The palm desert has many options when it comes to mexican fare, all offering their take on the margarita and approachable mexican dishes. However, if you are looking for a place that will welcome you in like family while also filling your belly with delicious food, armando’s dakota bar and grill is the place to be.
Situated on el paseo drive in the heart of the palm desert, armando’s is not hard to find as there is typically a line out the door. The friendly staff is extremely accommodating, welcoming and the driving force in why this place is always packed with hungry locals and travelers alike. With a large open-air dining space that lets in the evening desert breeze and an indoor bar with multiple flat-screen tvs, there is an easiness and no-frills approach which adds to the allure.
As for the food, I often times judge a great mexican restaurant by their refried beans. Crazy I know but one bite of slow cooked, lightly salted beans with a touch of lard is the key to know you are in for a good meal. Armando’s has just this. In addition, the chicken fajitas were a major hit. A large cast-iron skillet comes out in a billowing cloud of smoke to then uncover a massive serving of grilled onions, peppers, juicy chicken and fresh cilantro; all to then be piled into flour tortillas with all the fixings. The serving was huge and easily could have been shared between two people. Another favorite were the chile rellenos. A crispy shell enveloped a roasted, smoky and slightly spicy chile which was filled with gooey cheese. The spice of the chile was counteracted by the cheese so you tasted only flavor, not all the heat.
Every entree on the menu is served with either a salad or tortilla soup and all of us chose to try the soup. I will say this was the only dish that I was confused by. The shredded chicken in the soup was very tender and the broth had great depth and flavor. However, it was also served with pieces of cubed white cheddar that added an odd cold element to the piping hot soup. Other than the soup, I really have no complaints at all.
Armando’s made me feel like I had been a diner of theirs for years and was a member of their extended family. The service alone would bring me back again and if I close my eyes right now, I can see a smiling server dropping off a smoking hot plate of fajitas. I cannot wait to go back to palm desert for another meal at armando’s.