This year Phil and I decided to do something different and fun. As our readers know, we host 3 big events every year: The CV Music Awards, The CV Music Showcase preliminary rounds and Finals, and The Top Men & Women’s Charity Event. In our first 2 years of CV Weekly we did a Best of Awards Event for businesses, but after that, with so many other publications doing Best Of’s, we decided to focus on the other unique events that only our publication provides. But this year we thought it would be fun to have our CV Weekly team to offer up 5 of their favorite things in the CV. I told the team it could be anything: Restaurants, Bars, Events, Theatres, Casinos, Tattoo shops, Businesses, Medical, Fun things to do in town, etc. So here you go readers… “A Few of Our Favorite Things in the CV in 2018 from the CV Weekly Team.”
Tracy Dietlin – Owner/Publisher/Editor (Ok so I went over the 5, but I wear several hats here so that makes it ok, right?)
Alps on Country Club in Palm Desert- This has become our favorite spot. The owner Blanca and her sister Zrinka always make us feel like we are part of their family. The food is delicious; I love the cucumber soup, chicken cabbage soup, pretzel and every entrée on the menu. They also have a cool bar that has my Cucumber Mint Ketel One vodka as well as a great wine selection.
Luna Grill on Highway 111 in Palm Desert- We eat here at least once a week, sometimes more. I love their chicken kabob plate and the prices are reasonable. Grubhub also delivers from there too.
Melange at Lake La Quinta on Caleo Bay in La Quinta- This is another cozy place with an upscale flair. I love their chicken piccatta and scallops. Very cool atmosphere and bar inside where you can even cozy up to the fireplace, but the outside dining and view are amazing.
Acqua California Bistro at The River in Rancho Mirage- I’ve never had a bad meal there. The menu is so extensive that it’s hard to decide, but it reassures there is something for everyone. And owner Jerry Keller is the best!
Desert Fox on San Pablo in Palm Desert- This small bar has a very cool vibe and I love to go there to hear acoustic performances. It’s different than any other watering holes in the valley. And they also have my Cucumber Mint Ketel One vodka. Score!! And owner Mark green is one cool cat!
Big Rock Pub on Jefferson in Indio- Phil and I spend entirely too much time there. We love all of the staff and feel like family there. It has that Cheers feeling for us. The food is great and we enjoy hearing our favorite bands perform there as the sound is always good. Owner Ken Hanna is a great guy and our very own girl, Lisa Morgan, does a fantastic job booking the entertainment.
Miramonte Resort/The Well Spa- My favorite place in the valley to get a massage. I recommend Monica as she’s the best in town. The Citrus & Palm Restaurant is also a fave with Chef Paul always serving unique dishes. It’s a fun place to enjoy live music too. If you’re looking for a local Staycation this is your spot; it will make you feel like you’re in Tuscany.
My Little Flower Shop in Palm Springs- Owner Gregory Goodman always takes such good care of us and provides the most beautiful arrangements in the desert; very unique and artistic. I still have one of his almost 3 foot arrangements in my dining room from months ago. Yes the flowers are dead, but it still looks pretty cool.
Venus de Fido in Palm Desert- This place is amazing! Where else can you go to get a facial, massage, sit in the salt cave, workout, take a yoga class, have lunch, shop in their boutique, play a game of squash, have lunch or a glass of wine and enjoy live music AND be able to bring your dog with you for a spa treatment of their own or to run in the indoor dog park. They host events there too! Lorie Loftis is doing a great job running it.
Concert for Autism Benefit at The Tack Room- This event is put on by Josh and Linda Heinz and it gets bigger and better every year. It’s kind of like a mini local Coachella. They put a lot of time and love into this event and it shows. All my favorite local bands at one event! And of course, the money raised goes to support the Autism Foundation.
Jeff Bowman’s Mixed Up Music Party at The Hood- This was such a great concept that Jeff came up with, to have all these musicians be put in bands by having their names drawn randomly, then rehearsing with said bands and then performing a set of songs at this show. There were 5 bands and they all gave worthy performances like super groups. Can’t wait until next year when he does it again. And the money raised at the door went to support the Desert Cancer Foundation.
