. Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Mizell Senior Center

 

Best Gym

World Gym Palm Desert

 

Runners up:

2. In-Shape Cathedral City

3. EOS Fitness Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs Fitness

5. World Gym Palm Springs

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs City Council Member Ginny Foat

4. Palm Springs City Council Member Paul Lewin

5. La Quinta City Council Member Robert Radi

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. Urban Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Andy’s Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive

4. European Auto Service

5. OMAG Automotive Machine

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. TIE

Airport Car Wash

Desert 100% Hand Car Wash

5. Red Carpet Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Moorten Botanical Garden

4. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Nose Warm Heart

3. Petco

4. Bones ‘n’ Scones

5. Pet Oasis

 

Best Annual Charity Event

La Quinta Arts Festival

 

Runners up:

2. Paint El Paso Pink (Desert Cancer Foundation)

3. Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)

4. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala (Desert AIDS Project)

5. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

4. Spa Resort Casino

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. Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Jenifer Daniels, CBS Local 2

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

KCRW 89.3 FM

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. The Bull 98.5

5. K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jim "Fitz" Fitzgerald, 103.9 FM The Breeze

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Dan McGrath, 103.1 Sunny FM

5. Joey English, K-News 94.3

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Crystal Fantasy

3. The Book Rack

4. Just Fabulous

5. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Barnes and Noble

3. JB Sports and Varsity Jackets

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa

4. La Quinta Resort

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Red Panties Boutique


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Grayse El Paseo

3. Wil Stiles

4. R&R Men’s Wear

5. Glossy

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

TIE

Angel View

Revivals

 

Runners up:

3. Gypsyland

4. Resale Therapy

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Scandinavian Designs (formerly Plummers)

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

4. Victoria’s Attic Antiques

5. The POP Shop

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Leeds and Son

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. The Jewelry Bar

4. Hephaestus

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Razors

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Resort

3. Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa

4. Studio M

5. Miracle Springs

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Florist

3. Palm Springs Florist

4. The Flower Company

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

The Tattoo Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Strata Tattoo Lab

4. Art and Ink Tattoo Studio and Design

5. Contrast Tattoo Studios

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Ooh La-La de Paris

4. Desert Eyecare Center

5. Old Town Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Urban Landscaping

Sunnylands

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo

3. Palm Springs (downtown)

4. Rancho Mirage (general)

5. Palm Springs International Airport

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the PS Art Museum Palm Desert

5. Palm Desert Community Gardens

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Idyllwild

3. Indian Canyons

4. Whitewater Preserve

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Indian Canyons

 

Runners up:

2. Bump and Grind Trail

3. Painted Canyon

4. Palm Springs Art Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Francis Stevens Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. Tri.A.Bike

4. Mike’s Bike Truck

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. The Sports Authority

 

Best Public Golf Course

Indian Wells Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Willow Golf Resort

3. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

4. SilverRock Resort

5. The Lights at Indio GC


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us

 

Runners up:

2. Target

3. Mr G’s For Kids

4. Big Lots

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Islands

4. Ruby’s

5. Burgers and Beer

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Boomers

5. Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. TIE

Boomers

Chuck E. Cheese’s

5. Peaks Restaurant (Top of the Tram)


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Stuft Pizza

4. Bill’s Pizza

5. Pho 533

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Dash and a Handful

4. Desert Cities Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. King’s Highway at the Ace

4. John’s

5. Bit of Country

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe

4. Real Italian Deli

5. It’s a Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Manhattan in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Pastry Swan Bakery/Fix a Dessert House

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Palm Greens Cafe

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Beach House

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Yogurt Island

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill

5. CV BBQ

 

Best Burger

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s Burgers

4. Burgers and Beer

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Grill-A-Burger

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Woody’s Burgers

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Sandwich Spot

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Stuft Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Matchbox

5. Giuseppe’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Upper Crust Pizza

3. TIE

Bar

The Village Pub

5. Lulu California Bistro

 

Best Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. New York Bagel and Deli

3. Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Sherman’s

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up!

