CVIndependent

Thu06272019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The Pesto Chicken Ranch Club at TKB Bakery

Where: TKB Bakery and Deli, 44911 Golf Center Parkway, Indio

How much: $10.99

Contact: 760-775-8330; www.tkbbakery.com

Why: It’s delicious, pure and simple.

TKB Bakery is one of the five best-rated restaurants in the United States.

This is not hyperbole; it’s fact, according to the granddaddy website of crowd-sourced reviews, Yelp—and while Yelp reviews are about as trustworthy as Sean Hannity on Quaaludes, it says a lot that TKB has been one of Yelp’s Top 5-rated restaurants now for three years in a row. No other restaurant in the whole U.S. of A. can say that.

I recently visited TKB—a family-owned affair tucked into an Indio industrial park not too far off of Interstate 10—for the first time, and I can now say I completely understand why TKB has received such crowd-sourced acclaim. The counter service is friendly (and brand-new customers get a free cookie!). The vibe is decidedly fun. And the sandwich I had—the pesto chicken ranch club—was downright spectacular.

You may pay more for a sandwich at TKB than you would at other fine sandwich joints, but the $10.99 I shelled out for my sandwich was worth every penny. The pesto was amazing; the fresh Parmesan roll was revelatory; and the chicken was moist and flavorful. The complementary ingredients—provolone, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and onion, along with mustard, mayo and ranch dressing—were all top-notch … and that free cookie? It was the best peanut-butter cookie I’ve ever eaten.

TKB has been around for a while; there used to be several other valley locations which became victims of the Great Recession. Right now, there’s just one TKB (it stands for “The Kids’ Business, by the way), located in the middle of nowhere—and if you love great sandwiches and baked goods, you need to seek it out. It’s one of the country’s top-rated places to eat for a lot of damn good reasons.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The California Split Sandwich

Where: The Lunch Box, 74868 Joni Drive, No. 1a, Palm Desert

How much: $6.95 (plus $2.75 for a cup of soup)

Contact: 760-610-1136; thelunchboxpd.com

Why: This sandwich is satisfying.

Even though I knew I was in the right place, a small part of me wondered if I was being punked when I turned off Cook Street onto Joni Drive in search of The Lunch Box.

All I saw at first were warehouses and industrial buildings—but then I spied the sign above The Lunch Box’s door. Whew. Trust me: You’re unlikely to accidentally stumble upon this highly regarded sandwich joint. But stumble upon it, you should: The sandwiches here are mighty tasty.

I ordered the California Split sandwich—applewood-smoked bacon, melted jack cheese, avocado, tomato, sprouts and mayo on warm sourdough—along with a cup of the soup of the day, creamy chicken and vegetable. (“Think the inside of a chicken pot pie,” as the gentleman behind the counter accurately described it.) Only a few minutes later, my food arrived; I tore off a couple of paper towels from the roll on the table, and dove in.

It was a rainy day—we’ve been having a lot of those lately, yes?—and therefore, this was a perfect lunch. This classic sandwich was warm and flavorful. The bacon was crisp, and the avocado fresh; I swear my palate detected some Italian dressing in there somewhere, too. The sourdough was surprisingly light and fluffy, yet strong enough to keep the sandwich together—although the bread didn’t have to do its job for long, as it was quickly consumed.

This place is all about sandwiches (although several salads and even a hot dog are offered as well), and no one item will set you back more than $6.95. The Lunch Box is a great spot for simple yet well-done lunch fare at good prices—in a most unlikely location.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Hot Mess

Where: The Sandwich Spot, 240 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $8.99

Contact: 778-7900; thesandwichspotps.com

Why: The wheat bread puts it over the top.

“So, what’s the best sandwich here?” I asked the friendly gentleman behind the counter.

He started pointing out different menu items. Then he added: “Well, there’s also our secret menu …”

Alrightie then. Tell me more about that.

He mentioned a sandwich called “the Hot Mess.” His description to me hewed pretty closely to the description in a post on the Sandwich Spot’s Facebook page, which reads: “A former employee was the inspiration for the latest Sandwich Spot Palm Springs spectacular, the Hot Mess. Layers of warm roast beef, turkey, pastrami and savory ham are skillfully stacked into a huge steaming pile onto which cheddar and provolone cheeses are lovingly melted. The soft bakery fresh roll of your choice (is) then anointed with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles and … a viscous squirt of (thousand island) dressing. The sandwich then is complete. $8.99 for this experience, folks.”

Yes. Yes, I want that. (To be fair to the gentleman behind the counter, he had the sense not use the phrase “viscous squirt.”)

A few minutes later, the sandwich, viscous squirt and all, arrived at the table. And it was yuuuummmy.

What made this sandwich truly great—the aspect which put it over the figurative top—was the bread. The “soft bakery fresh roll” of my choice was a wheat roll, and it was the perfect vessel for the meats, cheeses, veggies and condiments contained inside. It was hearty and firm enough that it stayed together, yet was soft enough to be non-damaging—even pleasing—to my mouth. (Raise your hand if hard sandwich bread has done a number on the roof of your mouth. Yep, thought so.)

This shop—a part of an expanding California chain—has been earning raves on the various review sites, and the Hot Mess is one reason why. This secret-menu item may not be all that “secret” (How can it be secret if it’s mentioned prominently on the restaurant’s freakin’ Facebook page?), but that’s a good thing—because this sandwich is worth knowing about.

Published in The Indy Endorsement