Above Photo: My friends and I at Mamma Gina

Bar/Restaurant: Mamma Gina & Armando’s

Area: El Paseo

Typa Joint: Italian & Mexican, respectively

Signature Cocktail: Mamma Gina – Negroni; Armando’s – Margarita

MAMMA GINA

Traipsing off to El Paseo, the hip and trendy shopping and dining area in Palm Desert, my friends an I opted for happy hour at a venerable Italian restaurant in a town full of Italian restaurants – Mamma Gina.

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My friends had given it great reviews, but upon their return they were surprised to find the prices higher and the portions smaller. My barrel-aged Negroni was very good, but it was not a part of happy hour, and it cost $12.90! That is far too steep.

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ARMANDO’S

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We decided to round out the evening around the corner at Armando’s, where the margaritas, I was told, were the greatest. Well, at best, it was an off night. The waiter did not bring us menus. We inquired about the types of margaritas and he said they had two – blended or on the rocks. Somehow I bet the menus he never brought us had a bit more detail than that.

My margarita was so strong and made with such offensive, cheap tequila that I sent it back and asked it to be blended with strawberries. The waiter did so with a huff, and it was drinkable, but barely.

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Nope to both places. They both felt to me as if the bloom is off the rose and they have rested too long on their laurels.