4. Koffi

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Buffet

Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

 

Runners up:

2. Emperor Buffet

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. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Old Town Coffee Company

3. Starbucks

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Koffi

4. Starbucks

5. Ristretto

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. John’s

4. TIE

Lulu California Bistro

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Trio

Zin American Bistro

4. Tropicale

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Brunch

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Escena Lounge and Grill

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Tropicale

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. China 8

5. New Fortune

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

3. TIE

Miro’s Restaurant

Nina’s Greek Cuisine

5. Santorini Gyro Hamburger/Greek Food and Grill

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. La Brasserie

3. Pomme Frite

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre

 

Best Indian

India Oven

 

Runners up:

2. Monsoon Indian Cuisine

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. La Bella Cucina

3. Mario’s Italian Cafe

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Trilussa

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. The Venue

4. No Da Te

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

3. Ruben and Ozzy’s

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5.Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

4. Outback Steakhouse

5. Chop House

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile of Rancho Mirage (now in Palm Desert)

3. Blue Orchid

4. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. Pho 533

4. Pho of the Desert

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Lavender Bistro

4. Jillian’s

5. Tropicale

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Le Vallauris

5. Tropicale

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. King’s Highway at the Ace

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Alicante

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. El Mirasol

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Pueblo Viejo Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Pueblo Viejo Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill

5. Los Pepes Mexican Grill and Bar

 

Best Burrito

Chipotle

 

Runners up:

2. El Ranchito Taco Shop

3. El Gallito

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bart Lounge

4. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

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. Bart Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Palm Springs Lanes

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bar

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Chill

4. Tool Shed

5. Streetbar

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill and Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. Hunters

5. Tropicale

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Red Barn

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Score

5. Toucan’s

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

3. El Mirasol

4. TIE

Los Pepes Mexican Bar and Grill

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Melvyn’s

3. The Falls (no longer in business)

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Nightclub

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Chill

4. Hunters

5. Bardot Nightclub

 

Best Sports Bar

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Playoffs Sports Bar and Lounge

5. Score

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. La Rue Wine Bar

3. Sullivan’s Steak House

4. La Brasserie

5. 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. LQ Wine

4. Desert Wines and Spirits in the Go Deli Market

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Tropicale

5. Chill


Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Best Local Band: The Flusters

Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015

Published in Readers' Picks

In 2003 and 2004, an ambitious group of young Latino community organizers and activists, all raised in the eastern Coachella Valley, returned home after earning college degrees.

They were known as over-achievers in their hometowns, and they searched each other out, they say, because they were determined to make a difference. They wanted to improve the lives of their friends and loved ones in the barrios and farm fields of the eastern valley, in part by gaining power via the political process.

A decade later, it’s clear: These organizers and activists, all Democrats, are making a mark and attaining many of their lofty goals.

V. Manuel Perez recently was elected to the Coachella City Council after three terms in the State Assembly. Eduardo Garcia swapped places with Perez, sort of: He just joined the State Assembly after serving as Coachella’s mayor. Maria Machuca is the president of the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board. Most notably, Dr. Raúl Ruiz is beginning his second term representing the Coachella Valley in Congress.

We talked to these young leaders about how they attained their current success—and what they have in mind for the future.


“I grew up in Cochelita, which was one of the toughest areas in Coachella Valley at the time, and we saw the injustices at an early age,” recalled V. Manuel Perez, who successfully ran for a Coachella City Council seat this year after a failed bid for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. (He was term-limited out of the Assembly.) “Why was it that in my barrio, there weren’t any parks, so we had to play football and tag in the middle of our street, where drive-by shootings were ongoing? And why was it that my parents would come home from work as farmworkers late in the day, only to go to work early the next day so that they were too tired to help me with my homework? And why, whenever I had a toothache, did we have to wait until the end of the week to go to Mexicali to see the dentist, because we didn’t have health insurance?”

Garcia was first elected to the Coachella City Council in 2004 and became mayor two years later, not too long after finishing college. “What I remember quite vividly is that there was a group of us who happened to be returning to the Coachella Valley from other endeavors,” Garcia said. “In my case, I was returning from finishing my undergraduate work at UC Riverside. Manny (Perez) had been organizing and working in the central and Northern California areas (after his graduation from UC Riverside and Harvard University post-graduate work), and a few others were returning from college. We all got together and really started organizing community events in and around the cultural and art arena, with a specific objective to raise consciousness about issues affecting our community.”

Machuca (right) graduated from Coachella Valley High School and continued on to Cal State San Bernardino. “And I always said that my goal after getting a college degree was to come back home regardless,” she said.

Josseth Mota, the current community services coordinator for the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, introduced Machuca to the group of young men, including Perez and Garcia, who had started meeting regularly to launch a community-service organization that could make a difference in their hometowns. She was already doing work with the Fair Housing Council and the Mecca Community Council.

“They told me they’d really like to get some women involved in their group, because then, it was a whole bunch of guys,” she recalled. “They said, ‘We need mujeres (women), because when a movement is going on, it’s pretty much the mujeres who move things forward. So I was interested, but I was going to be the only girl in this group with these guys who I’d only heard of back in high school.

