by Patte Purcell

How can you tell you’ve found a great place to eat? You know you’ve got a winner when the parking lot is always full. I found such a winner at Manhattans in the Desert located at 2665 East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

I stopped by last Sunday for my Manhattan’s ‘French dip’ fix and I spoke with their personable General Manager Kim Guzman who exuded enthusiasm as she spoke about the restaurant. Open almost 9 years it still retains the original cooks and 65% of the employees, obviously a great place to work. She mentioned that a new owner took over 2 years ago, Jamie Pinto, a good New York Jewish boy who truly appreciates good food quality. He’s gone to work updating and refurbishing and immediately put in new comfy chairs for the patrons. A brief period of fresh paint is happening next week for 4 days while new carpeting and paint are applied. A new patio area has opened with misters, great outdoor tables with umbrellas and is ‘dog friendly’ for all you pooch owners, bring the kids!

Ok, on to the food! I first visited Manhattan’s last spring with my sister and we both had the French Dip with our choice of roast beef, pastrami, or brisket served on a French roll with real au jus. I chose the melt in your mouth brisket which is mile high with fat home-made French fries and chilled coleslaw. Kim pointed out that all of their meats are cured, smoked and roasted on site along with their freshly baked breads, bagels and pastries which are made fresh daily. Their breads include a double rye, and egg bread. There is a dish of homemade dill pickles and pickled tomatoes that are made and grown especially for Manhattans in the Desert. There are 102 different hot and cold deli sandwiches to choose from at Manhattans from traditional sandwiches like fresh or smoked turkey, to rare roast beef, pickled tongue, kosher salami or cold baked meat loaf. Every sandwich is piled high with meat and trimmings. I actually eat only half when I go and take the other half home for an easy dinner. Their portions are hearty and every mouthful a treat. Prices are very reasonable ranging from the avocado- jack for $8.99 to the peppered turkey pastrami for $10.99.

There are 6 Manhattan grinders including: Mouth-watering Philly Cheesesteak sandwich served on a hot French roll with sliced ribeye, grilled onion, red and green pepper, and melted provolone cheese for $11.99 or homemade sausage served on a French roll with melted mozzarella cheese $11.99 (you can add grilled onions and peppers if you’d like for $1.99 more) and they include fries and coleslaw.

Hot dog lovers can enjoy a selection of 8 different hotdogs topped with trimmings. The Pastrami dog is topped with yellow mustard and pickles and served on a poppy seed bun. A build your own burger or grilled chicken sandwich is offered. You can also get 1/2 a sandwich and soup or salad for $10.99. Did I mention salads? A total of 19 different salad selections are offered. The Manhattan Chef salad features, baked ham, fresh turkey, Swiss and American cheese on a bed of fresh greens topped off with a hard- boiled egg and sliced tomato for $9.99 for 1/2 or $12.99 for a full. Cobb, antipasto, Greek, fresh vegetable salad, Caesar salad and the list goes on to a whitefish salad platter or chopped liver platter, traditional deli fare.

For Italian lovers there is a selection of pastas with 25 year old recipes from a couple who formerly had an Italian restaurant and then came to work at Manhattans. Spaghetti and meatballs, Fettuccini Alfredo and homemade ravioli are just a few of the selections. The Pizza is also a favorite and is made in an old style pizza oven. Red and white sauces and special recipes including the Mama Manhattan’s favorite with mozzarella, fresh garlic, red onion, artichokes and fresh tomato round out the menu. There’s something for everyone!

Wait, there’s more! Are you looking for a great breakfast place? You found it! Traditional favorites including Jewish deli scramble is served open face on a toasted fresh bagel and smothered in thinly sliced nova lox is only one of the offerings. Mexicali favorites are also on the menu. You can take your choice of Huevos Rancheros with corn tortillas or Mexican Tortilla scramble. A selection of omelets like the avocado, mushroom, and jack or ‘build your own’ are available along with traditional eggs dishes served with bacon or sausage links and pancakes are also on the menu. Stacks of pancakes, French toast, homemade Danish, smoked fish platters, the list goes on and on. Breakfast is served all day and evening hours and the service is great too!

Ok, one more thing I need to mention, desserts!! Kim brought me a piece of their best-selling carrot cake (or should I say practically the whole cake), OMG, it is the best I’ve ever had. The buttercream frosting melts in your mouth along with the moist cake. They have a complete selection of the most scrumptious looking desserts you’ll ever see. 30 different pastries are offered. Don’t miss their éclairs another Manhattans favorite and one of mine too! 7 kinds of cheesecake, 7 layer rum cake, apple strudel, a jumbo brownie, not to mention rice or bread pudding. Cookies, ice cream sundaes and other fountain specialties top it off. Are you hungry yet? Manhattan also caters and makes custom cakes for all occasions, and take-out is available on everything!

Manhattans is open Sunday –Thursday, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Friday & Saturday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM