Skip to main content

Travel

The Palm Springs Guide

The Palm Springs Guide

goop

Palm Springs was a wellness destination as far back as the early 1900s (all that dry heat), before evolving into a glamorous, Hollywood, Halston-wearing escape in the ’50s and ’60s. These days, both sides of its personality remain strong, as you can tell from its mind-boggling collection of healthy restaurants, preserved mid-century buildings, and retro diners. But the area continues to evolve every year as new generations discover the charms of this playground in the desert. Which is exactly why we’ve had our eye on the recent crop of hotel, restaurant, and store openings. Palm Springs (and nearby Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, and Yucca Valley) is unlike any other place in the world. It’s hard to believe that this convergence of past and present and style and wellness is only a couple hours from LA—depending on traffic, of course.

Workshop Kitchen

Workshop Kitchen

800 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Movie Colony | 760.459.3451

Uptown Palm Springs is quickly becoming the culinary epicenter of the desert, thanks in no small part to chef Michael Beckman's Workshop Kitchen + Bar. The oft-changing menu is devoted to fresh, seasonal dishes like roasted heirloom carrots, house-cured gravlax tartine, and Iron House ranch rib eye, the ingredients for which are all sourced locally—even the craft cocktails are mixed with them (the scotch-heavy Carrot Penicillin is insane). Other than a singular communal table and a dozen or so private booths, the minimalistic cement dining room doesn't overwhelm with decor.

Jake’s

Jake’s

664 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Movie Colony | 760.327.4400

This is the sort of neighborhood eatery that goes above and beyond the call of duty to make patrons happy. For one thing, dogs are wholeheartedly welcome to dine with their owners on the outdoor patio (real-life Jake is a actually the owners’ beloved pup), the food offering is of the comfort variety (salads, sandwiches, awesome weekend brunch), and the overall vibe is super chill.

Cheeky’s

Cheeky’s

622 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Movie Colony | 760.327.7595

Cheeky’s is notorious for having some of the most agonizing wait times on weekend mornings. But once you do get a seat (either on the mist-equipped outdoor patio or at one of the indoor communal tables), you’ll see the wait is entirely justified. Here, brunch is all about the classics: Chilaquiles, the fluffiest pancakes, and a really good eggs Benedict. There are some unexpected options too, like a Piña Colada waffle (caramelized pineapple may sound weird but is actually quite tasty) and a spicy pork shoulder dish. Though not nearly as in-demand, the lunch menu is solid.

Kings Highway & The Amigo Room

Kings Highway & The Amigo Room

701 E. Palm Canyon Dr., South Palm Springs | 760.325.9900

Occupying an old Denny’s and decked out with mod fixtures and faux taxidermy, Kings Highway is exactly what one might expect from Ace hotel’s riff on a roadside diner. In addition to providing the hotel with room service, the restaurant serves elevated versions of standard diner fare (burgers, omelets, pie) as well as random but welcome additions—grilled Monterey squid, shrimp vindaloo, black eyed pea hummus—all day long and well into the night on weekends. Next door is the Amigo Room bar, a former rancher watering hole which was purposely left out of the renovation to keep its gritty ambiance. There are 21 craft beers on tap and a killer craft cocktail menu that goes perfectly with the slew of campy activities (bingo is a fan favorite) hosted at the bar pretty much nightly.

The Purple Palm

The Purple Palm

572 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Movie Colony | 760.969.1818

This is an excellent, history-rich, Moroccan-themed restaurant that merits a visit every single time we’re in town. It’s named for The Purple Gang, a primarily Jewish group of mobsters from the ’30s (Al Meriweather, one of the original members, built the Colony Palms resort it’s situated in as their clubhouse, which included a secret, underground lair). The recently revamped interior (designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard swapped the photo-realistic palm tree wallpaper for a more on-theme pattern) and lovely outdoor space overlooking the pool are just as much of a draw as the food—a medley of hearty seafood dishes, crisp salads, and colorful vegetable sides.

El Jefe

El Jefe

1800 E. Palm Canyon Dr., South Palm Springs | 760.323.1711

Much like the color-happy Saguaro Hotel it’s situated in, El Jefe is super casual (communal seating, reclaimed wood-paneled walls) and great for accommodating kids and larger groups. Inspired by Mexico City’s thriving street food scene and helmed by chef Jose Garces (of Iron Chef fame), the small-plates menu is extensive yet easy to navigate. For breakfast there’s torrijas (a delicious citrus-vanilla French toast dish) and loads of egg-centric options. Lunch and dinner are devoted to South-of-the-border favorites like ceviche, sopas, and of course, tacos—our go-to is the veggie-and-mushroom Hongos con Rajas.

Norma’s Diner

Norma’s Diner

4200 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Canyon Sands | 760.770.5000

It may be located inside the swanky Parker hotel but there’s nothing precious about Norma’s take on classic diner food. For breakfast—served all day on the covered patio or inside if it gets too steamy—we swear by the famous Waz-Za waffle (stuffed with fruit and brûlée-d to perfection) and the upstream eggs Benedict (tiny pancakes topped with smoked salmon and smothered in some of the best Hollandaise we’ve ever had).

