Best Breakfast 2014

First place: Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain

A guaranteed good start to your day in Palm Springs – whether you’re meeting clients for a power breakfast or fueling up after a tennis match – can be found at Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain. Stick to your weekday regime with delicious Irish steel-cut oatmeal or a spinach and mushroom frittata, or go for it with a Maine lobster omelet or Harold’s potato pancakes. With a bloody mary, natch. 701 W. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, (760) 327-3446, spencersrestaurant.com

Second place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro, 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

Third place: Lulu California Bistro, 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

-Kate Franco

Best Brunch 2014

First place: Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain

Whether it’s Mother’s Day or just any festive weekend, choosing the right spot for brunch sets the tone for the entire day. Spencer’s always delivers. Delicious Benedicts and beyond? Check. Beautiful setting? The patio is to die for. A well-dressed, yet weekend-casual crowd that understands the importance of a mimosa or bloody mary to round out the occasion? Cheers! 701 W. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, (760) 327-3446, spencersrestaurant.com

Second place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro, 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

Third place: Lulu California Bistro, 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

-Kate Franco

Best Dinner Deal 2014

First place: Lulu California Bistro

Lulu has a special three-course prix fixe dinner every day for $19.99 or for $15.99 between 3 and 5 p.m. (plus $4 if you choose filet mignon). For that you get a choice of soup or salad, a dozen entrees including Sauteed Tilapia, Lobster Ravioli, Meatloaf a la Lulu and Grilled Pork Chop, and desserts like flourless triple chocolate cake and freshly cut seasonal fruit. 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

Second place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

Third place: Jackalope Ranch, 80-400 Hwy. 111, Indio, (760) 342-1999, thejackaloperanch.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Late-Night Dining 2014

First place: Lulu California Bistro

Being the liveliest bistro in the city, Lulu serves dinner until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Happy hour is 11 a.m. until closing every day, so that menu is available late at night, too. The mezzanine levels are great spots for people watching, but then so is the terrace. 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

Second place: Jackalope Ranch 80-400 Hwy. 111, Indio, (760) 342-1999, thejackaloperanch.com

Third place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best New Restaurant 2014

First place: Figue Mediterranean Restaurant

Imagine a restaurant where you discover a new dish, learn a new culinary secret and notice a different decor element every time you go, a place that intrigues all your senses. Figue Mediterranean Restaurant in La Quinta is such a place. 47-474 Washington St., La Quinta, (760) 698-9040, eatfigue.com

Second place: Cork & Fork 47-875 Caleo Bay, La Quinta, (760) 777-7555, corkandforkwinebar.com

Third place: Eureka! 74-985 Hwy. 111, Indian Wells, (760) 834-7700, eurekarestaurantgroup.com

-Pamela Bieri

Best Outdoor Dining 2014

First place: Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain

Few spots in the valley succeed in making the dry desert completely fade away. Dining under the canopy of greenery, nearly courtside, on Spencer’s patio during the day provides one of those transporting experiences. The lush gentility is the perfect backdrop for breakfast, brunch or lunch. At night, the twinkle lights catapult the patio to the heavens one of the dreamiest settings for fine dining imaginable. 701 W. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, (760) 327-3446, spencersrestaurant.com

Second place: Jackalope Ranch, 80-400 Hwy. 111, Indio, (760) 342-1999, thejackaloperanch.com

Third place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

-Kate Franco

Best Romantic Dinner 2014

First place: Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain

The drive – or walk – through the gorgeous neighborhood as you approach Spencer’s serves as an amuse-bouche for what is sure to be a very special evening. A true feast for the senses, Spencer’s consistently hits high and presented continental fare, an award-winning wine list, pitch-perfect service, and a patio that, with lush greenery and twinkle lights, seems heaven-sent. This is a place built to impress. 701 W. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, (760) 327-3446, spencersrestaurant.com

Second place: Lulu California Bistro, 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

Third place: Jackalope Ranch, 80-400 Hwy. 111, Indio, (760) 342-1999, thejackaloperanch.com

-Kate Franco

Best Place to Dine with Children 2014

First place: Red Robin

Red Robin is a burger heaven, with variations like Banzai, Whiskey River BBQ, and A1 Peppercorn. The Kids’ Menu appeals to all children, with offerings like Carnival Corn Dogs, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Grilled Chicken on a Stick and Cheesy Mac ‘n Cheese. The irresistible desserts include Gooey Chocolate Brownie Cake and Mountain High Mudd Pie. 78-722 Hwy. 111, La Quinta, (760) 777-1111; 72-797 Dinah Shore Dr., Rancho Mirage, (760) 324-8310; redrobin.com

