It’s game, set and match for this season’s cuisine

Our dining guide puts La Quinta and environs in the spotlight during the BNP Paribas

By Alison Elsner

La Quinta is definitely seeing its 15 minutes of fame and then some, and it’s well earned. With events such as the BNP Paribas Open and Desert Smash taking over the town this spring, restaurateurs have stepped up in a big way to ensure that both newbies and frequent fliers will come away reflecting on a world class lifestyle experience. From traditional chef’s cuisine to contemporary California to the finest steaks and seafood, the culinary options abound in La Quinta as well as in nearby Indian Wells and Palm Desert. The exciting part is that every level of taste and affordability is covered, making cuisine the great equalizer with everyone invited to partake and appreciate.

 

Our collection of dining establishments will appeal to athletes as well as spectators. Foodies, rejoice!

 

La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill & Bar

Voted best happy hour in the Coachella Valley, this upscale casual eatery built into the side of a boulder has a bar scene as active as its dining room. Guests know to arrive prior to 5 p.m. to nab a seat on the coveted patio, with heat lamps and water features all around. The indoor lounge is vibrant and always popular for happy hour from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., serving up casual bar fare and perfectly poured drinks at discounts.

 

Whether dining al fresco or in the main dining room, one might start with a frozen painkiller or false idol, followed by salt spring mussels or fried zucchini sticks. For an entrée, pan roasted Chilean seabass, vegetarian pasta, bone-in porkchop, seared rare ahi tuna and grilled filet mignon are perfect accompaniments to cilantro corn soup and Caesar salad. For fish dishes, a glass of Rombauer chardonnay is fresh and satisfying. There are also plenty of selections from the award-winning wine list.

 

The Cliffhouse is a not-so hidden gem that creates tasteful memories.

 

78250 Highway 111, La Quinta, 760.360.5992, laquintacliffhouse.com

 

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

The standard bearer of desert steakhouses, LG’s showcases top quality steaks with  outstanding taste, texture and a bit of attitude. All steaks are USDA prime, midwestern corn-fed beef, fresh and never frozen, aged masterfully and hand trimmed on premises.

 

The La Quinta location is less than two miles from the site of the BNP Paribas and boasts an underground, award-winning wine cellar with a 1,000 bottle display and over 200 different cabernet sauvignons as well as elevator access.

 

Favorite appetizers include wagon wheels and oysters on the half shell, while entrées serve up filet mignon, New York, bone in rib eye, Chateaubriand for two and the “Jewel in the Crown,” an 28-ounce porterhouse dry aged on premises for 28 days. The creamed spinach and roasted garlic mashed potatoes are mandatory.

 

78525 Highway 111, Suite 100, La Quinta, 760.771.9911

255 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760.416.1779

lgsprimesteakhouse.com

 

Mélange at Chateau La Quinta

Evocative of a luxurious European getaway, the patio dining experience within a luxury boutique resort surrounds diners with majestic mountain views overlooking a picturesque lake. Specializing in California family farm-sourced ingredients, the menu offers classic and contemporary dishes.

 

The fire pit keeps the vibe relaxed and cozy while guests enjoy cocktails such as a Chateau Bellini and Caleo Bay cooler. Or start with a glass or bottle of Brander Santa Ynez sauvignon blanc or a Coppola Director’s Son merlot.

 

Lunch, dinner and brunch include Margaretta flatbread, salmon filet with miso sauce, grilled flatiron with peppercorn sauce and strawberry and goat cheese blintz.

 

Dining with the ultimate view makes everything taste even better, and it’s pretty spectacular to begin with at Mélange.

 

78120 Caleo Bay Drive, La Quinta, 760.564.7332, thechateau.com/dining

 

Mimmo’s Italian Restaurant and Bar

Always receiving top marks on Yelp, OpenTable and Trip Advisor, Mimmo’s greets guests with an inviting and active bar area (expanded just over a year ago) as well as a cozy and attractive dining room and an oasis of outdoor seating. The chef ensures that all sauces, ravioli, tapenade, breads and desserts are house-made daily, reminiscent of Mimmo’s home town of Bagheria, Sicily.  The restaurant’s logo, which features a lemon and lemon flower (zagara), serves as a symbol of Sicily’s illustrious history of lemon cultivation and exportation. Moreover, it holds personal significance for Mimmo, evoking memories of picking lemons in his grandfather’s groves.

Whether visiting for happy hour or dinner, a great start is with the addictive garlic bread while enjoying a glass of wine or a specialty cocktail, such as a pommatini, limoncello drop or monte Negroni. The first course offers creamy soups, salads and appetizers such as special bean soup, iceberg wedge with prosciutto, homemade Italian sausage and numerous others that will bring pure joy.

