Sometimes it’s good to get away from the hustle and bustle of LA and escape to a retreat to relax and rejuvinate. A faraway, exotic place like Tahiti fits the bill, but what if there isn’t time or money for a distant journey? Located just 100 miles east of smog-filled downtown lies an assortment of secluded lodgings and intimate restaurants in the desert oasis of Palm Springs.
The 45-acre Spanish-inspired La Quinta Resort offers a perfect place for those who want plenty of on-site dining options. Opened in 1926, it became famous as a paparazzi-proof hideout for Hollywood legends Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn and Frank Capra. Set against the spectacular setting of the Santa Rosa Mountains, the resort offers high-ceilinged, whitewashed, single-story casitas decorated with Mexican pottery, wrought-iron mirror frames and colorful textiles and featuring fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs big enough for two and private patios.
At La Quinta guests can get away from it all while having it all. The retreat houses seven restaurants, 41 pools, 23 tennis courts, a small shopping center and a huge spa. Although massive in size, each guest building has access to one of several dozen pools enhancing the feeling of privacy.
The resort’s flagship hacienda-style restaurant, Morgan’s in the Desert, is named after Walter H. Morgan, a California businessman who founded the property in 1926. Morgan’s houses the original arched wood ceiling and huge fireplace. The space is divided into a large U-shaped bar offering live music and small plates, an outdoor patio area and a large main dining room.
Morgan’s offers a variety of vintage cocktails including a Rosemary Salty Dog (gin, grapefruit juice and fresh rosemary) and The Crimson Reaper (Death’s Door gin, cherry liqueur and lemon juice) as well as small plates including Ahi tuna tartare, oysters and a roasted beet salad. Main courses are focused on local ingredients and include porcini crusted filet with grilled mushrooms, pan roasted duck breast with cherries and shallots and coriander crusted Alaskan halibut with golden chanterelles and beluga lentils.
The Adobe Grill is the resort’s Mexican restaurant featuring a large outdoor patio, guacamole made tableside, an indoor double sided fireplace and award winning tamales and margaritas. Below the Grill is Twenty6, the resorts art-deco inspired American bistro. Guests can indulge in Bacon’d Bloddy Marys for breakfast and green eggs and ham pizza with house-made sauces including ketchup and steak sauce. Other eateries at the resort include Ernie’s Bar and Grill at PGA West.
Whether it’s a dry-aged rib-eye or a tender filet mignon, The Falls Prime Steakhouse offers a variety of steak choices to satisfy any carnivore’s craving. Both charming and hip, the downtown hot spot provides a modern twist on the classic steakhouse. Located on the second floor, the Falls has the most extensive “smoking” martini menu in the desert, with 35 specialty martinis including the Flirtini (vodka, champagne and peach juice).
Named after a small town in the south of France where Picasso made pottery, Le Vallauris is located in an intimate, historic ranch-style house minutes away from Palm Canyon Drive. The cozy interior consists of several small adjoining rooms featuring Louis XV furniture and Flemish tapestries. The outdoor patio boasts a canopy of lush ficus trees, fragrant flowers and tables adorned with white linens, orchids and flickering candles. The menu is equally extravagant, offering escargot, roast rack of lamb, foie gras and other classic French delicacies.
Retro-loving diners will adore Norma’s at the Parker Palm Springs. This swanky 5-star diner offers comfort food daily as well as dinner, but breakfast is the best time to visit. Diners can choose from fruit stuffed waffles, chocolate decadence French toast, five egg Benedicts and a Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata (costing $1,000).
The relatively new Workshop Kitchen and Bar offers seasonal fare in downtown Palm Springs. The huge modern dining area is one big rectangular room with 20 foot ceilings, open beams, ceramic tables and private leather booths. A main communal table runs down the center with a long bar is located at the far end of the room. Stand out menu items include octopus carpaccio, duck confit cannelloni, jidori chicken diavolo, hone and garlic baby back ribs and braised lamb shoulder.
Palm Springs has long been the preferred desert retreat of Hollywood royalty, presidents, wellness seekers, golfers, and sun-worshippers—is a vacationer’s paradise whether your perfect trip checklist is topped by beautiful scenery, fine dining, historical and cultural attractions, unique architecture, luxuriant resorts or hip hotels, ideal weather, indulgent spas, shopping sprees, active pursuits, LGBTQ-friendliness, or vibrant nightlife. Online Visitor Guide
Best Time To Visit
The desert truly dazzles in winter. When much of the nation is experiencing months of rain, snow, and winter storms, daytime temperatures in Palm Springs remain comfortable. Most residents forget so many other places are bundled up and shoveling snow. This means visitors can comfortably, hike, play tennis, shop in outdoor malls, and lounge by the pool. Of course, prices are higher, and the crowds are more prominent during the high season between winter holidays and mid-Spring. The fall is less crowded, the weather great, and the prices more moderate.
Summer is hot in Palm Springs with temperatures over 100-degrees. As a result, it’s also the slow season. But if you plan around the heat with some pool time and early morning walks, you can cash in on big hotel deals or easily score prime rentals and timeshare slots. This is especially true on Sunday – Thursday stays as weekends can still be quite busy.
Getting To Palm Springs: Flights, Cars
Palm Springs proper is a relatively small city and from any locale you’re only a few minutes from the airport. But, flights can often be considerably more expensive into Palm Springs than nearby airports in Southern California.
Travelers venturing into the city of Palm Springs are best served by comparing prices into Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), Orange County (SNA) and Palm Springs (PSP), and weighing up prices of picking up a rental car and driving from one of these locales.
