Fresh Agave's Refreshing Margarita's

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                   rsz fresh agave

Picture it, a refreshing tangy ice cold Margarita blissfully floating in your mouth, the slight tinge of salt grazing your lips (or not if you like to go salt-less). There is nothing quite like it on a warm weekend afternoon, and Fresh Agave in Palm Desert has one of the best Margarita’s in the Coachella Valley. Coupled with fantastic food and ultra-friendly service, it’s an awesome spot to relax and raise a glass.

I remember the spot where Fresh Agave stands today as a former Mexican restaurant a long time ago…El Mexican Café I believe. Then later El Mirasol gave the location a try for a bit as I recall. But it was Fresh Agave who seems to have found the right recipe for lasting success there, as they are consistently busy all year round.

Opened in October 2010 by Rigo and Cecilia Garcia, the restaurant offers up some of the best Mexican food and Margarita’s in the desert, and is a go to spot for The Palm Springs Local. There is just something about it. Besides the tasty food and drinks, I really enjoy their quaint bar and it’s social vibe. It is kind of on the small side, but that is what makes it so cool. Although they have ample dining room seating, I prefer the bar. However, to sit there, you have to get there at a time when the bar is not full, or patiently wait for a seat to open up and then pounce on it!

Part of the charm there is the service. Even if you have never been there before, the staff and Bartender extraordinaire Jesus Martin, will make you feel like a regular. It is that intangible quality that keeps me and a multitude of other loyal guests coming back in droves.

Now if you’re wondering what Agave means, well I will tell you. It is what the main ingredient of the wondrous Margarita is made from, Tequila. The Blue Agave plant produces the nectar that makes any Mexican meal even better. You can see the restaurants love for its moniker clearly from its all-encompassing blue walls.

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Their Margaritas are served in large bubble style glasses, and are reminiscent of a Margarita that you might find at another Mexican restaurant right behind them on El Paseo. The comparison would make sense, as part of the staff, including Garcia himself, were once part of the other establishment. But although there are some similarities in the look and maybe even the taste of their Margaritas, the ambience and congenial staff of Fresh Agave outweigh even the thought of switching. They are my personal preference….just saying.

The House Margarita is the best, it is pure and simple with Gold Tequila, Triple Sec and Sweet & Sour. I have it on the rocks with salt, however having it blended is also an option. But there are other Margarita varieties to enjoy as well, including the One Eleven (the House with a float of Chambord), the Cadillac (House with a floater of Grand Marnier), the Skinny for those of you watching your alcohol caloric intake (Hornitos Sauza Resposado, Fresh Lime and Agave Nectar), or a try a fruit Margarita with Strawberry, Mango, Peach, Tamarindo, Banana or Pina Colada.

There are plenty of food selections to go along with your libation. My favorite is the Quesadilla with Fajita Chicken. It is so succulent and big! It is easily shared between two people. Another absolute fave of mine is the Taco Fiesta for two. It actually could feed three people, maybe four. My boyfriend and I have ordered it several times and after eating for a while, it hardly looks like a dent has been made. The Taco Fiesta has portions of Carne Asada, Pollo Asada, Carnitas, Chorizo, Guacamole, Pica de Gallo, Jalapenos, Sour Cream and Cheese with your choice of tortillas. For only $24, it is one heck of a deal! Besides my favorites, their menu offers up many other scrumptious items. Everything from Tacos, Enchiladas, Fish dishes and Mole too.

They are opened seven days a week from 11am to 9pm during the week, and until 10pm on the weekends. Check out their daily Happy Hour from 3pm to 5pm for special pricing.

Fresh Agave in Palm Desert is awesome for a weekend afternoon (or anytime) filled with super fantastic Margaritas, delicious Mexican food, loving care service and good times. Cheers!

Located at 73-325 Hwy 111, Palm Desert, Ca 92260

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Enjoy Local Irish Fun on St.Patrick's Day!

