Posted By: Matt Link Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You may know chef Jose Garces as the 2010 winner of the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. Born to Ecuadorian parents in Chicago, his culinary training in the kitchen of his paternal grandmother. Graces already has 14 restaurants opened, in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Scottsdale - and now Palm Springs is the lucky recipient of his two brand new eateries, Tinto and El Jefe.

Both restaurants are housed at The Saguaro hotel at the corner of Sunrise and East Palm Canyon Drive, in the former Holiday Inn property. The Saguaro is a new hotel by Joie de Vivre, a San Francisco-based chain known for taking older roadside motels and turning into playful and chic properties.

El Jefe is right off of the hotel’s bold green-and-orange lobby. It’s a margarita bar inspired by the Wild West, with rustic wooden walls, long wooden tables, metal barstools, retro black-and-white photos, and Spanish signage over the cases of bottles. It even sports saloon-style swinging doors. Creative dishes served in this casual setting include Ceviche de Huachinango (a red snapper ceviche with green olive, red fresno chiles, and tomato-lime vinaigrette), Angelica’s Fresa (strawberry salad with spinach, melon, Cabrales and Serrano-balsamic vinaigrette), and drinks like Spanish Fly with fruit-infused tequila, and Tequila Aviation with Espolon Blanco tequila, lemon, crème de violette, and maraschino liqueur.

Set down a hallway from the lobby, you’ll find Tinto. The sit-down restaurant is named after the local word for red wine served in pintxos (tapas) bars in Basque Northern Spain. It’s a cozy and elegantly dark space, with deep black and browns highlighted with lavender upholstered banquettes, wood block tables and chairs, tiled tabletops, custom-crafted wooden wine racks, and a cozy, heated patio lounge.


Beyond its extensive selection of wines, sangrias and ciders, its breathtaking tapas menu is overflowing with all kinds of interesting plates, like Duck Montadito (with duck confit, Serrano ham, black cherry and La Peral spread), Short Rib Bocadillos (braised short ribs with bacon, asparagus and celery root aioli), or Prawn Brochetas (shrimp and chorizo brochettes with grape tomato and espelette chile).

The names and ingredients may be bewildering to the uninitiated, but no one leaves Tinto without feeling gastronomically stimulated and satiated.

Jose Garces says, “My mantra is simple: ‘authentic’ and ‘innovative’ are not contradictory…That’s how my cuisine evolved.”

Do yourself a favor and reserve a table now – the restaurants are already filled to the gills with diners enjoying these hot world-class additions to the Palm Springs restaurant scene.


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