Second place: Ruby’s Diner, 155 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 406-7829, rubys.com

Third place: Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill, 78-015 Main St., #100, La Quinta, (760) 777-9989, stuftpizzalaquinta.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Barbecue Restaurant 2014

First place: Jackalope Ranch

This magnificent handcrafted lodge on 6.5 acres was obviously built for ranch cooking. The secret that Executive Chef Diana Davey uses on her custom thick-cut prime pork ribs and other meats is low and slow cooking in a closed pit. This time-honored cooking process, with the help of house-made rubs and sauces, makes Jackalope Ranch’s barbecue outstanding. 80-400 Hwy. 111, Indio, (760) 342-1999, thejackaloperanch.com

Second place: Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse, 71-800 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage, (760) 346-8738, babesbbque.com

Third place: Tony Roma’s, 73-155 Hwy. 111, Palm Desert, (760) 568-9911, tonyromas.com/palm-desert-0

-Janet Newcomb

Best Specialty Diet (Vegan or Gluten-Free) Restaurant 2014

First place: Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain

Offering something for everyone goes beyond the traditional meat/fish/vegetable options at Spencer’s. Whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, Executive Chef Eric Wadlund has crafted a menu that will not only satisfy meat-eaters and vegetarians, but also those among us with food sensitivities or allergies. A huge portion of the menu can be prepared gluten-free, including sandwiches and benedicts. Dishes that apply are helpfully marked on the menu. 701 W. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs, (760) 327-3446, spencersrestaurant.com

Second place: Lulu California Bistro, 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

Third place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro, 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

-Kate Franco

Best Seafood Restaurant 2014

First place: Fisherman’s Market & Grill This is actually a fish market that serves as a restaurant. It’s not too fancy but the seafood is reliably fresh, flavorful and affordable. Entrees range from Charbroiled Alaskan Halibut to Salmon stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and garlic. Lots of fish & chip variations, and the Baja Fish Tacos are revered. They also sell fresh fish for home cooking. 235 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-1766; 44-250 Town Center Way, Ste. C-2, Palm Desert, (760) 776-6533; 78-575 Hwy. 111, Ste. 100, La Quinta, (760) 777-1601; fishermans.com Second place: Pacifica Seafood Restaurant, 73-505 El Paseo, #2500, the Gardens on El Paseo, Palm Desert, (760) 674-8666, pacificaseafoodrestaurant.com Third place: Ruben and Ozzy’s Oyster Bar & Grill, 241 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, (760) 325-8800, rubenandozzysoysterbar.com -Janet Newcomb

Best Steak House 2014

First place: Jackalope Ranch

The Morcus family knows meat intimately. They age their beef in-house, cut it fresh daily, and grill it low and slow to produce the best flavor. Try a 16 ounce Rib Eye, an Espresso-Herb Crusted Coulotte Steak, or an 8 oz. Filet with fresh, local vegetables and baked or mashed potatoes and you’ll recognize the superior quality immediately. 80-400 Hwy. 111, Indio, (760) 342-1999, thejackaloperanch.com

Second place: Ruth’s Chris Steak House 74-740 Hwy. 111, Palm Desert, (760) 779-1998, ruthschris.com

Third place: Chop House 262 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 320-4500, restaurantsofpalmsprings.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Chinese Restaurant 2014

First place: City Wok

City Wok takes pride in getting your food to you quickly, but it’s not fast food. All of their ingredients are fresh, they don’t use steam tables, their sauces are homemade, and everything is cooked to order. Great flavor and healthful cooking techniques, coupled with excellent service, have made this a winner. 74-970 Country Club Dr., Palm Desert, (760) 341-1511, citywok.com

Second place: PF Chang’s China Bistro 71-800 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage, (760) 776-4912, pfchangs.com

Third place: Wang’s in the Desert, 424 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 325-9264, wangsinthedesert.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Continental Restaurant 2014

First place: Spencer’s Restaurant at the Mountain With a dinner menu full of fine dining classics, punctuated with pan-Asian flair, Spencer’s Executive Chef Eric Wadlund treats guests to well-executed and beautifully presented meal from start to finish. From the chef’s signature whitefish, to veal chops, to prime steaks, there’s something on the menu to please every taste and appetite. The wine selection is award-winning and service gracefully navigates the territory between friendly and formal. 701 W. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, (760) 327-3446, spencersrestaurant.com

Second place: Lulu California Bistro 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

Third place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

-Kate Franco

Best French Restaurant 2014

First place: Le Vallauris

A mainstay among Palm Springs restaurants, this is one of those rare comfortable, old-world places with Flemish tapestries and Louis XV furniture, and a wine cellar that contains excellent French wines along with New World selections. They describe their cuisine as “Mediterranean French California,” which you’ll understand when you try a dinner like their Roasted Veal Filet, Oregon Chanterelles au jus, potato truffle raviolis, and asparagus. 385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, (760) 325-5059, levallauris.com