The drive from San Diego or Los Angeles to Palm Springs is around 2 hours of largely easy highway driving, so factoring in flight prices and rental car prices can shift a travel budget considerably. If you’re not on a budget, the convenience of Palm Springs Intl is too good to pass up, and puts you minutes from downtown. It’s only a 35 minute walk!
Hot tip: Uber drivers play games to jack up prices in Palm Springs, so just be aware of that before you arrive, and pad arrival time at the airport a bit.
20 Essential Palm Springs Restaurants
An actual fun summer will be making its return in mere weeks, and if relaxing with a pool-heavy weekend in the desert is part of your upcoming best-life agenda, you’re not alone. Southern Californians are hitting Palm Springs in droves right now, which is good news for the city’s growing array of restaurants at the ready with expanded outdoor seating and reopened dining rooms. Whether you want to pop back into a go-to favorite or try one of the many newbies on the scene, here are 20 essential Palm Springs area restaurants to hit during your next desert jaunt. Restaurants are listed geographically.
The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.
Palm Springs Travel Guide
Palm Springs, California is located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles in the Coachella Valley area of the Sonoran Desert. A popular resort city for many years, Palm Springs is known for its natural hot springs, hotels, restaurants, golf courses, and sunny weather. It&aposs been a favorite destination for Hollywood stars since the 1930s, and many celebrities maintain homes in the Palm Springs area.
The climate is one of the most attractive features of Palm Springs, and desert communities have spread eastward as the demand for homes has increased. Until relatively recently, many Palm Springs hotels, restaurants, and attractions closed during the hot summer months. Now, however, Palm Springs and the nearby communities are home to year-round residents as well as snowbirds and second home owners.
Palm Springs is a welcoming community with one of the largest numbers of same-sex households in the country. A number of resorts cater to LGBTQ+ tourists, and the city hosts the annual White Party in April and the Greater Palm Springs Pride Celebration every November with a parade and a number of events.
Downtown Palm Springs is always evolving, with new shops, restaurants, hotels, and neighborhoods, like the development of the north end as the Uptown Design District. The annual Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals have brought attention to the desert cities, and the January Palm Springs International Film Festival attracts top names and a growing number of visitors.
Pacific Standard Time. (Daylight Savings Time is observed seasonally)
The weather is sunny and dry most of the year, and temperatures are mild from October through May, with cooler nights during the winter months. Summer temperatures are typically around 100℉ and can reach as high as 115℉, with humidity less than 10%. Many visitors enjoy the hot, dry summer weather, especially if there&aposs a pool nearby.
High season is from December through April, when snowbirds arrive from Canada and cold parts of the U.S. Hotel prices are generally higher, and restaurants, golf courses, and attractions are more crowded. December, January, and February are considered the rainy months, but precipitation is normally around just an inch or so, although there have been years with heavier rains.
Festivals like the Palm Springs International Film Festival in early January, Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals in April, Pride events in November, the PGA Tour&aposs American Express Men&aposs Golf Tournament in January, and the LPGA ANA Inspiration Tournament in April bring in more visitors during those times. The BNP Paribas Tennis Open is held annually at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"Greater Palm Springs" encompasses eight cities in addition to Palm Springs: Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, LaQuinta, Indio, and Coachella.
Tourism is the area&aposs largest employer and the number one contributor to the local economy.
Dates have been cultivated in the Coachella Valley since the early 1900s, and 95% of the U.S. dates come from this area. Other agricultural products are grapes, citrus, artichokes, lettuce, carrots, and many others.
Mid-century modern homes, inns, hotels, and even a former gas station make Palm Springs popular with fans of the era. The annual February Modernism Week celebrates mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion, and culture, with a fall preview in October.
The Greater Palm Springs area is home to nearly 125 public, municipal, and private golf courses.
More than 2,000 years ago, Palm Springs&apos first residents were the ancestors of today&aposs Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Today, they are the largest landowners in Palm Springs with nearly 6,700 acres within city limits. Many major hotels and facilities are located on leased tribal lands.
Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is about 20 minutes from downtown.
From the airport: Car rental company counters (Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Thrifty) are in the terminal near the baggage claim area. Taxis, Uber, and Lyft are available at the terminal.
AM-PM Shuttle Service: Provides transportation in Greater Palm Springs area.
Skycap Shuttle Service: Provides luxury SUV, town car, and van service.
Prime Time Shuttle: Provides service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Palm Springs.
Lin Lines and Cardiff Limousines: Provide transportation with professional, uniformed drivers.
SunLine provides bus service on nine lines in the Coachella Valley. Check the routes and schedule for planning.
My Guide to Palm Springs – Restaurants
As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, I am in no way a foodie, preferring chicken strips and ranch dressing to foie gras and jus. My Guide to Palm Springs – Restaurants will reflect that. Here you’ll find the best of the best comfort food, down home cooking, delis, and cafés, with a few fine dining options thrown in. If you are looking for a more epicurean experience while visiting the area, I defer to my friend Molly of Almost Makes Perfect. You can check out her desert recommendations here. (From what I’ve heard from others who are of the gourmand variety, Cork & Fork, Farm, and Workshop Kitchen + Bar are the best foodie spots in town and Wilma & Frieda is the place for homemade baked goods, which, being diabetic, I don’t eat.) For my list, I based my dollar rating on The New York Times restaurant key and grouped the eateries from least to most expensive. A few of the spots are seasonal (in other words, closed during Palm Springs’ hot summer months, typically from June through September) and are denoted as such next to their address. So without further ado, bon appétit!
