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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The enchiladas de mole

Where: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $10.95

Contact: 760-992-5133; www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex/

Why: It’s a sublime mix of sweet and savory.

Los Arcos Mexican Food opened back in 2015, on the side of the former IMAX theater at Palm Canyon and Cathedral Canyon drives. I’d heard good things, and I placed it on my mental “Restaurants I Need to Try” list.

Well, I thought I’d lost my chance: Last fall, Los Arcos closed its doors. The old movie theater was being turned into the brand-new CVRep Playhouse (and the theater company needed Los Arcos’ space), and while I am elated about everything CVRep has done with the new building, I was bummed I never got a chance to try Los Arcos.

Fortunately, Los Arcos was not closed—just on hiatus: A few months ago, it reappeared on the other side of what’s euphemistically called “downtown Cathedral City.” Not wanting to miss out again, I headed to Los Arcos on a recent Sunday for dinner.

I intended to order the chicken tortilla soup ($7.95) and the combo featuring a relleno, a taco and an enchilada (a downright reasonable $10.95). Alas, the restaurant was out of tortilla soup, so I had to settle for the combo—and it was quite good, albeit a step or two short of endorsement-worthy.

However … I knew my Monday was going to be crazy, so I ordered the enchiladas de mole (with chicken) to go, for lunch the next day. I was quite full when I got home, but I figured I must try one bite before the food cooled down. After that one bite, I realized I had two things: 1) an endorsement-worthy dish, and 2) a test of self-control, as it was so tasty I was inclined to keep going after that one bite. The mole was rich, sweet, savory and complex—everything a traditional chocolate mole should be.

I am glad Los Arcos is back from its hiatus. If you like delicious mole, then you should be, too.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The mac and cheese egg rolls

Where: Bubba’s Bones and Brews, 68525 Ramon Road, No. A101, Cathedral City

How much: $7.95

Contact: 760-699-7231; bubbasbonesandbrews.com

Why: It’s decadent and delicious.

You know that feeling when you see something on a restaurant menu, and you think, “Holy hell, that sounds amazing, and I MUST have it!”?

Well, that’s how I felt when I saw the words “Mac and Cheese Egg Roll” on the menu at Bubba’s, the barbecue place—in a Cathedral City strip mall—that’s been winning over fans due to its delicious meats and impressive beer selection. It was my first visit to Bubba’s, and when I saw those words all together, it Just. Seemed. Right.

Not healthy, mind you … definitely not healthy. But right. And that was before I read the description and learned that these egg rolls also contained pulled pork!

Hell yeah!

Well, my friends, I am happy to report that these egg rolls did not disappoint: They were nothing but artery-clogging deliciousness.

I have but one quibble with these fried pieces of glory: They come drizzled with a delightful mango habanero sauce … and on certain bites, that was the only thing I could taste. Macaroni, cheese and pulled pork all have fantastic but somewhat subtle flavors, and those flavors were completely masked wherever the sauce was poured on heavy. My advice: When you go to Bubba’s and order these—and, really, you should go to Bubba’s and order these, as long as your cardiologist is looking the other way—get the mango habanero sauce on the side, and apply it, lightly, yourself.

This appetizer is not only splendid; it’s filling, and can stand as a meal if you’re just a party of one. I barely touched my main course (the two meat plate with two sides, $15.95; I got brisket and pulled pork, with fries and potato salad), as good as it was.

Egg rolls. With macaroni and cheese … and pork! God bless America.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Meatloaf Sandwich Meal

Where: The Desert Queen. 35400 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $10.99

Contact: 442-615-0344; thedesertqueen1.com

Why: It mended my broken heart.

When the server came to take my order, she broke my heart.

My heart was set on having biscuits and gravy. I’d seen a couple of online raves about this down-home dish at The Desert Queen, a new Southern-style restaurant in Cathedral City, and as lunchtime approached, biscuits and gravy sounded freaking amazing. So I put The Desert Queen’s address in my GPS, and off I went.

After I arrived and seated myself, I perused the menu and instantly spied what my heart desired: the biscuit and sausage-gravy meal ($11.99). Then the server came to take my order. I said what I wanted; she politely pointed at a line on the menu my eyes had heretofore not seen: BREAKFAST ENDS AT 11 A.M.

It was 11:46 a.m.

