Del Rey does not have a street-side entrance. It is hidden discreetly inside the gated hotel compound behind the main pool, which really bolsters its speakeasy ethos. Step inside and the intrigue intensifies. Despite social media and website photos to the contrary, the interior of the restaurant is so dimly lit, it’s almost pitch-black. This is a seriously noir vibe. It takes several minutes for my eyes to adjust, and even then I’m not really sure of everything that’s going on around me, much less my own hand directly in front of my face. “It takes awhile to get used to it,” my server says.
It is the perfect place to have an affair. I’ve never been more thankful for the flashlight on my phone. (There’s also a lovely patio with twinkle lights strung between the trees.)
This is the Mucho Mucho. It’s my favorite drink of the several (don’t judge!) that I tasted here. The surprise ingredient is carrot juice, which doesn’t really taste like carrot juice once it’s been mixed with mezcal, vermouth and saffron syrup and then shaken old-school with an egg white:
Octopus is grilled and dusted with paprika and served atop mashed potatoes with black garlic aioli, lemon vinaigrette and pickled red onion:
The gambas al ajillo in salsa brava are classically Spanish, served with grilled sourdough. Delicious, but I wish the shrimp still had their heads attached, which would have made this dish exponentially more exciting. Still, very good:
Here’s the Bajo La Luna, which is basically a gin and tonic with a splash of honey. That deep red color comes from hibiscus flowers. Very refreshing:
Maybe the most intriguing combo of the night: a salad of asparagus and serrano ham accented with romesco sauce and shaved queso manchego. Beautiful, too:
And this one’s called El Último. It’s made with strawberry-infused tequila, plus absinthe, almond syrup, lime and mint. I was afraid I wouldn’t love this one because I really don’t like absinthe, but the absinthe was very unobtrusive, adding more of a fennel note than straight-up licorice. Another very refreshing cocktail:
Another classic: steamed mussels with Bilbao chorizo and a tomatoey seafood broth:
Simple yet effective: Padron peppers with Spanish olive oil and lemon:
This is the Road To Bathsheba Beach, which is apparently in Barbados. It’s a spirit forward cocktail, sort of like a rum Old Fashioned, made with coconut-and-banana-infused rum, bitters, raw sugar and lime oil. Good stuff:
The lamb chops are excellent, infused with rosemary and lemon, served over a little salad that mimics the flavors of gazpacho:
This was probably my favorite bite of all: an oversized empanada stuffed with beef short rib, served with ximitxurri, which is basically the Basque version of chimichurri, along with piquillo peppers and Calabrian chile aioli:
Excellent all around. Highly recommended.
Located inside the estate of Villa Royale, 1620 S. Indian Trail, Palm Springs, CA, 760-327-2314, delreypalmsprings.com
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