1. Keedy’s Fountain & Grill ($) 73633 CA-111, Palm Desert – The Coachella Valley’s best greasy spoon and the kind of place that serves breakfast all day, Keedy’s has long been a family favorite. Somewhat of a hidden gem (despite the fact that it has been in operation at the same spot since 1957!), I am always flabbergasted when locals have never heard of it. Open for breakfast and lunch (and always packed to the gills), we typically hit this place up in the morning. I prefer the basics (poached eggs and sausage patties), but Keedy’s is most loved for its pancakes, which are often described as “the best in town.” The ‘50s atmosphere is great here, too. And despite being constantly crowded, Keedy’s is run like a well-oiled machine, so the wait times are never terrible.
2. Bobby’s Detroit Coney Island ($) 79630 CA-111, La Quinta (seasonal, closed for the month of August) – My family’s other favorite greasy spoon, this spot serves up great breakfasts, though my preferred dish is Nancy’s Crispy Chicken Salad, topped by chicken strips that I would have bet money were homemade on the premises but apparently are not. (The creamy garlic dressing – a secret family recipe – is crafted inhouse daily, however.) The hot dogs here are also out of this world and the service is insanely friendly. My mom and I popped in once for a late lunch around 1:45 p.m., not realizing the restaurant closes at 2. We were welcomed right in, served a fabulous meal and it wasn’t until they starting locking up when we headed to the door that we realized our gaffe. Though we apologized, our server would have none of it, thanking us profusely for coming in. Bobby’s is a gem!
3. The Sandwich Spot ($) 276 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs – Tucked away and tiny, one can easily walk right by this spot without realizing it is there, which is a true shame because it serves up some of the best sandwiches in the valley! With an extensive menu of over 24 hoagie offerings (each of them fabulous!), my favorite thing about this eatery is that any choice can be made as a salad, so it’s diabetic-friendly for me! (I’d be remiss if I did not give an honorable mention to TKB Deli & Bakery here. I don’t love the place, but everyone else I know does. In fact, I think I might be the only person in the Coachella Valley who is not a fan. The restaurant is so beloved that it secured the Number 1 spot on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in 2018. I think the homemade bread is what sets it apart. Being diabetic, I typically don’t eat bread on sandwiches and, sadly, without it, the offerings at TKB are seriously lacking, IMO. That is, thankfully, not the case at The Sandwich Spot.)
4. Sunnylands Café ($) 37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage (seasonal) – This is my favorite spot to grab a quick bite whenever the GC and I are in the area running errands. The salads here are great and inexpensive, but the real draw is the ambiance. Overlooking Sunnylands Gardens, this place has views for days! If you eat here and have a few moments, be sure to explore both the attached museum (admission is free and exhibits change regularly) and the surrounding landscape. It is all spectacular! And if you’re architecturally inclined, book a tour of the historic Sunnylands estate, former home of philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenburg and a stomping ground of countless U.S. presidents.
5. Luscious Lorraine’s ($) 73910 CA-111 Suite F, Palm Desert – Vegan, gluten-free and, paleo friends – this is the spot for you! Specialized offerings for every kind of dietary restriction (there’s even a pregnancy-prep menu!), this place is health-minded, but incredibly good. As I’ve mentioned before, my family has pretty disparate dietary needs, but that’s never a problem at Lorraine’s. From lentil mushroom patties to macro nutrient bowls to tempeh sandwiches, there’s something for everyone here, no matter what ails you! (Photo below via the Luscious Lorraine’s website.)
6. La Quinta Baking Company ($) 78395 CA-111, La Quinta – My mom’s pick for the best breakfast in town, La Quinta Baking Company is quaint, intimate and charming. And while not a big breakfast person myself, I have to say the spread here is exceptional. The baked goods (all homemade, as is most of what is served on the premises) stretch as far as the eye can see in the front case and the omelets (with American cheese melted on top!) are revelations! Truth be told everything is good here and the restaurant is picturesque both inside and out, especially the front patio. It’s like a little slice of Europe right in the desert.
7. Eureka! ($) 74985 CA-111, Indian Wells – Another of my mom’s picks, she has a particular affinity for the hamburgers at this place. Eureka! is famous for them, no doubt. I am not a burger person myself, but the salads here are excellent, especially the cobb. The eatery also offers great drinks and appetizers, as well as full blown meals. In fact, whenever the Grim Cheaper doesn’t feel like cooking and suggests take-out, Eureka! is my first request.
8. Sherman’s Deli & Bakery ($) 401 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs – The club here (which I order non-stacked, the bacon extra crispy, with added cheddar and avocado, sans bread) is hands-down one of the best.sandwiches.anywhere. Sherman’s has countless offerings, though, including salads, pastas and pretty much anything else you could ever hope to order. You almost need a full day to go through the menu! And you honestly can’t go wrong with a selection. Sherman’s is a true Palm Springs landmark! The deli also boasts a sister location in Palm Desert (which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!), but I prefer the original.
9. Manhattan in the Desert ($) 2665 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs – My other favorite area deli, Manhattan in the Desert truly is like a little slice of the Big Apple right here in PS! I’m partial to the turkey, bacon, cheddar and avocado sandwich (and yes, it’s great even without bread), but this is another spot where you can’t go wrong with a selection. All sandwiches are “mile high,” stacked to perfection and served with a free sampling of delicious pickled goods.
10. King’s Highway ($) 701 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs – I rarely eat carbs or breakfast, but when I am craving both, this is the spot I head. King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel serves up some of the best avocado toast in the world! The place seems to change up the dish on the reg (currently it’s served with confit tomato, onion sprouts, crispy shallots and a soft-boiled egg), but each variety I’ve had has been nothing short of spectacular. The GC finds the rest of the menu a little odd (I’m a creature of habit and have only ever ordered the avo toast), but all the others I’ve taken here really enjoyed it. A reimagined Denny’s, the ambiance is pretty cool, too.
