CVIndependent

Tue09172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The Palm Desert Food and Wine Fest Returns

It’s March in the Coachella Valley—and that means it is time for the ritziest, fanciest food fest the desert has to offer: The Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival will take place Friday through Sunday, March 22-24.

Actually, the classes, tastings and various events start several days before that, but the biggest event of them all is the Grand Tasting, which takes place at the Gardens on El Paseo, 73545 El Paseo, from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday the 23rd. Tickets start at $100 and include tastes of food from 40 restaurants, as well as all sorts of wine and spirits samples. If you want to get in early for the VIP portion, or attend an exclusive chef demo even earlier than that, it’ll cost you a little bit more.

On Sunday, there’s another grand tasting, also from noon to 3 p.m.—this one called “North to South: Food of the Americas.” It promises “a menu of inspired dishes, influenced by the different spices and foods native to the Americas and infused with each participating chef’s signature style.” This tasting also starts at $100 and includes spirits, wine, craft beer and cocktails.

Beyond the tastings, there are a dozen or so other events featuring local talent, as well as celebrity chefs you’ve seen on TV. Best of all: The whole thing benefits FIND Food Bank and the James Beard Foundation. In other words, you can splurge and engage in a bit of high-brow gluttony with a completely clear conscience!

For tickets and more information, visit www.palmdesertfoodandwine.com.


In Brief

Coming soon to downtown Palm Springs’ La Plaza: French Miso Café, “A romantic and modern French café with wonderful Japanese influences,” according to the café’s Facebook page. It could open any day now, if it hasn’t already; look for French Miso Café on Facebook, and watch for updates. … Mark your calendars: On Saturday, April 6, La Quinta Brewing Co.’s Palm Desert location, at 77917 Wildcat Drive, will host the CountryFest 2019 parking-lot party. It’s a fundraiser for the Desert Cancer Foundation, and $15 gets you a souvenir party cup along with a day of beer, barbecue and country music from Rick Shelley and headliners Leaving Austin. The parking lot opens at 2 p.m., with Leaving Austin taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.; get tickets at the Palm Desert taproom or at lqbccountryfest2019.bpt.me. … Something very cool is coming to the city of Coachella: The Coachella Food Truck Park will set up shop at 1609 Fourth St., and is celebrating its grand opening on Saturday, March 16. The night before, Coachella Magazine will be hosting its Poets and Provocateurs party there; it’s an open-mic event featuring DJ Big Cali. Get more info and watch for updates at www.facebook.com/CVFoodTrucks. … Morongo Casino Resort, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon, will again be the spot for monthly live broadcasts of Chris Carter’s Breakfast With the Beatles radio show. The broadcasts take place along with a buffet on Sundays at the Cielo Steakhouse, located on the 27th floor of the resort. According to the news release, KLOS 95.5’s Breakfast With the Beatles is “a living encyclopedia of all things Beatles. Carter’s shows feature stories about the band, rare interview tracks with the boys, as well as loads of hit music, live performance recordings and deep tracks from the Beatles musical library.” Tickets for the 21-and-older broadcast and brunch are $45; get tickets and more info, including a schedule, at www.morongocasinoresort.com. … New to Palm Desert: Coachella Pho, serving Vietnamese food at 72286 Highway 111. More details at www.coachellapho.com. … Also new to Palm Desert: Solano’s Bar and Grill, at 37029 Cook St. It’s the sister restaurant to Solano’s Bistro in La Quinta; details at solanosbarandgrill.com. … Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill, which has earned a lot of fans in Palm Springs at 1751 N. Sunrise Way, just opened a second location in Indio, at 42250 Jackson St. Get the scoop at www.facebook.com/lococharlies.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

What: The Street Taco Platter

Where: Loco Charlie’s, 1751 N. Sunrise Way, No. F5, Palm Springs

How much: $7.95

Contact: 760-832-6474; mylococharlies.com

Why: The crispy parts.

It was lunchtime, and I was craving some good tacos.

This is not an unusual occurrence in my life. In fact, there are few lunchtimes when I am not, to some degree, craving tacos. However, on this particular day, I was really craving tacos—so off to Loco Charlie’s we went. I had never been before, but several readers have recommended the restaurant to me—and we all know that Coachella Valley Independent readers are a smart bunch, yes? (Here’s a hint: If you’re reading this, you’re an Independent reader.)

Let’s just say that the readers didn’t let me down—and my taco craving was more than satisfied.

Loco Charlie’s—located in a nondescript strip mall on the corner of Sunrise Drive and Vista Chino Road—offers four types of meat in its tacos: Carne asada (beef!), carnitas (pork!), pollo asado (chicken!) and lengua (beef tongue!). Turns out the Street Taco Platter includes four tacos, and you can mix and match the meats.

