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Palm Springs Area: Any Chow-worthy places???

  • m

I live in New York and travel extensively, and I've had the good fortune to be able to visit the beautiful Palm Springs area twice in the last 4 years.

The only downside of these trips has been the so-so food.

What am I missing??? Is there anything better than 'meh'???

I've looked at some of the recent posts on this area - and see that I've tried a few of the restaurants recommended, but nothing, so far, has wow-ed me. So many restaurants in this area seem to be over-priced, generic, mod-american, with similar concepts and menus.

I would be most grateful for some suggestions of where to get DELICIOUS food.

I don't care if the place is high-end or a street cart.
We eat anything and everything - but would particularly welcome food (and experiences) that are unique to the region.

Also, any recommendations for bars would also be great!

We are driving in from LA and will be staying at the Saguaro (we have previously stayed at the Ace and the Parker). We will be going to the Indian Wells tennis tournament during our trip.

Thanks in advance for all suggestions!

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  1. My recommendation is old news, but...Cheekys! I eat breakfast there every other week and never grow tired of the rotating menu. Last week I had an amazing breakfast sandwich: crispy croissant filled with brussels sprouts and eggs. Sounds funky but it was delicious! The kids who work there are generally really sweet.

    I also really love Norma's, but the prices have grown ridiculous.

    1. Cheekys
      Le Vallauris and they have a fab 3-4 course meal for around $60..one of my fave's..you must eat on the patio!
      Shame on the Moon
      Ace Hotel, Kings Highway has the best Monday night Gay Bingo with Linda 'Sissy' who is a riot and started this phenom all over the world..
      Great dive bar Amigo with a Drag Queen shows..food is fantastic and so is the craft cocktails.
      Las Casuelas is decent for happy hour

      Hopefully, Frieda's will be open when you go.

      1. I wrote an identical message about 6 years ago, Monab, when I started going to the desert once a year to visit my in-laws. I also asked for anything from super $$$ to side-of-the-road hole-in-the-wall. I also come from a great food city. I can assure you that there is not much that you'll remember Coming from a City like NYC, no matter what's recommended, you'll end up saying that you can get much better where you're from. That said, El Gallito in Cathedral City for mexican is okay but nothing special, Roys in Rancho Mirage for appetizers and drinks, Fisherman's Market for deep fried seafood (i know, seafood the desert but whatever), Zin in Palm Springs was okay, Cuistot in Palm Desert, Shame on the Moon is okay but mostly geared to the 75+ crowd. I think my favourite place in the area is Johannes in Palm Springs.

        1. Our top choices:

          1) Jiillian's..expensive but top quality, great atmosphere and VERY WELL known by those who live year round in Palm Springs. Our #1 choice.

          2) Copely's..again on the high end side, very creative and great service.

          1. Rick's Restaurant has a truly excellent Media Noche - Cuban pork pressed sandwich. My girlfriend is from NYC and has always been a major Cuban sandwich snob, having had them in NYC and Miami. She swears that the one at Rick's is the best she has ever had anywhere. There are two Rick's - you want the Restaurant for breakfast or lunch, not the Desert Grill. Their other breakfast and lunch items are pretty good, too. http://www.ricksrestaurant.biz/

            3 Replies
            1. re: estone888

              Thanks for the tip about the Cuban sandwich. I'll check it out when I'm there next month. I checked the Restaurant's menu but didn't see it there. Is it an off menu item?

              1. re: acd123

                It's called a Media Noche on the lunch menu in the Cuban food section. The owner is from Miami.

                1. re: estone888

                  Got it. Thanks. Sounds really good. Will check it out.

              1. I love Birba (sister restaurant to Cheeky's) - open only at dinnertime. It is an outdoor space (with heaters when necessary). Delicious food, of which you can get a sense by looking at the menu online (though there is also a menu of specials daily, which the website doesn't seem to show). www.birbaps.com

                1. For food (atmosphere? I don't care and I WON"T pay for it):

                  La Pearlita is IMHO the best in the valley now for Mexican. Beware that they are closed on Sunday aftn (> 2) and Sunday evenings. On Crossley between Ramon and Palm Canyon/111--near the airport.
                  Better than Gallito, but Gallito is good.
                  To me, Las Casuelas now tastes like the SYSCO truck just backed up and dumped their stuff into the kitchen.

                  The only decent bread that I have found in the Desert is at Aspen Bread--SW corner of Ramon and Sunrise. Good sandwiches, also.

                  There is a Bristol Farms market in Rancho Mirage. Pick up sandwiches here prior to going to the tennis. Jensen's market in PS also makes some good sandwiches that you can take with you to tennis.

                  Cheeky's is just too tres-chi for me, I prefer Elmer's for breakfast.

                  Johannes (Downtown PS on Indian, across from the Plaza) is very good.

                  Everybody loves Copley's.

                  If you want a steak, go to LG's Prime Steakhouse.

                  Deli: Sherman's. both PS and PD.

                  Burger: John's in PS. Better: In-and-Out Burger is at I-10 and Ramon Rd.

                  There are cookie cutter versions of the usual resort dwellers. Chop House, Roy's, Ruth Chris, CPK, etc--meh.

                  I rarely go that far down valley, so can't comment on IW.

                  1. Last Add:
                    If you want an old style--as in 1960's--dining experience, the Buggy Whip in Westchester (near the airport) is good. It is our parent's type of steak, prime rib and crab type of place. One of the last of these type of places left in LA. They have Florida Stone Crabs, FYI.