11. The Old Spaghetti Factory ($) 71743 CA-111, Rancho Mirage – For me, this one is all about the décor, though the food is excellent, too. Walking through the doors of The Old Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Mirage is like stepping onto a highly stylized movie set. Towering red tufted booths, crystal chandeliers, wood-beamed ceilings (there’s even a vintage trolley car!), the place feels more like the Beast’s castle from Beauty and the Beast than a restaurant. Fantastical, whimsical, and oh-so-much fun, there’s truly no other spot like it in the desert.
12. Murph’s Gaslight ($) 79860 Ave 42, Bermuda Dunes – This place may be a little rough around the edges, but it cooks up some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had! The plastic dining ware it’s served on? Well, that’s just part of the charm – as are the questionably-colored gravy and ubiquitous canned fruit/sponge cake dessert. It’s all about the chicken here and trust me, it’s fantastic! Friends who I’ve brought to Murph’s undoubtedly say, “This is just like my [insert relative who hails from the south] used to make!” And it’s served bottomless, family-style with mashed potatoes, corn bread, veggies, biscuits, salad, and dessert included. Dining here is a true experience. And yep, Murph’s has a full bar with champagne, as pictured below. Fried chicken and champagne? That’s pretty much my perfect meal.
13. The Pink Cabana ($$) 44985 Province Way, Indian Wells – Hands-down the Coachella Valley’s prettiest restaurant, The Pink Cabana is a designer’s dreamland! All soft blushes and subtle greens with incredible tilework, the newcomer (it opened in 2018) is gorgeous! And the food is fabulous to boot! Go for the Instagram opportunities, stay for the chicken tacos (my fave menu item)!
14. Bella Vita ($$) 74970 Country Club Dr, Palm Desert – This is the site of one of my and the GC’s favorite Coachella Valley meals. Fairly close to where we used to live, we wound up here unexpectedly during a particularly disastrous anniversary. I can’t remember the circumstances now (as is the case with most things that initially seem disastrous), but our initial plans somehow got ruined and we found ourselves at Bella Vita last minute. I was in the worst mood, the kind nothing nor no one can get me out of. And then I walked through the front doors into one of the most warm and inviting spaces I’d ever visited, the scent of homemade Italian food promptly hitting my senses, and by the time we sat down and that first sip of bubbly hit my lips, I was immediately transformed. The night turned out being one of our best anniversaries ever – all thanks to Bella Vita!
15. Piero’s PizzaVino ($$) 73722 El Paseo #1, Palm Desert – Florence -born Piero Pierattoni is behind numerous desert eateries, each one more fabulous than the last! (Several will be included in my upcoming Guide to Palm Springs – Cocktails thanks to their excellent happy hours.) This casual spot serves up authentic Italian food (all culled from generations-old family recipes straight from Italy), but is best known for its traditional Neapolitan Pizza, which is perfectly airy, crisp and cheesy! I typically go for the more diabetic-friendly pancetta-wrapped asparagus and grilled artichokes, though truth be told we’ve never had a bad meal here. Piero is often on hand to chat with patrons and, let me tell you, the guy is a character! There’s nothing better than grabbing a drink at the bar and listening to him regale guests with tales of his beloved native country.
16. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill ($$) ( 73260 El Paseo, Palm Desert ) – My pick for the best Mexican food in the desert and I’m not alone in that assessment. Pretty much everyone who comes to the area makes it a point to eat at Armando’s. A Palm Desert staple since 2001, the offerings here are exceptional, the service friendly and the margaritas strong (so strong, in fact, the restaurant limits patrons to two per visit!). The front patio, overlooking the shops on El Paseo, is an especially idyllic spot during more temperate months.
17. Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant ($$) 78164 52nd Avenue, La Quinta (seasonal) – Fine dining at its, well, finest, Arnold Palmer’s (opened by the golf great in 2004) serves up some of the desert’s best food. And the ambiance is priceless. With huge rear and side patios, mountain views, a club-like interior, unique mementos on display (including one of The King’s four Masters jackets), and even a putting green where patrons can hit balls, it’s also one of the area’s prettiest and most unique spots. You can’t go wrong with a meal here. (For the record, I’m partial to the crab cakes.)
18. Lavender Bistro ($ $$) 78073 Calle Barcelona, La Quinta (seasonal) – The food here is excellent, some of the best I’ve had in the desert (the mushroom soup is a can’t miss!), but this spot’s real claim to fame is its courtyard. Central, sprawling, decked out in shades of purple, and adorned with about a million twinkle lights, the space made me gasp aloud the first time I saw it. It is a magical little fairyland that the photo below really does not do justice to. As such – and very deservedly so – Lavender Bistro is regularly named Palm Springs’ most romantic restaurant by just about every publication out there.
19. Misaki Sushi & Grill ($$) 46600 Washington Street, #1, La Quinta – This hard-to-find spot (it’s hidden away behind a Trader Joe’s) is hands-down the Coachella Valley’s best sushi restaurant. And I would know, I’ve been dragged to pretty much all of them! While not a sushi fan myself, both the GC and my best friend, Robin, are. The two were devastated when their favorite desert spot, Gyoro Gyoro, closed in 2018 and promptly went on a quest to find another local place up to par. That quest ended as soon as they landed at Misaki. It’s been our go-to spot ever since. During their first visit, they ordered the dish below and it was so intricately plated, Robin commented that he was shocked a miniature train circling the sashimi hadn’t been included. And yes, it apparently tasted just as good as it looked!