Mister Parker’s

Mister Parker’s

4200 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Canyon Sands | 760.770.5000

Whether you’re staying at The Parker or just checking out the meticulously manicured grounds, retreat to the dimly lit and aptly named, Mister Parker’s for a good meal and even better people watching. Beyond the velvet curtained entrance, the vibe is unapologetically sexy (mirrored ceiling, an all-white baby grand piano, and eyebrow-raising artwork) and the menu is decadent to say the least. Pistachio-crusted scallops, Steak au Poivre, and the shoestring parmesan fries take top billing. It’s also important to note that every meal is kicked off by a mini loaf of piping-hot sourdough bread. Needless to say reservations are a must.

Birba

Birba

622 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Movie Colony | 760.327.5678

Located directly next door, this is Cheeky’s more substantial but equally delicious dinner-focused sibling. The atmosphere is just as relaxed, but the garden patio bar—complete with a rich cocktail offering (the gin martini is our go-to)—make it the ideal evening hangout. Come here for inventive interpretations of traditional Italian specialties like mushroom and ricotta lasagna, meatballs, eggplant and burrata, and of course, pizza. While the more topping-rich options are great, the no-frills Margherita is our favorite.

Melvyn’s

Melvyn’s

200 W. Ramon Rd., Historic Tennis Club | 760.325.2323

Located within the historic Ingleside Inn, Melvyn’s was the go-to spot for Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and other Hollywood royalty back in the 50’s—luckily, the space has held up over the years. This is the sort of throwback establishment that insists waiters wear linen jackets and hosts live music and dancing nightly at the adjoining piano lounge. The menu is heavy on the classics (Oysters Rockefeller, pork loin medallions, filet mignon) and is not for everyone, but having a drink—the wine list is plentiful and the cocktails are potent—is worth it just for the ambiance.

Peninsula Pastries

Peninsula Pastries

611 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Historic Tennis Club | 760.832.6486

While the strip mall location doesn't exactly channel the glamor of Paris, this is our go-to for fresh breakfast pastries (the almond croissants and pain au chocolate are insane) and dinner party desserts. It’s owned by a French couple who whip up the delectable baked goods daily and put a ton of effort into quality—the bread selection, for example, is on par with the stuff you’ll find in authentic Parisian boulangeries…definitely try the olive loaf.

Koffi

Koffi

1700 S. Camino Real, South Palm Springs | 760.322.7776

There are two Koffi outposts, one at each end of town (the bigger of the two is within walking distance of the Ace hotel, while the second is downtown), which is great since the coffee here is some of the best in the desert. While there are loads of complicated espresso drinks to choose from, we’re partial to the no-frills single-origin iced coffee. To compliment the miles-long beverage menu, there’s also a nice selection of muffins, cakes, and more substantial small bites.

Elmer’s

Elmer’s

1030 E. Palm Canyon Dr., South Palm Springs | 760.327.8419

Though there are 25 locations of this Portland-born diner throughout the Northwest, this is the only California outpost and it’s the furthest thing from a run-of-the-mill franchise. Yes, there’s a massive laminated menu but that's half the fun. Lunch and dinner bring in a good amount of guests, but it’s the all-day breakfast that’s the true standout. German pancakes, oversize skillet omelets, and smokehouse bacon are particularly adored by both kids and those nursing wicked hangovers.

Farm

Farm

6 La Plaza, Baristo | 760.322.2724

Owner Liz Ostoich modeled Farm after the places she visited in her travels through southern France. This explains the Provençal aesthetic in the garden dining area (green shutters, wicker chairs, rustic wood dining tables), the French-press coffee, the house-made jams, and the truly impressive variety of paper-thin sweet and savory crepes. When we're there, we participate in an (almost) all-Brie diet, made possible by the pear, Brie, arugula, walnut, and date jam baguette, followed by the hazelnut, fig, and brown-sugar-baked Brie.

Rooster and the Pig

Rooster and the Pig

356 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Baristo | 760.832.6691

Pork belly fried rice with spicy okra is a standout at this dinner-only Vietnamese-American spot. Arrive early to avoid a line out the door, though if you have to wait, know that it’s worth it. We’d come just for the cocktails, especially the Floating Orchid, made with vodka, pear nectar, elderflower, lemon, and cava.

Ice Cream & Shop(pe)

Ice Cream & Shop(pe)

1551 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Vista Las Palmas | 760.507.4005

As the name suggests, it’s not just ice cream that’s sold here. Aside from the horchata, sweet corn, Mexican chocolate, and (our personal favorite) Coachella Valley date scoops, there are shelves lined with kitschy gifts. The store, in the lobby of the Arrive hotel, is an instant pick-me-up of cacti-covered coffee mugs, coloring pencils, and flamingo pool floats.

Tyler’s Burgers

Tyler’s Burgers

149 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Baristo | 760.325.2990

This no-frills, feel-good restaurant has been around for over twenty years—and not much on the menu has changed since it opened. Locals swear by this lunch-only burger joint, famous not only for the burgers (we love the turkey burger, though the tuna and egg salad sandwiches are excellent, too) but for the homemade potato salad and the blissfully old-fashioned chocolate malts and root beer floats.

Las Casuelas Terraza

Las Casuelas Terraza

222 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Baristo | 760.325.2794

A Palm Springs classic, Las Casuelas has been serving live music and killer margaritas (the blood orange with Casamigos is our favorite) since the ’70s. And it’s the perfect spot to hit before a night on the town, thanks to the central location. Foodwise, we love the crunchy taquitos, tortilla soup, and the achiote chicken lettuce wraps (for health-conscious LA weekenders). Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the house-made guacamole.