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Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse owner Lucky Callender wants a visit to his expansive Rancho Mirage restaurant to be more than a meal. He hopes it’s an experience. “Everything we do inside this restaurant is all done by hand, from scratch with family recipes from three generations back,” Callender says. Baby-back ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, smoked to perfection, keep barbecue lovers coming back again and again. The atmosphere helps, too: upscale but comfortable with cheeky touches, including framed, watercolor illustrations of punny “celebrity pigs” by artist Lynn Knowles, who also created a saucy series of beer-label pinup girls for the brand. Glass walls allow diners a glimpse at the restaurant’s half-million-dollar brewing system; those extra curious about the process can schedule a free brewery tour and get up close and personal with the massive fermenters, where award-winning suds like the Honey Blonde Ale and Blackfin Lager come to life. “It is a labor of love to make the beer,” Callender notes. Two master brewers do the bulk of the work to produce the restaurant’s substantial yearly quota of beer, and in the interim, they’re busy dreaming up new brews. The beer lineup is intentionally curated to reflect the menu, and Babe’s is the only brewery in the desert where you can also enjoy a full feast. “When you drink, you’ve got to eat,” Callender quips, comparing the affair to wine tasting and pairing. Wait staff can recommend the best brew to couple with your entrée. “It all comes together and complements the food and the experience as a whole,” Callender says. Photography by Jaime Kowal
The winner of 11 categories in Palm Springs Life‘s 2019 Best of the Best contest, Jackalope Ranch excels in offering a variety of experiences, with something for everyone. Best-of honors went to Jackalope’s steaks, fresh fish, barbecue, patio/alfresco dining, margaritas/craft cocktails, Sunday unlimited Prime Rib, bottomless Champagne brunch buffet, burgers, catering, wedding/event venue, and sports bar. Owner Lee Morcus describes Jackalope — a sprawling, $38 million facility on 6.5 lush acres — as “a really cool Southern California ranch that transports people from the desert.” While recognized for its barbecue (each of a trio of sauces includes 30 ingredients and is cooked for 24 hours), Jackalope Ranch offers a comprehensive menu featuring USDA Prime aged steaks, fish, grass-fed chuck burgers, and Latin and Mexican ingredients that lend “spice and spirit.” Jackalope Ranch is also known for the coldest draft beer in the desert (beer thermostats average 30°F) and jumbo, 17.5-ounce scratchcrafted margaritas made with 100 percent platino agave tequila, fresh lime, and organic agave nectar. The settings are equally diverse, ranging from a bustling saloon for socializing and sports fans to intimate dining areas. Palm trees, fragrant citrus, flowers, bronze sculptures, waterfalls, and a softly flowing stream surround guests seeking an exquisite alfresco experience. A full-time event planning team can customize events for parties from 10 to 1,500 guests, from simple cocktail receptions and barbecue hoedowns to highly stylized fine dining for weddings and corporate events.