20. Cunard’s Sandbar ($$) 78120 Calle Tampico, La Quinta (seasonal) – Don’t make the same mistake the GC and I did by judging a book by its cover with this one. Rather dumpy from the outside, we assumed Cunard’s Sandbar was a dive bar and avoided it the first few years we lived here. It was not until my friend Kim touted the place’s virtues on Facebook that I realized it was actually a restaurant. We decided to give it a whirl shortly thereafter and haven’t looked back since!
Sandbar is Old School Italian at its finest! In fact, it reminds me a lot of my beloved Vitello’s before it was completely revamped. Dimly lit, cozy and intimate, the restaurant even has quite a few celebrity fans including Gena Rowlands who dines on the premises so regularly she has her own table! Though the food is good, it’s really the ambiance and retro vibe that set this place apart. Sandbar is tiny and typically packed, so reservations are recommended.
21. Zin American Bistro ($$) 198 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs – My and the GC’s favorite Palm Springs restaurant! When we stayed at the nearby Korakia Pensione for a week, we ate at Zin every. single. night. Though other eateries were recommended to us, we found ourselves returning night after night, craving one of the place’s delectable dishes. There’s literally nothing I’ve tried here that I didn’t absolutely love, but some of the standouts include the Wild Mushroom Truffle Soup, Vegetable Tartar, Fresh Burrata salad, Carpaccio, and the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. The nice part about Zin is that you can overindulge in a decadent meal or keep it extremely healthy and, either way, it will be delicious!
Bonus – Tiffany’s Sweet Spot ( 79410 CA-111 Suite 101, La Quinta ) – Craving dessert? Do not pass go, do not collect $200, head straight to Tiffany’s Sweet Spot in La Quinta! While this place is not a restaurant, I felt compelled to include it on my list for those wanting a a to-go treat. The tiny walk-up bakery, situated in a strip mall, serves cupcakes that are on par with Magnolia Bakery in New York (the best cupcakes in the world, IMO). Over 20 varieties are available each day and all are made to order. Each flavor can also be purchased gluten free and I actually think the gf samplings are better than the regular. This is my neighborhood’s go-to spot when anyone on the street is celebrating a birthday. Favorites include the Triple Chocolate, Salted Caramel Mocha, and Tres Leches.
Be sure to check out the other posts in My Guide to Palm Springs series about the desert’s best coffee houses, hotels, bars and places to see/things to do. And, as always, for more stalking fun, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.
What to Do in Palm Springs
The famously retro California resort town has a new pair of young tastemakers updating the food and hotel scene.
In this Article
Palm Springs, California, is celebrated for its Rat Pack𠄾ra architecture and notorious for its stuck-in-the-era-of-steak-and-bບrnaise cuisine. But Tara Lazar and Marco Rossetti are quietly changing the city’s reputation for retro restaurants. Over the past few years, they’ve opened three places combining modern design, reasonable prices and fresh, local, incredibly good food: brunch-centric Cheeky’s, pizzeria Birba and Asian spot Jiao. All are on one block in the Uptown Design District, a once-gritty area the couple helped revitalize. “What’s really remarkable is that Tara is a Palm Springs native—there aren’t many people who grew up here who are doing something cool,” says designer Trina Turk, another Uptown pioneer.
Lazar and Rossetti opened Cheeky’s, their first place, in 2008. “I was looking for a career change,” says Lazar, who𠆝 been working as a day trader. “I kept coming back to what I love𠅊nd what I love is breakfast.” Rossetti loves breakfast, too: “I’ll never find anyone whose blueberry-corn pancakes are better than yours,” he told Lazar when they exchanged wedding vows.
They opened the boutique hotel the Alcazar with a similar design-driven-but-affordable style (rooms start at $69). “You really don’t need a lot of money to have fun in Palm Springs,” says Lazar. Read on for the couple’s insider’s guide to the city.
The flavors and tastes of Greater Palm Springs are as varied as the nine cities and eateries that make up this Southern California oasis𠅏rom charming cafes lining downtown Palm Springs to fine dining restaurants in Palm Desert’s El Paseo shopping district.
The destination’s rich agricultural bounty and world-class resorts draw the most innovative chefs from around the globe, who specialize in fresh, farm-to-table fare and serve creative twists on American classics and international cuisine.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Greater Palm Springs tourism industry is pledging to implement the latest safety guidelines developed by the State of California and leading industry associations. Our Safer Together, Greater Together Pledge offers a unified commitment destination-wide among all businesses—including hotels, restaurants and attractions—which promise to institute core safety practices such as:
- Performing a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
- Training employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and to stay home if they have them
- Implementing individual control measures and screenings
- Implementing disinfecting protocols
- Implementing physical distancing guidelines
- Staying informed of and implement the latest best practices
To learn more about the extra precautions our local businesses and tourism partners are taking to protect visitors, go to gpsPLEDGE.com.
Yes, face coverings (scarves, masks, bandanas, etc.) are mandatory in the state of California. You can learn more about the governor’s order here.
Indoor dining is now permitted at 50% or 200 people whichever is fewer. Patio seating dining is available and many are offering takeoutਊnd deliveryਊs well and online gift cards to use later. Please be sure to check with individual restaurants directly for services provided. For a list of restaurants, click here.
For a list of restaurants offering takeout or delivery, click here.
Indoor dining is now permitted at 50% or 200 people whichever is fewer. For the latest updates click here.
Where to Eat in Palm Springs
If there’s one word to describe Eight4Nine, it’s eclectic, according to co-owner Willie Rhine. “The décor, the menu items, the prices — our guests can have a different experience every time they are here,” he says.
