From comfort food to sushi, New American to vegan, the Valley inspires diners

 By Kimberly Nichols


Comfort food with flair abounds at Dringk, the new hot spot at The River at Rancho Mirage. Fun shareable plates start at $5 to $10 dollars and include burgers and rustic pizzas. But fan favorites are the fried Brussels sprouts, poke bowl, fish & chips and a Nashville chicken burger with addicting house-made hot sauce. $5 draft beer, wine, cocktails and a signature selection of mules are served all day. Better yet, you can hang out until 1 a.m. every night but Sunday to play pool, foosball, darts, shuffleboard or pinball. Brunch is served on weekends, and on Saturday nights a live DJ fills the dance floor. (71800 CA-111, Ste. 101, Rancho Mirage; 760.888.0111;

849 Restaurant & Lounge

849 is famous for its modern white décor punctuated with art and its thriving hub of diners who set the pulse of the Palm Springs leisure lifestyle. For spring, Chef Israel Jimenez will create a new menu showcasing the best seasonal produce to go alongside stellar standards such as a burger slathered with Beecher’s white cheddar or Shaft’s blue cheese on a brioche bun. For those seeking a more elegant meal, the grilled Scottish steelhead salmon with fennel, orange, basil, crispy rice cake and arbequina olive oil is a winning choice. Definitely try the Eight4Nine, a cocktail of Carter Lake reserve vodka, chilled mionetto, Prosecco, limoncello, mandarin napoleon and fresh strawberry. (849 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760.325.8490;

 AC3 Restaurant + Bar
This fresh new restaurant at the boutique Hotel Paseo is the winning collaboration between two of Palm Springs’ most popular restaurants, Trio and Copley’s on Palm Canyon. Offering New American food with a twist, the menu features local ingredients, craft cocktails and beer and a curated wine list. Whether stopping in for a late afternoon board of luscious charcuterie with chardonnay, or enjoying a dinner of Berkshire pork schnitzel and a hearty brew of Belgian-style wheat, make a point to grab an order of the amazing fried chicken oysters with blue cheese aioli. (45350 Larkspur Lane, Palm Desert; 760.340.6069;

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar & Grill

Chef Elias Jimenez blends traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine in signature dishes such as the ultra authentic chile relleno or savory tamales Jalisco. Patrons love the taco fiesta for two, featuring plates overflowing with carne asada, pollo asada, carnitas, chorizo, tortillas and a variety of toppings. For spring, the citrus-dressed El Jefe salad highlights plump, jumbo shrimp. Of course, no meal would be complete without one of the restaurant’s famous agave margaritas. (73325 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760.836.9028;

Wildest Greens

Beloved valley Bikram yogi Denise DuBarry-Hay has opened a casual, organic spot for healthy eaters right in the heart of El Paseo. Brunch is served everyday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features pancakes for every persuasion from paleo to vegan to whole grain to German, creative egg dishes, savory wraps, flatbreads and soups. Kombucha, house-made nut mylks, smoothies, organic wines and mimosas and fresh juices are also available. You can even build your own salad or grain bowls, selecting up to ten plant-based ingredients for $12. Must-try items are the whole roasted cauliflower, bison burger, Buddha bowl, vegan tuna boats and the soothing bone broth. (72990 El Paseo #3, Palm Desert; 760.574.2450;

Heirloom Craft Kitchen

Chef Andie Hubka of the ever-popular Cork & Fork has added Heirloom Craft Kitchen to her culinary lexicon. Her new spring menu offers dishes most requested by locals such as a braised short-rib with bacon Brussels sprouts hash served over creamy polenta, and a wild spring mushroom risotto created for vegetarian guests. The spot is also known for its heirloom burger that is outstanding paired with truffle tots dusted with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese. Brunch on Sunday boasts tangy chilaquiles and the cheesecake-stuffed French toast with blueberry-orange compote. The craft beer program is notable but there will be plenty of rosé wines and Champagnes slated for the season as well. (49990 Jefferson Blvd., Ste. 100, Indio; 760.773.2233;

Domo Sushi on El Paseo

After a storied career at places such as Nobu New York and Blue Point San Francisco, renowned Chef Jin now holds reign at a hot new sushi restaurant in the valley. Following five years at Domo Desert Hot Springs, Chef Jin has opened this latest spot on El Paseo, featuring such specialties as the best-selling Domo Arigato with shrimp tempura, crab, spicy tuna, avocado and cucumber topped with tuna, salmon, mango and tobiko. The food is as beautiful as the fine casual ambiance created by the serene Japanese décor. (73655 El Paseo, Ste. L & M, Palm Desert; 760.610.5760;

Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

Open 4:30-10 p.m. daily in Palm Springs, Sandfish furthers the wonderful world of sushi we’ve come to know from Chef Engin Onural of Palm Desert’s Venue Sushi and Sake. This West valley location has a big city vibe, hip décor and a roster of gorgeously designed rolls including the sandfish with thin fried potatoes and scallions sprinkled over it like a dose of the finest umami. Wash it all down with the creative Totoro’s tea combining whiskey, matcha, banana liquor and egg white. Just in for a quick snack? Opt for a tuna tostada at the lively bar. (1556 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760.537.1022;

Kimberly Nichols is a staff writer with Desert Golf & Tennis

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