In 2013, I was surprised to find that this affluent area generally had such uninspiring menus. But now, with the opening of SO.PA at L’Horizon and the success of the farm-to-table Workshop Kitchen + Bar, which had just opened on my last visit, the dining scene is much more adventurous. All of my previous favorites listed here are still recommended by respected locals. There are, however, two new places worthy of consideration.
The striking white building that houses this restaurant was originally the town’s post office. Part of the Uptown Design District, EIGHT4NINE is minimally decorated with a mix of antique and modern furnishings. A warehouse-like bar area serves cocktails and appetizers, and the restaurant offers a weekend brunch on an outdoor patio, beneath the San Jacinto Mountains. We ate lunch in the indoor dining room. The menu features a variety of West Coast dishes and is accompanied by an extensive wine and list. I greatly enjoyed my lobster roll eggs Benedict with green goddess hollandaise served with a fresh mango-and-melon chutney. The service was courteous and professional.
849 North Palm Canyon Drive. Tel. (760) 325-8490
We almost didn’t dine here — as the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations and the location is in a strip mall — but I’m pleased that we did. The fusion of Vietnamese and American cuisine by owner Tai Spendley is inspired by the way his Vietnamese mother prepared food that his father, an American soldier, would enjoy. The interior of the restaurant, which also encompasses a small bar, is whimsically decorated with posters and memorabilia from Vietnam. Seating is close quarters, and it was packed on this Thursday night. The mix of flavors in both the jasmine tea leaf and the green papaya salads was remarkable; the pork belly fried rice with trumpet mushrooms was delicious; and the wine selection was surprisingly good. The bartender told us that there are plans to open up the restaurant into the space next door, to add a waiting area and larger bar.
Rooster and the Pig
356 South Indian Canyon Drive. Tel. (760) 832-6691