Strawberry and beet salad with goat cheese, poached rhubarb, and black sesame chips

When deciding where to eat out, we don’t often think of going to a hotel. It’s different in the desert, where we have many world-class restaurants inside world-renowned resorts.

Located inside the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, Lantana is one such hidden gem. It serves wholesome, local and thoughtfully sourced food. Executive Chef Chris Mitchum has created a menu filled with organic fruits and greens from valley farmers who seasonally grow items at his request. Mitchum also uses citrus from trees on property and grows herbs there as well.

Mitchum was raised on fresh produce harvested from his family farm, which inspired his road to culinary school. These grass roots combined with 25 years of working at Hyatt Resorts worldwide result in fresh offerings such as warm chickpea salad with a zucchini, tomato, and squash blossom fritter; strawberry and beet salad with purple haze goat cheese, poached rhubarb and black sesame chips; and a medjool date salad with almonds, cucumber, lemon, feta and olives – and those are just the ‘first takes’!

Jidori chicken tagine with 7 jewel cous cous

The entrée choices allow you to create your own plate from an array of proteins including sustainable seafood and all-natural certified Angus beef, and sides such as roasted broccoli, or barley mushroom pilaf. Or you can select a ‘composed’ meal from the chef’s selections.

My favorite was the Jidori chicken tagine which was bursting with flavors and spiced with apricots, coriander and almonds. It was very moist and served over cous cous with lemon and green olives. My husband had the short ribs which were very tender and full of taste. The ribs are smoked for 2 hours and then cooked sous-vide style for 72 hours, in a low temperature water bath sealed in airtight plastic bags which cooks the meat more evenly, keeping it juicier.

For younger guests, Lantana offers creative and healthy kids’ meals. The Hyatt has joined the Partnership for a Healthier America and offers nutritious meals created “For Kids. By Kids.” Meals are tasted, tested and approved by kids to not only meet the Partnership’s standard for nutrition and quality, but to also be interactive and fun.

Breakfast includes ‘top you own tacos’ with a whole wheat tortilla, scrambled eggs and fun toppers, and a strawberry-banana organic yogurt smoothie. Lunch offers a ‘shake your own salad’ with roasted chicken, vegetables, brown rice and yogurt basil dressing, or a sunbutter, jelly and banana sandwich served on whole grain bread with a side of strawberries. Sunbutter is an alternative to peanut butter with the same consistency, but made from sunflower seeds. This twist on the old PB&J is a yummy combination!

According to Mitchum, the most popular item on the kids menu is the ‘create your own pasta.’ Kids choose a pasta (gluten-free option available), tomato or cheese sauce, a protein including turkey meatballs or shrimp, and a vegetable (broccoli, spinach, zucchini, carrots or peas).

Kids enjoying Lantana’s healthy ‘build your own’ meals

But are the kids enjoying it? “Parents and age are the primary factors. If the parents care, then the kids are all over it,” states Mitchum, “and those over 11 seem to enjoy it the most. I feel strongly that as culinary professionals, it is our responsibility to try to steer diners – and even kids – towards healthier choices.”  And Hyatt agrees as it now offers “For Kids. By Kids” in all of their full-service hotels and resorts throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

So there are just a few of the reasons to visit Lantana, not to mention the creative desserts which include a Cracker Jack ice cream sandwich and pumpkin custard ice cream pie (but remember only one bite!). Lantana also offers a magical setting… The inside ambience is light and bright – great for a breakfast meeting, family lunch or dinner – while the exterior patio offers a romantic location for outside dining with heat lamps and candles ideal for winter months.

If you are looking for a healthy alternative, put Lantana on your list this holiday season.

Lantana is located in the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells on Indian Wells Lane and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours are from 6:30am to 10:00 p.m. Dinners are $18 – $38. Reservations are recommended but not required. Please call 760-674-4165

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