Welcome to ThePalmSpringsLocal.com, your premier resource to the Coachella Valley’s best, from a local's perspective. Your guide, Denise Ortuno is, The Palm Springs Local, with over 38 years of desert living under her belt, experiencing all the wonders of the Coachella Valley. And now she’ll be sharing her knowledge with you! From dining to attractions, to events and much more, you’ll be able to “Go Where the Locals Go”.

Just click on the appropriate category to find what you’re looking for and you’ll be on your way. And make sure to check out Denise’s blog for special reviews and colorful commentary, as well as her “Out and About Videos” featuring local flavor.

It’s all here at ThePalmSpringsLocal.com, your guide to the Coachella Valley’s best….done local style!

Loving India Oven

By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                     rsz india oven

I am in love with India Oven! It is where aromatic flavors await, in a quaint and cozy nook in Cathedral City, offering mouth watering, traditional cuisine of India. 

When I recently wrote my review about Tony’s Burgers, and mentioned the Indian restaurant that was part of the eclectic cluster of eateries in the same shopping center, India Oven is what I was talking about. For over 10 years the tiny restaurant with amazing food owned by restaurateur, Vijay Kaushal, has been delighting those in the know. Resulting in a loyal following.

My “tiny” description of India Oven is by no means an exaggeration, as they only have nine tables. But the minimal seating adds generously to their cozy ambience. Upon entering, there is no mistaking that you are in an Indian restaurant, as the smell of curry hits your nose with pinpoint precision, it’s absolutely wonderful, almost comforting. The hues of alluring red in the décor palate, along with the piped in melodic Indian music, sets the stage for a memorable dining experience....maybe even a romantic one(wink, wink). 

On my visit to India Oven, I called beforehand to make reservations, even in the summer it seemed prudent. Come to find out, reservations are highly suggested, and as Kaushal said, “Reservations are important, in season there is usually a line, with up to a 45 minute wait”. So yes, when you plan to go to India Oven, make a resi. Seems that they fill up more in the latter part of the evening in the summer, so our desired time of 6:00, wasn’t hard to award.

I love to try new places, but for some reason, I was extra giddy about being at India Oven. It just felt like it was going to be extra special, and it was. Although my boyfriend was more familiar with dishes from India than I was, we still needed some guidance from our server. I always find it beneficial to ask for help from servers, they are the connection between you and the menu. Our server Aida was fantastic!

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We started with an Assorted Platter for an appetizer. The platter came with Vegetable Pakoras (fritters), Samosas (light dough filled with potatoes, peas and spices), and Paneer Pakoras (cheese fritters with lentil batter), accompanied with a mint or tamarind sauce option. The flavorful Samosas were our favorite out of the three, with the Paneer Pakoras coming in second (anything with cheese always gets my vote). For our dinner selection, Aida suggested that I try one of the Chefs Specialties of Murgh Makhani which incorporates pulled Tandoori Chicken in a special butter gravy.

My boyfriend went for the classic Lamb Vindaloo which is Lamb meat cooked with potatoes in highly spiced gravy with diced tomatoes and chili peppers. We rounded our selections out with an order of Garlic Naan. I must mention that when you select a main dish at India Oven, they will ask you what level of heat you would like, mild, medium or spicy. Now, there are some restaurants where the levels aren’t true to the levels, when medium is actually a mild and so on. But at India Oven, they are true to the levels. I ordered a medium, thinking that they would be lax on the level. They were not lax at all, and medium was just that….let’s just say I wouldn’t want to go to the spicy level, not if I would want to really enjoy tasting anything. I am more than happy with cruising at medium.

Our main dishes came out in lovely metal bowls, with a side of Basmati Rice for us to share. I dived eagerly into my little bowl, and yum, yum, yummed all the way. My Murgh Makhani was delicious with a capitol Icious! The sauce was rich and buttery, beautifully draping the chicken, with just the right amount of heat for me. I seriously could not get enough. My boyfriend’s Lamb Vindaloo had a distinct taste, with the flavor of Lamb really coming through the complex spices. It was slightly more full bodied and aggressive than my dish. Both were excellent! The Garlic Naan that we ordered, served as a supporting role to our dinner. Although the Garlic Naan was awesome, I think that with the strong nature of our selected dishes, plain Naan would have been a better choice, as it wouldn’t have competed with the other strong characteristics of the dishes makeup. rsz imag1739

There were so many other menu items that we wanted to try, such as the Saag (fresh cooked spinach in aromatic spices), Lamb Curry (Lamb prepared in traditional curry spices), and a myriad of others. But I guess that it just means that we need to go there again, and again. I have no problem with that!

India Oven is opened Tuesday through Sunday, and daily in season. They serve lunch from 11:30 to 3pm and dinner from 5pm to 9pm, 9:30pm on Saturdays and Sunday. Their prices are reasonable, and they do offer wine and beer as well as other beverages. Takeout orders are also available.

Dining at India Oven is a flavor adventure in traditional cuisine of India, wrapped up in quaint and cozy environment, all right here in the Coachella Valley. A definite new love of the Palm Springs local!  

For reservations call 760-770-3918, and for more information visit www.india-oven,com

Woodhaven Offers Fun, Low Stress Golf

By Katy Treadwell                                                                       rsz golf at woodhaven country club

After taking a couple weeks off to tend to a hip injury, I wanted my first round back to be as easy and stress free as possible.  I needed a short and easy but fun course, and I needed it to be close to home.  Woodhaven Country Club in Palm Desert was ideal for my situation, so I set the tee time and hit the road. 

 I had forgotten how much I liked Woodhaven.  Like I said, it’s short and easy, but fun.  You can’t take it for granted or let your guard down at Woodhaven, but if you pay attention and play it safe, low scores are easily attainable and fun is guaranteed. 

For instance, although the 5th hole is a short par 4 at only 263 yards from the tips, and it’s almost painful not to take aim at the green and unleash a huge drive; the large, dense trees on the left and the long narrow lake on the right make laying up the smart play… unless, of course, you regularly fly the ball 265 in the air.  And before you say something you might regret, you may consider that the average PGA player flies the ball around 278 yards.  So go on and let it rip…if you’re feeling like Dustin Johnson.  I’ll be the one hitting a sand wedge into the green after laying up. 

Number 6, the par 3 that follows, is one of my favorite holes at Woodhaven.  It’s only 118 yards but is all carry over water.  I mean, it’s not as if you’re playing the 17th at Sawgrass by any means, but there is still a little intimidation factor at play.  And, playing at only118 yards, no matter the pin position, if you can help but to take dead aim at the flag, you are much more disciplined than I.  No, really… how do you do it? 

From 6 on, it’s pretty self-explanatory.  At Woodhaven, what you see is what you get. But that doesn’t make the 17th any less fun.  The 17th is one of only 2 par 5’s on the course and it’s more than reachable after a good drive.  The 17 plays around 494 yards, and despite its straight forward appearance and meager distance, it ranks as the 4th hardest hole on the course.  With water running all along the left, it’s important to make sure your drive finds the middle of the short grass.

And, if you want to reach the green in two, a ball in the fairway is a must, and even from there, you’ll have to go over the water on your second shot.  The 17th is less penalizing than a hole like the 5th,  but one bad shot can still compound quickly on this par 5.  Like I said at the beginning, if you pay attention and play it safe, you’ve got it made at Woodhaven. 

If you’re looking for a fun day on the course and a quick round, give Woodhaven a shot… or 70. (Get it…?)


For more information and to book a tee time visit, www.woodhavencc.com

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