“I knew Eddie Garcia, because he was a year ahead of me at Coachella Valley High School. Victor Manuel (Perez), I had heard about when I was in elementary school, because he was the guy who went to Harvard, and that was huge for us. And Raúl Ruiz, I knew because when we were in high school, some of us wanted to start an Aztec dancing club, and Joe Mota said he knew this guy who could teach us how to do the Aztec sun dance. The problem was that this guy was waiting to hear if he would be accepted at UCLA to go to medical school. … Back then, really, nobody from our background made it to that kind of college.”

After teaching several lessons, Ruiz indeed went off to medical school. “The next time I saw him was when he came back after he’d gotten his medical degrees. He was working at Eisenhower Medical Center, and he joined our Raices meetings,” she said. (More on those meetings later.)

Perez has known Ruiz—whose office did not respond to an interview request for this story—since he was a kid.

“Raúl and I grew up together and played Little League ball together,” Perez said. “We were in high school for four years together, and he was always president, and I was his secretary, treasurer and director of assemblies. When he went to UCLA, I was at UC Riverside, where I was an organizer, and he was organizing at UCLA. So we would have lots of discussions, but once he went off to Harvard Medical School, I kept strong ties here locally. Then I went out to Harvard as well, and Raúl and I were roommates there for a short time. So we would talk about these issues, but as far as the strategy to run for office and build a political infrastructure in Coachella Valley, that began in 2003-2004. When Raul came home, that’s when he began to engage. That was in 2008, and that’s when he decided to run for office as well.”

By the time Ruiz returned to the valley, Perez, Garcia, Machuca and others had already started building what they called their Raices infrastructure.

“Its emphasis was to educate politically, perform community outreach, and find individuals who we can transition from the conscious to the critical consciousness—so that perhaps they recognize their self-power, their self-agency, so that they can say, ‘You know what? There are things that we can change here. There are things we can transform,’” Perez said.

However, Perez was quick to point out that Raices also stemmed from the efforts of leaders from generations before, “from the Coachella Valley Voters League organization, whose members really put an emphasis on building political capital in the eastern Coachella Valley, to the movement of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers, in which many of our parents were engaged.”

Perez was the president of Raices when it was founded in 2004.

“I always felt while organizing that we have to hold ourselves accountable to each other, and the best way to do that is by having an infrastructure, an organization that has a mission,” he said. “Because what I’ve learned through organizing in other areas throughout California is that if you identify someone who should run for office, and if these individuals are not accountable to an entity larger than themselves, they stop working with the collective and for its goals.

“We felt we had to form an organization that would do three things. First was to build and develop the political voice of the eastern Coachella Valley; second was to develop and create access to healthier communities; and the last was to utilize the cultural arts for social activism. Those were the three points of emphasis for Raices that exist to this day.”

Machuca said the development of Raices into a fully formed nonprofit organization was the organic result of the group’s shared aspirations.

“When we started meeting around founding Raices, it was weird how we had known of each other years ago, but now we were connecting to do something for our communities,” Machuca said. “So it felt genuine; it felt real; it felt like we were going to make a difference for the generations that came after us and give them something that we couldn’t have, and didn’t have. We were meeting once a week, and then it became twice a week, and then it became almost every night, because we were that passionate about putting this organization together and getting it off the ground.”

The group was initially called Youth for Change, but the members eventually decided the movement needed to involve everyone, not just young people.

“It was at one of those meetings that we came up with the name Raices,” she said. “It was supposed to be an acronym for something, but we never came to an agreement on what those words would be.”


Garcia said a key moment in Raices’ history came when the group screened a documentary by Antonio Gonzalez Vasquez called Living on the Dime: A View of the World From Along the I-10.

“This video had to do with the growth and development of the Inland Empire and the impact of building the Interstate 10 freeway right through those communities,” he explained. “And by impact, I mean how the I-10 divided communities into east/west/north/south, how it brought about different socio-economic groups in the region, and how the political structure began to govern in a way that gave us a division between the haves and the have-nots.

“We showcased the film at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Coachella with the idea of beginning a conversation among the residents about the importance of growth and development in Coachella and the eastern end of the Coachella Valley. This was at a time when we were just beginning to see all the development and building activity that was going to occur. So that was our first real ‘action’ that triggered the discussion about responsible growth and development strategies for the city of Coachella, and whether areas of the city were being planned out responsibly to benefit both existing residents and the new residents in terms of developing public amenities like city parks and community centers.

“From there, members of the group moved on to discussions of direct involvement and representation of our Latino citizens at the government level. So, I’m simplifying things here, but that really was the first action that led ultimately to several of us running for public office.”

In 2004, Perez ran for the CVUSD school board, while Garcia ran for the Coachella City Council. Their campaigns did not go off without a hitch.