Mai Hair Salon on El Paseo in Palm Desert- I absolutely love Maily. She gets my hair color done perfectly every time. She even talked me into letting her cut a few inches off a couple months ago.
Phil Lacombe – Distribution Manager/Social Media Guru/Club Crawler Editor
2nd Amendment Sports – Just an awesome place to shoot with a very knowledgeable staff.
Stuft Pizza – I honestly have never had a bad meal there.
Laser Oasis – It just brings out the kid in me.
Miramonte – The massage therapists (Miranda in particular) is by far the best in the valley.
Ralph’s in Bermuda Dunes – Great staff!! Love this grocery store.
Robert Chance – Art Director
Mexican Restaurant – Pueblo Viejo Grill in Indio. A place that my adorable wife lovingly refers to as “Pablo Pendejo” because she forgets how to pronounce the real name. We frequent this quaint, hole in the wall often and have never been disappointed.
Movie Theater – TIE Between Mary Pickford is D’Place in Cathedral City and Century La Quinta and XD. Both have reserved reclining seats and serve alcohol. Pickford gets BONUS points for having DBOX seats and Century LQ gets BONUS points for proximity to my home.
Local Attraction – Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Everything about it, from the ride experience to the mountain station to the brisk environment. It’s one of my favorite places to be in this whole valley.
Event – Coachella Music & Arts Festival. As 13-year-old kid, I attended the very first one in ’99 and witnessed the crusade that is Rage Against The Machine. Life changing shit. I went from attending almost every year to working there every year. I still love the environment, the entertainment and witnessing the amassing of humanity.
Tamales – Arriola’s Tortilleria in Indio. This gem of a business has been feeding my family for years. If you’ve never been there… Just go. You’re welcome.
Bobby Taffolla – Website Manager
Restaurant: Thai Smile (El Paseo)- Their szechwan style Kung Pao Chicken is my local favorite, quite possibly my all-time favorite. Awesome staff as well!
Dentist: Dr. Duane Nishikubo, DMD- Dr Duane Nishikubo and his team in Palm Desert are the best in general dentistry in the valley. They are down to earth, honest and most importantly total professionals. Without them, my chiclets would be in dire straits right about now!
Music Retail: The Record Alley- Without Jim and his crew’s help over the years, I would have nowhere near the gems in my record collection, 2018 being no exception (‘Blood Kisses’ 3xlp on green and ‘Rocka Rolla’ LP on Cola Green). Not to mention countless band shirts (still have my first band/Metallica shirt I got there back in ’93) and other merch/collectables!
Shipping/Mailbox Service: The UPS Store #4781- Although I have not been an employee in the store for 4 years now, I still visit Beth and her team weekly in La Quinta for Mailbox service, printing and other services! They are without question the best!
Concert/Event: Idyllwild Strong: Cranston Fire Benefit Festival- An amazing experience not only to play, but more importantly to see our local communities in almost no time at all, come together to benefit those impacted by the Cranston fire. A truly amazing event! Puke for Prez!
Tricia Witkower – Feature Writer
Restaurant: Lavender Bistro – In my opinion, this is an easy choice for best restaurant in the Coachella Valley. Everyone from the owner to the busboys make you feel like you’re a part of their Lavender family. The food is nothing short of delicious. The outdoor patio is like a fairy wonderland of twinkling lights and rich ambience. Bob Allen (the house musician) is always ready to play your favorite songs. An absolute gem for all occasions – I’ve had everything from a casual dinner to my wedding rehearsal dinner for 30 there.
La Fe Wine Bar- Such a cute, cozy addition to the El Paseo landscape. The staff and owners are friendly and helpful, whether you need wine suggestions or are trying to decide between the short rib grits and the chicken tacos (try both). As soon as you enter, everyone learns your name. Consider La Fe your upscale version of Cheers.
