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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The Chili Dog

Where: Teriyaki Yogi, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 210

How much: $5.19

Contact: 760-323-1162

Why: Simply put, it’s a damn good chili dog.

A friend recently mentioned that he’d just eaten one of the best chili dogs he’d ever had.

“Where did you get this amazing chili dog?” I asked.

His reply: Teriyaki Yogi.

Wait, what? This chili dog could be found at a hole-in-the-wall teriyaki joint?! More specifically, it could be found at a hole-in-the-wall teriyaki joint I had literally driven by hundreds of times, without ever giving it a second thought?

Yes. That’s the one. So of course I had to stop in and try a chili dog. And you know what? Teriyaki Yogi’s chili dog is fantastic.

I arrived just as the lunch rush was hitting, so I had to wait a good 10 minutes or so to get my dog. It was worth the wait: The charbroiled, all-beef frank was tucked inside a perfect bun—soft, yet sturdy enough to contain all of the goodness that’s placed inside. As for that goodness, it consisted of cheese, a nice chili and optional onions. There’s no complexity here—there are just great ingredients, prepared well and placed together in perfect proportion.

How’s the teriyaki at Teriyaki Yogi, you ask? Well, I have no idea—but I’ll learn soon, as I was impressed at how the meat was chopped fresh for every cup, bowl, salad and skewer that was prepared during my wait. So I’ll be returning for a teriyaki bowl, for sure—that is, unless I try one of Teriyaki Yogi’s tasty-looking Philly cheesesteaks instead.

Philly cheesesteaks at a hole-in-the-wall teriyaki joint? Wait, what?

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: Barbacoa (pork and beef stew)

Where: La Perlita Mexican Food, 901 Crossley Road, Palm Springs

How much: $11.95

Contact: 760-778-8014

Why: It’s some of the best Mexican food in the valley.

You really have to be looking for La Perlita Mexican Food to find it.

The joint is stuck at the end of a strip mall on Crossley Road between Ramon Road and Dinah Shore Drive. The strip mall is sort of behind the big ol’ Walmart, but, really, it’s surrounded by … nothingness. Your view from the large windows: sand and brush, a fact the owner joked with us about as we waited for our lunch to arrive.

But you’re not going to La Perlita for that view. You’re going for that lunch, or a dinner, or even a late breakfast. And if you’re smart, that meal, whichever meal that may be, will include La Perlita’s fantastic barbacoa.

The menu describes the barbacoa, one of the house specialties, as “homemade-style pork and beef stew with our special sauce, topped with onions and cilantro.” The key word there is “stew”: This is a slow-cooked bit of heaven. The meat is tender; the flavors are rich and infused. When thrown on top of the accompanying rice, or spooned into a fresh tortilla (or, heck, both!), it’s even better.

My only complaint about the barbacoa was that there wasn’t a whole lot of it. The portion was a bit smaller than one would normally find at a Mexican joint, and I was definitely left wanting more.

So add portion sizes to the list of La Perlita negatives, along with the location and the view. Whatever; I’ll be back—because that barbacoa is one of the tastiest Mexican dishes you’ll find in this not-so-li’l valley of ours.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Beef Stroganoff

Where: Miro’s, 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $28

Contact: 760-323-5199; mirospalmsprings.com

Why: Perfection in proportions.

Beef stroganoff is, on paper, a simple dish. You have your beef and maybe mushrooms; you have your pasta; you have your sauce. Mix together. The end.

Ah, but if you want that beef stroganoff to be good, it’s not so simple, is it? For example: How’s the pasta quality? How is that pasta prepared? The same goes for the beef; we’ve all choked down bits of meat before that were closer in texture to leather than food. And then there’s the sauce: How does it taste? Is there too much of it, or is there too little?

The devil is in the details—and at Miro’s, the beef stroganoff is so splendid that you know the folks in the kitchen are carefully making sure those details are perfect.

Yes, you’ll pay more than one normally would for beef stroganoff ($28), but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. In this case, you’re paying for either delicious noodles or spaetzle—and we heartily recommend the spaetzle. It was light with just a hint of browning, giving it a mouth-pleasing hint of crunch. You’re paying for tender, tasty beef that’s been cooked with shallots, garlic and herbs. You’re paying for delicious, appropriately sized mushroom pieces. And you’re paying for all of that to be lovingly combined in just the right amount of a creamy mushroom-brandy sauce.

