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"Old Palm Springs"

I'm spending 4-5 nights in Palm Springs with my wife and looking for a taste of old supper clubs, continental dining, meat and martini destinations, mid century cocktail lounges, etc. Is there anything left of 1930s-1960s Palm Springs when it comes to food and drink?

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  1. Lyon's English Grille is classic Palm Springs, I remember it being old in the 80s.

    http://lyonsenglishgrille.com/

    233 E Palm Canyon Dr
    Palm Springs, CA 92264
    (760) 327-1551

    EDIT: Just read that they're closed?! Noooo...... The website is still up, but some Yelpers are claiming it's closed for good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: moreplease

      Oh no!!! I actually knew about Lyons English Grille and am so sad that it's closed. I hope the rumors aren't true!!!

      EDIT: I don't think Lyons is actually closed. I just called and their voicemail recording is up-to-date and still accepting reservations. I only see two Yelp reviews making that claim but the website and Yelp page are still active. Perhaps they went on a Tuesday night or off-hours. Still seems to be in buisness, phew!

    2. Lord Fletcher's is awesome ! Fits the bill perfectly for what you are describing. The bartender (sadly I forget his name) is a treasure, he will have your drink up on the bar almost before you've finished ordering it, all the while telling you jokes. And the bar is ... well you just have to see it. Food is fine, exactly what you'd expect.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mikester

        This is perfect, thanks so much - it looks terrific!!!

        1. re: mikester

          I met the owners of Lord Fletcher's today while they were on vacation. Struck up a conversation sitting at the next table. The restaurant was started 48 years ago and in that time has only had three different bartenders. They seem to pride themselves on knowing their regulars' usual order. It was cool to hear about the Hollywood crowd that made it their hangout. Also that twenty-somethings have discovered the place, considering it "retro" and learning to drink Manhattans, Martinis, etc.

          http://www.lordfletcher.com/

        2. at the top of your list should be Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn.
          http://www.inglesideinn.com/melvyns_r...
          next: Le Vallauris, owned by Paul Bruggemans.
          http://www.levallauris.com
          then: Wally's Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage
          http://www.wallys-desert-turtle.com
          fourth is a classic Italian joint on the right hand side as you drive into PS between the Tramway Gas Station and Chino Canyon. can't remember the dat-blatted name but they had an RIP sign up when Harold Robbins passed away. classic, but may be closed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: iOnLa

            Thanks so much,

            I knew of Melvyn's (who doesn't!) and had Le Vallarius on my radar, but had never heard of Desert Turtle. It looks to be a lot more "modern" than the others and was opened in the 1970's, so not really mid century Palm Springs, but I'll add it to the considerations.

            Is the Italian restaurant that you were thinking of called "Johnny Costa's Ristorante" by chance? I'd love to know the name of it, if not!

            Thanks again.

            Edit: There's also Nicolino's (is that the one?) but it looks more like cheap 1980's decor than swanky post-war Palm Springs Vacationland. I see numerous flat screen TVs surrounding the bar which is a definite deal-killer for me.

            1. re: OliverB

              yes, Johnny Costa's sounds right.

              and if you're seeking Continental, then you need to check out Wally's. less cool rat pack, more country club, but still swinging.

          2. I seem to recall a good restaurant at La Quinta Country Club.
            Morgan's, I think.
            http://www.laquintaresort.com/7_resta...

            1. Melvins. Nothing else touches it. Also, let me know if you want the opposite recommendation as well. Something so new School

              1. Thanks everyone.

                Does anyone have any casual lunch recommendations in old/historic/architecturally interesting settings? Any old Mexican cantinas? I have Sherman's Deli on my list for breakfast; are there any other pre/post-war lunch counters or places of interest?

                What about mid century bars and cocktail lounges?

                9 Replies
                1. re: OliverB

                  If only Sherman's original building was still standing.

                    1. re: OliverB

                      No, not by a long shot. That's a strip mall location. The original from 1963 was a free standing Googie building which was originally a Huddle's.

                      http://www.synthetrix.com/huddle/PS/H...

                      http://www.synthetrix.com/huddle/PS/s...

                      1. re: JAB

                        Oh wow, I'd never seen that Cody building... so sad!

                          1. re: JAB

                            RIP also Ken Kellogg's brilliantly original Chart House in Rancho Mirage, which burned down a couple of years ago.
                            http://www.pspreservationfoundation.o...

                            I'll let PS'ers address your request for Mexican. All I can say is do not go to Las Casuelas—horrible. Blue Coyote much better even though it's not mc modern.

                            on a final note. Spencer's at the Tennis Club isn't bad, but the renovation of the classic Paul Williams/A. Quincy Jones building didn't leave much intact. don't recall if the oval swimming pool remains.

                            1. re: iOnLa

                              Yes, perhaps my favorite living Architect.

                  1. re: OliverB

                    Louise's Pantry is definitely old school but it has moved to a newer location.
                    http://www.louisespantry.com/

                    1. re: OliverB

                      I like El Mirasol for a casual Mexican lunch. No significance to their building but, on a nice day, they have a nice big patio.