Vet: Paws N Claws Urgent Care- What a find this was for me, at a time when I was driving all the way back to San Diego to my old vet because I couldn’t find a good enough vet for my golden bestie. Dr. Jameson and Dr. Rimbaud are both warm, personable, and make me feel like Fenway is their favorite patient (but I do think he really might be). When Fenway barges through their doors, he’s greeted by name by everyone, who all seemed legitimately delighted to see him. Vet tech, Seth, is a dog whisperer of sorts and one of the only people who I trust to really deal with Fenway’s ear problems. Paws N Claws prices are shockingly reasonable, and they always find time to fit in appointments on the fly.
Event: Swing ‘N Hops Street Party- I’m a little biased on this, since I’ve organized this fantastic El Paseo event since its inception 4 years ago. But it really is a fun time! There’s swing dancing (with free lessons if you aren’t quite at expert level yet), craft beer and other cocktails (provided by Trio Catering), tasty food trucks, art installations, classic cars, live music, retail vendor booths, wonderful performances by those talented AMP kids, everything you’d want from a street party! Swing ‘N Hops is the featured event for February’s City of Palm Desert First Weekend celebration and is on Saturday, February 2 from 1-5 pm.
Coachella Valley Entertainment Source: CV Weekly!- This one’s a gimme. Find out everything going on in this exciting valley in each week’s publication via exclusive interviews with the acts coming to town. And Tracy and Phil rock!
Aaron Ramson – Brewtality Column
The Palm Springs Art Museum- An excellent collection of art that always displays thought provoking exhibits.
Sunday’s at Wang’s of the Desert – Live music and all day happy hour prices!
Jalisco Restaurant- The best tacos in the entire Coachella valley in a tiny hole in the wall.
The Homestead Cross hiking trail– The best hiking spot in the Coachella valley that offers intense cardio and breathtaking views.
Coachellafest/Stagecoach festivals- The events that put the valley on the map are good for business and culture.
Bruce Cathcart – Real Estate Column
Tomahawk Tuesday for two at Fleming’s in Rancho Mirage- 32 oz. prime Ribeye Tomahawk steak cooked to perfection plus two salads, two sides and two desserts for $120.00. Buy the 20% off gift cards at Costco and go when Flemings offers their $25 off promo and it is like they are paying you to eat like a king!
Stagecoach music festival 2018- seeing Garth Brooks and his wife and Keith Urban performances, but most of all seeing the festival spirit of the Las Vegas shooting survivors in attendance.
Pasta Thursday at the Cactus Grille at the Palm Desert Country Club- Pasta bar with a chef preparing your choice of pasta, sauce and fresh ingredients right in front of you plus soup, Caesar salad, garlic bread and homemade meatballs for $14.95. Beefy deal in the desert but sadly it has been discontinued this season.
2018 SOAR Mutts Margaritas fund raiser event- Society’s Outcast Animal Rescue. This nonprofit raises funds for spay and neuter clinics in the Coachella Valley.
Desert Dunes Animal Hospital in Bermuda Dunes- Dr. Eric Jackman and his staff. Unfortunately, we spent way too much time there with our two Labrador retrievers this past year. They provide competent, compassionate care.
Eleni Austin – Consider This Music column
Whitewater Preserve- This beautiful spot is a few miles outside of Palm Springs and we love going there. The San Gorgonio Mountains surround the Whitewater River, it’s full of wildlife and beautiful flowers which kind of explode in the Springtime. Most important, our dog Denver, (the actual boss of us), loves to hit the trail, wade in the creeks, and sniff out exotic wild animal smells.
Greek Islands- I am half Greek (the other half doesn’t matter, except that it provided me with blonde hair and a small nose), and I grew up in a Greek restaurant in L.A., So, I am very hypercritical when it comes to Greek food. Therefore, I was super-stoked to discover Greek Islands restaurant about five years ago. It’s located in downtown Palm Springs (139 E. Andreas Rd.), and pretty much everything on the menu is amazing, from the appetizers and salads to the entrees and desserts. The owners and staff are kind and welcoming. If I don’t get in there at least once a month they send out a search party!
Rick Shelley Live- Rick Shelley and I have been pals for nearly 33 years, and I’ve watched him evolve as a musician with the bands RagTag and Woodshed. Following a 10-year hiatus he returned to writing, playing and performing as a solo artist in 2014. It’s been very exciting to witness the musical journey he’s been on these last few years. He’s been playing throughout Southern California this last year, so when he plays in the desert, I make sure I’m there.
