Few desert locations possess the glamour of Palm Springs. This stylish city, which as early as 1936 boasted polo, tennis, gaming, night clubs and more swimming pools than any other city in the U.S., was thought of as the Palm Beach of the West. Many Hollywood stars considered this exclusive desert enclave their own private hideaway—Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Kirk Douglas all built homes during the early days of the city. Today, this archetypal desert playground revolves around recreation and leisure. Bask in its hot, dry climate as you play golf on dozens of championship courses—or enjoy a reprieve from the little white ball with a soothing spa session or a day of superb shopping. Whatever your choices, this inimitable resort town invites you to revel in its discovery.
Gayot.com’s Guide to Palm Springs
Eat & Drink
Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant
78164 Ave. 52 Send to Phone
Enjoy a menu of reliable steaks, chops and seafood, plus accomplished takes on comforting standards like meatloaf and sand dabs. rnold Palmer is known worldwide for his golf game and business savvy, but the desert communities also consider him a local hero and honored friend. This restaurant is as enormous as Arnie’s legend, with several indoor dining areas and a pleasant patio. The onsite putting green is a cute touch: reserve early to sit nearby. The menu is split into various sections, including Arnie’s Favorites—meatloaf, sand dabs and other budget-friendly options. Or opt for the chicken potpie or seared scallops. Classic steaks, chops and seafood are nicely broiled. Desserts are even more nostalgically satisfying than the main courses.
71800 Hwy. 111 (Bob Hope Dr.) Send to Phone
As you’re driving through Rancho Mirage on Highway 111, look for a giant brass pig perched like a mascot in front of Babe’s, and you’ve arrived at this barbecue destination in the valley. Okay, we admit there’s a bit of cheesy kitsch at work: the lucky smoker for meats, the fake Western décor with giant painting of wild horses, the brass pigs of all sizes everywhere. But relax and order a Hog Wild drink—a Babe-style hurricane made with Southern Comfort–or try one of the house micro-brewed ales and lagers. The hickory-smoked meats include baby-back ribs, chicken and tri-tip. Don’t forget to leave room for a side order of sweet potato fries and the special slaw with pecans and Mandarin oranges. For alternatives to meat, we recommend the homemade sweet corn tamales with goat cheese or with chicken or pork with cheese. Or the smoked salmon cooked barbecue–style. Service can be uneven but, hey, it’s a party place.
196 S. Indian Canyon Dr. (Arenas Rd.) Send to Phone
Austrian-born chef Johannes Bacher serves up contemporary cuisine with European and Asian flair in a spare, elegant room. Patrons in the mood for a “ménage à trois” can order the fresh lobster, shrimp and scallops, but that would mean passing up the standout Endive Salad. For those who want to visit the chef’s culinary roots, the cheese spätzle is vivid with flavor, and anyone whose appetite is hearty enough should also sample Bacher’s signature wienerschnitzel served with a lemon-cranberry jelly (order an apple strudel martini to put yourself in the mood). As a possible—and arguably equal—alternative, try any of Bacher’s flavorful grass-fed meats. His subtle, creative fish dishes are just as exciting. Imported beers, saké and an extensive wine list, both European and American, round out the cosmopolitan experience.
Las Casuelas Terraza
222 S. Palm Canyon Dr. (Arenas Rd.) Send to Phone
Traditional Mexican dishes and California contemporary fare make this a downtown Palm Springs place to party. The Las Casuelas restaurants spread across the Coachella Valley aren’t a chain; they’re independently owned and managed by the siblings of the Delgado family, a desert dynasty created by Florencio and Mary Delgado in 1958. Each restaurant is different, linked by that most important common ingredient, the family recipes. Patty Delgado Service owns and operates Las Casuelas Terraza with a strong emphasis on the traditional and an occasional foray into lighter, more contemporary Mexicancuisine. In winter, the green corn tamales (not on the main menu) are well worth sampling. The bar boasts a terrific tequila collection.
385 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way (Palm Canyon Dr.) Send to Phone
Vintage Palm Springs, Le Vallauris has aged gracefully, the oldest and the most beautiful of the desert’s iconic restaurants. Housed in an historic building, the dining room is outfitted with Louis XV furnishings. Warm lamplight illuminates snowy linen table settings and Flemish tapestries. But the real heart of the place is outside, where at lunchtime, sunlight dapples the diners, and in the evening’s encroaching darkness, sparkling fairy lights and the shadows of the enormous ficus trees create a chiaroscuro effect reminiscent of village restaurants in the south of France. The menu has aged gracefully too. Always dedicated to traditional French cuisine, chef Jean Paul Lair has moved with fashion and the times to put a lighter, more delicate and imaginative spin on the classics.
Morgan’s in the desert
49499 Eisenhower Dr. (Washington Blvd.) Send to Phone
This renovated showplace restaurant offers the innovative cuisine of chef Jimmy Schmidt. As the flagship restaurant of the legendary desert hideaway (Marlene Dietrich brought lovers here, as doubtlessly did many others), this elegant room, with its adjacent patio, has been given a $2 million renovation, recalling the look of the resort when William H. Morgan opened it in 1926. The original arched wood ceiling and fireplace are set off by Spanish architecture, large mirrors, leather furniture, rustic wooden tables, round hanging lamps and ceiling fans, resulting in a more casual look and feel than its predecessor, Azur. The kitchen is under the leadership of chef Jimmy Schmidt, with his longtime second-in-command Brian Recor, who go for the bold in their contemporary cuisine.
For the rest of Gayot.com’s guide to Palm Springs visit here.