The Unvegan

Recent Posts

10 Years of Unvegan
A Quick Bite at Burrito Express
Serendipity at Northern Waters Smokehaus
Twerks and Burritos at Casa Amigos

‘Palm Desert’

Smoking at Firehouse Subs

With bits of real fire, so you know it's good.
With bits of real fire, so you know it’s good.

According to Anthony Bourdain, firemen make some of the best food around because they have some sort of crazy camaraderie in which they are always cooking for each other. Maybe Firehouse Subs came from that. Or maybe it was because some firemen wanted to make some extra cash and thought it would be a good schtick. Either way, Firehouse Subs exists and I finally tried it out in the middle of Palm Desert.

At Home with Mario’s Italian Cafe


Passing through Palm Desert on the way to Phoenix, I opted to stop at a real restaurant rather than any of the fast food chains that are sprinkled along Interstate 10. The real restaurant of choice ended up being Mario’s Italian Kitchen, a neighborhoody place with an extensive menu and load of different specials for just about every day of the week.

Le Dinner at Le Basil

Le Pad See You

In the hotbed of food culture known as Palm Desert, California, we went off to dinner with my aunt and uncle, who were craving some Thai food. After some extensive searching using the newfangled interwebs, we found a place called Le Basil. Rather than being confined to Thai food, Le Basil expanded to another area of Southeast Asia and integrated Vietnamese food into their menu. Although this only covered 2 of the 11 sovereign nations of Southeast Asia, it was enough for Le Basil’s menu to claim Southeast Asian cuisine (come on, where’s the balut?).

Steak Night at Outback

Steak heaven.

Since there appears to be no Outback Steakhouse in LA (seriously LA?!), the last time I was in Palm Desert I managed to convince my grandparents to take me to Outback. Of course, I have had Outback in the past, but not since I’ve been writing my glorious meat blog. I’ve never had a bad experience at Outback and I hoped this one would be no different.

The place was set up just like any other Outback and although there was a short wait, we were seated soon and ready to order some beef. Of the delicious-sounding steaks, the Outback Special looked especially tasty. This special cut of steak, that I think is a sirloin, comes in 7 or 9 ounce cuts. It also comes with a choice of two sides. I went with the larger of the cuts and then decided to load up on carbs for my sides. I chose both the garlic mashed potatoes and the dressed baked potato. I’m sure this meal was an accurate reflection of the typical Australian diet.

Memories of the Elephant Bar (CLOSED)

Made with real elephant. Wait. No.

EDIT: Sadly, this location is extinct, but there are still other Elephant Bars living elsewhere.

As a child of 13, I went to the Elephant Bar in Palm Desert and loved the perpetually moving straw fans on the ceiling. Of course, that was all it took for me to like a restaurant at the age of 13. Now things are a little different. Those fans still cater to my easily distracted mind, but my taste buds require something more. A quick look at the menu made me feel like the Elephant Bar was suffering from mild schizophrenia. While most of the menu was filled with American fare, for some reason a whole page was devoted to Asian stir-fry-esque meals. This threw me off and made me feel like this place wasn’t made for Asian food. I flipped back to the American comfort zone and found what I wanted.

The Appropriately Named Thai Smile (RELOCATED)

It would look much better if it weren't for those vegetables.
It would look much better if it weren’t for those vegetables.

One of the nights that I was visiting my grandparents in Rancho Mirage, we went to a restaurant called Thai Smile. There was a 20 minute wait, but I was assured that it would be worth it. Besides, I really had nothing better to do.

While waiting, we checked out the menu so we could order as soon as we got our table. It really took me a long time to decide what to order because the Chicken Spicy Peanut Sauce looked great except that it had green beans and peppers, while I could just create my own dish, but none of the customizable items looked as good as the chicken dish.

A Wholesome Breakfast at Palms Cafe

Looks good enough to eat.
Looks good enough to eat.

While visiting my grandparents in Rancho Mirage, they took me to a great little breakfast place called Palms Cafe in Palm Desert. Knowing my grandparents would never lead me astray, I was pretty excited.

We took a seat outside and perused the menu. As most cafes go, they had a pretty good collection of food, but I sought out my favorite breakfast food, the omelet. Since I don’t think I had ever seen turkey offered in an omelet before, I ordered one with turkey and cheese. I also got some bacon on the side.

It came out pretty quickly and was one of the most interesting omelets I’ve ever seen.

The Desert Willow

What the hell is that green stuff?
Why is there green stuff on the top left?

On the beautiful grounds of the Desert Willow golf course, there lies a happy little restaurant with an awesome view. The only thing that gets in the way of the view is the actual golf course.

The menu looked pretty good and I had a hard time choosing, before finally settling on the Turkey, Bacon and Avocado melt. I ordered mine without the “vine ripe tomatoes.” It’s like they couldn’t think of a good way to describe the tomatoes, so they wanted to make the customer feel as if being ripe from the vines would make the tomatoes taste slightly better than terrible.