Main course options include linguine alle vongole (with fresh clam sauce), Petrale sole or sand dabs with capers and lemon butter sauce, pollo piccata with capers, eggplant parmigiana and an innovative collection of other choices. Desserts – or dolce – are divine, with options including Sicilian cannoli and Italian chocolate mousse.

 73540 Highway 111, Palm Desert, 760.346.9712, mimmospd.com

  The Nest

Going strong since 1965, The Nest is known for its lively lounge scene as well as contemporary dishes, including gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian options, while also offering classic favorites such as escargot and sole piccata. Owner Dodi Henry’s European heritage along with influences from the Adriatic Sea are well-represented, with dishes like mom’s stuffed cabbage rolls, goulash and homemade sausage (ćevapčići).

Appetizers such as seared rare ahi and spicy crispy cauliflower lay the groundwork for tasty entrées including Peter’s prime bone ribeye steak (16 ounces), fettucine Alfredo and blackened or grilled Norwegian salmon.  Every meal will find its pairing in the pages of the expertly curated wine list as well as the full cocktail menu.

The Nest offers happy hour seven nights a week, and the nightly entertainment with Dodi’s husband and co-owner Kevin Henry and other talents keeps friends and family coming back for food and fun.

 

75188 Highway 111, Indian Wells, 760.346.2314, gotothenest.com

Okura Robata Grill & Sushi Bar

Okura serves up a fusion of Japanese and California cuisine in a chic contemporary restaurant space that has a Hollywood vibe. Custom décor includes gold Kriska decor chains hanging from the ceiling, a life-size, petrified Japanese cherry blossom tree at the center of the restaurant and a four-foot high bronze Buddha. A geisha angel mural adds plenty of personality in the bar.

Okura is the only sushi restaurant in the region to receive daily deliveries of grade A fish. Beyond an expansive sushi menu, there are thoughtfully prepared selections such as skewers from the robata grill, salads, Kobe steak, tempura and chicken, beef and fish entrées.

The full bar features signature cocktails such as the geisha girl and lychee martini, as well as premium sakes, wine and beer.

Favorite menu items include Asian pear salad, tuna fire cracker and Serrano salmon carpaccio as well as entrées such as black cod, Robata grilled spare ribs and Okura bento box.

78480 Highway 111, La Quinta, 760.564.5820, okurasushi.com

Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill

Stuft Pizza is a favorite in the Coachella Valley for locals and visitors alike, one of those favorites where the food is consistent and the atmosphere is bustling. Their extensive menu, full bar, impressive wine list and HD TVs for sports fans lend a sought-after spin on the original pizzeria.

 

The family-owned business is excited that the Old Town La Quinta location just celebrated 19 years with many more planned for the future. They just completed a major upgrade with a stylish new patio, rebuilt from the ground up with new flooring and a complete trellis covering the entire outdoor space. Owner John Bertram notes that this will create the perfect shade and wind protection with drop shades. The entire patio has also been enhanced with permanent heaters, lighting, a sound system and misters…the works!

Cocktails include treats such as coconut mango mai tai and blueberry smash. Menu items serve up Chuck’s baby back ribs, ahi tuna poke stack, pollo parmigiana, half pound cheeseburger and seven-ounce petite filet mignon, among dozens of other mouthwatering offerings.

Every Wednesday evening, prime rib night is offered beginning at 3 p.m. at both locations. Pizza combinations boggle the mind, and “Stuff with Noodles” features asiago mac and cheese and New Orleans chicken and shrimp.

Stuft Pizza literally has something for everyone.

78015 Main Street, La Quinta, 760.777.9989

72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert,760.610.7990

stuftpizzabarandgrill.com

Vicky’s of Santa Fe

Regularly hitting all the marks for cuisine, wine, service and entertainment, Vicky’s maintains a high performing menu of prime steaks, fresh seafood, rack of lamb and pork chops which pair with sides such as creamed spinach and potato au gratin. A walk-in wine cellar features well-known California wines and select boutique vintners, and signature cocktails shake things up at the spacious center bar.

Favorite menu items include sand dabs picata style, chicken pot pie, lobster ravioli and New York steak (14 ounces). For a special treat, try the Flight 35 mixed grill with salmon, pancetta shrimp, chicken breast, New York steak and lamb chops with green beans and twice baked potato.

There’s non-stop entertainment in the Lounge Room with live music from John Stanley King as well as electrifying performances with no cover nightly with two sets on Fridays and Saturdays. As regulars know, Vicky’s is also home to the Slim Man Band, Rose Mallett and Company, JSK Country Cowboy Songs and more.

45100 Club Drive, Indian Wells, 760.345.9770, vickysofsantafe.com