Pappy & Harriet’s- I’ve been going to Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown since the early ‘90s. When Robyn and Linda took over 15 years ago, it felt like the stars aligned and finally (finally) there was a music venue in the desert that featured local bands as well superstars like Rickie Lee Jones, X and Patty Griffin. (And local superstars like Victoria Williams and Teddy Quinn). They are currently experiencing a commercial renaissance, making it a little more complicated to get my favorite table by the window and stage, but that’s okay. They deserve that success, and as much as I go there for the music, I also love the food. Don’t get me started on their cheese fries….
Palm Springs Library- I love reading, but I don’t always want to own each book I read. I’ve been visiting the Palm Springs Library since the early ‘80s and that intensified when I moved from La Quinta to Palm Springs in 1991. The library provides myriad services with not a lot of funding. I will never be one of those people that reads a book on my tiny device. I like holding a Book in my hands. So I am very grateful for the library.
Denise Neil – Features Writer/Restaurant Reviews
Counter Reformation at The Parker- Secluded, Sexy and Stunningly delicious.
India Oven-Intimate dining, Murgh Makhani, Muligatawany.
Fresh Agave-Cozy and colorful, sitting at the bar, massive Margarita on the rocks, Grilled Chicken Quesadilla…perfect!
Casa de Silvia-Home style Mexican comfort food, award winning Tamales, magnificent Mole, crack beans, Caramel Flan.
Stuft Pizza Old Town La Quinta- Favorite Happy Hour, White Pizza, spinach, mushrooms and onion, Goblet of Grigio.
Jason Hall – Music Writer
Best bar: Tonga Hut is my pick for best bar. The drinks are traditional tiki, the food is great, the staff is amazing, and “Tiki Taco Tuesday” is the best taco Tuesday in the Valley. A Mai Tai and 3 tacos for $12.
Best new old place: Wally’s Desert Turtle with a new lounge menu designed to expose the menu to a new more casually oriented diner and a fully new crafted cocktail menu with something for every taste bud.
Best restaurant/music venue: Pappy & Harriet’s of course! The menu has something for everybody. A catfish sandwich which even non-fish fans will absolutely love is the best surprise on the menu. The ribs are the best I’ve had across the country. The bands who come through are the best in the business, and the vibe is magical. It’s worth the 1-hour drive and possible 2 hour wait for food.
Beat vintage store: The high desert has no shortage of vintage stores, but the one which stands out the most is Black Luck Vintage. Rachel, the owner, carefully curates the products and makes sure to keep her inventory fresh and fun. Black Luck also hosts maker’s markets and various workshops and artist’s work.
The best overall thing about the Coachella Valley: The music. We have the strongest and most distinct music scene. Throw a rock and you’ll hit a musician of some sort. This Valley has always attracted the most talented of musicians starting with the Rat Pack and people like Otis Redding playing The Chi Chi in the 50’s and 60’s. Now our scene is stronger than ever. Guitarists like Mike Pygmie, Mario Lalli, and Arthur Seay are among the best in the business and it shows with their grueling international tour schedules. Drummers like Jeff Bowman, Greg Saenz, and Alfredo Hernandez are among the best drummers in the business. The best thing about our music scene is how diverse it is. We have talented musicians in every genre from hip hop to country to blues to R&B to rock.
Esther Sanchez – Music Writer
Favorite Happy hour, Fresh Agave, Palm Desert- Every day from 3:00-5:00, locals and visitors alike gather for what are hands down, the best margaritas you can get anywhere north of the border. In fact, Fresh Agave’s margaritas are so good that they sincerely ruined margaritas from anywhere else for me. During happy hour, the prices are great and the bar menu that accompanies the drink specials is as delicious as it is economical.
Favorite local podcast, Live at Uncle Ben’s- Looking to laugh whilst passing the time? Straight outta Palm Springs… musician, and personality extraordinaire, Ben Crowson, (drummer for Right On Right On) along with his faithful sidekick, bandmate and BFF, Wes Gainey, spin words and perspectives into giggles and good times. I have joined these guys on the show more than once and my side hurt for a week.
