Monday, June 12, 2017

Where to Travel: The Tropicale @ Palm Springs

The Destination: An indoor / outdoor restaurant dishing out first-class Pacific Rim cuisine

The Location: Palm Springs

The Vibes:
Upscale, with a Polynesian themed décor

Good for: Alone, dates, groups (large and small)

When-To-Go: Daily, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Sundays – Thursdays) / 11 p.m. (Fridays & Saturdays)

The $$ Factor: Small plates, $10 – $26; Entrees, $19 – $39; Cocktails, $12 - $15

The 4-1-1: A nightclub called Copa is right next door, if you don’t want your night to end after dinner here

Parking Situation:
Nearby free street parking

I’ll Be Back…: For the Tangerine-Glazed Mandarin Calamari!

Without any hesitation, I would drive the 107 miles from Los Angeles to Palm Springs just to get the calamari at The Tropicale.

And I did.


Within a two-week span.

Here's the thing. Making this popular seafood delicacy taste fresh and tender – and not overcooked or masking its flavor by over-frying it – is challenging. Many restaurants may try to step up to the challenge, but unfortunately fail. Miserably. It’s so disappointing to order calamari, and it ends up being tough, chewy and downright a waste of money and calories.

That’s why the Tangerine-Glazed Mandarin Calamari, pictured below, at The Tropicale is such a game changer. Rather than fried like at so many places, it's sautéed with chives and bell peppers and tossed in a light, and slightly sweet marinade that has hints of ginger and citrus. In addition to such a remarkable flavor, the meat itself is the perfect consistency; the calamari rings are plump and juicy, the tentacles light and crispy. It's literally some of the best calamari I've had, ever!

And while The Tropicale’s calamari is most certainly my fave (at least so far), I’d be remiss not to mention some of the other noteworthy dishes found here, which seem to each have its own unique little fiery personality.

The Jack Daniel’s BBQ’d Baby Back Ribs, picture below, are so tender, they literally fall right. off. the. bone. The ribs come with Nana Claira’s Piccalilly Relish — a pickled assortment of veggies like bell peppers and carrots. The relish is awesome and gives the meat a tangy, vinegary kick.

Another noteworthy small plate: The Pupu Platter, pictured below. This meat-heavy sampler selection has a little bit of everything, featuring mini-sized proportions five other small plates: the coconut tiger shrimp, Thai chicken satay, Korean beef skewers, “Shanghai” ribs and Vietnamese spring rolls.

On my latest trek to The Tropicale over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was the Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week. As one of the 100+ restaurants participating in the ten-day event taking place June 2 – 11, The Tropicale was offering a $39 three-course dinner comprising one of three starters, one of three main courses and then finally, one of three desserts.

Big enough to share between two people, we indulged in the Spicy Thai Barbecued Curry Ribs as a starter, which were crunchy on the outside, but moist on the inside, and doused in a phenomenal citrus flavor. 

With a roasted medley of round petite potatoes, silky green beans and savory bacon bits, the Butterflied Idaho Lake Trout felt more rustic and hearty than tropical, like so many of the other options on the menu, but I’m definitely not complaining, because it was still tasty and super filling. 

We ended on a sweet note, opting to try the banana chocolate gelato in a chocolate waffle. Thin slabs of rich, decadent dark chocolate were dispersed between creamy gelato — talk about melting in your mouth!

So the next time you find yourself in the Coachella Valley, don't hesitate to swing by The Tropicale to feast on some scrumptious calamari — and other Pacific Rim-inspired culinary creations. 

See you there soon!

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  1. Really nice post, with very lovely pictures. Great job.

  2. I love how the food looks. I can smell it from Dubai.

  3. Everything looks so tasty. You make me want to take a trip to try it myself.

  4. First off I don't even like calamari, but your description and picture is making me want to try it out! I will have to add Tropicale's to my places to visit when hitting palms springs.

  5. Tropicale is absolutely my favorite dining spot in all of Palm Springs. It continues to excel after 7 years.

  6. Have been here many times. Beautiful restaurant with great food, drinks and staff. One of my very favorite spots in Palm Springs :-)

  7. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. All the best