Miro’s Restaurant is celebrating 20 years in business this year, and dishes like this amazing beef stroganoff illustrate why: Miro Terzic, an immigrant from Yugoslavia, and his crew are experts at Mediterranean and Central European recipes. (An endorsement within an endorsement: You must try the cabbage rolls. Really.) Go and see for yourself.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Grilled Miso Cod Set

Where: Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise, 105 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $17.95

Contact: 760-325-3005; otootorestaurant.com

Why: The price is right—and the fish is splendid.

Several of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed have been at Nobu, the extremely high-end Japanese restaurant chain owned by Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa.

Nobu’s house specialty is black cod in miso, a stunningly delicious piece of fish that is at once sweet, savory and velvety. It’s often included in the omakase tasting menus at Nobu ($100 to $200 at the Los Angeles Nobu)—or if you want to order the black cod with miso à la carte, it’s $32.

Pricey? Yes—and Nobu is two hours away, to boot. But the news is good for local foodies who don’t want to leave the valley and/or fork over $32, minimum, for a piece of fish: Gyoro Gyoro, in the heart of Palm Springs, is now offering miso cod.

Is the miso cod at Gyoro Gyoro as delectable as the version that made Nobu Matsuhisa a household name? Not quite … but it’s not that far off, either: This grilled cod is a flavor and texture delight—and it’s almost half the price of Nobu’s version.

But wait … there’s more! The “set” (it’s basically fancy bento box) that includes the cod also comes with miso soup, a lovely salad, a side dish (an impressive cold radish-noodle dish when we were there) and rice. (I spent $3 extra to upgrade that rice into four California roll pieces; I was glad I did.) Not bad for $17.95 (plus that $3 upgrade), eh? You can get a larger entrée portion—sans the set, but with veggies and Japanese Satsuma sweet mashed potatoes—for $21.95.

I recommend getting to Gyoro Gyoro a little early and taking advantage of the restaurant’s nice happy hour. Daily from 3 to 6:30 p.m. (or 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday), enjoy discounted treats such as a lychee sake-tini ($4.95) or a splendid spicy tuna roll ($5.95).

Add the cocktail, the roll and the miso set together, and you’re still spending less than $32. That’s a great deal. Hooray for Gyoro Gyoro!

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Desert Jewel

Where: Citron, inside the Viceroy Palm Springs, 415 S. Belardo Road, Palm Springs

How much: $14

Contact: 760-318-3005; www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/palmsprings

Why: It’s a perfect craft cocktail.

Regular readers of this feature know that your humble scribe likes—no, loves—a good craft cocktail.

Regular readers between the lines of this feature know that your humble scribe is pretty frustrated at the relative dearth of great craft cocktails in this valley.

Thankfully, more and more bars and restaurants are moving beyond Cape Cods and Jack-and-Cokes—and Citron at the Viceroy is undeniably one of the leaders of our valley’s emerging craft-cocktail scene.

Consider the Desert Jewel, Citron’s signature drink. The ingredient list: Absolut Mandarin, Aperol, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and Veuve champagne.

Great ingredients, yes, but the result of their combination is, as the saying goes, greater than the sum of the parts. The Desert Jewel is sweet, but subtly so. It’s citrusy, but not acidic. None of the ingredients overwhelm—which was a concern I had after reading the menu, because grapefruit tends to dominate. The cocktail is simply a refreshing, flavorful, slightly savory delight.

Of course, there’s a downside to craft cocktails at places like the Viceroy: They tend to be expensive, and this $14 drink is not an exception to that rule. One way to lessen the financial blow is to head to Citron’s oddly lit bar during Happy Hour—that’s 4:30 to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday—when some nice appetizers (including a revelatory watermelon gazpacho) and great cocktails can be had for just $6 each.

Sadly, the Desert Jewel is not one of those $6 cocktails. However, I’d take one $14 Desert Jewel over two $7 Cape Cods anytime. Life’s just too short for crappy cocktails. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Blistered Shishito Peppers

Where: Appetito Cal-Italian Deli, 1700 S. Camino Real, No. 2, Palm Springs

How much: $4.95

Contact: 760-327-1929; appetitodeli.com

Why: They’re an example of delicious simplicity—with a side of adventure.