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By Shannon Waddill

One of the greatest things about living in the United States of America is our diversity.  We celebrate many cultures, their traditions, and add an American twist here and there. St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. In fact, most Americans will not decline any excuse to drink copious amounts of beer with their Irish and Irish-American shams! St. Patrick was the foremost patron saint of Ireland.  March 17th commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It has become a day to feast and drink since the restrictions of Lenten were lifted for festivals and parades honoring the famous saint. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world and in the United States, though not a legal Holiday, has been celebrated since the late 18th century.  Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades. The traditional meal in Ireland for the famous feast was ham or bacon, since beef was considered a luxury. However, with the migration of Irish people to North America, corned beef was the meat that they could easily and more cheaply get their hands on and, so, this became the meal of choice for generations of Irish Americans to come. Corned Beef and Cabbage, large amounts of whiskey and beer, is now the feast of choice for Irish-Americans and all those who want to indulge in the tradition! So where can you go in the Coachella Valley to get your “feast” and “drink” on? Let’s face it, almost anywhere you go will have something festive, especially since St. Paddy’s Day lands on a Friday this year. But, if you want to find “a little luck of the Irish” read on!                                                                                                          rsz shermans

Sherman’s Delicatessen and Bakery- Granted, this is not the place to drink large amounts of beer and you definitely will not find any Jameson or any other whiskey on the menu, but you will find the best Corned Beef and Cabbage in the valley. Why? Because they serve it every day on their menu and the pickled and boiled beef is served to perfection atop a wedge of boiled cabbage! Complete with boiled potatoes and this is your Irish-American feast! Sherman’s is a must before the pub crawl. They have two locations in the valley, one in Palm Springs, and the other in Palm Desert. A local and tourist gem! For location information visit

Village Pub

Village Pub Bar- located in Palm Springs is planning a very festive evening. Larry the Leprechaun will be your party host from 8pm-2am. They will have all day food and drink specials starting at 1pm for the diehards, a scavenger hunt, and a raffle to draw a pot of gold! Top that off with DJ DGAF and MOONCHILD for entertainment, it’s the place to be in Palm Springs Friday night, March 17th. For more information visit                   rsz palm canyon roadhouse

The Palm Canyon Roadhouse- located in Palm Springs is hosting their 10th annual all day event starting at 11am and going all night long! Serving Guinness Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Tacos, and Potato Leak Soup! Green pitchers of beer and plenty of Irish green Jell-O shots will be on hand. Live entertainment from 4pm until 2am without a cover charge! Come be Irish for the day at this Shamrockin party. For more information visit

Fox and Fiddle

Fox and Fiddle- located in Rancho Mirage has a great deal on drinks and live music beginning at 8pm-11pm. $5.00 Guinness.$ 5.00 Jameson.$ 5.00 Fireball. Live music - featuring Alyce Bowie! A casual experience at a great new place. For more information on their shindig visit 

Murph’s Gaslight- located in Bermuda Dunes, Murph’s provides rsz imag1971a cozy atmosphere between its Pub style bar and large family dining room, and has some Irish fun for everyone. They will start serving their holiday menu for lunch from 11am to 3pm, and dinner menu from 3pm to close. Guests can choose items such as their traditional Corn Beef and Cabbage, Original Pan Fried Chicken, excellent Martini Burger (comes with a well drink and is only available for lunch), or their fall way off the bone Georgia style Baby Back Ribs. Their poolside entertainment will start at 4:30pm for a wee bit of fun! For more information visit

rsz beer hunterThe Beer Hunter- located in La Quinta is the place to find all imported Irish beers and a well-stocked bar of whiskey. They claim the rainbow ends here and if you like classic rock instead of an Irish jig, you’ll be comfortable here with live music from 9pm-12am. You will find Guinness, Harp, and Jameson all behind the bar ready to get you in the Irish spirit. For more information and updated specials visit

The Big Rock Pub- located in Indio claims you can get shamROCKED this Friday, March 17th at rsz brp logo 1BB’s annual St. Paddy’s Day party. BB Ingle has teamed up with Big Rock this year for the big bash including bagpipes and bands. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Pet Rescue Center and donations are welcomed at the door. The fun starts at 3pm and goes until midnight. Food and drink specials, live music, and a benefit! No shame in your game at Big Rock. For more information and updated specials visit

rsz neils loungeNeil’s Lounge- located in Indio, they are also serving up Corned Beef and Cabbage, green beer and a free ride home! That’s being responsible!! Their St. Paddy’s bash promises karaoke, song requests, and dancing all night long. For updated information visit

The respectful and traditional thing to do on St. Patrick’s Day is to wear green to honor Ireland and its patron saint. If you don’t wear green it is considered shameful and you are asking to get pinched. Why? Well, the belief is that the color green is invisible to leprechauns (fairy creatures who would pinch anyone they could see). People began pinching those who didn't wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers. However you choose to spend St. Patrick’s Day remember your green, remember to drink responsibly, and never stop searching for the pot of gold!





