Every decent city in America has their escape place. New York has the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore, and Chicago has, well, Wisconsin. And Los Angeles? We get Palm Springs. Only the best escape destination in the entire country. When you have a town that was created solely on the idea of sitting by the pool and getting as hammered as f*cking possible, there’s little to complain about.
Where should you be eating in between all those mojitos and dancing at Coachella though? Between the classic old haunts where Marilyn Monroe used got her freak on, to the new, modern entries popping up all over downtown, Palm Springs is a culinary destination to be reckoned with. Here’s our updated guide on exactly how to navigate it.
In the heart of Palm Springs sits the fantastic Colony Palms Hotel. And at the heart of the Colony Palms sits Purple Palm - the immaculate all-day poolside restaurant straight from our desert dreams. The weekend brunch goes from 8am-3pm, ideal for all your hazy Coachella mornings, and there's a special sunset menu from 3-6pm for when you just need a breather from the mayhem. The food is fantastic and the ambience can't be beat.
The L'Horizon resort recently underwent a massive overhaul and came out looking like its old 1950's glamorous self. And with it came SO.PA, the stunning all-day, all-outdoors restaurant with a heavy Middle Eastern lean. Think crispy California squid with spicy yogurt, Alaskan trout with lentils, and a housemade hummus we'd buy tubs of. Your date night in the desert is set.
Located in one of the most underrated little hotels in Palm Springs, The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge has (finally) expanded its menu to include a lunch situation that's open to the public and has quickly become one of our favorites in town. The ham and mustard melt has no business being as good as it is, and the smoked salmon spread is all you need as the temperature hits triple digits. This is the casual, hidden lunch oasis you don't find anywhere else in Palm Springs
Frankinbun is a new joint on the south end of downtown serving hotdogs like you've never had before - on French baguettes. But if you're not feeling one of their traditional dogs, we recommend going for the currywurst, chicken and waffles on a stick, or something they call the tornado potato. Open till midnight both Coachella weekends, Frankinbun is where you need to be for good craft beer and even better late night snacks. Make moves, party people.
Despite what you might think, solid Mexican food in Palm Springs is not always easy to come by. But that's changed with the arrival of Felipe's. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this family run cafe is dishing out familiar Mexican classics better than anybody in Palm Springs at the moment. The tiny spot is out by the airport, perfect if you're flying in for Coachella or aren't in the mood to deal with the downtown crowds. The Hawaiian torta is a must.
An Austrian-fusion restaurant might be the last thing you'd think could work in Palm Springs, but this 15 year-old-dinner spot has other plans. The vibe inside this homey restaurant is quiet and casual, with fantastic service, good wine, and a schnitzel that had us at hello.
As far as Palm Springs is concerned, Copley’s still might be considered a relative newcomer. And yet, this decade-old restaurant is easily one of the best restaurants in town. Located in the stunning courtyard of the former Cary Grant estate, Copley’s blends old desert nostalgia with a modern menu that rivals any in the city. And that all means date night gold to you.
If you hear someone shout “brunch!” in Palm Springs, it probably means they’re on their way to Cheeky’s. Open only till 2pm each day, this cafe has become the absolute go-to early dining destination in Palm Springs. Just please be warned: the line gets ridiculous. But for those who tough it out, a fantastic rotating menu of all the breakfast food your hungover stomach wants awaits. Two words: Bacon flight.
Right next door to Cheeky’s (and sharing the same address) is Birba. Home to hands down the best pizza in Palm Springs, Birba is also the perfect big group jumping-off point for a night out on Palm Canyon. With bar, lounge and table seating, you can make Birba into whatever you damn please. Just prepare for a lively courtyard atmosphere and a lot white pizza in your mouth.
Not so much a throwback as a perfectly preserved relic, Melvyn’s was a favorite of Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack. Stay on the staff’s good side (not an easy task), and they’ll treat you to some classically perfected banter tableside as they prepare their famous Steak Diane. Put away your iPhone, tuck in your shirt young man, and enjoy a dinner experience that’s fit for this classic meal.
One can come to expect certain things from Palm Springs. Plenty of pool time, lots of golf, and drunk old people at stop lights asking you if you know their grandson. But an NYC-style kosher deli in the heart of the city? Not particularly. And yet, there’s Sherman’s, a Palm Springs institution, dishing out immensely respectable versions of all the old classics. It might be 114 degrees out but sometimes hot pastrami on rye is simply what needs to happen.
