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Best Mexican Food in the Greater Palm Springs Coachella Valley

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(Gerry Furth-Sides)   With a strong Spanish influence in the desert, great authentic Mexican food is certainly a must try in Greater Palm Springs, a growing .  The local favorites for authentic food are great insider tips.  (all photos for Fresh Agave Mexican Bar & Grill are )

Fresh Agave Mexican Bar & Grill

(photo courtesy of Evy Hanson)

Margaritas at this popular Palm Desert spot are a grand tribute to the blue agave plant that produces tequila.

(all photos above courtesy of Evy Hanson)

The lunch menu offers a large selection of burritos, tortas, enchiladas and tacos.

(photo courtesy of Evy Hanson)

House specialties include fresh seafood and shrimp dishes.   Fajitas Agave made with sizzling chicken or beef, caramelized onions, green peppers are garnished with guacamole and Pollo en Champinones, chicken with mushrooms features  a grilled boneless chicken breast smothered in soy sauce, onions and mushrooms.

(all photos above courtesy of Evy Hanson)

Locals’ favorite items on the dinner menu include fajitas, chile rellenos and enchiladas de mole.

The Fresh Agave Mexican Bar & Grill also has a vegetarian section featuring meatless fajitas and enchiladas.  Tortilla soup is another delicious dish to cool down with in the summer and warm up with in the winter desert.

Rio Azul Mexican Bar & Grill

Chef/owner Ernesto Gastelum (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

Chef/owner Ernesto Gastelum came with his family to Los Angeles from Sinaloa when he was 13, and many of his recipes have been in the family forever – including this grandmother’s albóndigas (meatball) soup with fresh cut vegetables.

Carne Asada with Cheese (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

Sizzling Fajitas (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

Carnitas (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

Green Corn Tamale (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

The chef’s mixed grills contain citrus marinated grilled shrimp, bacon wrapped shrimp stuffed with jalapeno and jack cheese, quail, grilled chicken and grilled steak served over grilled onions and green and red bell peppers—all  accompanied by guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, cheese, rice and beans.  The mixed grills can be made for one, two or four people.

Two for one House Margaritas (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

Enjoy “Happy Hour” $5 house Margaritas all day, every day, with $6.95 Happy Hour appetizers daily from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mexican — and the finest international beers (photo courtesy of Jon Edwards)

Soul of Mexico

The Lua family migrated from Jiquilpan, Michocan, a place often referred to as the “Soul of Mexico or Alma de Mexico” – inspired the restaurant name. Chef-matriarch Teresa and her family, including six children, opened this popular restaurant in 1997 in Indio.

Chile Relleno en Ahogada (stuffed), a fresh poblano chile stuffed with shrimp, gets consistent rave reviews on the long menu, as does the Soul of Mexico’s special version of a cobb salad that includes roasted corn, Cojita cheese and spicy ranch dressing.  And after dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, Soul of Mexico transforms into a lively Latin night club.


El Mexicali Café

This tiny treasure in Indio has a loyal following for its traditional dishes like tacos, burritos and enchiladas.  It is also known for its home-style Mexican breakfast items like huevos rancheros and chiliquiles (fried tortilla quarters topped with salsa and then topped with chicken, shredded cheese, cream, raw onion rings and avocado slices).

Carne Asada con Camarones (grilled meat with shrimp) and shrimp-stuffed roasted gueritos (hot yellow peppers) served with soy sauce and mayonnaise are the specialties. Low key entertainment is provided by the occasional trains shooting past the restaurant on the nearby railroad tracks that give the café its special vibe. Don’t be surprised to spot a celeb or two who know about this hidden gem.

Taqueria Tlaquepaque

This popular restaurant recently moved into the heart of Palm Springs from its Sunny Dunes location and is growing rapidly. If you’re adventuresome, you might want to have goat- or brain-filled tacos. You can also try some beef tongue and head meat, but the menu is mostly delicious standard offerings featuring chicken, beef, pork and seafood. Tortas (flat bread), tacos, tostadas and burritos are available with your meat of choice, and the menu also offers Mexican-style platters of seafood, meat and poultry along with Tequila and beers. The restaurant gets its name from Tlaquepaque (“a place above clay land”), an ancient Mexican city surrounding Jalisco that has been integrated into Guadalajara. Pueblo Viejo Grill This recent offspring of the original


Pueblo Viejo Grill

in Indio is in the university district of Palm Desert between Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford Drives and attracts locals from nearby communities. The menu is traditional, made with fresh ingredients and prepared to order. They have week night specials, like Fajita Madness on Tuesday and Thursday and Happy Hour discounts nightly from 3-6 pm. If you come as a group, you’ll enjoy the platters of burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas and more. Each platter has 12 pieces, making it fun to order 3 or 4 platters so everyone can sample the variety of dishes. The Tequila selection is truly impressive.


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Gerry Furth-Sides

Gerry Furth-Sides

Content Editor/Columnist

Photo-journalist Gerry Furth-Sides has been covering the ethnic and American culinary scene in California since it first came into prominence 25 years ago.