Second place: La Brasserie 78-477 Hwy. 111, La Quinta, (760) 771-4400, labrasserielaquinta.com

Third place: Zin American Bistro 198 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 322-6300, pszin.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Italian Restaurant 2014

First place: Le Donne Cucina Italiana

This friendly spot makes fresh pasta in-house daily and has a lengthy menu with a variety of antipasti, soups and salads, meats, fish, risotto and 29 pasta dishes. There’s also a small, friendly bar where you can relax if you forgot to make a reservation and have to wait. 72-624 El Paseo, Palm Desert, (760) 773-9441, ledonnecucina.com

Second place: Mario’s Italian Restaurant & Cafe Seven locations in the Coachella Valley, mariositaliancafes.com

Third place: Mamma Gina 73-705 El Paseo, Palm Desert, (760) 568-9898, mammagina.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Japanese/Sushi Restaurant 2014

First place: Okura Robata Grill & Sushi Bar

Jay Lee, the owner of this alluring restaurant, actually went to sushi school in San Francisco before opening the restaurant several years ago, 111, La Quinta, (760) 564-5820, okurasushi.com

Second place: Kobe Japanese Steak House 69-838 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage, (760) 324-1717, koberanchomirage.com

Third place: Sam’s Sushi, 79-485 Hwy. 111, #5, La Quinta, (760) 771-8285, samsushiriver.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Mexican Restaurant 2014

First place: El Gallito

Not everyone can have a Mexican grandma who makes to-die-for chile verde or chile Colorado. Even if you do, you might want to give her the night off and head down to El Gallito in Cathedral City for the kind of made-from-scratch Mexican food that satisfies your stomach and your soul. Don’t forget: Cash only. 68-820 Grove, Cathedral City, (760) 328-7794

Second place: Las Casuelas Terraza, 222 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 325-2794, lascasuelas.com

Third place: El Mirasol Two Palm Springs locations: 140 E. Palm Canyon Dr., (760) 323-0721; 266 Via Altamira, (760) 459-3136; elmirasolrestaurants.com

-Kate Franco

Best Thai Restaurant 2014

First place: Thai Smile Palm Springs

Owners named this place correctly: You will surely smile when you dig in to the generous helping of famous Pad Thai (rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, egg, bean sprouts, scallions and crushed peanuts tossed in a pleasingly spicy, throat-warming sauce) or any of the Thai soups, salads or specialties. You’ll never look at coconut milk and lemongrass the same way again. 100 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 320-5503; thaismilepalmsprings.com

Second place: Thai Smile of Rancho Mirage, 42-476 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage, (760) 341-6565, thaismilerm.com

Third place: Le Basil, 72-695 Hwy. 111, Palm Desert, (760) 773-1112, lebasilrestaurant.com

-Barbara Lowell

Best Bakery 2014

First place: Over the Rainbow Cupcakes & Desserts

Chef Roman Blas, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, has been recognized for his original cupcake creations, like Chocolate Miso Caramel Crunch and Chocolate Covered Jalapeno, and for creative cakes, bars, tarts, and pies, using artisan flour, Belgium chocolates, whole Madagascar vanilla beans, real butter and no preservatives. 1775 E. Palm Canyon Road, Suite 150, Palm Springs, (760) 322-2253, romanblas.com

Second place: Aspen Mills Bread Company, 555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, (760) 323-3123, aspenmillsps.com

Third place: Sherman’s Deli & Bakery 401 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, (760) 325-1199; 73-161 Country Club Dr., D2, Palm Desert, (760) 568-1350; shermansdeli.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Burger 2014

First place: Grill-A-Burger

Burgers always taste better at the beach, so the coconut-thatched and bamboo bar and tiki-themed accessories set the perfect scene for gobbling down a fat, meaty burger with all the fixings. With 30 to choose, from a simple patty to the belly-busting Burgerzilla, you’re sure to find a favorite. Only the clever menu names outdo the taste (we’re talking to you, What a Friend We Have in Cheeses). 73-091 Country Club Dr., Palm Desert, (760) 346-8170, grill-a-burger.com

Second place: In-N-Out, 72-265 Varner Rd., Thousand Palms; 82-043 Hwy. 111, Indio, (800) 786-1000; in-n-out.com

Third place: Tyler’s Burgers 149 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 325-2990, tylersburgers.com

