I love Dine LA week in Los Angeles where special prix fixe menus are offered at local restaurants for a week or two every year. I also love good timing which made my trip to Palm Springs fall during Palm Springs Restaurant Week (which actually lasts 10 days). The Palm Springs version is relatively new, and because it is a smaller town, there are fewer participating restaurants, but the quality of the meals and participants means both locals and visitors can beat the heat with a cool deal on a meal.
Upon my arrival in the 100+ degree town, I immediately wanted a cool place to sit and a bite to eat, so I headed for Zini Cafe Med in the heart of downtown. They specialize in small bites of both hot and cold plates, but they also offer full meals of salads, sandwiches, crepes, and omelettes. The food is Italian Mediterranean, by a chef trained in Brussels, and this is the sister cafe to the restaurant down the street Zin American Bistro. Their restaurant week deal is $24 for a tapa, a full entree, dessert, and glass of wine, but I was not hungry enough to partake of the deal for lunch, so I chose to have a drink and a few tapas instead as I sat under the misters watching the few heat resistant people meandering on Palm Canyon Drive in 103F weather.
They have a plentiful selection of wines by the glass at great bargains, so I started with a Pinot Grigio ($6) and their Tuna Carpaccio, served with Citrus, Balsamic Pomegranate Drizzle, Spanish Olive Oil & Capers ($6). It was a wonderful way to start a meal with the perfect balance of protein, acidity and luscious olive oil.
I chose the Grilled Baby Octopus, Tomato Hummus Crostini, Sesame & Lemon ($5) as my second bite, and could have easily eaten two orders of these delicately grilled bites of flavor. There was just enough contrast of texture to make the tender baby octopus come to life on its bed of hummus.
Since my friend Cindy & I had dinner reservations that night, I did not venture further into the menu, but it was a perfect way to start off my stay. I will definitely keep this place in mind as a breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner place. This is a perfect location to sit and people watch as you sip some wine and eat some tapas on a warm Palm Springs evening.