Favorite fresh baked good, Wilma & Frieda’s, Palm Desert- I had no idea how truly magical a scratch-made, English muffin could be until my boyfriend took me to brunch at this shabby-chic little spot tucked up in a corner at the Gardens on El Paseo. If there is such a thing as a baked good that could change your life, this is it. You can dine in or take out any of their awesome selection of goodies wrapped up in an elegant little package that makes you feel extra fancy.
Favorite, over-the-counter bites Carniceria San Miguel, Thousand Palms- Nestled directly next door to my absolute, favorite Mexican restaurant in the desert, Taqueria San Miguel, is my favorite meat-market/convenience store owned by the same family. This past year they installed a counter that serves up all kinds of delicious snacks from over-the-top, fruit salads to nachos to my beloved elotes. It’s comfort-food city for sure.
Favorite, funky store that’s also an NPO. Music Heals, Downtown Palm Springs- Looking for something unique? From vintage clothing and accessories to a great selection of vinyl and more, Music Heals is a kitschy boutique that was opened for the purpose of raising funds for music lessons and instruments for children and young adults in the Autism spectrum. Started by music teacher and supporter of local music, Jason Nutter, Music Heals is a great spot to pick up an out of the ordinary gift or donate your cool stuff to.
Sam DiGiovanna – Safety column
The Grooves Concert Series at the Westin Rancho Mirage – Great venue, nice people, awesome music in a perfect setting – mostly because it’s a gift from a special friend!
Lord Fletchers in Rancho Mirage – Great hospitality with the staff from the moment you enter to when you leave, good food and nice people enjoying it…
World Gym Palm Desert – Have met some really nice (and eclectic) people, lots of health-oriented options and a great place to people watch!
The Omni Resort during hot summer Friday nights listening to the Stanley Butler Band. When the sun sets, it’s a perfect setting with wine and music!
Best Service – Ron Winkle at Roof Asset Management Roofing Co. Best customer service, honest, and they are great down to earth people!
Haddon Libby – Business / Politics Columnist / Music Writer
Neighborhood: Upper Cathedral City Cove. With views that match and exceed the Ritz Carlton in Rancho Mirage, lowly trafficked hiking and biking trails and a culturally diverse community that is actively involved in city planning and the arts, this neighborhood has fewer snowbirds than most areas of the desert.
Dentist: Lake Dental in Palm Springs. Started over 60 years ago by Dr. Lake, three generations have continued their patriarch’s focus on timely, reasonably priced dentistry that does not try and upcharge you like so many others in the valley.
Eyecare: Milauskas Eye Institute, numerous locations. An eye exam here is far more comprehensive than optometrists set up shop at any one of the big box stores yet at a comparable price. For eye health, go nowhere else.
Hair: Brush, Palm Springs. This is a one-person salon run by hair stylist, Barry Nadeau on the northeastern corner of Palm Canyon and Tachevah. Be prepared to book months in advance as Barry is one of the most sought-after hair stylists in the Valley.
Food: Apongs Philly Steak. Located in Cathedral City next to Desert Showgirls and City of Dank, this hole in the wall makes the best philly cheesesteak in the Valley.
Sunny Simon – Life & Career Coach Column
Favorite Business: Provident Bank – Where Everybody Knows Your Name. About a year ago I opened an account at Provident Bank. It still amazes me how I am not just an account number to the bank staff. Not only do they offer superior services, they know my name! Previously I did everything at the ATM window, but now I happily enter the bank and enjoy the friendly atmosphere while I make my transactions.
Event: Escape Room Palm Springs – Challenging Fun. Whether it’s a Girl’s or Guy’s Night Out, a Birthday Bash or when your cousins arrive in town for a visit, a super cool thing to do is booking at game at Escape Room Palm Springs. You’ll find interesting rooms that offer fun and challenge as you team up with your group to beat the clock and escape.
