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!

Twinking Lights and Tamales Usher in December!

By Denise Ortuno                                                                  rsz ps light fest

rsz tamale fest logoTasty tamales and the stunning Festival of Lights Parade usher in December fun in the Coachella Valley. It is a much anticipated time when two popular holiday events take place from Palm Springs to Indio, in one festive weekend for all to enjoy!.

I seriously have been looking forward to the Indio International Tamale Festival since last years ended. It is one of my favorite events in the Coachella Valley, which makes food its main attraction. The festival started back in 1992 and grown to be one of the Top Ten best food festivals in the nation with good reason.

Tamale making is a traditional holiday ritual in the Hispanic community, bringing families together in the kitchen for this special time of year, making the timing of the tamale festival apropos.  The event has a multitude of vendors, selling a variety of mouthwatering tamales. They come in all different flavors from traditional pork, beef, chicken, chili or cheese, to gourmet tamales which have a limitless range. Gourmet tamales feature flavors such as game meat, BBQ and even dessert tamales with strawberry and pineapple just to scratch the masa. rsz tamalefestnet

Like I mentioned in past tamale focused articles, my favorite tamale is the Chicken Mole tamale, which I discovered 3 years ago at the Tamale Festival. Since that fateful day, I have been going back to the festival in search of that same tamale and have come up tamale-less. Last year, as I was perusing vendor’s booths looking for my fave tamale, I crossed paths with what would become a new fave of mine, the Pink Taco food truck from Los Angeles. They were handing out tamale samples, but most people seemed hesitant to try them. It may have been the rather loud rock music that they were playing….it was a little intimidating. But I’m not one to pass up a free tamale, so I went for it. It was actually the best tamale I had tasted that day. I went on to try one of their tacos which was fantastic! Gourmet all the way down to the tiny taco cradle that they served it in. So this year, I have two things that I will be seeking at the Tamale Festival. One will be my perfect Chicken Mole Tamale of years gone by, and the second will be the Pink Taco food truck! But who knows, maybe I will find something scrumptiously new this year. Because you never know what can happen at the deliciously fun Indio International Tamale Festival!

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The Tamale Festival is located in Old Town Indio and offers up a traditional Fair ambience besides all of the delicious tamales. Admission is FREE, and Festival goers can also enjoy rides, musical entertainment, beer gardens and other Fair type goodies (fried Twinkie’s anyone?) and vendors.

The Indio International Tamale Festival takes place on Saturday, December 2nd from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday, December 3rd from 10am to 5pm.

After gorging on tamales all day on Saturday, December 2nd (and hopefully finding my Chicken Mole Tamale), I will be marching on over to the fabulous 25th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Palm Springs. The parade has an old school hometown feel, with a strong dose of holiday fashioned Americana. Enjoy brightly lighted floats, lighted vintage cars with local celebs (and some world-renowned), marching bands, specialty performers and of course…Santa! The approximate 100,000 (and growing) attendees that flock to Palm Springs every year can’t be wrong…right? Definitely right! The parade is so popular that it has been named one of the Top 10 Holiday Parades in the nation in an AOL survey.                        rsz festival of lights parade 134 1

The parade is FREE and starts at 5:45pm, but I plan to get there early to stake my claim on the parade route on Palm Canyon. Parade enthusiasts such as myself, are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets (it will be cold this weekend) and snacks. If you’re not into ruffing it picnic style, restaurants along the canyon will give those who wish to dine and gaze at the movement of lights a front row seat in style.

From Palm Springs to Indio, Tamales and the Festival of Lights Parade set the stage for December fun in the Coachella Valley for all to enjoy, and definite favorites of The Palm Springs Local!

For more information of the Tamale Festival visit www.tamalefestival.net

For more information on the Festival of Lights Parade visit www.psfestivaloflights.com



City Wok, Consistently Good!

By Denise Ortuno                                                                             rsz imag0888

With Chinese food being a fave for many foodies, the Coachella Valley is fortune cookie fortunate to have fresh and fantastically tasty edibles at City Wok in Palm Desert. Consistenly good after all of these years.

City Wok has been around for over two decades, providing excellent Chinese food, with the freshest of ingredients. You could say that it’s a modern take on a traditional Chinese joint. And although there are no overt Chinese decorations, it feels like they’re around anyway, it’s strange, or maybe it’s just me. The restaurants open style kitchen allows guests to watch the chefs prepare delish dishes, whipping woks into a fiery stir fry frenzy. Sitting at the counter is quite the show at City Wok.

I recall living down the street for City Wok. If I wasn’t eating there at the counter, I was ordering take out, which is a substantial part of their business. The menu items stay true to Chinese food standards. Top dishes include Pot Stickers, Crispy Chicken Won Tons, Hot & Sour Soup, Honey BBQ Pork, Kung Pao Shrimp or Chicken. Mongolian Beef, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and City Wok Chicken (Orange Chicken), just to scratch the chop sticks. 

All the food is made to order, and without MSG. Being a kind of creature of habit, I tend to stick with what I like best at restaurants that I frequent. I call it playing it succulent, instead of playing it safe. But not before I try a bunch of items to make that decision. My menu adventures have honed in on certain delectable fare at City Wok. Favorites include starting off with the BBQ Pork. This is not their spare ribs, but boneless pork in sweet and sticky BBQ sauce. The pork is tender, with the sauce borrowing from both sweet and savory flavoring. It’s a must for me when I go…and I would be happy just having it only…a double portion, all to myself.

Another one that I could just have alone…and I do mean alone, it the Filet of Sole in Black Bean Sauce. Oh my, talk about melt in your mouth! When I first had this dish, I wasn’t quite sure about it. I wanted to have some seafood so that I could feel that I was eating healthy. To insure my healthiness, I had them hold the side of rice that comes with it, you know, to limit my carb intake. The bowl of Filet of Sole was placed in front of me all vulnerable, without its rice counterpart. I’m not sure how many bites I took before I realized that I almost devoured it all, but the Filet of Sole had touched my soul…the part attached to my yum factor that is. It was so good, I seriously want some right now. That’s what the food at City Wok does, keeps you wanting more.

City Wok is moderately priced, and has indoor and outdoor seating. They offer beer and wine for those wanting to imbibe, and convenient online ordering.

Some restaurants in the Coachella Valley may come and go. But it’s comforting for our belly’s to have long standing ones like City Wok, a definite Palm Springs Local favorite!

City Wok is located at 74-970 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, 92260


For more information and to order online visit www.citywok.com

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