Located inside America’s hipster safe house (Ace Hotel), King’s Highway serves as the all-day cafe for everyone who just can’t with the pool anymore. Don’t be fooled though. With a recently overhauled menu, King’s Highway has sneakily become one of the best breakfasts in town and has the authentic retro atmosphere thing going on too. How often do you eat brunch in an abandoned Denny’s and want your friends to see it on Instagram?
Farm-to-table menus have quickly become the norm in PS dining culture but Workshop’s still stands far above the rest, making it one of the most popular dinner spots in town. The restaurant is located inside a ridiculous-all concrete chapel that puts even some of LA’s great spaces to shame.
The transition from Viceroy Palm Springs to Avalon Hotel went down this past spring and with it comes not only a fantastic new place to stay, but also a great new poolside restaurant to go along with it. It’s a great, tranquil setting, and the Latin-tinged menu is a perfect complement.
Lunch is often the forgotten meal in Palm Springs and Trio is hell-bent on changing that. How, you ask? Well, for starters, an eight-hour happy hour isn’t too shabby. And if that doesn’t suit your needs, you can go for the $19 three-course pre-fixe menu. Ultimately, Trio nails the casual walk-up vibe you want for lunch and big enough for your whole crew to find a seat.
Taking a page out of the LA dining handbook, Rooster and The Pig proves some of the best food in town can be found in a strip mall. It might be fairly new on the scene but its untraditional Vietnamese menu is already making some serious waves around town. There’s nothing else like Rooster and The Pig right now in Palm Springs. The space might be small and modern but this welcoming, family-run establishment is destined for desert stardom.
Behind Palm Springs’ main drag (Palm Canyon Dr.) sits this desert classic and your must-hit spot for cheap, delicious burgers. We’d be hard pressed to skip out on any of Woody’s burgers so our move here is the slider sampler, where you can get three well-built minis for a quick $9.50. But this tiny burger counter leads a double life though. Come after dark and Woody’s back room becomes the best live music spot in all of Palm Springs.
Smoketree may live outside the downtown tourist bubble, but this BBQ joint has become a favorite for both locals and visitors alike. You don’t come to the Coachella Valley with the expectation of putting good BBQ in your mouth but you should. Because even though Smoketree’s shopping center locale won’t inspire much excitement, there is some serious BBQ-ing happening behind those doors. Order by the pound or build your own tray, you can’t really go wrong. Just don’t forget about that brisket tip appetizer.
Because even in the desert we all need a little South Beach. With an old-school Miami supper club vibe, The Tropicale is a mature, kitschy oasis and perhaps your best spot to finally pull off that flowered button-down you got in Nassau. This is certainly a fine dining experience (and a great one at that), but with a fantastic cocktail list and an even better back patio, the recipe is right for things to get weird. The Tropicale is down to party.
Dish Creative made a name for itself in nearby Cathedral City, but with new digs in the Palm Springs Uptown Design District, they finally have the space and attention they deserve to serve what is likely the fanciest meal in town. Dish goes full-steam into the molecular side of cooking and that means all the foams and emulsions your food science heart could want. POWER MOVE ALERT: They don’t serve bread tableside. They serve savory doughnuts infused with whatever the f*ck they want inside.
Pressed up against the base of Mount San Jacinto Mountain in The Palm Springs Tennis Club, Spencer’s is an icon and one of the all-time great restaurants in the city. Come for a wine-soaked power lunch on the patio with your interior decorator or bring the parents along for dinner to get a glimpse of how the upper crust really do it. You don’t come to Spencer’s to skimp and that means the Black Angus Petit Filet is your order.
Eight4Nine is new, but it is already off to the races. The massive interior is extraordinary, falling somewhere between a legit modern art museum and a Fifth Harmony tour bus accident. It’s completely absurd and we’re into it. The menu needs some time to develop but we’d be surprised if Eight4Nine isn’t on the verge of something big.
Not everything has to be a big deal in this town and in the case of Ruben and Ozzy’s, they made a business model off of it. You come to Ruben and Ozzy’s because the midday sun is taking zero prisoners and you need a beer and some oysters. This is a glorified dive bar with a great patio to get your buzz on for cheap. And with $4 alcoholic oyster shooters, danger is near.
The very colorful and very drunk Saguaro Hotel is also home to a fantastic celebrity chef tapas bar. Not too shabby. The small plates and intimate dining room should make for a very sexy date night, but the outside patio livens up a bit, particularly around brunch when that $15 bottomless sangria gets flowing and you swan dive into the pool with last night’s makeup on.