By Denise Ortuno Neil
It is sometimes said that the best places to dine are tucked away from the mainstream. That it takes a bit of effort to find the place, but once you do, it’s so worth it. Such is the case with the tasty hidden eatery Lost on 111 Grill & Art Lounge in La Quinta.
Just like its name says, the place makes you feel a little lost on 111. The name came when the owner, Damen Perry, saw that people would drive into the square shaped shopping center on the North West side of Dune Palms off of highway 111 in La Quinta, looking very lost and confused. He would witness them driving aimlessly, so hence the name.
Perry originally bought the restaurant in late 2012 while it was still operating under its former incarnation, Scamblez, which obviously specialized in breakfast fare. Yes, that is scrambles with a “Z”. Perry, along with his wife would frequent La Quinta often from L.A. and fell in love with the area. When they came across an opportunity to snatch up a struggling restaurant at a great price, they jumped on it.
The former restaurant was living in the shadows of bad reviews. But Perry thought that they could make it work under the former owner’s recipes and formula. He soon found that following their lead would not work at all. So with the help of his uncle Billy (a previous cook in the Navy) who leads the grill, Perry steered the business in a different direction, and changed it into his vision to incorporate art and food in January 2015.
Perry’s background is highlighted in art and music, bringing something different to the local desert restaurant scene. There is just a different vibe as soon as you enter Lost on 111….and it’s a good one.
Pulling from his extensive island travels around the world, the intimately sized restaurant feels island inviting. Perry’s goal with his restaurant was to make people want to experience island life, which ever island they can imagine. The décor and food reflect Perry’s focus. A variety of island inspired art drape the walls, with intricate masks, paintings and other varieties for sale to the public (white tags indicate what is for sale). Perry purchases the art directly from the artists so they get paid immediately, none of the art is on consignment. The prices are authentic to the artist, as he does not price gouge.
The menu vibrates to the same cord as to the art on the walls, offering different tastes for different palates. Guests will find dishes such as Kalua Style Pork, to Portuguese Sausage, to a good old fashioned Angus Bacon Cheeseburger, as well as their traditional breakfast items which include Pancakes, French Toast plus a selection of omelets and scrambles (Loco Moco Scramble anyone?). On occasion, they introduce island inspired specials such as Jerk Chicken, a Jamaican island favorite (mine too).
On my visit to Lost on 111, my boyfriend and I decided to try some of their stand out items. For myself, I chose the Kalua Pork, no big surprise there as I am a pork freak! My boyfriend leaned towards the Locos Mocos, which is a choice of meat (Portuguese sausage, thick cut ham, spam or an Angus patty), topped with a fried egg, grilled onions, sweet and savory Huli Huli gravy on a bed of white fluffy rice, with a side of cold Macaroni salad. The dish had distinctive elements, all working together to create a balanced taste festival! The gravy served purposefully bringing all of the ingredients together under a velvety brown blanket. My Kalua Pork sandwich came tucked between sweet Hawaiian bread, served with Billy’s potato bites. The pork was melt in your mouth tender, with a perfect smoky flavor that worked with the natural taste of the pork and did not overwhelm it. A definite 10 on the pork satisfaction meter.
Although we opted for iced tea, they do offer other beverages including a selection of wine, local beers (CV Brewery, La Quinta Brewery plus more) and Mimosa’s (try their Pog juice special).
Above all, the prices at Lost on 111 are affordable, making it a place that anyone can enjoy, an aspect that Perry is adamant about.
Lost on 111 is currently opened Wednesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch, but will be expanding their hours/days throughout the season to incorporate dinner hours. To highlight the art aspect, they will be having a “Paint Night” on Friday, October 21st. Guests can get their paint on with artist Andrea Durett as she guides them to put brush to canvas, replicating one of her own paintings. Appetizers and wine/beer will be served to help get the creative juices flowing. The event is $50 per person and space is limited.
Lost on 111 Grill & Art Lounge is an absolute find in the desert restaurant scene, great for a family outing or cozy couple dining. With an intimate, creative, breezy island vibe, very friendly service and fabulous food, they have a winning recipe. I’m certainly looking forward to the next time that I get Lost on 111.
Lost on 111 Grill & Art Lounge is located at 79-410 Highway 111 #103, in La Quinta.
For more information visit www.loston111.com
For more information on “Paint Night” visit www.creativepaintingparties.com