Visitors can choose to gather in the dining room, share small plates in the lounge, linger over lunch or brunch on the patio, or simply sip a signature cocktail at the backlit white-onyx bar. Rhine — who opened the spot with celebrity photographer John Paschal in 2015 — calls the décor farmhouse meets modern. The sprawling space boasts Louis XIV ghost chairs, a mix of whimsical chandeliers, and a stunning 30-foot outdoor firewall.You may recognize the space from TV, as Eight4Nine hosted the wedding reception for Shahs of Sunset stars Reza Farahan and Adam Neely.
Eight4Nine has also been featured on House Hunters and Basketball Wives.While chef Israel Jimenez’s menu changes seasonally, popular dishes stay put year-round, including fried Petaluma chicken and Rhine’s personal favorite, grilled Scottish steelhead trout.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF EIGHT4NINE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki
Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki opened a few years back when an entrepreneurial couple sought to create a community gathering space that paid homage to Palm Springs’ past. (The coffee shop is named after the building’s original owner, Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, dubbed America’s godfather of Tiki culture.) French-born local Gregory Mandallaz, who owned a coffee shop in L.A. before managing and investing in this one, recently took over as CEO.
With the change has come a splash more fun for this Polynesian-mod hangout, where Mandallaz makes “everything as natural and homecrafted as possible.” You’ll still find good ol’ Stumptown brew and tangy cocktails, but the juice is fresh-pressed and the flavorings are made in-house. Baristas and bartenders invent new drinks on the regular. Staffers vote for their favorites, which pop up on the seasonal menu.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
This beauty of a bistro hidden in the historic La Plaza shopping center is meant to feel like a trip to the South of France with a bougainvillea-covered patio and bubbling fountains. The breakfast-and-lunch menu focuses on inventive omelets, utilizing out-of-the-box ingredients from duck confit to andouille sausage, as well as classic crepes and French-inspired sandwiches like a croque madame and egg-and-Gruyere-stuffed croissants. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the restaurant gets romantic with white tablecloths, twinkling lights, live music, and an ever-changing blackboard menu touting a five-course prix-fixe dinner along with beer, wine, and classic cocktails.
& . Grand Central is another seasonally focused brunch option at La Plaza. grandcentral palmsprings.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
Gré Coffeehouse & Art Gallery
278 N. Palm Canyon Drive
This arthouse-chic coffee counter and gallery is tucked inside the Henry Frank Arcade shopping plaza in downtown Palm Springs. Sip on a frozen matcha or upside-down vanilla cappuccino and throw on one of the vintage records while you check out the latest art display and play a round of Scrabble. When you get hungry, there’s a toast bar and a selection of fresh pastries. Open late-night, Gré hosts regular neighborhood events including open-mic sessions, trivia nights, a weekly book club, and cult film screenings on an outdoor projector.
& . Customs Coffee at Arrive serves brews by Joshua Tree Coffee Co. customs coffee.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Kiyoshi “Kiyo” Ishikawa learned the fine art of sushi making as a young man in Japan before falling in love and settling in Palm Springs with his family. In 1980 he began serving his rolls and nigiri, made with perfectly warmed rice, from a trailer in Palm Springs.
That outpost eventually evolved into the intimate traditional-style bar that exists today, its walls plastered with awards and accolades lauding Kiyo’s skill. Order the omakase (chef’s choice) menu to sample the best cuts of the day, but don’t overlook Kiyo’s Original Grapefruit Special, a hollowed-out grapefruit stuffed with an assortment of fish and a secret-recipe sauce — the dish is served with a straw to drink up all the leftover juices when you’re ready to clean the plate.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
Woody’s Palm House
450 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Once a down-home diner-style burger bar, Woody’s outgrew its down- town digs and relocated to an old nightclub on South Palm Canyon Drive. The expansion allowed for a large chef’s kitchen and a swank table-seating restaurant with a stage and an offshoot bar area. Live music accompanies dinner every night, showcasing a rich range of jazz, blues, and R & B. Although the menu has grown up to keep pace with the space (think steak and seafood), Woody’s original burger menu is still available for longtime regulars who can’t get enough of those signature spicy fried pickles.
Johnny Costa’s Ristorante
440 S. Palm Canyon drive
Chef and owner Johnny Costa became good friends with Frank Sinatra in the 1960s and the years that followed, while cooking at various local haunts where the crooner liked to dine. He even worked as Sinatra’s personal chef at his desert home. On the menu today at Costa’s are two of the performer’s favorites — Steak Sinatra (New York strips with vegetables in a wine sauce) and the linguini and clams in garlic oil and white wine.
Around the time he worked at Sinatra’s home, Costa opened his eponymous restaurant, which started in Desert Hot Springs and then moved to Cathedral City before landing, permanently, in Palm Springs. From the formal, candlelit tables to classical Italian music and fare, dining at Costa’s will transport you to midcentury times.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF JOHNNY COSTA'S RISTORANTE
Rio Azul Mexican Bar & Grill
350 S. Indian Canyon Drive
Inspired by his family’s recipes, which he prepares with handcrafted precision, chef Ernesto Gastelum creates all the dishes in this vibrant little restaurant with only the freshest and most flavorful ingredients. Try the mouthwatering house specialties, which include camarones rellenos, Oaxacan tamales, enchiladas del mar, and Codorniz Estilo Ernesto (grilled quail served with the chef’s signature diablo cream salsa). The menu also features favorites such as carne asada, carnitas, chili verde, and fajitas as well as a selection of soups and fresh guacamole prepared tableside. You’ll return time and again for the best of Mexico in the heart of Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY RIO AZUL MEXICAN BAR & GRILL
Michael Holmes’ Purple Room Supper Club
1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs 760-322-4422 purpleroompalmsprings.com
During the 1960s, it was at this intimate supper club tucked inside the Club Trinidad Hotel in Palm Springs that Rat Packers Frank, Sammy, and Dean cavorted with their pals. Owner Michael Holmes has updated the room’s décor, menu, and acoustics to revive the swinging sophistication of that era while providing guests decidedly modern cocktails, award-winning cuisine, and cabaret.