Appetito opened earlier this year in the long-vacant space in the Koffi building adjacent to the Ace Hotel, and has since been delighting foodies with its “Cal-Italian” fare, including panini, pasta dishes, pizzas and other goodies.

However, one of Appetito’s best menu items has its roots in neither Italy nor California—instead, it comes from Japan.

Shishitos are a long, thin, green pepper variety. They’re sweet, but you have to be careful when eating them: Every so often, you’ll come across a shishito that’s rather hot. So, hey: Consider eating shishitos to be an adventure!

Eating shishitos is also delight. These peppers are thin-skinned, which means they react wonderfully to heat: The skin chars, or blisters, leaving tasty goodness all around the pepper.

There’s not much to blistered shishitos—just the peppers, salt, a little oil and perhaps another flavoring agent here or there. (On our recent trip to Appetito, I kept getting hints of citrus; whether that was the pepper talking, or whether the talented folks in Appetito’s kitchen added a squeeze of juice during the cooking process, I am not sure. All I know is that it was yummy.)

Another great thing about the peppers: the price. For just $4.95, you get a whole bunch of them. They’re perfect to enjoy before the main course (say, a porchetta sandwich that’s packed with perfectly prepared roasted pork)—or on their own, perhaps paired with a negroni or something else from Appetito’s full bar.

Enjoy!

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Slider Sampler

Where: Woody’s Burgers, 317 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $10.50

Contact: 760-230-0188; woodysburgersps.com

Why: Variety is the spice of life.

Sometimes, you don’t want to make a choice—and when it comes to burgers, Woody’s makes life a little easier on indecisive diners with the restaurant’s slider sampler.

Now, that does not mean said diners are absolved of all choices; after all, Woody’s offers more than a half-dozen burger offerings, and the sampler includes just three sliders (miniature versions of the restaurant’s burgers). Sorry ’bout that.

On our recent visit to the renowned downtown Palm Springs burger joint, we skipped the basic hamburger and cheeseburger, as well as the Hawaiian burger and the mushroom burger, in favor of the three sliders pictured above: the jalapeño burger, the bleu burger, and the Western burger.

Speaking of not wanting to make a choice: We’re glad nobody’s making us pick a favorite, because all three of these li’l burgers were damn tasty.

The three sliders had a lot of great things in common: The deliciously seasoned patties were cooked perfectly (medium, just as requested). The buns were delightfully toasted. And they were each cute as heck.

They also had a lot of fantastic differences as well: The jalapeño slider had a nice kick—from the fresh pepper slices, yes, but from the pepperjack cheese, too. The bleu burger had a lot of high-quality crumbled blue cheese, but not so much that the rest of the other flavors were overwhelmed. And the Western burger featured sweet, tangy barbecue sauce, as well as a firm, thick beer-battered onion ring.

Yummy.

While Woody’s is best known for the burgers, the restaurant is also known for friendly service, a great vibe and fantastic jazz music every single night. (Oh, and the restaurant has a full bar, too!) All of these factors make Woody’s Burgers an easy choice for burger-lovers and music-lovers alike.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Zin Bites

Where: Zin American Bistro, 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $9

Contact: 760-322-6300; pszin.com

Why: The zin in the sauce.

This is a story of second chances.

Several months back, we took a friend who was visiting Palm Springs out to dinner at Zin American Bistro. While the service and the ambiance were top-notch, the food was decidedly unremarkable. I’d tell you what we had … but I can’t remember what we had. It was not a terrible meal, but it was a meal that left us underwhelmed and not exactly rushing to return.

Shortly after that experience, I had a conversation with a fellow foodie; our lackluster Zin experience came up.

“Well, did you try the Zin Bites?” the foodie inquired?

We hadn’t.

“Well, you have to at least go back for those,” he said, before adding, “Really,” and explaining that the Bites were, essentially, miniature beef Wellingtons.

It sounded yummy. I made a mental note.

Flash forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I was studying the various menus for Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Ten Days Week. I noticed that these Zin Bites (usually available for $9) were one of the first-course offerings on Zin American Bistro’s $26 prix-fixe menu; second courses included impressive offerings like a ribeye.