As my heart sank, I looked over the handful of lunch options. I quickly selected the meatloaf sandwich (which came with a drink and a side; I chose coffee and the homemade chili, respectively).

After my order came, I poked at the chili before unenthusiastically taking a bite of the sandwich. As I chewed … my broken heart began to take notice.

I took another bite. The meatloaf was dense enough to stand up to being inside a sandwich, while being neither dry nor greasy. It tasted great, and the wheat bread was perfect for such a sandwich: It was crispy on the outside, but still soft enough on the inside to hold things together. The word that comes to mind when I think about each bite is pleasing.

By the time I finished my meal, my heart was no longer broken; the delicious meatloaf sandwich had mended it. That’s not to say I wasn’t still craving biscuits and gravy … but I was OK with waiting to have that on my next visit to The Desert Queen.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The lamb and beef gyro plate

Where: Super Shawarma Mediterranean Grill, 69185 Ramon Road, No. 3, Cathedral City

How much: $11.99

Contact: 760-321-1100; www.supershawarmacc.com

Why: The oh-so-pleasing melding of textures and temperatures.

Once upon a time, I had a go-to gyro place. Whenever I had a hankering for good gyro, I’d head over there for some delicious food.

Alas, this would not last forever. The gyro place is still there; however, I decided I could no longer give the place my business after the owner angrily threw out one of the Independent’s distribution drivers for no reason—after he’d personally given me permission for us to leave papers there. (On the plus side … his angry responses to less-than-great reviews on his Yelp page are incredibly entertaining.)

So, for the last few years, I have been culinarily adrift, lacking a place to quickly and easily get great gyro. However, that’s changed now that I’ve found Super Shawarma.

I’d seen the place before—it’s next to one of my go-to sushi places—but I’d never stopped in until a recent lunchtime. Only one or two other tables in the impeccably clean space were occupied, which is a shame—because the food I had was excellent.

The lamb and beef gyro plate comes with hummus, tzatziki, a pickle-forward salad, pita and, of course, gyro—delicious, perfectly prepared gyro. It was a mixture of moist and crispy, and when wrapped in a piece of pita with some of the earthy hummus and cool, creamy yogurt sauce … wow, it was good.

Super Shawarma also offers all the expected Mediterranean dishes, as well as some fairly unusual finds. (A spicy Alexandria beef liver dish? Intriguing!) There are a bunch of vegetarian options, too, for those of you who eschew meat. For those of you who don’t … Super Shawarma just may become your new gyro place.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Philadelphia-style cheesesteak

Where: Apong’s Philly Steak, 68444 Perez Road, Cathedral City

How much: $8.49

Contact: 760-770-0229; www.apongsphillysteak.com

Why: It’s delicious simplicity.

I walked up to the counter at Apong’s Philly Steak, and I was greeted by a smiling employee. I told him I wanted a cheese steak, and asked what specifically he recommended.

Hoagie-style, perhaps, with lettuce, tomato and “special sauce”? With bacon, maybe, or jalapenos, or multiple kinds of cheese?

“Just Philadelphia style,” he said—meaning just meat, cheese and grilled onions on the bread. Nothing more, nothing less.

He made the right call: My cheese steak was delicious.

Tucked into one of those industrial-ish Perez Road centers—this particular center also features an all-American combination of a strip club, a bakery and a marijuana dispensary—Apong’s is not a place you’ll go for the atmosphere (though it’s perfectly pleasant inside). You’ll go there for the food, which includes an unusual mix of sandwiches, salads, Mexican specials and Krispy Krunchy-brand Cajun fried chicken. Apong’s also offers a lot of Filipino fare, including breakfasts, noodle dishes, soups, meat entrées and desserts; I’ll order from the Filipino portion of the menu the next time I’m there. (I am dying to find out more about “sweet Filipino style” spaghetti.)

But for this visit, since “Philly Steak” is part of the restaurant’s name, that’s what I ordered—and I loved every bite. The combination of piping-hot beef, grilled onions and melted provolone (American and whiz are also available; the aforementioned man behind the counter selected the cheese for me) on the bun were all this sandwich needed. It was warm, meaty, gooey goodness. Any other additions would have been needless at best, or detracting at worst.

Don’t let the odd, off-the-beaten-path location of Apong’s Philly Steak deter you; it’s worth your time and effort to check out this family-owned joint … especially if you like a simple, damn tasty cheese steak. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The biscuits and gravy

Where: Sunshine Café, 36815 Cathedral Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $6.35; $3.85 half-order (pictured)

Contact: 760-328-1415; www.sunshinecafe.com

Why: OMG it’s yummy!

