The next day of our trip was much better. Armed with my research, we started the day with breakfast at Keedy's, an old school diner that has been serving the Palm Springs area since 1957.Keedy's Fountain Grill
I'd characterize Keedy's as the Patty's Diner of Palm Springs. Most of the people in there are regulars and the wait staff knows them by name. Many don't even have to order, as the "usual" is brought to the table unbidden. Keedy's is somewhat rustic, with only the most basic of decoration, including a wall full of typical Hollywood Star posters. The notable difference is that at Keedy's, the people in the posters were/are actually customers.
I started off with an order of biscuits and gravy, which was pretty good but could never be mistaken for something that I would be served south of the Mason Dixon Line. That was followed up with an order of scrambled eggs and their justifably famous pancakes. The pancakes are very thin, but pack some good flavor.Keedy's Breakfast
After breakfast, it was time to hit the road and do some exploring. We headed East towards Indio to check out Shields' Date Garden
. Shields' has been around since 1924 and, of all the date-related roadside attractions in the Cochilla Valley, is the only one where they actually grow dates on the premises.Shields' Date Garden
Shields' has more varieties of dates than I ever knew existed and there are free samples available, so you are able to make your own comparisons. I never realized the huge difference in taste between different varieties of dates. Up until my visit, I pretty much thought that a date was a date. Not so any longer.Shields' Date Store
Of course, date shakes were being sold as fast as they could be made. Shields' uses "date crystals" in their shakes, which are the invention of Floyd Shields.Date Shakes
Of course, no visit to Shields' Date Garden is complete without taking in the epic "Romance and Sex Life of the Date
", which is a continuously showing slide/video presentation that grew out of Floyd Shields' lectures back in the 20's. As cheesy as this sounds, it's actually packed full of good information about the cultivation of dates and its history in the Cochilla Valley. I learned more about dates in that short 15 minutes than I ever thought I needed to know. The most interesting fact for me was that date palms rarely pollinate themselves in the wild. There is a very elaborate method for pollination that is largely done by hand. Floyd Shields estimated that there probably hasn't been a naturally occurring date in nature for over 500 years.Let Me Entertain YouShields' 108 Seat Theatre
All that talk of dates and sex had us feeling a bit peckish, so we headed the rent-a-car back towards Palm Springs to check out that BBQ place I spotted the night before, The Cowboy Way.
One of the last things I expected to find in Palm Springs was an honest to goodness wood-burning BBQ joint, but sure enough, here it was. I had walked by this place the night before on the way to Zin and smelled the smoke. The Cowboy Way is located in what used to be the Greyhound Bus terminal, so it does at least have an air of respectability. The Cowboy Way
The owner, Daniel Placencia, is a competition BBQ guy who has won his share of trophies. The day we were there, he was traveling to a competition along with his main pit, but the one he left behind to take care of the restaurant was nothing to sneeze at. It's an old barrel type smoker that was burning wood logs.The Cowboy Way Backup Smoker
Inside, the place isn't much to look at, but the friendly waitress greets everyone as though they've been coming there for years and it makes for a very homey feel. They serve both baby back and beef ribs along with chicken, pulled pork, brisket and tri-tip. When asked about the tri-tip, the waitress was quick to offer that they smoke the tri-tip the same way as the brisket rather than grilling and slicing the tri-tip as they do in much of California. We ordered both a brisket sandwich and a tri-tip sandwich. Between both of those sandwiches, the tri-tip was the clear winner. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, both sandwiches came covered in sauce and made for bad looking pictures. I also ordered a pulled pork slider (this time with no sauce) which was delicious as well as photogenic.The Cowboy Way WaitressPulled Pork Slider
The Cowboy Way was a real find. It's slightly out of character from most of the other places we visited on this trip, but is a place I'll never skip on any visits to Palm Springs.
Dinner that night was at the highly recommended Cuistot
In so many ways, Cuistot reminds me of our own Prairie Grass Cafe. The chef, Bernard Dervieux, was formerly the executive chef at The Beverly Hills Hotel and later knocked around at a few of the Cochilla Valley resorts before starting his own ingredient-driven restaurant. The restaurant is located in a stand alone building and decorated in a very open and airy way to really give the diners a feeling of space. There is an open kitchen and, in addition to the main dining room, a smaller more casual room just off the kitchen.Cuistot InteriorCuistot Kitchen
Dinner started off with an amuse of a raw button mushroom filled with a goat cheese mixture.Cuistot Amuse
We started off with a lovely mixed green salad and an appetizer of Diver Scallops and Maine Lobster, which was excellent, and probably the best bite of the entire dinner.Cuistot Mixed Green SaladCuistot Diver Scallops and Maine Lobster With a Filo Dough Round over Garlic Tomato Coulis with Thyme Essence
For our mains, we had an organic chicken dish and a special of a wood roasted veal chop with wild mushrooms.Organic Chicken in Aged Red Wine Vinegar Sauce with Vegetables and Beet Greens FlanOrganic Wood Roasted Veal Chop with Wild Mushrooms and Vegetables
For dessert, we split a Valhrona Chocolate soufflé, which was actually more of a cake than a soufflé and a bit of a dissapointment.Valhrona Chocolate Soufflé
Service was attentive and the pacing was perfect. The only glitch happened at the end of the meal. We were seated next to a blowhard Plotnicki type who was monopolizing the staff as he rhapsodized about wines he has tasted elsewhere and how "Spirits have never crossed the lips of my lady". Our waiter was unable to escape his droning on, so the matre 'd, in an effort to help out, came to our table and removed our soufflé dish before we had finished and promptly delivered our check without exchanging a word with us. This was really off putting and put a bad ending on an otherwise very enjoyable meal. Our waiter saw what happened and when he eventually escaped from the guy at the next table, he came over an apologized. Eventually, the Plotnicki character was left to talk to the bus boy, which I found very amusing.
Keedy's Fountain Grill
73633 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Shields' Date Garden
80-225 U.S. Highway 111
Indio, CA 92201
The Cowboy Way
317 North Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
72595 El Paseo Ave
Palm Desert, CA 92260