Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Garrett Dangerfield

What: The Szechwan beef lunch special

Where: China Bistro, 45765 Towne St., Indio

How much: $7.50 (lunch special)

Contact: 760-342-7288;

Why: Good flavor—and they deliver the spice, if you ask.

Let’s say you’re an east valley resident craving good Chinese food for lunch. Or maybe you’re from the west valley, and you’ve been called to do your civic duty at the Larson Justice Center—and you want a quick, delicious lunch (preferably at a spot within walking distance). In either case, it’d be smart to head to China Bistro.

Just a block north of the Larson Justice Center, China Bistro offers great Chinese food at reasonable prices—especially at lunch. The menu includes the standards one would expect, and I was fortunate enough to select the Szechwan beef.

The dish featured a reasonable amount of tender, tasty beef (you can get this preparation with shrimp or chicken, if you prefer), as well as a variety of crisp vegetables, including green and red bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, water chestnuts, carrots and onions. It was all covered in a tasty sauce, and served alongside some decent, if unremarkable fried rice (regular rice is also an option) and a fried wonton wrapper, as well as the soup of the day (which was egg drop soup when I was there).

One other detail worth noting: I like my food very spicy, and far too often, restaurants fail to make food spicy enough for my tastes. Well, the good folks at China Bistro adequately heeded my request for spicy Szechuan beef, and left my taste buds happy.

The next time I find myself in Indio, you can bet that if I’m in the mood for some delicious, inexpensive Chinese food (and I am pretty much always in such a mood), I’ll be stopping by China Bistro.

What: Chicken stroganoff

Where: Picanha Churrascaria, 68510 Highway 111, Cathedral City

How much: Included in the $23.95 to $27.95 all-you-can-eat price (depending on day of the week); call to confirm the stroganoff is being offered

Contact info: 328-1818;

Why: Because it's sweet with a zing.

If you're into the Atkins diet, or just seriously into meat, Brazilian churrascaria is definitely on the menu. What could be better than having all sorts of meats on skewers brought to your table?

I've eaten at different Brazilian churrascarias all over the country, and at every single one of them, the salad bar/buffet section is generally ignored. The point is the meat, right? Who cares about vegetables and other non-meat offerings?

However, Picanha usually has a gem hiding in their buffet: the chicken stroganoff. I've enjoyed this dish many times at Picanha, although it was not available on my last trip there (before my recent visit), which took place a year or so ago. And while Picanha's off-season closure last year mysteriously lingered longer than planned (the restaurant did not reopen until mid-November), I was afraid that I'd never get to enjoy the stroganoff again. However, the stroganoff was there during the aforementioned recent visit to Picanha, and all was right with the world.

The sauce has a light, creamy tomato base, and is sweet—but has a zing to it. The stroganoff also has big chunks of chicken in it (continuing the mega-meat experience) as well as mushrooms. But it's really all about the sauce, and that sweet-with-a-zing taste is more than slightly addictive. You might find yourself dredging your formerly skewered meats through the leftover sauce.

The stroganoff works well when spread over rice—which won't work well if you're on Atkins. But try it anyway. We won't tell.

What: Gypsy veal schnitzel

Where: Johannes Restaurant, 196 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $25

Contact info: 778-0017;

Why: Because of the variety and intensity of flavor.

Johannes, located just a wee bit off the beaten path in downtown Palm Springs, offers a variety of Continental cuisine, especially Austrian/Viennese favorites—and while the restaurant celebrates its 13th anniversary, included is an entire menu of schnitzels (mostly made with veal, of course, but some made with organic chicken).

While the schnitzels offer a variety of ingredients and, therefore, flavors, the gypsy is the one that has the most flavor. On top of the nicely crunchy schnitzel is a flavorful green peppercorn-brandy sauce, capers, baby pickles, onions and roasted fingerling potatoes. This is not a dish for people who like nuance; this is a dish for people who like a full-throttle taste-buds assault.

The mix of intense flavors makes this dish a real winner. All dishes come with a ewer of yogurt with dill and cucumber, which makes a nice contrast to the schnitzel.