It’s hard to get excited about Palm Springs Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week kicks off on Friday in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley and, while I am sure I will be grabbing a bite or two out during the next few days, it won’t be anything off the special menus.

I have tried Restaurant Week in years past and it’s almost always a disappointment. Restaurants will privately tell you they hate it, those who work in them will openly tell you they hate it, and it’s hard to tell, exactly, why Palm Springs Restaurant Week even exists.

The menus often seem like a hodgepodge the eatery puts together in order to try to keep the diner happy while also trying not to lose their ass while having a “special.” Often a three-course meal will have a weird, tiny app, a decent entree, and something like a cookie or scoop of ice cream to act as a third course.

This is usually fine for the Water with Lemon crowd who just loves a deal and probably will tip 5-10% of their check, but why is an entire week setup to cater to these people?

It’s hard to understand who, exactly, Restaurant Week is for these days. While we are told it’s something to try to bring people in from out of town, is anyone booking a room for a few days during 100+ degree heat specifically to save $5 on lunch? True foodies usually prefer ordering something that’s not on a discount menu and would seek out the best restaurants in town anyway.  Also, why do I, a local, keep seeing ads for this targeted at me, a person who would be dining out anyway even without the expense of our TOT tax dollars being spent by the big tourism agency on ads targeted towards me, who I will remind you: is a person who is already in town and not booking a hotel room?

And speaking of the tourism agency spending loads of your tax dollars advertising this thing, what in the hell is this?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I will still head out and grab a meal or two this week to support local businesses and those who work in them. But I will definitely be ordering from the regular menu and no one needed to provide a weird, expensive roller skating video to motivate me to do it.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Several comments. A number of the best restaurants simply aren’t participating. Some who are aren’t discounting very much. Others that participate have cut out the better entrees they had last year. Other more cynical ones (those with wines starting at $60 and “craft” cocktails for $16 in thimble-size glasses) are counting on their monster alcohol margins to subsidize the small discounts they’re offering. And indeed they all hate it. Seems to be a fading event designed (like the Miss America pageant the weekend after Labor Day) to extend the season. And while our restaurants deserve support, I’ve been through most of the 151 menus, and it’s hard to get excited about the offerings.

  2. Take a starving person to dinner week
    Gets my vote
    Time to change
    Or restaurant food provided
    To homeless makes me want to participate

  3. Hey Casey don’t blast the advertising its employing local film makers (my son included). As for people coming from out of town to attend, I work in the hotel industry and people do in fact, book rooms for the event.

  4. We usually go out every year once or twice for Restaurant Week with friends. I never like what’s on the “special” menu and ALWAYS order off the regular menu. I think this is one of their tactics to get you in the restaurant and then you are stuck paying full price because the “special” menus are quite dismal. Plus, I never eat dessert anyway so the “special” menu is wasted on me.

  5. Yeah, that skating video is just weird. Apologies to the commenter whose kid had something to do with it. The Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau needs to stop marketing Palm Springs to people who live here. Their efforts at promoting the airport are ridiculous. Like everyone I know, I often use Ontario or other SoCal airports because fares out of PSP are so ridiculously high. Money wasted on sleekly produced ad campaigns isn’t going to change that.

  6. Last year we went to a fancy french restaurant (yes, that one) for the $49 special. Several bottles of wine later, and few chuckles from Suzanne Sommers sitting at the table next to us, the four of us spent $600. Restaurant Week is a scam, but we did have a lot of laughs.

  7. I suspect Restaurant Week became A Thing because it’s an echo of when the few restaurants that didn’t shut down at the end of season would offer cheap menus over the summer months; someone along the way decided it was a way to make a buck, so here we are.

    Restaurants go along because they think, meh, why not? It’s basically harmless, right? But there’s a big difference between “harmless” and “pointless”—and having your business associated with something pointless is probably not the kind of word-of-mouth you want.

  8. Restaurant Week gives us locals a chance to try places they wouldn’t otherwise. For example, we went to Si Bon & their $29 dinner menu had a fabulous stuffed sole which costs $29 alone on their regular menu but with the RW menu we also got an appetizer & dessert. I think it’s a good deal.

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