“As we started organizing some of the campaign events and actions, we began to feel the division between us and some of the elders in the community,” Machuca said. “We wanted to work with them, but it seemed that they saw us either as young and naïve, or as being in over our heads, as we were trying to change our world. At first it, it wasn’t too bad, but then as people began declaring that they were going to run for so many local positions, the division became a reality. It became: ‘How dare you disrespect us elders by running against us!’ Although it was never really said in so many words, it felt that way.”

Still, Perez and Garcia went on to win their races.

“We bonded even more during the real grassroots effort of those campaigns,” Machuca said. “We learned so much about the dos and the don’ts of campaigning and just how dirty things can get. We tried to play nice, because at the end of the day, we didn’t want the community to be divided. And we had a lot of community support, which showed in the results of the elections. We were young, had new ideas, and we grew up there. Some of the opposition ran their campaigns on platforms criticizing the fact that we left our communities to get college degrees. … But we came back!”

Despite the political wins, some of the people within Raices did not like the political direction in which the group was going. “They wanted to stick only with the arts, culture and community-building aspects of our mission,” Machuca said.

Ultimately, those dissenting members prevailed, as the original organization has been transformed into Raices Cultura.

“Today, Raices is focused on its nonprofit work and bringing about opportunities for Latino youth by utilizing our indigenous art and culture as the anchor,” Garcia said. “But everything is done with a community focus to create a critical consciousness in our youth to look at ways to improve their lives and the lives of others in their community, despite the barriers and challenges that many times exist in communities like ours. That is the focus of Raices today.”

While Perez may see more of a link between the nonprofit and the development of future eastern Coachella Valley community leaders than Garcia does, he perceived a change in direction as well.

“It’s morphed over the years,” Perez said. “When we first started, we recognized that we needed to continue to think of ways we could change things politically and change the institutions of power. But at the same time, we knew that as we grew older, eventually, the next generation will need to take the lead. So back in the day, what we would do, for example, is bring in computers and provide tutorial services on how to access higher education in the hope that afterward, they’d come back home. Now it’s more about offering instruction concerning cultural identity, and for that matter, self-love. A lot of courses are based on spirituality and the teachings of the Aztecs and the Mayans, a lot of indigenous culture … .

“Also, there’s an emphasis on trying to influence individuals toward self-love as opposed to self-hate. What we’ve seen for years is youth violence—youth-on-youth shootings, and gangs, drug abuse and domestic violence. A lot of that comes from the anger that develops in a person because of the oppression that they’ve had to endure for so many years. So the teaching that goes on today is helping to develop individuals with more positivity in their lives. That spirituality piece is really, really important.”


What’s in store for the political arm of this heavily Latino community-service collective? Perez said there’s a lot of work left to do.

“We identified people over the years who have engaged in our campaigns,” he said. “In the Ruiz campaigns and also in mine, you’d see a lot of youth out knocking on doors, passing out literature and phone-banking. So that’s kind of a training ground where the young people get to see up close what we as candidates go through. … Some of these youngsters have gone on to higher education and are now leaders with organizations that are registering people to vote, like Voto Latino, or for that matter, are doing organizing work with UFW (United Farm Workers).”

Perez said he always made it a point to offer internships to youths who wanted to learn about the policy-making process.

“What does it really mean when you work on an issue, and then pass a policy?” he asked. “How do you connect those dots? For instance, what does it mean if we pass legislation on a safe route to school that has some funding attached, but in Coachella or Mecca or Thermal, there’s a lack of sidewalks? … It’s not about an individual; it’s about a collective, a movement. And ultimately, it’s about achieving social justice through policy, organizing and developing the human being’s capacity as social capital, and to finally turn our community around in ways that are very positive.”

To accomplish those ends, the policy-making representatives of these eastern valley communities need to maintain their political presence. Garcia envisions a solidification of power in a more formal organization informed by the Raices Cultura ideals.

“The question is: Will Raices Cultura programs and participants influence the development of a democratic political structure that weighs in on issues of local, state and national significance? The answer is yes,” Garcia said. “It happens by natural progression, and I think what’s missing here is the actual organization of an official Democratic club which attributes its beginnings to the formation of Raices 10 years ago, and is a political organization and framework … able to lead the charge on issues of policy and importance to our community. I think we’re getting there, and will very soon create an organization from the eastern Coachella Valley that is strictly political and on the Democratic side of the spectrum.”

Below: Eduardo Garcia: “I think what’s missing here is the actual organization of an official Democratic club which attributes its beginnings to the formation of Raices 10 years ago, and is a political organization and framework … able to lead the charge on issues of policy and importance to our community.” PHOTO BY KEVIN FITZGERALD

Published in Politics

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