Manhattan Marvel at La Brasserie

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                         rsz manhattan

There seems to be a new trend happening in cocktails, or should I say, a resurgence of classic drinks making a monumental comeback. Old school concoctions such as the Side Car, Old Fashion, Negroni and the Manhattan are being ordered with enthusiasm from bar and restaurants patrons throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond. One place that serves an especially special Manhattan is La Brasserie in La Quinta, a favorite of The Palm Springs Local. 

If you have yet to spend time at La Brasserie, you are missing out in a very pleasant drinking and dining adventure. The restaurant, situated in the Vons Shopping Center in La Quinta, transports their guests into a quaint and cozy French experience. The wood paneled bar is perfectly styled, intimate with a romantic vibe. Peering out the window from the bar gives a view of their equally adorable patio for outdoor dining. Owner and Chef Emmanual Janin’s special attention to detail in the restaurants ambience has clearly paid off.

The advantage of sitting in the bar area (my preference) extends past the visual benefits, as that is where guests can enjoy Happy Hour pricing from 4-6pm Monday thru Saturday (they are closed on Sunday’s). Happy Hour includes their fantastic Manhattan, as well as other specialty cocktails, wine and food items. Their Grand Parisian Manhattan, is usually $10, but on Happy Hour it is only $8…quite the deal.

I'm usually a vodka girl (Belvedere up with an olive please), but on one occasion recently, I tried the The Grand Parisian Manhattan along with my boyfriend. Their version of the cocktial strays away from the traditional recipe, with seriously tasty results. In a classic Manhattan, there is Whisky, Sweet Vermouth and a dash of bitters, all stirred, and usually poured into a martini glass (on the rocks is an option of course), garnished with a Maraschino Cherry. La Brasseries recipe amps up the classic in their version with Bastille 1789 French Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Sweet Vermouth and a bit of Orange Juice, garnished with an awesome cherry. The outcome is a smoother than smooth cocktail. The drink pairs nicely with La Brasseries menu, and makes ordering just one a bit problematic.

Bar menu items to accompany your Grand Parisian Manhattan include their House Made Gravadlax, Truffle Fries, Duck Tacos, Mussels Mariniere and many more. Their regular menu is also available at the bar for those who wish to move past the bar menu.

With the libation trend taking a trip back in time, it’s refreshing to have a new twist on an old favorite like the Manhattan. Try an oldie but goodie on your next dining excursion, and if you find yourself at La Brasserie, the Grand Parisian Manhattan is a must and a new favorite drink of The Palm Springs Local. A votre santé!

For more information visit

La Brasserie is located at 78-477 Hwy 111, La Quinta, Ca 92253


Photo credit to Yelp review

Wildflower Festival Blooms in Palm Desert!

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                rsz palm desert wildflower fest 2017

Its spring the Coachella Valley, and time to enjoy the beautiful desert landscape that blooms this time of year. The Wildflower Festival in Palm Desert presented by the Friends of the Desert Mountains, celebrates the over 40 species of desert wildflowers with a full blown festival and 5k Run this weekend, Saturday, March 4th.

Thanks to an amazing winter in the desert, with lots and lots of much needed rain, we are going to experience a gorgeous spring. The bloom will take place over the next month or so, well into April. If you look at the desert mountains now, you will notice some serious green growing just about everywhere. It is there, amongst the green where the wildflowers will grow in a variety of amazing colors.

The Friends of the Desert Mountains have been holding the Wildflower Festival for the last 10 years. The non-profit organization is dedicated to protecting the desert mountains, and have been doing so for 30 years. They have protected 53,000 acres that cover mountains from the Salton Sea to the San Gorgonio pass. They currently manage and monitor 15,000 acres and are the support organization for the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument, promoting education, conservation and research.

The Wildflower Festival offers all kinds of different outdoor fun for the entire family, including a 5k Run, wildflower walks and a kid zone. There will also be vendors, exhibits, raffles, music, food and even a beer and wine garden. Live desert animals will also be in attendance in the exhibits such as lizards, snakes and tortoises.

The festival takes place at the base of Hwy 74 at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto National Monument Visitors Center from 9am to 4pm. There is no onsite parking for the event, so event goers must park at the St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church on Hwy 74, where shuttle service will be provided.

Those wanting to participate in the 5k Run, should plan to get there early, as registration starts at 8:30. A donation for entering in the 5k Run, is a suggested $25. Entrance to the festival is free.

The Wildflower Festival, presented by the Friends of the Desert Mountains is a fantastic way to celebrate spring in the Coachella Valley, with great fun for the whole family.

