CVIndependent

Thu08222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The grilled shrimp tacos

Where: El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $13

Contact: 888-340-8226; www.elpatronps.com

Why: They’re simply delicious.

It was a bit strange to walk into the space I’d known for years as the downtown Palm Springs Starbucks … and instead find a vibrant, colorful Mexican restaurant.

Strange … but good. Starbucks fans (A note to y’all: Considering buying local instead, damn it!) have a gorgeous new Reserve shop across the street, and fans of tasty Mexican fare and yummy drinks now have El Patron.

I stopped in for a recent weekday lunch, walked to the counter where one orders, and requested an order of shrimp tacos and a michelada ($10) with Negro Modelo. Take note of these prices: They ain’t cheap. Fortunately, everything that showed up at my table a short time later was delicious.

The tacos, in particular, were fantastic: The Mexican white shrimp (you can get ’em either fried or grilled) were prepared juuust right, topped with cabbage and pico de gallo, and tucked in a thick, house-made tortilla. They came with a handful of house-made chips and a red salsa. The person who dropped off the food asked if I wanted any other salsas; after he listed a spicy green salsa as one of the options, I responded with an enthusiastic: “Yes, please!” It was splendid.

My one concern about El Patron involves price: A block and a half away, I can get two shrimp tacos of similar quality—and get table service to boot—at a beloved restaurant for $2 less (or $4 less if it’s after 9 p.m.). Tourists won’t care, of course, but cost-conscious locals may.

Aside from that one potential problem, however, I must tip my figurative hat to El Patron. The service is great; the food is delicious; and the vibe inside that former Starbucks is fun and festive.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Now Open (At Least a Little): The Alibi Palm Springs

You’ve probably heard this one before: Owners announce a new restaurant is going to open on a tentative date. That date comes … and goes. A new date is announced; it passes, too. Cycle repeats a time or three.

Such has been the case with The Alibi Palm Springs, opening under new ownership and after significant renovations at the former Azul/Alibi/Georgie’s etc. space at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

The new owners opened the space for the Lesbo Expo Launch Party—bringing in outside food—during Palm Springs Pride last November. In December, The Alibi Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheAlibiPalmSprings) announced a soft opening would take place on Jan. 25. We don’t know whether that actually happened; we do know signs went up a little later on The Alibi’s front doors, announcing an April opening. Which, of course, didn’t happen.

In recent weeks, The Alibi’s Instagram page (www.instagram.com/thealibipalmsprings) has sprung to life with encouraging photos of things like functional misters and a new jukebox. However, three pics got me really excited: One shows newly renovated glider seats on the patio—and those unique glider seats helped put the old Azul/etc. on the map; another shows meat being grilled; and a third shows a patio view—with an announcement that the patio would be open over Memorial Day weekend. Yes!

According to a subsequent Instagram post, The Alibi, for now, will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday. Follow that aforementioned Instagram page for more information.


Fire Leads to Temporary Closure of All Aspen Mills Bakery Locations

A fire on May 17 at Aspen Mills Bakery, 555 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs, has led to the closure of all four of the much-loved bakery’s valley locations.

“Our oven serves all our locations in the desert, so every one of our stores will be affected by this setback,” said a message on the Aspen Mills Facebook page. “We hope to be doing what we do best at Aspen Mills as quickly as we can.”

We sent an email to owner Marty Webster asking when Aspen Mills may reopen, but we did not get a response as of our deadline.

Here’s hoping the closure is very short. Watch www.facebook.com/AspenMillsBakery for more information.


Worth Checking Out: Holey Scoops Ice Cream, in Palm Desert

If you’re inclined to support a small business started up by young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs, and you happen to like good ice cream, I recommend trying out Holey Scoops Ice Cream, located at 74600 Highway 111, in Palm Desert.

Siblings Becca and Aaron Brukman opened the shop around six months ago. After growing up in Long Beach and attending the University of Arizona, they moved to the Coachella Valley and decided to open Holey Scoops, using Aaron’s business acumen, and Becca’s experience with people, marketing and customer service.

“We’re a brother and sister. We’re young. We’re trying this whole small-business thing out,” Becca told me.

Holey Scoops offers 16 ice cream flavors (including a no-sugar-added flavor), plus dairy-free bars, chocolate-covered bananas and other treats like cookie pies. If you stop in, chances are Becca and Aaron will be the people helping you: So far, they’re their only employees.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/holeyscoops.


