On a recent drive out to Indio, I did as I usually do and researched some recommendations for the area ahead of time. However, every article pointed me to Palm Springs, which is 25 minutes away in the other direction down I-10. So whether it’s delicious Chinese food, Mexican classics, or a memorable meal you're after, you don’t have to head back to the resorts and tourist traps of Palm Springs for food. You just pull over from the road, jump in, and jump out with a satisfied smile. Music festival or not this weekend, these are just a handful of the great spots to eat in the towns of Indio and Coachella that are worth checking out anytime.
TKB, or The Kid’s Business, originated in 1991 in the Rancho Mirage home of Athena and Paul Sippel. Their children Brandon, Nathan, and Melina, went door-to-door selling their mom’s baked goods. Now older, they operate one of the most successful sandwich shops in the United States (according to Yelp). It fun to order here, with dishes like the Mexican Marilyn Monroe, which has chicken salad, bacon, avocado, tomato, and pepper jack-chipotle sauce, all between homemade jalapeno focaccia bread; other sandwiches include chicken chipotle, pastrami, and the "Dirty Riverside" with roast beef, bacon, pepper jack, and avocado. You’ll have yourself questioning if it’s one of the better sandwiches you’ve ever had. They also serve breakfast (until 11 AM) and have a bakery section with various iced coffees. Get a chorizo con papas burrito or their breakfast sandwich between homemade English muffins. Plus a few tarts and eclairs for the drive home.
The Southland’s oldest tortilleria doesn’t reside in East L.A. or the San Fernando Valley. Instead, the Coachella Valley gets to make that claim with Arriola’s, founded in 1927. The unassuming low lying building and no-frills waiting area offers fresh corn and flour tortillas a couple of times a week, and other Cal-Mex classics such as chile colorado (stewed pork in red salsa) and chile verde (stewed pork in green salsa), burritos, chorizo, and egg breakfast burritos, and even menudo on Sundays, for that Coachella cruda. But their ultimate triumph is the “Tamale Boat,” featuring beef tamales (from fresh masa) smothered in chile colorado and nacho cheese. Deliciously perfect for eating outside and taking in that desert air. Don’t forget to get some tortillas to go for later.
Dumplings and pho in the desert? Yes, please. Chef Linh Young creates a variety of Asian-inspired dishes ranging from dumplings and lemongrass chicken to pho and Vietnamese dishes, the latter on special occasions. Every Thursday, they are at the Indian Wells Farmers Market. Based out of Indio, online ordering is available for either pick up or delivery.
The mobile pizza trend made the tip out to the Coachella Valley, too, with Nick’s Pizza, this time in a food truck. Preparing pizza staples such as pepperoni and cheese, buffalo chicken, and Cali chicken pesto, Nick’s pizza serves up some of the better pizzas in the Coachella Valley. Check out their Instagram for their schedule and menu here.
Many things of significance happened in 1969. Scooby-Doo first aired on CBS. Apollo 11 landed on the moon. John married Yoko. The Beatles gave their final live performance and John left The Beatles. The Stonewall riots ushered in the modern gay rights movement. Woodstock. Long John Silver’s opening its first store in Kentucky. But for residents of the Coachella Valley, a more pressing event happened in 1969, when El Tranvia first opened. Half a century later, El Tranvia remains the area’s go-to spot for delicious Mexican food. Bolstering their menu with handmade corn tortillas, they were offering their birria-like barbacoa before Birriamania swept the nation… always a good sign that they’ve done it and done it well for a long time. The quesabirria tacos are exceptional, and the consomé is hearty without being too oily and greasy. Other highlights include tacos gobernador (shrimp and cheese taco), costillas con nopales (pork ribs with cactus), and chicken mole. Wash it down with a fresh agua fresca. I prefer the agua de piña.
Festival or not, any weekend is a good one to drive to Indio to eat and drink. This brings me to Everbloom Coffee. On an afternoon in town, I popped into Everbloom for an iced coffee. I asked the barista for a suggestion on delicious Mexican food in the city. No bullshit chain or anything like that–give me the good stuff. The suggestion? El Tranvia. Not only was it El Tranvia, but one of the guys from the back heard the question and also shouted it from the kitchen. So I’m including the coffee shop on this guide simply because you can get delicious mochas and lattes (and a delightful cold chocolate hit the spot on that hot afternoon), but these guys know their city and know how to make a great iced mocha.
Plentiful portions and spicy dishes is the name of the game at this spot near Old Town Indio. Popular orders are like one's Panda Express usuals, such as orange or kung pao chicken, but you’re here for Sichuan, so spice it up a bit. The spicy chicken wok had generous amounts of peppery chicken, jalapeños, potatoes, celery, and chiles. The Sichuan-style boiled fish, sliced beef, lung in chili sauce, and wonton soup are also great options. Dim sum is available, too!
This is technically in North Palm Springs, sure, but it's the more rural, low-key, and far less glamorous side of town. I first came across Windmill Market on a solo trip to Joshua Tree on my way back to the 10. I noticed that they offered “the best date shakes in town” and I didn’t want to drive to the Salton Sea or Indio, so I popped in to check it out. Made on the spot with vanilla ice cream and locally grown dates, the shake offers incredible amounts of them, in chunks mixed in with the ice cream, giving you a sweet dessert to sip on for your drive home. Shields Date Garden is the more touristy choice, offering a restaurant and souvenir shop. However, Windmill Market is a great option if you want to try something off the radar and still get your date shake fix in (something that’s unique to the Coachella Valley).
17080 North Indian Canyon Dr. North Palm Springs, 92258
The enticing dishes at the reservation-only pop-up at a food court in DTLA's Historic Core neighborhood include a whole, two-pound rock cod fried until a chicharrón-like crispness, basking in an addictively savory tamarind garlic sauce, curried crab, oysters, and more.
Parents gathered outside of Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood this morning in protest of a Pride assembly at the school that includes the reading of a book called "The Great Big Book of Families."