For more information visit

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church is located at 47-535 Hwy 74, Palm Desert, Ca 92260

Bills Pizza Comes to Palm Desert!

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                    Bills Pizza                                                                  

East valley pizza lovers take heart, because we no longer have to make the long trek to Palm Springs for scrumptious Bill’s Pizza…as they are now in Palm Desert too!

Opened in 2010 at their Palm Springs location, Bill’s Pizza has been satisfying pizza cravings for years. However, for those of us who live east of Palm Springs, we have had to either drive the distance (really only 25 min or so), or go without their award winning pizza. But we can all breathe a sigh of pizza relief now that we have Bill’s Pizza in our own backyard.

I have heard about Bill’s Pizza for years, and last December when I saw the “Bill’s Pizza Coming Soon”, sign smack dab in the middle of Palm Desert, I was delighted. They opened their Palm Desert doors just a month later in Janurary, 2017. The building that houses the new tenant has had many lives, from a former Chinese restaurant, to the Village Lounge, Produce Market, and even another pizza place before Bill’s Pizza.

Upon entering Bill’s Pizza Palm Desert, you are greeted by an almost dizzying red brick floor and appetite stimulating aromas. It is an inviting space and offers indoor and outdoor seating. Their menu offers pizza many ways. Like most pizza joints, you can either create your own concoction with a myriad of toppings, or try out one of their own tried and true specialty creations. What is not usual however, is their Fast Slice option. This menu choice allows customers to get a large slice “on the fly”, and for an awesome price, from $2.75 to $3.25. Fast Slice standard selections vary from a cheese slice, pepperoni, combo (cheese, sausage, pepperoni, olives, onion) or the Elton John ( garlic infused olive oil sauce, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cooked spinach, red onions, & four cheeses plus feta) and a specialty pizza slice that changes daily.       rsz imag1267

On our visit to Bill’s Pizza, my boyfriend and I decided to share one of their salads, a 10” specialty pizza and a Fast Slice. For the salad we ordered the Orange Chipotle Candied Pecan salad with mixed greens, candied pecans, jicama, mandarin oranges, avocado, and orange chipotle dressing with fresh chipotle. The salad was crisp and refreshing with sweet tones from the mandarin oranges and candied pecans. The avocado provided creaminess and the jicama a snap, it was a leveling salad to the upcoming carb fest that we were about to ingest.

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It was anything but easy to decide on our specialty pizza. The choices were extensive ranging from items such as The Coachella Pizza (Alfredo sauce, smoked bacon, roasted zucchini, red onion, Italian dry salami, mozzarella & parmesan cheese), Bacon Me Cray ( Garlic infused olive oil sauce, cooked spinach, light four cheese, feta cheese, pepperoni, roasted garlic, smoked bacon, diced tomatoes, chili flakes, asiago & parmesan cheeses), Mooselini ( Red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Sicilian sausage, chorizo & topped with asiago cheese), plus so many more.

We chose one of their most popular pies, the Charlie Sheen (Red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, smoked bacon, chorizo meat balls, and shaved asiago), with the assistance of our kind and informative server Raphael. The Charlie Sheen delivered big time with big flavors, much like its namesake. The toppings all worked well together, achieving addictive flavors ( no pun on Charlie intended) all floating on a well baked sour dough crust (imported Italian pizza flour). Our slice selection was geared towards their specialty slice selection for the day, Malot’s Favorite (Bill’s sauce, which is pesto and red sauce, mozzarella, salami, Sicilian sausage, onion, tomato and pineapple). It was fantastic!! With both pizzas on the table, we were overwhelmed….but in a happy way. Both pizzas were absolutely delicious and shined from their creativity and fresh ingredients. rsz imag1261

Since I wasn’t driving, I indulged in a couple of Stella beers, which because we went on a Monday, and Mondays are Cheap Drink Days all day, I got my beers for only $2.50. It’s quite a deal, and if you like Bud Light, it’s only $.75 for your first one…but only on Mondays.

The prices at Bill’s Pizza are not over the top by any means, specialties range from about $12.50 for a 10” and $25.50 for an 18”. They are open for lunch and dinner from 11am to 9pm and until 10pm on the weekends. They do not deliver.

It is so great that Bill’s Pizza has come to Palm Desert and made it easy for east valley residents as well as Palm Springs residents to partake in their awesome pizza. They are definite new favorite of The Palm Springs Local, thanks Bill!

Bill’s Pizza Palm Desert is located at 73-196 Hwy 111, Palm Desert 92260


For more information visit

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