Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Update on SoCal visit

I've eaten at a few good places over the last few days, and, like my London visit a few months ago, I am now totally backlogged. Just a wee recap:

Del Taco - This is my favorite fast food restaurant, more for their soft tacos del carbón than anything else. Their breakfast is doable, though the egg and cheese breakfast burrito is a little boring. Light years ahead of Taco Bell, the closest one to Baltimore is 11 hours away - in Chicago.

Delhi Palace - And next comes my all-time favorite Indian restaurant in the Inland Empire, a place where I have eaten many lunch buffets and taken many dates to see if they really passed muster (now that I'm in Charm City, who the hell has time to date anymore?).

The other night at Delhi Palace Jim and I went for some dinner. To follow up our basket of papadums, we each got the prix fixe dinner (most items are, however, a la carte). Jim got the non-vegetarian dinner, and I got the hearty tandoori dinner (each at $14.95). My dinner included some more-succulent-than-usual tandoori chicken, drier-than-usual sheesh kabob, juicy chicken tikka and a vegetable curry that tasted really good.

Oh, and I also found out what happened to my other favorite Indian place that is now Phở Vinam. Our maitre-d' used to work there before the owners sold it to a Vietnamese gentleman and moved back to India on a year lease. He told me "They're not coming back."


I spent yesterday in Palm Springs, which is easily 20 degrees warmer than anywhere in the Inland Empire. While we've been having warm-ish but somewhat clammy weather, Palm Springs has had beautiful weather all weekend. This past weekend was their famous White Party, a sort of Spring Break "circuit party" (a party that travels from one area to the next) where gay men - lots and lots of gay men - dress in white and dance and, well, do other things. One shopkeeper (there are lots of gay shopkeepers in very gay-friendly Palm Springs), who like most is not into this whole White Party thing, told me that this year there were no arrests and very few drug-related incidents (this is encouraging). I myself am not one for trying to drive through ridiculous crowds at 1 mile an hour, for several miles, so I went out of my way to stay away from the White Party.

So the Palm Springs I went to yesterday was much more settled down than it had been. But it was still hot and I, who dressed for clammier weather, scrounged around to buy a pair of shorts and a pair of sandals, each at an embarrassing $40. I should learn to be better prepared, d'oh!

Phillipe's Café and Bistro - This little French bistro has a beautiful view of the main Palm Springs drag of California Rte. 111 (Pam Canyon Drive). But then again, so do most of the restaurants in this part of town. Their fare is mostly crèpes, with some manicotti and a few other items. I ordered the Parisian crèpe, a square, buckwheat crèpe with ham, egg and Gruyère cheese, for $12 (the dinner menu is more expensive). To that I added a Bitburger beer (from Belgium) for $3.50 and the widest crème brulée I have ever seen, for $6. The food and the service were both quite good, and they have one of the most charming bathrooms I have ever seen in a restaurant.

Las Casuelas - For dinner I went with Mexican. And I would've stuck to the main drag, but Las Casuelas - which has five restaurants, including two on Palm Canyon Drive - was way crowded at its Terraza location in the heart of the strip. at least twenty people waiting to be seated, on a Tuesday!? Oy. So I walked quite a few blocks in the other direction (I like the exercise, okay?) and found the original Las Casuelas, which had seats left to fill.

The waitress told me that the locals like the original Las Casuelas, which is further removed from the hustle and bustle of the tourists. It has a more family feel to it. I liked it too. They gave me two delicious chicken enchiladas for about $10, with beans and Mexican rice. I also got a very large - I think too busy - tortilla soup for about $5. Don't get me wrong, it was a good soup, but there was just so much in the soup, more than I usually expect in a tortilla soup. And now that I think about it, I ordered a cup and they brought me a whole bowl! So I paid more than I wanted to, but they didn't overcharge me for anything.


Fairfax said...

John... sounds like you're having a great time. Please bring back some warm weather. The snow on Easter was a real downer.

Cybele said...

If you liked Del Taco, you should really find El Pollo Loco. La Salsa and Baja Fresh are also very good for fast Mexican food (though more expensive than EPL).

Baltimore Snacker said...

C: I've had El Pollo Loco. It's good, and I know it's technically fast food. But the quality is, I think, a little better than average fast food, so I don't usually think of EPL as fast food at all

F: I heard about the snow. Dang, I wonder when spring is coming.

raacluse said...

minor correction:

Bitburger beer is from Bitburg, Germany. I think it's Pilsner style. (Don't know if they have that style in Belgium.)

Mexican: I avoid Taco Bell. Have never tried Del Taco. What taqueria chains would you recommend? Chipotle and Qdoba are good, but pricey.

Baltimore Snacker said...

Raacluse: I'll get back to you on the taquerías (I like Baja Fresh, even though it is sort of fast food). As for the Bitburger, I guess I was just passing on misinformation, I don't know a lot about the German or Belgian beers :) Thanks for the correction.