Bar/Restaurant: El Jefe
Area: Deep Well-ish Neighborhood of Palm Springs
Typa Joint: Modern/Hipster
Signature Cocktail: The Charred Pineapple Margarita
Palm Springs got wise. You don’t need an already-cool space to make a modern marvel. Take the Saguaro Hotel. Following in the footsteps of The Ace Hotel, which was once a Westward Ho/Howard Johnson’s, the Saguaro was formally a Holiday Inn. Add cool signage, a sprawling canopy entry, splashes of color, and modern furniture, and voilà.
The Saguaro also has two destinations for food and drink: Tinto, a tapas restaurant, and El Jefe.
On the advice of Gina, a blog reader, I stopped at El Jefe for its signature charred pineapple margarita. Fruit margaritas (strawberry, pineapple, or watermelon) at El Jefe can be made “Cantina Style,” with silver tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice ($11), or “El Jefe Style,” with Don Julio Reposado, Combier and fresh lime (gulp! $15!).
I must admit I had not heard of Combier, which is an orange liqueur made in France since 1834 and was the country’s first triple sec. It has only recently become available in the United States market.
The bartender explained how the charred margarita is made. Pineapple is charred on the grill, then mashed into pulp. The result is absolutely freaking tasty.
And it’s no surprise that the drinks, and the food, are delicious. Iron Chef and James Beard award winner Chef Jose Garces is behind it all. My lunch of chorizo and camarones tacos was well – suited to the margarita.
The interior is rustic with just a hint of industrial. I visited at a time of day when it was rather empty, but I imagine it is quite the hipster hangout at night.
I enjoyed El Jefe and the charred pineapple margarita, but 15 bucks is pretty steep.