Tuesdays feature Jazz Hall of Fame singer Rose Mallett. On Wednesdays, Holmes is joined onstage by Kate Campbell for Rat Pack–era music and a special menu. Thursdays in the fall showcase Keisha D, then Sharon Sills returns to the lineup when high season hits. Fridays and Saturdays could find you applauding to internationally acclaimed entertainers such as an Elvis impersonator or a Broadway legend like Tommy Tune. And on Sundays, Holmes performs The Judy Show! — his raucous, one-man tribute to Garland’s eponymous 1963 television series.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BEARLEADER CHRONICLES
1030 E. Palm Canyon Drive
This locally owned gem, voted Best Breakfast by Palm Springs Life readers, features an extensive menu of made-from-scratch favorites, gracious service, and a pet-friendly outdoor patio.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY ELMER'S
Lulu California Bistro
200 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Downtown’s hot spot has a multipage menu and an all-day, everyday happy hour that locals love. Save room for Gelato Fantasia at dessert — a colossal six scoops of Italian ice cream to share
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
Sherman’s Deli & Bakery
401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way
This New York–style delicatessen has been a longtime favorite, dating back to a clientele that included Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. They’ve got all the classics: lox, liver, cheese blintzes, and cases full of fresh-baked goods.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ARTHUR COLEMAN
LG’s Prime Steakhouse
255 S. Palm Canyon Drive
78525 Highway 111
The focus at this family-owned steakhouse is USDA prime meat. Highlights include the 24-ounce porter-house, tableside Caesar salad service, and a wine list that earned a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG PETERSON
707 N. Palm Canyon Drive
With a colorful interior, a cool modern bar, and a funky dining room filled with art, it makes sense this Uptown Design District hang has a tasty menu with elevated versions of the classics. Try the Yankee Pot Roast.
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
701 W. Baristo Road
Set at the historic Palm Springs Tennis Club, Spencer’s is the perfect spot for a quick power lunch, Sunday brunch, or romantic evening. Polite pups are even welcome on the patio. For dessert? The banana split.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KAMINSKY PRODUCTIONS
Las Casuelas Terraza
222 S. Palm Canyon Drive
This bustling indoor-outdoor space fills with loyal patrons indulging in traditional Mexican fare. The tamales, made from a 100-year-old recipe, are a must and pair nicely with a fresh-squeezed margarita.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LAS CASUELAS TERRAZA
Las Casuelas Original
368 N. Palm Canyon Drive
Family-owned for more than 60 years, this small and quaint landmark continues to serve authentic and traditional Mexican cuisine made from recipes spanning five generations.
&. Alebrije Bistro México dishes up a fusion of fine food and drink inspired by the flavors of Mexico City, from bone marrow to octopus ceviche to prime rib braised in chilis, with vegetarian options as well. alebrijeps.com
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LAS CASUELAS
• See related story: Where to Eat in La Quinta.
Smokin’ Burgers & Lounge
1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive
This bustling burger joint and sports bar keeps the crowds coming back by serving consistently tasty patties, fresh-cooked to order, and pairing its generous portions with a lively atmosphere where everybody feels like a local. The 187 Burger, topped with grilled habaneros, jalapeños, and ghost-pepper sauce, is said to be the hottest in the desert. There are veggie and turkey options as well as an assortment of sandwiches, salads, wraps, and tacos. And the bar is open late.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY SMOKIN' BURGERS & LOUNGE
170 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Doing its part to cool off desert-goers, Kreem dishes up house-made ice cream created from top-quality (mostly) organic dairy and other natural ingredients. Featuring both traditional and unique flavors (the lemon-meringue-pie variety is a local favorite), the cold stuff is made on-site and the selection rotates to keep things interesting. Vegan options are available, as are “canine cones” for pups. Try a coffee float with cold brew from Portland-based Heart Coffee Roasters.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
Revel Public House
140 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Revel Public House is part eatery, part pub, and part gathering place. Open from breakfast until late night, it’s the neighborhood joint you’ve been waiting for with an all-day happy hour — featuring draft craft beers, sangria, and an impressive bourbon selection — with a tapas menu that includes spicy lime-drizzled shrimp skewers and sliders piled high with bacon, beef, and chorizo. For dinner, Revel serves up a Killer Mac & Cheese, burgers, and a variety of pizzas. While here check out the beers from Palm Springs Brewing Co. and cheer for your favorite team. Come for the food, come for the game, or come for the conversation. Revel Public House is the place to be.
196 S. Indian Canyon Drive
“Eat Well, Live Better” is the motto of chef Johannes Bacher, whose award-winning European cuisine has been satisfying discerning taste buds in downtown Palm Springs for nearly two decades. Bacher brings a taste of his native Tirol, the small mountain town in Austria where he was raised, in dishes such as cheese spätzeln (housemade noodles in fontina and Gruyère cheeses) and his signature wiener schnitzel, which was featured in 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die, a book listing the world’s best restaurants and dishes. The upscale yet casual dining experience pairs with a comprehensive wine list, featuring half-bottles as well as 3-ounce tasting pours, and trendy Euro-inspired décor.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY JOHANNES RESTAURANT
650 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way
A gathering place for locals, this trendy purveyor of espresso drinks and whole-leaf teas has been pouring its organic house-roasted blends since opening in 2002 in the Uptown Design District. Three additional locations have popped up in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.The newest café at Kaptur Plaza near downtown Palm Springs already has quite the history — constructed in the ’70s, the modernist complex is a Class 1 historic site designed by architect Hugh Kaptur.