$26 for mini beef Wellingtons, a steak and dessert? Yes. It was time to give Zin a second chance.

Boy, are we glad we did.

The ribeye was nice (and a great deal)—but without a doubt, the best part of my meal was that plate of four Bites. The Zin Bites themselves—each including a tiny piece of filet mignon surrounded by goat cheese and wrapped lovingly in pastry—were great. However, the maroon zinfandel-reduction/shallot sauce took the Bites from great to oh my gosh, we need to order another plate of these.

However, we held off on ordering another round. Instead, we returned to Zin for another Restaurant Week meal several days later—making it the only restaurant we visited twice over that 10-day period.

Zin American Bistro is now on our list of regular restaurants. Thank goodness for second chances—and thank goodness for those fantastic Zin Bites.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Chicago-Style House Special Pizza

Where: Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $26.50 large; $22 medium; $15 small

Contact: 760-537-1890; www.giuseppesps.com

Why: Oodles and oodles of yummy sauce.

When one picks up a large Chicago-style pizza from Giuseppe’s, the sheer weight of the pie is vaguely startling: It’s heavy.

For most folks, a slice of “normal” thin-crust pizza is a nice snack; add on another slice or three, and you have a meal. However, one slice of the Chicago-style house special pizza here can be a meal in and of itself—and what a meal it is.

A thickish, spongy-on-the-edge, tasty crust. Huge chunks of a savory sausage. Pepperoni, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and—smothered on the top of it all—a delicious, tangy tomato sauce.

Yum.

It’s that tomato sauce that brings this brick of a pizza (and we mean “brick” in a really, really good way) all together, and the fact that the sauce is placed on top of the pie makes each bite an adventure: Who knows what ingredients lie underneath?

Giuseppe’s offers more than just Chicago-style pizza; thin-crust pies are also available, as are a large variety of delicious pastas and Italian-style entrées, as well as salads, appetizers and desserts. The restaurant also offers a killer Sunday brunch—and every brunch entrée comes with a side of bacon! (On the booze side, whisky/bourbon aficionados, take note: Giuseppe’s selection is pretty spectacular.)

However, whenever we find ourselves at Giuseppe’s, we are consistently drawn to the Chicago-style pizza. It’s just too good.

Just remember: If you have leftovers, or if you’re getting the pizza to go, lift with your knees, and not your back. You don’t want to injure yourself, do you?

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Bill’s Favorite (with several sides of Bill’s Sauce)

Where: Bill’s Pizza, 119 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $24.50 for an 18-inch pizza; personal size (10 inches also available)

Contact: 760-325-5571; www.billspizzapalmsprings.com

Why: Because of the extra Bill’s Sauce.

On busy Palm Springs nights, danger lurks near La Plaza and Palm Canyon Drive.

Caloric danger, that is.

Is this case, danger takes the form of a pleasant person handing out pizza samples—more specifically, Bill’s Pizza samples. Consider yourself warned: These samples are good. Very good, in fact, and they often succeed at their intended purpose: luring people, some of whom have already eaten dinner, one short block to La Plaza and Indian Canyon Drive, where Bill’s Pizza can be found.

Once at Bill’s, diners have a variety of choices of thin-crust pizza options (including by-the-slice choices for the less hungry, i.e. the aforementioned diet-busting souls who have already eaten dinner) in terms of both toppings and sauces. However, when it comes to sauce, those in the know always get what’s simply called Bill’s Sauce.

Simple, it is: It’s a mixture of the red (i.e. tomato) sauce, and the pesto sauce. As for flavor, simple, it isn’t: There’s something about the mixture of the hearty tomato, the fresh basil, the oil and the spices that makes this sauce splendid.

Pictured above is the Bill’s Favorite, a perfectly delightful pie with—of course—Bill’s Sauce, as well as pepperoni, salami, Sicilian sausage and tomatoes. (We held the onions.) However, the keys to making this great pizza into a mouthgazm-inducing experience can be found in three of the pizza-box corners: extra Bill’s Sauce.

Put that extra sauce on top of the pizza. Dip the crusts in it. Hell, dip a finger into it and enjoy it by itself. It’s caloric danger that’s worth a few extra minutes at the gym.

Always ask for extra Bill’s Sauce. Trust us.

Published in The Indy Endorsement