Monthly Archives: June 2017

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Rincon Norteno ~ WANDER LIST

 

I could eat Mexican food three times a day, okay I lied, maybe four times a day. There is really no other food I like more. My Italian family certainly has always wooed me with exceptional cooking but I believe this to be true, if there was a bowl of spaghetti bolognese and a plate containing a single burrito, I would select the burrito time and time again.

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It’s one of those places where they know your name, you’ll feel it immediately

When we began looking for the perfect Mexican restaurant to feature for our Wander List video series, I knew it had to have several things going for it. Excellent, authentic food, delicious and beautiful margaritas,  and an exceptional story. After quite a bit of research, we found the perfect spot. It turned out, that it doesn’t just have an exceptional story, but one that exceeded all my expectations.

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How crazy that the menu hasn’t changed since day one? It’s crazy amazing!

And that brings me this: The inspiring story of the Flores family.
The road to a great success story is often a long one. It takes a dream, perseverance, and in this case a whole lot of heart.  “The story goes, mom and dad both arrived in Indio in the mid fifties and met at a farm labor camp.”  What happened next, changed their lives forever. OK now you have to sit for the rest.

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We were obsessed with these old stools…personality plus here and rivets to boot!

Grab a spot at the counter and it’s the simple things you’ll notice. A warm smile, a sense of pride, a genuine happiness. The simple things, that have made Rincon Norteno in downtown Indio a local favorite since 1964. Of course there are other things too, like the delicious Mexican food, the generations old family recipes, the traditionally served warm salsa, and the fact that the menu hasn’t changed since day one.

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It’s served warm and it’s amazing

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I’m a margarita gal, so I didn’t know what to expect with this cocktail (Michelada) but it was really different and delicious

Prudencio Flores Jr. along with his four siblings started working at his mom and dad’s restaurant while still in high school. He remembers his parents Estella and Prudencio Sr always in the kitchen. “I just remember coming home from school, walking in and seeing dad behind the kitchen and mom behind the counter serving people.”

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His parents, met in the mid 1950s at a farm labor camp in Indio my dad was the cook and my mom was washing dishes and cleaning up after dad.

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Estella and Prudencio Sr. when they were first dating

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They worked together there for years hopeful that one day they would open a restaurant. Success came after a combination of hard work, good timing, and luck.
The Flores family first opened the doors to their Mexican diner in a different location, a small spot on Fargo Street next to the old Desert Theater where they stayed put for 15 years.

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The original Rincon Norteno was on the left hand side of the theatre front

There were only 15 stools and a counter in this location but they packed the house with customers, mostly farm workers, who would come to this theater to watch Mexican movies.
Over time they grew a loyal following, return customers and their growing families who craved what Rincon Norteno served.

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The first Rincon at the original counter

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The updated location…more room to roam

I asked Prudencio Jr. what they make the best there and he said, as I expected, “EVERYTHING!” says, “I eat Caldo de rez which is the beef soup, the enchiladas are very popular, our pork chops are really good, a la Mexicana they call them.”

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Caldo de rez

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Mexican pork chops

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YUM

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I really loved watching the train go by…and it rumbles by often

Authenticity of the food aside, there is something to be said about the atmosphere too. The current location just down the street from the original is simple. A window seat will get you a busy road, and a train track view but it’s home.  It’s home for Prudencio Flores, his sister, Rosa and Nephew Damien who still work there every day. It’s also home to his parents, who still stop by often to see how the kids are running the place. To say hi to their forever customers and share memories of building their dream.

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I asked Prudencio what this restaurant means to his mom and dad and he said,  “oh god, it’s their heart and soul, they have put out all their energy into this restaurant…they love the restaurant, it’s their life.”

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How adorable are they? I’ll answer…REALLY adorable

 Prudencio Sr. never wants Rincon Norteno to change and not much has over the years. The stools are the one relic saved from the original restaurant but the spirit of family and good food, well that will never change. And those are the little things, you’ll notice.

