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Fri05242019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The tostada especial

Where: Mariscoco’s Culiacan, 51683 Harrison (Cesar Chavez) St., Coachella

How much: $11.99

Contact: 760-398-5666; www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760

Why: The freshness and the impeccable flavor.

A while back, a friend told me about the most amazing Mexican seafood place in Coachella. I remembered part of the distinctive name—Mariscoco’s—so when I recently found myself in Coachella during lunch time, I looked the place up.

Boy, am I glad I did: The lunch was one of the tastiest meals I have had in months.

Seafood, obviously, is the focus at Mariscoco’s, and the restaurant is renowned for its seafood towers. However, these towers are meant for more than one individual, even if said individual is quite hungry, as I was. The helpful server pointed me in the figurative direction of the tostada especial—a smaller, meant-for-one dish containing most of the same ingredients as the most-popular towers.

The plate that arrived a short time later was a thing of beauty: cucumbers, onion, shrimp, abalone, octopus, fish, sea snail, scallops and other ingredients sat atop a tostada, with another tostada gently placed on top. The plate also included some fresh avocado, a bit of mango, and a couple of orange slices—and everything sat in Mariscoco’s smoky, savory “special sauce.”

The plate’s beauty was topped only by its flavor: Everything tasted impeccably fresh and delicious. The crunch of the cucumber, the sweetness of the shrimp, the smoothness of the avocado, the tartness of the citrus in the special sauce—it all came together masterfully. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out what an amazing deal this is: $11.99 for this much great seafood?! Amazing.

The only thing that could have made it better would have been a chavela (which I could have ordered, but I didn’t because it was a work day) and a beach (which, alas, is not available at Mariscoco’s Culiacan). Otherwise, this was a perfect lunch—one I can’t stop thinking about.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Tacos Al Pastor

Where: Jalisco Restaurant, 1605 Sixth St., Coachella

How much: $1.55; three-taco combo plate $7.25

Contact: (760) 398-7113

Why: It’s simply a perfect taco.

Being a West Valley resident, I don’t get a lot of chances to dine in Coachella. However, a recent business meeting afforded me the chance to have lunch in downtown Coachella—and considering the tacos I had at Jalisco Restaurant, I am now bemoaning my lack of East Valley dining opportunities.

I knew I wanted tacos, but wasn’t sure which tacos to try, so I got the three-taco combo plate—a steal at just $7.25. I had a lot of potential choices—Jalisco has about 14 tacos on offer, with options both locally common (pollo, carne asada) and not so common (beef brains!)—but I kept it simple and got one each with pollo, carne asada and al pastor.

On the English portion of Jalisco’s menu, al pastor is described as “marinated pork.” Yes, that’s accurate, but al pastor (literally translated: shepherd style) is so much more than that: The pork is usually slow-cooked on a rotisserie, much like shawarma and gyros meat is cooked. (In fact, it’s believed that pork prepared al pastor got its start in Mexico thanks to influences from Lebanese immigrants there.)

The pollo and carne asada tacos were both quite tasty. However, the al pastor was beyond fantastic: The meat was somehow both crispy and juicy—and, boy, was it packed with flavor.

It was sooooo good that I find myself trying to think of excuses to have more business meetings in Coachella. If you’re an East Valley resident, and you’re not enjoying the tacos el pastor at Jalisco Restaurant on at least a semi-regular basis, either you must be a vegetarian … or something must be wrong with you.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Friday, May 31, may seem like a long way away, but the organizers of Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week say it never hurts to get an early start on planning.

“Every year, my husband and I make it a staycation,” said Kim Crandal, the executive director of Restaurant Week, during which a bevy of local restaurants will be offering special three-course prix-fixe menus for either $26 or $38 per person.

Given that this year’s Restaurant Week is bigger than ever, perhaps planning is a good idea. For one thing, the week is much longer than a week—it runs for 17 days, in fact, from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 16.

Why the expansion?

“We took a look at the history of requests from some of the restaurants,” Crandal said. “… So many people were experiencing success.”

As of now, 79 restaurants throughout the valley—including local favorites, big chains and eateries that are new to the scene—are signed up to participate.

But the week goes beyond food; the tag line for the event is “Eat. See. Stay.” Crandal said numerous hotels and resorts (that would be the “stay” part) are participating, as are various attractions and spas (that would be the “see” part).

“We are focusing more on crafting the ‘see’ and ‘stay’ components so people understand it’s more than a restaurant week,” she said. What do you do during the day?”

About a dozen hotels are currently signed on, and the 20 or so “see” partners include everything from the Palm Springs Art Museum to Knott’s Soak City to the Desert Springs Spa to Desert Adventures Eco-Tours and Events.

Restaurant Week also has something of a special relationship with “Forever Marilyn,” the 26-foot-tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe that currently graces downtown Palm Springs. She was installed just before last year’s Restaurant Week, and she’ll be taken down and moved (temporarily, many hope) during this year’s Restaurant Week. While plans are not yet finalized, an idea is being batted around to create a more life-sized Marilyn Monroe representation—a statue, perhaps, or a cut-out—and have her pop up at the various restaurants during the 2 1/2 weeks of Restaurant Week.

Crandal noted that some folks are indeed already making Restaurant Week plans. For example, she cited a group of about 90 golfers from Santa Barbara who have made Restaurant Week an annual trip.

“It’s really building a nice following,” Crandal said.

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week takes place from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 16. For a complete list of participants and updates, visit www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News