                    MapQuest it, it is ~ 10 mins from the airport, not out of your way to PS.

                    If you go, ask about Liz and Dick having a fight in the parking lot.

                    1. What do people think of Workshop Kitchen and Bar?

                      1. Any chef riffing on dates or artichockes?

                        1. We go out a few times a year, and have for nearly 20 years now...staying in PS proper all the way to La Quinta.

                          We are not big breakfast people...so can't give you any recomendations there.

                          We now eat at Din Tai Fun on way there and back.

                          The remainder of our meals are take out at Panera Bread, Chipotle, and other chains. It's like Hawaii - the food is mediocre and pricey. I'd rather dine cheap, and eat well when I return to LA.

                          If you insist on dining out, the chains like Roy's or Arnie Morton's are fine...I didn't like LG Steakhouse the two times I went. But steakhouses seem very personal...maybe give it a try. The cobb salad at Melvyn's in PS is terrific too. And Sherman's deli is not bad - a surprisingly decent Jewish deli.

                          Avoid Las Casuelas at all costs...unless you're going for chips and margaritas.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: manku

                            You state to avoid Las Casuelas at all cost but the remainder of your meals is Panera and Chipotle?

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              The point I'm making is that in PS, as in Hawaii, food becomes "fuel", for lack of a better word.

                              I'm looking to spend less money, and have something decent and edible - which Panera and Chipotle are. At least for me and my family.

                              When you have 4 people, going out and spending $150 for a mediocre meal really bums me out.

                              1. re: manku

                                You're preaching to the choir on saving $$!!
                                Just trying to follow your logic..
                                That is why I like happy hours but might not be feasible with younger kids.

                                1. re: manku

                                  I have to disagree the food in ps has gotten decidedly better in the past few years.

                                  Dish is Cat City is great although closed for August.

                                  On the less expensive side Rick's, El Salvador Cafe, pomme Frit. All great to name a few.

                            2. I'm chiming in too late to be helpful to you this time, monab, but the next time you're in PS, swing by The Sandwich Spot in downtown PS. The sammies are fantastic.

                              Workshop has a great bar but draws mixed reviews on the food.

                              If you stayed at the Saguaro, you may have checked out Tinto or El Jefe, both of which are mighty good, at least by PS standards.

                              1. Any updates?

                                Staying at the Ace for a friend's wedding over Labor Day.

                                Le Vallauris is closed then.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Too bad Le Vallauris is closed...he usually spends the month of August in SD and opens up the week after Labor day.
                                  It is one of my fave places.

                                  Ace Hotel is a riot with Gay Bingo on Mondays..craft cocktails, good food and one of the best times with Cissy/Linda and the boys!

                                  Wilma & Frieda's is set to open over Labor Day and it is creating a lot of buzz..breakfast/lunch

                                  Are you looking for dinner options?

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    We're there Saturday through Monday morning, will probably miss the Gay Bingo.

                                    Wilma and Frieda's looks intriguing. Thanks!

                                    So far on my list are Tyler's, King's Highway, Tinto, and Cheeky's. Was intrigued by Workshop, but nothing on their menu really grabbed me and reports seem mixed. Jiao looks interesting but I did find some old(er) reports on here of a new chef? Just wondering what else is out there that isn't pricey "resort" type restaurants.

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      Kings Highway is the resto in the Ace..they have a great dive bar called the Amigo set in a cave setting..tons of fun.
                                      We had their craft cocktails and food which was quite good.
                                      Looks like it was an old Denny's and they revamped it.

                                      Cheekys gets lots of love..
                                      Norma's at the Parker for brunch
                                      Wilma & Frieda's looks fantastic and can't wait for it to open.
                                      Circa 59 at the Riviera
                                      Copley's and Johannes gets a lot of love too for dinner.

                                      1. re: Beach Chick


                                        Will probably skip Norma's at the Parker Meridien unless it is DRASTICALLY better than the NYC one. Not a fan.

                                        Copley's and Johanne's probably both a touch too expensive for us this time around (since we're attending a destination wedding so paying for flights, hotel, gifts...).

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          Totally get it on the already spent too much..
                                          Circa 59 at the Riviera and Starlite for drinks and small plates.
                                          Have fun!

                                      2. re: kathryn

                                        It was insanely hot and unseasonably humid in PS this past weekend (100+ F days).

                                        Ate a few meals at King's Highway as it felt too hot to move around. Breakfast was fine. Their burger was pretty decent as well. Friends loved their chilaquiles and fried avocado dishes. The soy chorizo, not so much. Cuban sandwich was a little odd -- by house pickles they mean pickled ginger, for some reason.

                                        Cocktails were decent (free poured) with the Desert Facial being the best when you subbed in tequila for the vodka.

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          I was thinking of you this past weekend and how brutal the humidity was from that tropical storm from Cabo that was so horrid.
                                          In that kind of weather all you want to do is have cool refreshing cocktails, a pool and air conditioning.

                                    2. re: kathryn

                                      Jiao. Went there yesterday for a late lunch. Outstanding shrimp and mango spring rolls and really good chicken/mizuna salad. Great ginger/plum iced tea. Other menu items were very enticing. Everything was fresh and pleasantly presented. Very accommodating with allergy requests.

                                    3. Any word on Figue's Mediterranean located on Washington in LaQuinta?

                                      Opened with lotsa PR fanfare, but would appreciate any Hound reviews.