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26 Spots to Enjoy a Taste of Summer in the Desert

From cool libations and frozen treats to international cuisine and farm-to-table creations, Greater Palm Springs offers a variety of taste experiences.

EMILY CHAVOUS FOSTERCURRENT GUIDE, RESTAURANTS

Tommy Bahamas Restaurant Palm Desert

Tommy Bahamas Restaurant in Palm Desert.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TOMMY BAHAMAS RESTAURANT

DINE WITH A VIEW.

Fancy a side of vibrant views with your dinner? Grab a table on the outdoor balcony at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, at The Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert, where you can try Hawaiian-inspired cuisine set against a magical mountain backdrop. Or take the elevator to the top floor of the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs for dinner at 4 Saints, which features California fare along with sweeping views of the city. The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage indeed rides the edge of the mountaintop, 650 feet above the valley floor, providing next-level views alongside a fine-dining menu that includes charred octopus, foraged mushrooms, and house-aged steaks.

Bootleggertiki
IMBIBE LATE-NIGHT.

Looking for a nightcap after dark? In Palm Springs, Bootlegger Tiki serves up colorful handcrafted creations with gorgeous garnishes amid classic Polynesian décor. El Paseo’s stylish, speakeasy-esque Libation Room mixes inventive craft cocktails like a cherry-wood-smoked old fashioned with small plates that are sure to satisfy the munchies. Both deliver dark and sultry vibes.

Shieldsdategarden

PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Shields Date Garden.

COOL DOWN WITH A FROZEN TREAT.

A visit to the Coachella Valley should always include downing a date shake, so be sure to visit the almost century-old Shields Date Garden in Indio to sample this creamy local concoction. For artisanal gelato, pop into Palm Springs’ Gelato Granucci, scooping rotating flavors including amaretto, pistachio, and options infused with locally made treats like Joshua Tree Coffee and Brandini Toffee. And though it’s no longer affiliated with the Hawaii-based chain, you’ll still find fun aloha-inspired flavors like lychee and caramel coconut macadamia at Lappert’s Ice Cream in Palm Desert and Palm Springs.

Boozehoundspalmsprings

PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNI-KATE RODGERS
Boozehounds in Palm Springs.

ENJOY AN AFTERNOON APERITIF.

Sip a midday refresher with your four-legged friend at Boozehounds in Palm Springs. The hot spot welcomes dogs on the expansive patio and even offers Fido his own food menu. If you’d rather people-watch along Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, pull up a stool and order a marvelous martini at Lulu California Bistro, smack in the middle of it all.

SHARE SMALL PLATES WITH A GROUP.

When you want to sample a little of everything, there’s no better route than tapas-style bites. You’ll find a full menu of them at Palm Springs cocktail bar Truss & Twine with cuisine like Sichuan-style chicken wings, citrus-marinated olives, and deviled eggs. Sidle up to the bar at Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage and pair your cocktail with sharables like a charcuterie plate for two, mini beef tenderloin, and roasted beets atop whipped black-pepper crème fraîche.

Wallysranchomirage

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Wally’s Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage.

CELEBRATE AN OCCASION.

Whether it’s an anniversary, engagement, or just a chance to finally get together with friends and family again, many swanky spots are worthy of a special celebration. In Palm Springs, go classic French on the starlit patio at Le Vallauris, have an old-school experience (while listening to crooning piano players) at Melvyn’s Restaurant, feast on innovative seasonal fare at the industrial-style Workshop Kitchen & Bar, or indulge in a top-notch omakase of melt-in-your-mouth fish at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey. For fine cuisine down valley, try the caviar service at Wally’s Desert Turtle or prime steaks, seafood, and sides at Mastro’s Steakhousein Palm Desert, which hosts live music nightly in the lounge.

Babesbarbqueranchomirage

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Babe’s Bare-B-Que & Brewery.

DRINK LOCAL.

The desert’s beer scene is getting frothy with options like Thousand Palms’ Coachella Valley Brewing Company, where brewers use local products including citrus and honey to create their IPAs, lagers, and sour beers. At three La Quinta Brewing Co. taprooms, you can sample valley-themed brews like the Heatwave Amber Ale, Even Par IPA, or Poolside Blonde. In Rancho Mirage, Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewery pours award-winning housemade suds to wash down a menu of sticky ribs, scratch-made tamales, and lobster mac and cheese.

Kobejapanesesteakhouse

PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Kobe Japanese Steak House in Rancho Mirage.

GO INTERNATIONAL.

Specialties from dim sum to dumplings and short ribs to sea bass satay rule at Palm Springs modern Chinese eatery Roly China Fusion, with an art-covered dining room and poolside patio. For a taste of Thailand, order cuisine like pad see-ew and Panang curry at nearby Thai Smile (also in Palm Desert). For live-action eating, book a front-row seat at one of the teppanyaki tables at Kobe Japanese Steak House in Rancho Mirage.

Carrots

PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAIME KOWAL
Citrusandpalmrestaurant

Citrus & Palm is inside the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.
EAT FARM-TO-TABLE.

For scratch-made seasonal dishes centered around produce from local farms, head to June Hill’s Table, hidden within The Polo Club in Indio, where you’ll spy veggie-topped pizzas, stir fries, fresh fish dishes, and a quinoa tabbouleh. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa’s restaurant, Citrus & Palm, touts fresh Med-inspired cuisine like Faroe Island salmon, a vegetable tagine, and a Brussels-and-quinoa salad you can enjoy on an olive grove patio. The chefs grow their own citrus and herbs on-site.

ASK AN EXPERT

Fresh Picked in Greater Palm Springs
Agriculture is a major industry in the Coachella Valley. So, what are the top crops?

“Ninety-five percent of dates grown in the United States are grown right here. The Coachella Valley grows and harvests crops 11 months out of the year, including everything from citrus and table grapes to okra and eggplant. Driving around the eastern valley can be an incredible sight — come to the east end, see the beauty, feel the earth, and smell the abundance of crops. When people interact with their food, there is a visceral reaction that leads to a newfound appreciation of what it takes to stock the grocery store shelves.”

Mark Tadros, date farmer and president, Aziz Farms; co-founder, CV Harvest Box

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