Now that the temperatures are slowly cooling down in the desert, Cathedral City is heating up. The town situated between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage on Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation land is breathing new life with the recent opening of the Agua Caliente Casino on Highway 111.
In a city known for some of the best Mexican food in the Coachella Valley, Cafe 111 is tucked in the back of the single-story circular casino that has a neighborhood feel and is a formidable contender in the Cathedral City Latinx landscape. Headed up by executive chef Julián González Cruz, the diverse menu includes many family recipes that stem from his Oaxacan roots.
Cruz has been a fixture in the desert dining scene, coming from sister property Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage where he was Chef de Cuisine at the Forbes’ Four-Star and Wine Spectator Award winner, The Steakhouse, as well as Wilma and Frieda’s, and the Thunderbird Country Club.
The extensive menu includes signature family recipes like empanadas de camaron, filled with shrimp and poblano peppers topped with chipotle cream sauce and roasted salsa. There is a sufficient selection of tacos as well as chimichurri marinated New York steak and shrimp skewers with Boursin mashed potatoes, but two real standouts are the chef’s halibut Vera Cruz and the rustic shrimp and oaxaca chile relleno. The sleek, non-battered poblano pepper is stuffed with tender shrimp, Oaxaca cheese, epazote and onions covered in a savory chile pasilla mole worth an award, served with refried beans and cilantro rice.
Make the most out of dessert with a mini trio of your choice. A perfect threesome includes the signature mole brownie with Mezcal macerated strawberry sauce and cinnamon ice cream, a Mexican tiramisu and the coconut flan with caramelized popcorn from Cruz’s mother’s recipe.
There are plenty of steaks, burgers and other sandwiches to choose from, and breakfast is served all day. With only a few larger dinner menu items over the $20 average, it’s an affordable stop if you’re visiting the Modernism Week Fall Preview starting this week on Thursday, October 14.
The property’s 12,000 sq. foot outdoor Agua Caliente Pavilion hosts live entertainment, special events and community gatherings with a panoramic view of the local mountains. If you find yourself in the casino’s bar on a Thursday night, you may have to dodge a few line dancers on your way to the 360 Sports Bar. The Agua Caliente Casinos are owned and operated by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.