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DINING PALM SPRINGS: LOCAL ORGANIC

Cheeky's in Palm Springs: The yummy anti-gluttony offering locally produced foods.

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Dining in Palm Springs is always a pleasant surprise.

If you're willing to work at shedding the pounds, you're likely to be vigilant about eating less and exercising more even when on vacation. And if you just so happen to be visiting the California desert any time soon—yes, even in 114 degree-Farenheit weather—you can enjoy a meal at Cheeky's in Palm Springs without getting derailed from your weight-loss goals.

Lucky for me, my friend Paul Tanber, an owner of the Pilates Plus, Palm Springs, introduced me to this small and influential restaurant several months ago. That day, I ate the Chinese Chicken Salad ($9) and found myself taken with the freshness of the ingredients and the meal's delicate preparation.

Located at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, Cheeky's prides itself in its close proximity to a world-renowned agricultural belt. This not only allows the eatery to be creative with its dishes but it can also offer the freshest of the locally produced foods, which it does, and which is why Cheeky's changes its menu on a weekly basis. Because producing their foods in-house is of utmost importance to them, Cheeky's produces their batters, sauces and dressings from scratch.

While Paul—who has about .000009 percent body fat—"blew" his diet by gorging on Cheeky's BLT with jalapeño bacon and avocado ($10), I enjoyed a lovely shrimp and pear salad, where the added berries and feta cheese helped to create a refreshing sweet-and-savory experience. With a certain amount of embarrassment, I must admit this lunch date was early in my personal re-commitment to portion control. So while Paul did his best to keep his calorie and fat intake to a minimum, I offered to eat his pesto fries side dish. And not only did I eat his small side order, I requested a completely separate order of these crispy delights, seasoned to a savory heaven, and ate each and every one of them ($4). I promise you, you would have done the same thing! Yes, Cheeky's is certainly the anti-Claim Jumper, in that its dishes are portioned for the sensible eater.

Sweet lovers will enjoy a wide selection of pastries, baked on the premises by pastry Chef Deb Menduno. Breakfast is served while the restaurant is open with a menu that offers chances to be slightly gluttonous. The "bacon bar" might offer an applewood/maple variation, while the menu might feature a Spanish chorizo and manchego frittata, a buttermilk waffle with nutella and strawberries or a breakfast quesadilla with scrambled eggs, bacon, green onions and avocado ($10). Chase any of those dishes down with a fresh lychee mimosa ($10) and you've got yourself a meal!

On that note, the Cheeky's beverage list is as interesting as its entrées, including green tea iced tea, an acai-blueberry icee ($3) and a spicy soju bloody Mary ($8).

Cheeky's, Palm Springs: 622 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs, CA 92262. 760-327-7595. Hours: Open for breakfast and lunch everyday but Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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