I am staying in La Quinta about 40 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Digging through restaurant blogs, reviews, and maps, looking for anything remotely cool, my thoughts are again confirmed: nope, zero. Nobody likes to talk about food in the La Quinta area unless it’s a magazine, and it always seems to be the same regurgitated set of chains. Agonizing. (Palm Springs has plenty of great restaurants but at 40 minutes away, drinking, eating and driving – not an option) There must be restaurants yet to be discovered, and I’m going to do my best to find them.
I continue to dig for the better part of an hour, and voila! I find a possibility, located in a La Quinta strip mall, opened about a year ago German Food in the desert and its only 15 minutes away! Schnitzelhaus! Nothing gets me crazy frisky like Bavarian food: best beer on the planet, goulash, spatzle, and, of course, schnitzel! I stand up from my computer and immediately get into character.
“Ja, I love zee strudel! Vhen are vee going, dharling?” I’m Dieter from Sprockets; Bruno, Hanz, and Franz—they all come into form as I run around the house screaming, “Get to zee choppah!” a la Arnold in Predator. I look over and see my Lauren’s eyes rolling back in her head, and say to myself, she’s such a pahty pooopah! I scream at her, “Ja! Deal vis it! Vee ah going to Schnitzelhaus, und I am veahring my most favorite Lederhosen!” Her silence confirms that I’m making headway.
We arrive, and the place is packed, so I’m excited and hopeful. Surrounded by traditional Bavarian furniture and staff dressed in traditional Bavarian garb, I can’t help but fall into character again. My waitress asks, “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” (Do you speak German?) to which I respond, “Nein, I took Uber here, and I’m feeling very Uberish!” Lauren kicks me in the shin under the table. “Would you shut up!” I smile and say, “Vell, vee are very kranky aren’t vee!”
I order my beer, “Eins Franziskaner, bitte” (One beer, please). The waitress, who is straight up Austrian and wearing a traditional dirndl, gives me half a smile and walks away. Lauren proceeds to call her back and orders a bottle of Riesling, declaring that more than one glass will be needed. Lauren states, “I plan on blacking out and not remembering any of this.” The waitress nods and heads off to the kitchen.
As I peruse the menu, I’m overtaken by the need to take another swing at the vernacular. (Out loud, involving our neighbors) “Zwiebelrosbraten, Geschnetzeltes, Schweinsbraten—wunderbar!” My maturity level has hit an all time low, and my date is about to get up and leave, but then, just in the nick of time, a bowl of goulash lands on the table, along with house-made authentic German bread, and it’s even warm! Haaa, gotcha. She von’t leave now! As she sits back down, we both begin leaning into the soup. Deep, dark goulash, excellently seasoned, and paired with a German wheat beer. It’s so good! I’m very, very happy.
In a nutshell, Bavarian food at its most basic includes breaded or plain meat, with gravy and potatoes, spun in any of a multitude of ways, and packed with enough carbs to burst the buttons on your Lederhosen. Premeditated carbocide, that’s what it is. Beer, potatoes, breaded meat and gravy—you do the caloric math. Boom!
After a plate of Schnitzel and a few more beers, I look over and, yes! Lauren has reached Nirvana—complete wine blackout. She won’t remember a thing, perfect! I look into my phone and order up an Uber, pay our bill, and scoop up Lauren. On the way out, I wave to the staff, “Gute Nacht, Danke”, then look at Lauren and scream, “Lets get to zee Choppa”. As I look over the entire staff is smiling and I know I’ve won. I’ve found a great restaurant, gotten conservative Austrians to smile and let my inner Bavarian out of its cage for a night.
If you struggle like I do to find good food in the desert read about another place I love, Cactus Jacks.