I’ll take a Street Taco Platter with one of each, please.

The chicken and lengua tacos were just fine. (By the way, if the thought of eating tongue makes you squeamish, you really should get over that. It’s good, tender stuff.) However, the carne asada and carnitas tacos were revelatory, because the meat was so delicious—due, in part, to the fact that the taco-preppers in the kitchen included both softer and crispy pieces of meat in each taco.

I feel I should include an endorsement within an endorsement for the price: Four tacos plus sides for $7.95 is a fine deal. It’s such a fine deal that I may just go back tomorrow for some more street tacos … because the more I think about those tasty tacos, the less my craving is feeling satisfied.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Out of the Ashes: Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club Begins Rebuilding Process

At Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club, it was supposed to be a Christmas day to celebrate. The year-old restaurant, located at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, had dinner reservations for 170 people on the books.

However, on the morning of Dec. 25, while a couple of employees began preparing in the kitchen for the busy night, something went terribly wrong: An electrical fire began in the ceiling over the dining room.

Within a couple hours, the restaurant had burned to the ground. Bernie’s owners Rand Howell and Geoff McIntosh, while in shock, scrambled to find new reservations for their customers, and new jobs for their employees.

The only saving grace: The two employees made it out of the building unharmed.

“Initially, it was very devastating,” McIntosh said.

One month later, the feelings of devastation have largely faded, McIntosh said, and the owners are now working on the rebuilding process. There’s also another silver lining in the dark cloud.

“Everybody who wanted a job was able to find one within two to three weeks,” McIntosh said, praising his fellow local restaurateurs who stepped in to help his staffers.

At first, McIntosh and Howell looked into reopening Bernie’s in an existing building at another location. However, those plans fell through.

“We just couldn’t put it together,” he said.

McIntosh and Howell are now planning on rebuilding Bernie’s in the same location, which they own, he said. There’s another, smaller building on their property that they may demolish to build a new Bernie’s that’s bigger and better than ever.

“We had outgrown our space by the second month we were open,” McIntosh laughed.

McIntosh said the current plan is to expand both the lounge and dining areas just a bit. The biggest changes, though, will involve improving the traffic flow by widening aisles and fixing the fact that in the old building, there was only one, hard-to-access door in and out of the kitchen—which led to constant traffic jams.

When can customers expect the new Bernie’s to rise from the ashes? McIntosh said that optimistic estimates say the new building’s doors could open within seven or eight months, but he thinks a year is more realistic.

“All the layers of government approval we’ll need will take two to three months, probably, by themselves,” he said.

McIntosh praised the restaurant’s insurance company, Farmers Insurance, for moving quickly thus far. In fact, the business-interruption insurance is paying key management employees to stay on while the restaurant is rebuilt, McIntosh said.

Keep your fingers crossed for the good people at Bernie’s. Follow the rebuilding progress, and get updates on former Bernie’s employees, at www.facebook.com/Berniesfans.

In Brief

Bontá Restaurant and Bar is now open and serving modern European and Latin fare at 68510 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City, in the spot formerly occupied by Picanha Churrascaria. More info at bontarestaurant.com. … Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill opened in January at 1751 N. Sunrise Way, near World Gym in Palm Springs. The restaurant’s website promises “one of a kind, authentic Mexican cuisine” that is “made with the freshest ingredients possible.” Visit that website, mylococharlies.com, for more info. … King’s Highway, the diner at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, launched all-new, expanded menus in mid-January. The restaurant is following in the footsteps of the Ace Hotel L.A., which recently revamped its restaurant with the help of the folks behind Five Leaves in Brooklyn, N.Y.—meaning Five Leaves influences can be found on the Palm Springs menus, too. Highlights include the avocado toast for breakfast, and the Five Leaves burger (including grilled pineapple, pickled beets and a sunny-side-up egg) for lunch and dinner. … Want to get out of the house to enjoy the Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 22? Trio Restaurant, at 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, is hosting its annual “Hollywood’s Biggest Night” party, to benefit the AIDS Assistance Program. Get tickets, starting at $125, at aidsassistance.org. If you’re closer to Indian Wells, consider the Red Carpet Oscar Party at Vicky’s of Santa Fe, at 45100 Club Drive. Tickets are $85, and the event benefits Variety—The Children's Charity of the Desert. Call 760-345-9770 to reserve. … Congrats to Shanghai Reds, the popular back-area bar and restaurant at Palm Springs’ Fisherman’s Market and Grill, located at 235 S. Indian Canyon Drive, for completing an expansion of the patio. There’s now more seating and a better music stage. ... If you haven’t heard already: The Asian-cuisine scene of the Coachella Valley is now worse off due to the apparent closing of Jiao, the Foundation 10-owned restaurant that was located at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

Published in Restaurant & Food News