Did we zip off to Hawaii? No, but we enjoyed an evening at a not-so-new anymore desert restaurant: Jackaope Ranch in Indio. It opened in January, but it was new to us. This beautiful spot covers more than 6 acres, and cost 37 MILLION to build. It has quite a story.
A "jackalope" is an mythical animal of folklore which is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, goat or deer. There is actually a species of jackrabbit in the southwestern U.S. called the antelope jackrabbit, because of its ability to run fast, like an antelope. If you imagine antlers or horns, you would picture a jackalope.
Don Callendar, of the Marie Callendar's restaurant chain, opened a restaurant called Babe's in 2002. It was quite a hit for BBQ ribs, chicken sausage and has a huge bronze pig in front.
Don dreamed of a new Southwestern, BBQ, steak restaurant in a spectacular setting with great food and wine, entertainment, a huge outdoor area, and gorgeous scenery.
He purchased land in West Indio, and a chain link fence went up while construction began. No detail was overlooked. The bronze artworks on the property (not counting the pigs) were sculpted from photos of his children. Waterfalls, huge trees, gorgeous light fixtures, flowers, wood railings, and fountains abound. The stone building is stunning by day and night.
Unfortunately, during the last few months before completion, Don, then age 80, suffered a fall in his Newport Beach garden. He was in a coma for months, and died in January, 2008, the day Jackalope Ranch opened. The project was purchased by the Kaiser Restaurant Group.
Jackalope Ranch consists of a 21,000 square foot building on 6.4 acres. There is a beautiful entrance, a main dining room and bar, several banquet rooms and terraces, and game room, pie shop, take out area, Lucky's Saloon (Lucky is Don's son's name), waterfalls, a palapas bar, and fabulous artwork, inside and out.
The light fixtures are memorable!
We had an outside table on the busy terrace.
The misters will keep you cool in hot weather.
Our views weren't bad either!
The menu includes a wide range of appetizers, such as smoked duck empanada, crab chile relleno, a variety of ceviches, pulled pork, tri tip, carne asada, seafood, steaks and ribs.
After a drink and "walking tour" of the property, we all started with salads.
Our appetizers ( our dinner) included Steve's sliders, Fiona's ceveche, my chicken wings, and Brad's carne asada tacos.
We had a great evening!
I'm thinking this might be a good choice for our Friday night at next year's Desert GTG! Maybe on this little terrace...
Directions? Easy... Just look for the pig!