In Brief

Sad news: Three Sixty North, at 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, closed on Sunday, May 26. After word started spreading on Facebook that owner Tony Gallardo had decided not to renew the lease, we reached out to the restaurant via Facebook—and confirmed the news. Gallardo and some staff will remain available for catering, however; call 760-797-5733 for details. … Now open: El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, located in the old Starbucks space at 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The renovated spot looks gorgeous, and the menu—featuring tacos, burritos, ceviche and all sorts of tequila-fueled cocktails—looks delicious. Get details at www.facebook.com/elpatronpalmsprings and www.elpatronps.com. … Congratulations to Vicky’s of Santa Fe, at 45100 Club Drive, in Indian Wells, on its 30th anniversary! Get more info, including the restaurant’s amazing $29 Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week menu, at www.vickysofsantafe.com. … PS Underground, which has presented an amazing array of themed culinary experiences at venues across the valley over the last six years, now has a permanent home in Palm Springs: 1700 S. Camino Real, Suite 2; that’s the old Appetito space next to Koffi. Awesome! Details at www.psunderground.com. … Now open again: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, at 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. It had been in the side space of the old IMAX theater in Cathedral City. However, CVRep needed that space after taking over the building, and Los Arcos closed down for a bit before reopening on the other side of the “downtown Cathedral City” complex, near The Roost Lounge. Welcome back! Get details at www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

Bongo Johnny’s Moving Into Former Café Europa Space; Antigua Opens in Former Gyoro-Gyoro Spot

When it comes to some restaurant spaces in downtown Palm Springs, the only constant is change.

Witness the second-floor space at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, across from the Hyatt. In recent years, it’s housed both Crave and Plate | Glass; about two years ago, restaurateur Mike Stoltz moved his popular Café Europa in there during the daytime, and introduced a bar/small-plates concept, jusTapas, for the nighttime.

The move turned out to be a mistake, it seems: Café Europa/jusTapas recently closed its doors. However, the space will not be vacant for long: Bongo Johnny’s, the Arenas Road mainstay which has been closed since a fire destroyed its kitchen back in March, is moving in, and could be open by January. Owner Robb Wirt had originally planned to remain in the space at 214 E. Arenas Road, but abandoned those plans, he says, due to a lack of responsiveness from his landlord.

Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away, Antigua Kitchen and Bar has opened at 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in the spot most recently occupied by Gyoro-Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise. It’s a new venture by the owners of L’Olivo Palm Springs—an Italian restaurant that’s called 333 N. Palm Canyon Drive home for years—offering “quality American dishes, with locally sourced ingredients and a casual desert dining vibe.” A recent visit revealed tasty food, a décor largely unchanged from Gyoro-Gyoro, and a bar only serving beer, wine and low-alcohol cocktails, since a full liquor license had not yet been obtained.

Oh, and adjacent to Antigua—in the space occupied for years by Starbucks before it moved into new, fancier digs across the street—El Patron Taqueria and Bar is supposed to be coming soon.

Got all that?

All of these changes and moves, naturally, lead to some questions about whether these restaurants can succeed where others have failed. I have no idea what will happen with El Patron—although I am discouraged by the fact that a sign has been up for weeks encouraging people to follow the restaurant’s progress on Instagram and Facebook pages that don’t seem to yet exist—but I am cautiously optimistic about the chances for Antigua and Bongo Johnny’s.

As for Antigua: Gyoro-Gyoro, despite a fantastic location, seemed to be poorly managed throughout its run—including an embarrassing and lengthy closure by the health department. Given the location, and the fact that the owners have a proven track record with L’Olivo, Antigua seems primed for success.

As for Bongo Johnny’s … I do have some concerns. The restaurant had a good, long run on Arenas, but it really flourished when Wirt deftly expanded the hours until 3 a.m. on weekends—taking advantage of its location in the midst of bars and clubs—and started offering delivery. Will he be able to duplicate that success in a location that’s blocks away from all those clubs? I am concerned … but optimistic.

Stay tuned.


In Brief

The Shop Café, the family-owned restaurant located at the Aqua Soleil Hotel at 14500 Palm Drive, in Desert Hot Springs, has closed. Management announced the closure on the restaurant’s social media on Nov. 19, but said the family would continue to offer catering services. … New to Palm Desert: Trattoria Mezzomondo, at 73850 Highway 111. Owner Elio Cavallari formerly owned Mezzomondo in Studio City; he closed it, moved to Palm Desert and opened the new place. Get details at mezzomondopd.com. … New to Palm Springs: Taka Shin Japanese Cuisine, at 641 N. Palm Canyon Drive. We have not yet been able to visit this authentic sushi joint ourselves, but our friend Miho Suma, the incredible owner of Shabu Shabu Zen, raves about the place—a worthy endorsement indeed. Call 760-600-5806 for more details. … New to Cathedral City: The Desert Queen, a café serving Southern fare at 35400 Date Palm Drive. All three meals are offered at this cute little place, and we can’t wait to try the homemade meatloaf, as well as the fried chicken … with cornbread! More info at thedesertqueen1.com. … New to La Quinta: The Roblero Pit, serving up “Santa Maria-style” barbecue, Napa Valley dishes and other fare at 79410 Highway 111. View the menu and get details at www.robleropit.com. … And now for something completely different: The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort, at 74855 Country Club Drive, in Palm Desert, has opened T&T Innovation Kitchen. From a news release: “Dishes change daily, inspired by both time and temperature, encouraging the team to get creative with everything from their produce choices to their preparation process. Furthermore, there’s an unconventional entrance through the restaurant that takes guests through the massive resort kitchen and in through the back of the restaurant—a nod to the anticipation and mystery of speakeasy restaurants.” T&T offers five-course dinners every Friday and Saturday; learn more at www.facebook.com/timeandtemp.

Published in Restaurant & Food News