By Raymond Bill

It seems that everywhere I turn in this valley, a new Mexican restaurant has opened. I don’t mind trying the new restaurants but I always come back to my favorites. This week, I treated my girlfriend to Don Diego’s of Indian Wells for some strong margaritas and a great meal. Although located at the end of a strip mall on the main highway, you would never know once you enter the restaurant. We dined outside under the stars near a large fountain and immediately felt at ease.

The restaurant was full, both inside and out on the patio. We waited briefly while a table was set for us. I enjoy dining in a full restaurant; it means they’re doing something right. Greeting us with a smile, Jose offered us a beverage and we obliged. We began with some guacamole to accompany the chips and salsa that had arrived shortly after we were seated. I must say, and I have said this many times before, Don Diego’s has the best guacamole in the desert! Our Cadillac Margaritas were quite strong, enough that we did not need a second.

Once we were settled and had reviewed the menu, we selected an appetizer of shrimp cocktail to share. It was served in a tall glass and reminded me of my many trips to Ensenada to visit my Aunt. The shrimp were fresh and delicious! For entrees, I ordered the Fajitas, a combination of filet mignon and chicken. My date ordered a chicken tamale and chicken enchilada. Placed before me was a cast iron skillet, sizzling with peppers and onions mixed with big chunks of tender steak and chicken. It was a generous portion that I was unable to finish in one sitting, but I savored every last bite the following day. These are certainly the best fajitas for the price in the valley! The tamale and enchilada were well presented and generous in portion as well.

Other highlights of the meal worth mentioning were that the beans were a perfect creamy texture and the chips were crisp and warm. Nothing beats fresh chips and guacamole! Also, the live guitar music played on the patio is a nice unobtrusive touch. I am not a fan of loud mariachi and gaudy costumes. The entertainment is perfect for all audiences. The large patio is also dog friendly.

We finished our evening with a light dessert. Sopaipilla is an authentic Mexican fried bread, similar to a doughnut or beignet. It was served with light whipped cream, fresh berries and ice cream. Though I thought I was full, this light dessert never stood a chance. What a perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Don Diego’s is also open for breakfast Thursday through Saturday from 8am to 11am and Sunday from 8am to 1pm. Lunch and dinner are available daily. I would recommend stopping in for their “Fiesta Hour” between 3pm and 6pm daily for reduced priced drinks and try the guacamole. Chances are you will want to make a reservation for dinner before you leave! Don Diego’s of Indian Wells is located at the Southwest corner of Cook St. and Hwy 111 in the Village Shopping Center. For information or reservations, call them at 760-340-5588 or visit www.dondiegorestaurant.com

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