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Joshua Tree Nights ~ WANDER LIST

 

“It’s a magical bounty of inspiration just the sunrise the sunset, just any point of the day being the way everything looks and shines and glints, the isolation you feel but belonging you also feel at the same time…I mean it’s an enigmatic place.”

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I’m honestly not quite sure I could say it any better than my brother-in-law, rock n roller, Jesse Hughes. He has a way with words, slightly better than my way. He’s a lyricist, a professional one, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. I digress, these are his words about the high desert and more specifically, Joshua Tree.

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My thoughts…are more of a question. How does one interrupt the feeling of a single place? A place that is so many things to so many. Like its shifting sands, Joshua Tree changes it seems, to accommodate ones needs. It’s a beacon of creativity, of hope, and an outlet of expression for countless nomadic hearts that allow it in.

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Jesse- “Some of the most profoundly stirring and emotional moments I’ve had have been looking out at the landscape of the high desert at night as the clouds pass along the moon and you feel the stillness of the air and can taste it…it’s beautiful it’s unreal.”

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Jesse knows the landscape well. He grew up in the shadow of the High Desert and spent many a night cultivating his career under the desert moonlight.  Out of the stillness of evening and of night in Joshua Tree has come moments of clarity, calm, and of creation that are beyond compare. He says,  It’s kind of a well-known thing that if you’re looking for inspiration, if you’re looking for something to fill you up with an emotion you’re not readily able to describe, Joshua Tree…the high desert, it’s the place.”

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Jesse even has a song about Yucca Valley that goes something like,  Lately in the evening I’ve been thinking bout my life and it casts a gloomy shadow on my sole. I have weakness for the flesh and for powdered speeding death and my heart is aching for my desert home… If you heard it, it would be stuck in your head until eternity.

Jesse, of Eagles of Death Metal fame wrote his 2nd album Death By Sexy in the HD and says he doesn’t design his art without including a piece of his desert influences in some manner.  “There’s no way to strip it from me anymore. It’s metastasized to my spirit. There is almost a supernatural element to it, it’s undeniable…it gets interpreted in a variety of ways…for some people it’s magic, for some people it’s mental physics.

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There’s no denying this strip of desert where the Colorado and Mojave collide, is a place that stirs emotion, inspires direction, and gives latitude when at first you didn’t feel it was there.

Jesse continues…he’s never short on words…”I mean I’m an artist, I’m a musician and I will go to the high desert specifically for the purpose of being charged up or inspired…ummm and I know I’m not the only one.”

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Certainly not the only one…U2, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, John Wayne, Gram Parsons, Jim Morrison…there are so many elite artists who sought a certain something in Joshua Tree. And so many new artists who still do. Have you heard of Reborn by the Sunshine? If not, make sure you take a listen. The duo grew up in the Coachella Valley and their lyrics and spirit reflect their roots perfectly. We made them come out to JT with us (on a rather cold blustery day) and put their talents on display. Playing music in the open air especially in that setting is exhilarating and adds a whole new dimension for artists.

Jesse – “It’s truly is the most unique place you can ever find…it’s desert but you can be snowed in it’s hot but it will turn cold…it’s just something else.”

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No night is similar either…on this one, a short stroll through town transformed into a long and memorable evening in a place seemingly set back in time. The Joshua Tree Saloon, a spot teeming with interesting folk from far, wide, and down the block. A beer with an old-timer, a beatbox with a new friend. I tried and failed miserably, in case you were wondering.

 

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Jesse- “Coming home to the high desert is like going to Disneyland in a way…you look forward to it…you just can’t wait to get back to it and once you’re there you feel that you don’t want to leave it.”

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A short drive from the Coachella Valley, this High Desert wonderland lies in wait, eager for dreamers to discover and cultivate that certain something they were yearning for. Fresh air, moon shadows, unreal looking landscape, this place will give all that you’re able to take and share all that you’re willing to hear.

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