Billy Reed's Restaurant, 1800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; (619) 325-1946. Grand and palatial, like many a restaurant out here, but in an American mode: Plates decorate the walls; the piano bar is like a huge living room. It specializes in American food, of course--big breakfasts and lots of steaks, sandwiches and pies. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. American Express, MasterCard and Visa accepted. Dinner for two about $30. Cattails, 68-369 Highway 111, Cathedral City; (619) 324-8263. A rather quiet and intimate restaurant for these parts, done in muted desert shades. Among regular French / Continental items on the changing blackboard menu is an unusual roast duckling, marinated in brown sugar and served with a wonderful honey-juniper berry sauce. Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. MasterCard or Visa accepted. Dinner for two about $90.
Desert Wharf, 72-839 Highway 111 (in Palms to Pines Plaza East), Palm Desert; (619) 568-FISH. Basically a fish market, the Wharf also serves ultrafresh seafood cocktails, sandwiches and fried fish platters (also mesquite-broiled fish, but only 4-7 p.m. weekdays). Additional tables outdoors in the arcade. Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. No credit cards. Dinner for two about $15. Gallery Louisiane, 73-520 El Paseo, Palm Desert; (619) 346-8999. This pretty, green-and-white room happens to be the only place in the desert serving Cajun food. The menu is heavily in the Paul Prudhomme style, including blackened redfish that's made with genuine redfish flown in from the Gulf. The entertainment is genuine live jazz. Open for dinner nightly. MasterCard, American Express and Visa accepted. Dinner for two about $40. Garcia's Mexican Restaurant, 42-540 Bob Hope Drive (at Highway 111), Rancho Mirage; (619) 340-5531. Another palace, this one serving rich, mild Mexican food for north-of-the-border palates. It's the usual selection of Mexican dishes, plus a unique and remarkably good pollo fundido --more or less a deep-fried chicken burrito drowned in melted cheese. Open for lunch and dinner daily. All major credit cards accepted. Dinner for two about $25.