Three New Eateries Add More Cool Factor to Palm Springs’ Dining Scene

New Restaurants Offer Great Ethnic Dining Choices

Posted By: Lydia Kremer Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The cool factor in the Palm Springs dining scene has just been turned up a few notches with three new exciting dining options.

From flavorful Mexican street food to Italian cuisine with Sicilian roots, and a fresh Vietnamese-inspired menu, visitors to Palm Springs this summer are getting the first taste of these newly-opened eateries. These ethnically-diverse dining options are sure to please any palate with these tempting menus.

Il Giardino

When restaurateurs like Rosario Cultraro and Teresa Attardi leave their homeland in Italy to open a restaurant 10,000 miles away in Palm Springs, there has to be pretty strong pull. They are not the only European entrepreneurs who have relocated to Palm Springs recently – evidence that Palm Springs is indeed a hot global destination.

Cultraro and Attardi, former Milan residents, opened IL GIARDINO on South Indian Canyon, just north of the old Staples, in the space that had been the Wasabi Japanese restaurant for many years. They’ve only been opened a couple of weeks and already they have developed a loyal following of regulars. 

Native Sicilians, the husband and wife team had been in the restaurant business in Milan where they were long-time residents. Attardi is IL GIARDINO’s chef while Cultraro manages the front of the house. 

Attardi’s menu features the best of Italy  – both Northern and Southern Italian culinary influences that represent their Sicilian roots and culinary traditions from Milan. For example, a couple of Attardi’s recent evening specials were a Sicilian pesto penne pasta (Southern) and a radicchio, mushroom fusilli pasta with asiago cheese (Northern) – both delectable.

Her Lasagna Classica al Ragù has already become a favorite. The menu is organized as a typical restaurant you’d find in Italy – Antipasti, Insalate + Zuppe, Primi, Secondi. Choose from a selection of California and Italian wines or Italian and American beers to enjoy with your meal.

As the summer turns to the busy season in Palm Springs, look forward to a changing menu that Attardi will introduce to give their patrons fresh, revolving menu choices. With a refined but relaxed ambiance, IL GIARDINO offers diners comfortable inside seating and will offer outdoor dining when the weather is suitable.

While they may have left their homeland, they have strong familial connections here in the desert – Rosario’s brother and sister-in-law, Vince and Connie, own the celebrated Palm Desert Italian restaurant La Spiga.

You may be dining in Palm Springs but your palate will think it’s in Italy…buon appetito!

Il Giardino

333 S. Indian Canyon Drive

Open daily 4:30 p.m. til 9:00 p.m. Closed on Tuesday

Reservations: 760 322-0888

Rooster and The Pig

Ya gotta love a restaurant with a name like that! Chef/owner Tai Spendley has been in the hospitality and food and beverage business for more than 25 years, long enough to approach his new Palm Springs restaurant with a fun sense of humor.

But it’s the food that will make you smile. Rooster and the Pig is a fresh take on Vietnamese cuisine featuring a tempting menu inspired by Spendley’s Vietnamese roots with an American twist.

Tai Spendley’s concept for Rooster and the Pig was developed from his long track record in food and beverage for ACE, Renaissance Hotel, and Two Bunch Palms among others, as well as dining establishments in Chicago.

As you peruse the menu, you’ll be served a small welcome taste of rice porridge just to whet your appetite. Many of the menu items are small bites and designed to share. Sharing makes for a fun dining experience and gives you the opportunity to sample a wider range of menu choices. The menu features a variety of starters – the lemongrass shrimp lettuce wraps and crispy eggroll with sweet potato, quinoa, and kale are excellent.

There are entrée menu items such as the whole red snapper, caramelized ginger chicken and five spice marinated beef -- all ample portions. In addition, there are also several tempting “summer rolls” to choose from. Rooster and the Pig’s menu also offers global wines, international beers, and specialty “high spirited cocktails” such as Watermelon Crush, Vietnamese Squeeze, and Lychee Martini.

Rooster and the Pig eatery is small (45 seats) with a stylishly understated décor and lively ambiance. There is a small friendly bar for a communal dining experience.

Just be forewarned: If you’ve had a bad day and are not a happy camper, check your mood at the door. Their website has this warning: If you are grumpy, pouty, crabby or just plain mean, this may not be the place for you. We look forward to serving you with all of our hearts and a smile.

In other words, Rooster and the Pig is a place to savor and imbibe in a convivial setting, so enjoy!

Rooster and The Pig

356 S. Indian Canyon Drive

Summer Hours: 5:00- 9:00 p.m. Thursday – Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)

No reservations. 760 322-0888

Chi Chi at Avalon

If you are a fan of Cheekys and Birba restaurants, you won’t be disappointed in Chi Chi at Avalon.  Restaurateur Tara Lazar, whose other restaurants are two of Palm Springs’ most popular favorites with visitors and residents alike, has rebranded the restaurant at the former Viceroy Hotel which has also been rebranded as Avalon. Watch for a complete décor rebranding in the coming months by design diva Kelly Wearstler who had originally designed Viceroy’s distinctive Hollywood Regency look.

In this new rebranded culinary era at Avalon, Chi Chi brings a fresh flair to casual but sophisticated cuisine in an environment that evokes a breezy tropical south-of-the-border vibe. The menu that Lazar has created incorporates flavors and hybrid dishes from Peru, Argentina, Yucatan, and Mexico. The result is an eclectic Latin American menu that offers flavorful surprises at every turn.

There is a reimagined menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a special menu to enjoy poolside. For breakfast, try the Latin Fruit Cart, Yam and Pork Belly Hash, or Cheeky’s Chilaquiles. Featured on the lunch menu: Leche de Tigre Shrimp Ceviche with guacamole, taro and yucca chips; or the Palmito Salad with hearts of palm, avocado, corn, asparagus, and squash blossoms. The Grilled Fish Tacos with mango salsa will remind you of a beachfront taco stand in La Paz and the Shrimp Burger with pickled cucumber and sweet potato fries is truly a tasty celebration for your palate.

Dinner at Chi Chi is also a savory culinary adventure – among the tempting entrees are Banana Leaf Steamed Salmon, Grass Fed New York Strip with Chimichurri, and a classic Conchinita Pibil (banana leaf roasted pork).

And, of course, Lazar has outdone herself with crazy good desserts – Mexican Wedding Cookies, Chi Chi Zinger (fab coconut cake), Espresso Granita, and other divine treats.

Tara Lazar has also rebranded the staid “happy hour” into the “Summer Sessions.” Drop in any day Sunday-Thursday, beginning at 5 p.m. for tempting bites and cool cocktails – all under ten bucks!

Chi Chi at Avalon

415 S. Belardo Road

Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch

Hours 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Reservations: 760 318-3005

All images credit to Lydia Kremer


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