By Tracy Dietlin

While the Coachella Valley is home to many amazing restaurants, it would be difficult to match the outdoor beauty of Jackalope Ranch in Indio. There are waterfalls in the parking lot and on both sides of the entry walkway that greet you as you enter. Once inside, the restaurant has a rustic yet classy feel. It recently received a facelift with gorgeous new tabletops giving the rich dark tones a brighter look. The backyard is absolutely magical with more waterfalls and lush greenery making it the perfect place for outdoor dining with the family or a romantic meal. They also have large private dining rooms to host your special occasions.

I originally went to Jackalope a couple months ago for dinner with my husband, with the intention of writing a review. I’m always impressed when I see the staff giving the same quality service to other guests as they do to us. That was the case on that evening, as my daughter and her husband had snuck in and were seated at a different table without our knowledge. They were as impressed with the food and service as we were. I attribute this to their team being under the management of Paul Goldstine, who recently returned to the restaurant this year.

We started out with cocktails and appetizers. We shared the blue crab cakes which were nicely seasoned and the calamari fries, both of which were fantastic. We have returned on several occasions since just to have these two appetizers with cocktails.

We then decided to split a bottle of red wine to pair with our main meal. I chose the Scottish salmon, which was accompanied by a delicious vegetable rice pilaf, broccolini, with a saffron carrot reduction, making this one of my favorite salmon dishes in the valley. Absolutely delicious! My husband selected the center cut 11 ounce filet mignon with mashed potatoes and a stuffed tomato. Of course I made him share the steak and I must say that it is one of the best I’ve had in town. I am difficult to satisfy when it comes to how my steak is cooked, but this filet was perfectly prepared. And yes, we have since returned for me to order the filet for myself.

It is important to point out that our server was superb through the whole evening; bringing our salads and bread at just the right interval after our appetizers and allowing the proper time before delivering our main meal. He also gave us time to percolate a bit before coming out of our food coma to enjoy a couple delicious dessert selections served with a fine cognac to finish the evening. When dining at a restaurant like this it’s important to be able to savor the experience and not feel rushed.

I must add that we have been back to Jackalope on too many occasions to count since this first dining experience. Let me just say that we are smitten with the food, service, ambience and now entertainment. While I give 5 stars to the restaurant for its fine dining, I also give the same props to the bar and cocktail lounge. We have enjoyed many meals there while partaking in one of the best craft cocktail menus in town. I highly suggest any BBQ item they have on their menu. At this point we’ve tried them all and can confidently endorse any one of them.

The big comfortable booths or hightop tables, if you prefer, make it the perfect place to kick back and watch football, enjoy lunch, Happy Hour, or listen to their new live entertainment on Friday nights: Country Club’n with Lisa Lynn and the Country Gentlemen and the Rockin’ the Ranch on Saturday nights with some of the best music acts the desert has to offer with the lineup changing weekly. Also make sure to check out their Un-Wine’d Wednesdays where you can take advantage of ½ price glasses and bottles of their complete wine menu. For more info go to: thejackaloperanch.com or call 760-342-1999.

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