The area between Palm Springs and Indio has always been a special place for me and my wife. We make a mostly-annual pilgrimage to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts festival with our friends, plus we honeymooned out there.
Nadia was all about going back for her birthday earlier this month. She Groupon’d an awesome suite at The Riviera and mapped out a few places to visit.
Keep reading for some delicious desert food picks.
We started our trip at Tyler’s, an amazing little burger spot with an obnoxious location smack in the middle of Downtown. Parking can be a pain, there is always a long wait and the restaurant is cash only because it hates you … but one bite of that burger makes you forget the hoops you jumped through to get here.
The meat is more of a baseball than a Frisbee, with gobs of cheese melted into the craters of the beef. The bun is doughy and sturdy, absorbing the juices handily. No special sauce here, just ketchup and mustard, plus an array of toppings most comparable to the selection at Fatburger.
A person near us ordered chili fries and Nadia was sold. Crunchy spuds. A nearly grease-less, flavorful chili. Raw onion for bite. A meal on its own, really.
Also, DO NOT SKIP THE LEMONADE. Seriously. I go for this as much as I do the burger.
We had lunch one day at Monsoon Indian Cuisine, because my boo loves her Indian fare (and Indian dudes, clearly).
The lunch buffet was about $10 per person and offered a varied selection of meat and vegetarian dishes.
The chicken tikka masala, my second all-time-favorite Indo-Pak dish, is fairly glorious here. The sauce is thick, creamy and flavorful; the namesake chicken is tender white meat, cut in large chunks. The potato samosa could have been crispier, but the insanely delicious “meatball curry,” simple beef meatballs in a savory, pale yellow sauce, made up for the few shortcomings.
Plus, it’s a buffet. Stuff cools down. And the foot traffic didn’t pick up until we started eating. This is likely our desert Indian spot for now on.
Side note: The wallpaper is majestic.
Nadia’s birthday dinner was at Jiao, one of three spots on the same block owned by a husband and wife from the area. The menu pulls from various countries to create an upscale-ish, creative take on Asian street grub.
Avoid visiting in the last hour or so. They were out of many items by that time, so we missed out on some killer-sounding dishes. Lucky for me, I caught a view of the day’s specials on the way to wash my hands, so I knew what to order …
Fried chicken with sweet chili sauce, coleslaw and the most delicious little bowl of steamed white rice! I’d actually been craving fried chicken and this diversion from the traditional hit the spot in an unexpected way.
Tempura green beans, even with their miserly dollop of aoili, owned our faces, and was the dish of the night.
We headed back the next morning to try the couple’s breakfast spot, Cheeky’s, on the way out of town. I’m very much down with the “everything’s from scratch” ethic of this place, but the meal was more miss than hit.
Sausage and eggs were underwhelming. The “custard cheesy scrambled eggs,” which I admittedly requested to be cooked past custardy, were still in need of salt. The house-made sausage patty was too small, too burned, and left an unattractive slick of grease and oil on the plate.
The bacon flight, another promising venture, didn’t take off. Never mind the flavors; most of our strips were scorched. One was all messed up and broken. I wouldn’t have let this plate out of the kitchen.
The lone highlight was a massive breakfast burrito that came with a side of tomato soup-like salsa. The ingredients were layered on top of each other in the tortilla rather than scrambled together with the eggs and that made all the difference to the wife.
Overall, a pretty successful and relaxing two and a half-days only a couple of hours from home. We ate, we shopped, we ate some more.
And with bellies full, we headed home. Until next time …