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Dink’s Restaurant & Ultra Lounge: Your Palm Springs desert destination

PALM SPRINGS -- It wasn’t all that long ago that I found myself on a weekend getaway in Palm Springs.

After a long Saturday of exploring the desert city, my travel companion and I found ourselves wondering how to spend our evening. Sure, the downtown strip offered its pleasures, but we wanted to do something different. After scrolling through my mental Rolodex, I recalled an article that ran several years ago in The BottomLine magazine about a place called Dink’s Restaurant & Ultra Lounge. We decided to check it out.

Founded in 2005 by a group of friends who decided Palm Springs needed a new nightlife vibe, their brainchild involved the creation of a place which serves great food, great cocktails and varied nighttime entertainment.

What first struck us was the complimentary valet parking (which we later learned has the ability to accommodate up to 150 vehicles). What struck us second, however, was the food.

We each ordered a specialty cocktail (she indulged in a Blue Ketel: Ketel One vodka, blue curaco and lime juice; I opted for a raspberry lemonade-Belvedere citrus vodka, Chambord and lemonade) and started with a half order of their famous garlic cheese bread.

The main course was a bit more difficult to decide on -- mostly because the menu was so vast, encompassing selections of varied salads, seafood, sushi, burgers, chicken, pizza and pasta. After coming to a very difficult decision, we each decided that my roasted garlic chicken pizza and her ground turkey cheeseburger were everything our server promised they’d be -- if not more.

As we dined in absolute delight, we enjoyed a performance by R&B artists Nancy Franklin and Denise Motto (we may or may not have made our way to the dance floor to indulge in a little booty shaking -- although I will not confirm or deny that statement), and by the end of the evening, we agreed that we couldn’t have found a better way to spend the night.

At this point, I became curious about the place described as a destination-worth-driving-to, so I placed a call to Dink’s general manager Jesse Inman to learn a bit more.

Inman says part of what makes Dink’s unique is that it caters to people of all ages, all backgrounds and all orientations.

"Some nights our crowd is 80% gay and 20% straight, based on the entertainment," Inman said. "Other nights it’s 40/60, and it could go either way."

The entertainment line-up runs from Tuesday through Sunday (Dink’s is closed on Monday nights) and offers a bit of something for everyone. Those venturing out on a Tuesday will be greeted by the Ted Herman Orchestra; while the Wednesday crowd can enjoy an evening of karaoke. Thursday night has a drag theme, with Bella Da Ball’s cabaret showcase, guest vocalists and varied drag personalities. Weekend entertainment showcases guest vocalists (Fridays), R&B performers Nancy Franklin and Denise Motto (Saturdays), closing off with a champagne brunch (and live jazz music by Christian Chalifour) on Sundays, with the evening polishing off with another R&B performance, for a relaxing close to the night.

“We really offer something for everyone,” Inman said. “Our food ranges from pizza and burgers, to prime rib to shrimp scampi and salmon. We have sushi, quesadillas, we offer a number of different foods from throughout the world. We wanted Dink’s to be the place where the people of the desert valleys come to eat, drink and play, and we’re happy to have succeeded in that goal.”

The varied seating, he pointed out, also allows patrons to be as close to, or as far away from, the entertainment as they choose. Those wanting an up-front view can dine from the stage seating, those wanting an intermediate spot tend to opt for lounge seating, and those wanting to enjoy the entertainment from afar may sit in the dining room. If you prefer something a bit more private, Dink’s also has four VIP cabanas, which seat three to five people. The cabanas also have closable sheer curtains.

Dink’s also occasionally offers late-night entertainment from 10 pm until 2 am.

“We’re doing something for the girls on April 1 and April 2 for Dinah Shore Weekend,” Inman said. “And on Saturday, April 16, we’re hosting the Major Bear’s, boys-night-out dance night. On April 30, we’re having the JD Hall Band perform. A lot of restaurants don’t generally open up for these types of events, but we have so much space that if a promoter approaches us with the right idea, we’re open to it.”

Ultimately, Dink’s truly offers something for everyone. So the next time you find yourself in Palm Springs, Dink’s should be your No. 1 pick for drinks, dining and play.

The details

Dink’s Restaurant and Ultra Lounge is located at 2080 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

For more information, call (760) 327-7676 or click HERE.