Shopping: Charming Charlie at Westfield Mall– Great gift items. When I’m in need of unique little gifts for my gal pals or fashion accessories for myself, I head over to Charming Charlie at Westfield Mall. Love the way everything is arranged by color!
Favorite Breakfast Venue: Bristol’s Farms Café– My go-to breakfast selection is always Bristol’s Farms Café. Food is great, service is excellent, and they serve up Peet’s Coffee with a smile.
Favorite Happy Hour: Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar in Rancho Mirage- Love the cozy atmosphere and superior fish and chips at Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar in Rancho Mirage. They serve a supersize martini, so you’ll need a designated driver.
DeeJae Cox – Theatre Reviews
Theatre! The Coachella Valley has some of the most amazing live theatre and performances. I saw so many wonderful shows in 2018, but two shows that have lingered in my thoughts are the Desert Rose Playhouse’s, “The Sugar Witch.” One of the best plays this season. Leanna Rodgers performance was just mind blowing. And Palm Canyon Theatre’s, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” I’m still not sure if I actually like this play, but the performances were phenomenal. Yo Younger never fails to amaze.
Maracas Mexican Cantina & Grill in Palm Springs- It’s a simple, relaxing place on Highway 111 in downtown Palm Springs. Great Food! And my favorite thing is to sit on their outside patio, sip a White Russian, eat chips & salsa and people watch.
The Vagina Monologues- I can’t possible look back on 2018 without thinking about how much I absolutely loved Directing and Producing The Vagina Monologues in support of V Day’s international movement to end violence against women and girls. So many amazing women from the community were on stage for this wonderful performance.
Spa Resort Casino- One of my favorite places to play is the Spa Resort Casino located in downtown Palm Springs. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians owns this casino and they have worked so hard to make it a cultural spot in the desert. I love the buffet, playing games of chance on the nickel slots, concerts under the palms and the whole pleasurable environment.
The Coachella Valley Weekly- I could not write a list of my favorite things in the desert without adding The Coachella Valley Weekly. I have had the honor of working with Tracy Dietlin as a writer for this publication for several years now and this publication is without doubt one of the best things about the Coachella Valley.
Lynne Tucker – Travel Writer
Sunnylands – So beautiful there and grounds are lovely.
The Living Desert – How great to have this wonderful soon in the desert.
Palm Springs Art Museum – They have amazing exhibits and lectures and two other museums. PS Art Museum Palm Desert and PS Art Museum Architecture and Design Center.
The Tram – How fun to be able to hike see amazing views and snow in the winter time.
Shields Date Gardens – Great restaurant there and beautiful grounds.
Tahquitz Waterfall Hike in Palm Springs – A wonderful hike to the waterfalls and great views as well.
Ruth Hill – Cannabis Column
Dr. Pedram Ilbeigi DO Urologist Palm Desert
Venus de Fido November Event: Palliative Care in Oncology and Cannabis Therapeutics
The Kimpton Rowan Rooftop Restaurant in Palm Springs
My Breakfast Nook on my patio in Desert Greens Country Club Palm Desert
Dale Gribow – Legal Column
I love Nancy Tapick’s Desert Symphony Concerts at the McCallum. I love the music and seeing likeminded music aficionados at each event.
I love being the first male Guest Society Reporter for the Desert Sun and annually covering the spring Cancer fundraiser at my friend Dick Heckman’s. I enjoy the vast selection of restaurants represented and the musical entertainment. This charity hits home for me because my father passed from Cancer at a young age and I love seeing all the cancer survivors joining one another on the dance floor.
I love being a member of Eisenhower 365 and having Joseph Scherger MD and Sam Weiss MD being able to spend as much time as necessary to listen to and treat my ailments….truly memorable doctors and service.
I love going to my 3 favorite Italian Restaurants, Mama Gina’s, Piero’s Pizza Vino and Castelli’s. I not only enjoy the food but love seeing my friends who work there.
I love the Larson Justice Center when I leave the court with a great result and see my client’s happy faces.
I love the annual Palm Springs Women in Film’s Breaking the Glass Ceiling Awards because I love seeing my wife’s positive efforts as the President or on the Red Carpet interviewing VIP’s.