The website brags: “Sunshine Cafè is frequented by celebrities, politicians, word-of-mouth visitors from around the world and mostly our wonderful locals.”

If one is uninitiated, that boasting may seem a little, well, crazy when you drive up to this slightly weather-beaten dinner that sits across the street from a dive gay bar on the industrial outskirts of what city leaders euphemistically call “downtown Cathedral City.” But once you walk in and experience the food at Sunshine Café, you’ll realize this place backs up that brag.

The clean and homey diner offers all sorts of amazing fare. The chicken fried steak gets rave reviews, as do the banana nut pancakes. The Mexican omelette was given a shout-out by Suzanne Somers in one of her books, for whatever that’s worth.

However, on one recent Sunday, none of those other treats mattered much, as I was on a mission: I was craving biscuits and gravy—and Sunshine Café has biscuits and gravy.

Really freaking good biscuits and gravy, that is.

The biscuits are fluffy and flavorful, but the crucial component is what goes on top: Sunshine Café’s version of the white gravy, that diner staple, includes little bits of meat, and is simply delicious. The texture is right, too: It’s not chalky like some flour-based gravies can be; instead, it’s smooth and creamy.

You can get a full order of biscuits and gravy or a half order; in an effort to be somewhat less gluttonous, I went with the half order. That was a mistake: After I finished, I really, really wanted more. It took an amazing amount of self-control for me not to pick up the plate and lick it clean.

Sunshine Café has made frequent appearances on local “Best Of” lists over the years. Once you try the food there, you’ll instantly understand why.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Sesame Chicken

Where: New Fortune Asian Cuisine, 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $14.95

Contact: 760-770-2988

Why: It tastes like the Chinese food you’d get in SF or LA.

We usually keep things pretty positive here on the Indy Endorsement page—but before we return you to your regularly scheduled nice-things-to-say, we feel the need to snivel just a bit.

Man, does the Chinese food in this valley suck. I know there’s a void here, because every time I head for San Francisco or Los Angeles, one of my first stops for lunch or dinner is Chinatown.

Don’t get me wrong; there are a few Chinese food places here in the CV that are worthy, but there are more than a few whose continued existence makes me wonder: Who in the hell is paying money to eat this crap?

Well, thank goodness for New Fortune Asian Cuisine, located in Cathedral City: For my money, it’s the best freestanding Chinese-food joint in the valley that I have found thus far.

My go-to dish at New Fortune: sesame chicken. (Note to food purists: I know sesame chicken is not really a true Chinese-food dish, and is instead an Americanized Chinese-ish dish. However, that fact does not make it any less yummy when done right.) This sesame chicken is tender but not mushy, savory but not salty, and sweet without being cloying. In a word, it’s fantastic—on par with some of the better versions of the dish I’ve gotten in SF or LA.

The sesame chicken is not the only good thing about New Fortune. The service is friendly, and all of the food I’ve tried there has been between decent and (the aforementioned) fantastic. An endorsement within an endorsement: New Fortune’s war wonton soup is so good that you’ll want to order it even when it’s 113 degrees out.

When it comes to quality Chinese food, New Fortune is truly an oasis in this large and sandy desert.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The American Breakfast Burger

Where: Tony’s Burgers, 35903 Date Palm Drive, CathedralCity

How much: $7.95

Contact: 760-832-7794; www.tonysburgers.com

Why: Simply put, it’s a really good burger

At the northwest corner of Date Palm and Gerald Ford drives sits a nondescript strip mall. It’s notable, sort of, for two reasons: One, it’s anchored by a gym that recently moved into a long-vacant spot once occupied by a supermarket; and two, there is a ton of great food in this li’l, ho-hum-looking center.

There’s yummy Thai/Asian joint Bangkok Noodles. Popular breakfast/lunch spot Michael’s Café. Solid Indian restaurant India Oven. The fantastic Cello’s Bistro.

And now this shopping center is home to fantastic burgers, thanks to Tony’s.

Tony’s Burgers opened not too long ago in the space that once housed Paradiso. I’d seen some online raves about the place—owned by a longtime chef at Grill-A-Burger—so I decided to stop in recently when I was in the area.