Beans are prepared daily at Koffi’s Rancho Mirage roasting facility, delivering a dark roast that packs an intense, chocolate-infused punch a lighter option for mild, Milano-style sipping and a water-processed blend that is naturally decaffeinated. Beverages are available hot, frozen, or iced, and the coffeehouse serves up a solid cold brew as well as fresh-baked pastries and other breakfast and lunch bites. You’ll find exclusive Koffi blends served at a number of restaurants in town and can order beans — and single-serve coffee pods — online, so you can continue savoring your favorite roasts at home.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kaptur Plaza, formerly Tahquitz Plaza, was to be demolished in 2015 but was saved through efforts by local groups and the city’s Preservation Board.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL HUSVAR
240 N. Palm Canyon Drive
It’s not just a sandwich spot, it’s the spot for a sandwich in Palm Springs, as evidenced by the line that snakes out the door around lunchtime most days. Tennis buffs will appreciate items like the Djokovic (turkey, bacon, cheddar, and avocado) and French Open (marinated chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese dressing, and pepper jack). Top it off with a chocolate-chip cookie — they bake one of the best.
Workshop Kitchen + Bar won a James Beard Award for restaurant design and has a handcrafted menu to match with global flavors and scratch-made cocktails. workshoppalmsprings.com
PHOTOGRAPHS BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
See related story: Where to Eat in Coachella.
Zin American Bistro
198 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Recipient of 12 consecutive Wine Spectator awards, Zin matches its top-label vino with seasonal, sustainable meats and produce for a culinary experience that conjures images of a rural brasserie — except you’re in downtown Palm Springs. Share plates like fried blue-cheese olives and mini beef Wellingtons over cocktails build your own cheese board and get your fill with prime hangar steak and pomme frites, a vegetarian cauliflower steak, or mesquite-smoked salmon fillet.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NEIL HUSVAR
Nature’s Health Food Market & Cafe
555 S. Sunrise Way, Suite 301
Discover great-tasting and nutritious vegan and vegetarian fare, where locally sourced veggies meet a world of flavors from Asian-inspired stir-fry to Italian pasta to Indian curries to Mexican-style burrito plates to the all-American burger, the café’s plant-based take on the lunchtime classic. The organic juice bar serves classic vegetable blends, freshly pressed pomegranate juice, and wheatgrass shots. The market offers organic produce and products, vitamins and supplements, detoxifiers and cleanses, protein drinks, homeopathy, ionized water, and more.
Chef Tanya’s Kitchen offers an all-vegan lunch menu of deli sandwiches, superfood salads, and rotating soups. cheftanyapetrovna.com
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL HUSVAR
256 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Experience a touch of Europe nestled in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. Pomme Frite offers an authentic European ambiance that will transport you to the streets of Brussels where many cafés are located. This quaint and cozy bistro features Belgian and French specialties moderately priced. Their Pacific Sole Fillets “Grenobloise” are featured with lemon-butter sauce with capers, sautéed spinach, and mashed potatoes. For mussel lovers, they prepare mussels 12 different ways.
DID YOU KNOW?
Pomme Frite was named the 2018 winner of Best French Restaurant in Palm Springs by Palm Springs Life readers.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY POMME FRITE
132 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Brandini Toffee is more than a creator of mouthwatering almond toffee — it’s a local, family-owned company handcrafting simple ingredients into sweet indulgences. The company’s list of goodies has grown to include toffee popcorn, chocolate-dipped pretzels rolled in toffee crumbles, toffee shakes, and hand-dipped ice cream bars. Tour the factory in Rancho Mirage and visit the shops in downtown Palm Springs and at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon.
Brandini Toffee is located in the historic Palm Springs Follies building adjacent to Plaza Theatre.
Breakfast / Brunch
It’s not often you eat brunch in an abandoned Denny’s and want your friends to see it on Instagram. Yet sure enough, inside of America’s hipster safe house (Ace Hotel), King’s Highway is the all-day cafe where everyone who just can’t with the pool anymore wants to be seen. Don’t let the wide-brim hat crowd fool you though - with a menu full of things people like to eat before noon, King’s Highway has sneakily become one of the best breakfasts in town and has a Jetson-chic atmosphere going for it, too.
100 W Tahquitz Canyon Way
Located on the ground floor of the Rowan Kimpton Hotel, Juniper Table looks and feels like any other run-of-the-mill lobby restaurant. But the food here is much better than that. Open every day from 7am-9pm, Juniper Table has a very solid menu full of sandwiches, salads, breakfast-y things, and one of the best quiches we’ve had in a long time. Their outdoor patio is a great place to eat in the morning before it gets to be 1,000 degrees out.
Norma’s might not have the best brunch in Palm Springs, but it definitely has one of the best patios to eat it on. Technically serving as the all-day cafe at Parker Palm Springs, Norma’s is the kind of scene you came to Palm Springs to experience - especially at 12:30pm on a Saturday. Rich women drinking chardonnay before lunch, stressed-out bridal parties guzzling mimosas, and you and your friends going to town on taco salads and Bloody Marys before hitting the pool for the next 72 hours.