-Barbara Lowell

Best Fast Food 2014

First place: In-N-Out

Occupying the small space in the gastronomic world where the foodie and the every(wo)man overlap is In-N-Out. This quintessentially California fast-food chain has been cranking out burgers (made to order, always) and hand-cut fries

since 1948, much to the delight of everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Julia Child to our readers, who wax poetic about the double-doubles, animal-style when they feel frisky. 72-265 Varner Rd., Thousand Palms; 82-043 Hwy. 111, Indio, (800) 786-1000, in-n-out.com

Second place: Fisherman’s Market & Grill 235 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-1766; 44-250 Town Center Way, Ste. C-2, Palm Desert, (760) 776-6533; 78-575 Hwy. 111, Ste. 100, La Quinta, (760) 777-1601; fishermans.com

Third place: Chipotle Mexican Grill, 2465 E. Palm Canyon Dr., No. 1110, Palm Springs, (760) 325-0346; 72-333 Hwy. 111, Palm Desert, (760) 346-1838, 79-174 Hwy. 111, No. 101, La Quinta, (760) 564-3079; chipotle.com

-Kate Franco

Best Frozen Treats 2014

First place: Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt Eddie’s self-serve yogurt comes in assorted flavors with sugar-free, dairy-free, non-fat variations, and can be topped with hot fudge, nuts, candies, or fruit, and more. Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Frozen Yogurt is one of the locals’ favorites. He also offers frozen custard, which is creamier than ice cream with less butterfat. 300 E. Arenas Rd., Palm Springs, (760) 325-6700

Second place: Cactusberry 1775 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 325-3228, cactusberryps.com

Third place: Brandini Toffee 42-560 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage, (760) 200-1598, brandinitoffee.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Hot Dog 2014

First place: Costco Diet experts advise never going to the grocery store hungry, but even they make an exception for Costcothe hot dogs and Polish sausages are that good. Hot and juicy with just the right snap, nestled into a steamed bun and dressed with all the chopped onions you can handle, it’s worth a big-box trip any day. The price is tasty, too: Hot dog and a refillable drink, $1.50. Two valley locations, 72-800 Dinah Shore Dr., Palm Desert, (760) 770-2810; 79-795 Hwy 111, La Quinta, (760) 775-0370; costco.com Second place: Grill-A-Burger 73-091 Country Club Dr., Palm Desert, (760) 346-8170, grill-a-burger.com Third place: Bobby’s Detroit Coney Island 79-630 Hwy. 111, Suite 100, La Quinta, (760) 347-2200, bobbysdetroitconeyisland.com -Barbara Lowell

Best Pizza 2014

First place: Lulu California Bistro

The hottest, hippest new restaurant in Palm Springs naturally has the hottest, hippest pizza menu around. White pizzas like Maui onion, gorgonzola and pears, and smoked salmon with dill creme, onions and caviar, compete with red pizzas like roasted duck, pineapple and brie, vegetarian with roasted vegetables, and the “Everything Pizza” with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, olives, capers, duck, pepperoni, chicken and ham. A true pizza heaven. 200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 327-5858, lulupalmsprings.com

Second place: Acqua Pazza California Bistro, 71-800 Hwy. 111, A167, Rancho Mirage, (760) 862-9800, acquapazzabistro.com

Third place: Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill, 78-015 Main St., #100, La Quinta, (760) 777-9989, stuftpizzalaquinta.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Place to Caffeinate 2014

First place: Starbucks

From Starbucks’ founding in 1971 as a Seattle coffee bean roaster and retailer, the company has expanded to 20,891 locations in 62 countries and is still scouting new locations. It also sells other hot and cold beverages, pastries, sandwiches and other snacks. 20 locations in the Coachella Valley, starbucks.com

Second place: Koffi 515 N. Palm Canyon Dr. and 1700 S. Camino Real in Palm Springs; 71-380 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage; kofficoffee.com

Third place: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 5 locations in Palm Desert and Palm Springs; coffeebean.com

-Janet Newcomb

Best Sandwich 2014

First place: Sherman’s Deli and Bakery

Who can argue with a corned beef sandwich (shaved thin, and some of the best you’ll ever eat) on rye with a side of perfectly crisp and creamy coleslaw? Anyone in the desert with a special place in their heart for a good Jewish-style deli knows the place to go for corned beef, pastrami, egg salad that’s just a start, the choices are dizzying is Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, a Coachella Valley institution since 1963. 401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, (760) 325-1199; 73-161 Country Club Dr., Palm Desert, (760) 568-1350; shermansdeli.com

Second place: Manhattan in the Desert, 2665 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 322-3354; manhattaninthedesert.com

Third place: Aspen Mills Bread Co., 555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, (760) 323-3123, aspenmillsps.com

-Kate Franco