I’m glad I did. Tony’s menu includes breakfast items, salads, appetizers, hot dogs and several special items. Of course, since “Burger’s” is in the restaurant’s name, I had to get a burger, and I decided on the American breakfast, which includes fried egg (yes!), bacon (yes!!), cheddar, grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo, all placed between a regular bun.

I only have two minor complaints: One, this burger came out medium-well, and I like my burger more on the medium side. Second: It was so big and thick that it was damn near impossible to get the thing in my mouth. But when I did manage to get a proper bite … damn, was it tasty. It was perfectly seasoned, nicely juicy and overall fantastic. And the price wasn’t bad, either. (However, the $7.95 covers the burger, and nothing else; if you want fries, you’ll need to shell out at least another $3.50 for a half-order, and more if you want Cajun, parmesan, truffle, garlic or avocado fries.)

Yes, foodies: We now have yet another reason to head to Date Palm and Gerald Ford. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The lamb shank

Where: Santorini Gyro Hamburger/Greek Food and Grill, 68375 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $16.99

Contact: 760-831-3663

Why: It’s fall-off-the-bone delicious.

It was a hectic, deadline-week Tuesday. I was driving down Highway 111 through Cathedral City, and dinner time was approaching.

I realized I’d soon be driving by Santorini, a new Greek restaurant in the strip-mall space that used to house Frickleburgers (R.I.P.). I was craving some gyro. I’d heard good things about Santorini from readers.

Yep, it was time to get some takeout.

I walked in to the 24-seat restaurant and ordered a gyro plate ($9.99), along with some dolmades (grape leaves; $4.75) and, why not, the lamb shank. Ten or so minutes later, I was back on Highway 111 with a bag of great-smelling food.

I got home and put all the food on plates. Then we dove in.

The five grape leaves were tasty—better than average, in fact. The same could be said for the lamb gyro meat, which came with a small Greek salad and some fine pita bread. However, the star of this food show was most definitely the lamb shank.

It, too, came with a Greek salad and pita bread, as well as some fantastic mashed potatoes. (This was a surprise; the menu says entrées come with rice pilaf, but I love mashed potatoes, so the change was a-OK with me.)

I grabbed the plate and attacked the oven-baked shank with a fork—no knife was needed, as the meat was falling off the bone. I assembled a bite with some tender meat, some potato, some gravy and some tzatziki. I popped said bite in my mouth. Then I smiled.

Mmmmmmm. Good stuff, this.

Santorini offers the fare one would expect a Greek restaurant to offer, along with a nice selection of burgers. If the lamb shank and the other goodies I tried are any indication of the quality of the rest of the food, Cathedral City is now home to a great Greek restaurant.

Opa!

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Cubano With Tomato Soup

Where: Zobö and Meester’s, 68703 Perez Road, No. A1, Cathedral City

How Much: $7.99

Contact: 760-832-6104; www.zamgrill.com

Why: It’s comforting and delicious.

The invitation came via email on a Saturday. Bart and Carmen wanted to let me know they’d just opened a new restaurant on Perez Road in Cathedral City.

“Everything is made from scratch. Please come in and give us a try. The community support has been amazing so far,” the email said.

The following Monday, I was hungry and had errands to run in the general vicinity—so I decided to check out this new joint, with the interesting name of Zobö and Meester’s. A little lawn sign out front touted the Cubano sandwich, so I decided that was the thing to try.

When I ordered at the counter, the friendly woman asked which side I wanted. Macaroni, pasta or potato salad? Fries? Coleslaw? Or, even though it was 107 degrees outside, the tomato soup?

Ooh, yes, the tomato soup, I replied. It would give me something in which to dip the sandwich. What a fortuitous decision this was: The combination of the grilled panini and the soup was fantastic.

The sandwich in and of itself was great: The mixture of ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and mustard aioli was splendid. The soup in and of itself was also very good: It had a fresh, savory flavor.

But when I put the two together … wow. The soup softened the bread just enough to make it easier on the mouth. The appropriate saltiness of the meat and the tartness of the pickle were balanced by the vegetable flavor of the soup. It was, in sum, comforting and delicious.

Zobö and Meester’s offers waffles (with chicken!), a burrito and bagel sandwiches for breakfast. Lunch offerings include a bunch of sandwiches both hot and cold, as well as salads and a handful of specialty entrees. But we’ll be ordering the Cubano with tomato soup more often than not. You know why.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

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