                    2. You may also want to review the California board, as that is the one that actually covers PS and its environs. Coincidentally, I was there this past weekend, but did not do any "old school" venue; I did love drinking options at the brand spanking new Ritz Carlton on the way into Rancho Mirage. Gorgeous setting.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Wayno

                        Thank you, I didn't realize there was a separate board for "the rest" of SoCal. I'll try that.

                      2. We recently did the Celebrity Homes Tour of Old Palm Springs and the tour guide gave some pretty candid tips for dining in the heart of the old town - can't remember their names, but the tour is well worth taking if you are spending time there.

                        They take you to the Windmill Market in Desert Hot Springs for the best date shake in the whole area, so this is a food recommendation as well as tour suggestion.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: glbtrtr

                          Thanks,

                          I have Shields Date Gardens in Indio on the list.

                          Here's the rundown so far:

                          - Melvyn's and Casablanca Bar at The Ingleside Inn
                          - Lyon's English Grille
                          - Lord Fletcher's
                          - Purple Palms Restaurant at The Colony Palms
                          - Le Vallaurius
                          - Wally's Desert Turtle (?)
                          - Nicolino's
                          - Sherman's Deli & Bakery
                          - Tyler's Burgers
                          - Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace
                          - Shields Date Gardens

                          And not exactly "authentic" but in relevant settings:

                          - Norma's at Le Parker Meridien
                          - Citron & Lemon Bar at The Viceroy

                          Cocktails:

                          - Tonga Hut
                          - The Copa Room

                          1. re: OliverB

                            Take Shields off for their date shakes, but maybe interesting to see date cultivation. Far better off with Windmill Market - plus they have the rare dates for sale when in season.

                        2. Agree with Melvyn's and several others. Don't care for Sherman's Deli (either location). Suggest you check out "The Nest" in Indian Wells.
                          http://www.yelp.com/user_details_revi...

                          1. Vacation is officially booked!

                            5 nights in Palm Springs followed by 3 nights in Beverly Hills over the Christmas holidays. I can't wait!

                            I have a few quick questions for the board...

                            - Are reservations needed for a casual lunch at Norma's at Le Parker Méridien? Is it safe for walk-ins? we wouldn't be on a strict timeline and wouldn't mind hanging out by the pool and lemonade stand while awaiting a table but I just want to know if it's the kind of place (think B.H. Polo Lounge) where there's a fat chance you'll get a table w/o prior res?

                            - Same question applies for Citron at The Viceroy!

                            - Anyone know how far in advance The Purple Palm opens their calendar for booking?

                            - Same question for Le Vaullauris!

                            I'll be travelling through Japan from October-December and don't want to forget to make reservations, so the sooner the better! If anyone knows when I could book through OpenTable, it'd be a real help!

                            - Lastly, are reservations needed for Lord Fletcher's?

                            Annnnd... moving away from Old P.S. dining institutions for a moment, what's the absolute best authentic Mexican in the area that's far removed from anything found in NorCal?

                            Thanks fellas!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: OliverB

                              Don't just have lunch at The Parker. Take some time to enjoy the environment and the grounds. It is one of the nicest, well though-out and designed venues in the area. Very mid-century too.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                Oh absolutely! I didn't post our full plans because I didn't think it relevent to the forum so just the food itin. but we plan to spend the entire afternoon poolside. I'm hoping that we can rent a cabana for the day even though we aren't overnight guests. We may make use of the tennis courts and petanque, visit the lemonade stand, etc! My wife especially loves the Parker so we'll definitely be spending some time there.

                            2. Hey guys,

                              Still haven't left for this trip yet... I like to plan far in advance! :)

                              Just wondering if the food is better at Lyons or Lord Fletchers?

                              My wife recalls from her last trip to PS for Modernism Week two years ago that the food at Lyons wasn't too hot, although I love the decor of the place. I'm trying to decide whether we should just swing by Lyons for cocktails and then do dinner at Lord Fletchers or whether we should do a meal at each place (with other restaurants inbetween)? Which is the better of the two strictly in terms of quality of the meal; ie. prime rib and martinis? :D

                              My only incentive towards possibly combining both into the same night is that I just learned we have a private infrared BBQ at our hotel and I've always wanted to try it out, so I'm thinking we might just grill up some steak, burgers and salami (it's a Canadian Jew thing!) on our own one night. I'm sort of leaning towards pre-drinks at Lyons and dinner at Fletcher's; does that sound like a plan? Reports online suggest that Lyons mashed potatoes come from powdered packets... in which case, a BBQ at our pad would seem far more enjoyable and we'd hit the bar instead to soak up the atmosphere, among other things.

                              Also if we decide to go this route, where's the best place in town to buy good quality cuts to grill?

                              Thanks again!!

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: OliverB

                                If you take the highly recommended Hollwood Homes bus tour of old Palm Springs, the driver will give you local restaurant tips and what happened at some of the more legendary watering holes. Plus they take you to the Old Mill Market in Palm Desert for the very best date shakes.

                                1. re: glbtrtr

                                  The Old Mill Market is on our list too and I'm actually considering booking this tour hosted by Michael Stern: http://www.themoderntour.com/

                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    tour either w/ Michael Stern or Robert Imber
                                    http://www.palmspringsmoderntours.com...
                                    both know the town and the architecture inside and out and can no doubt give you great dining recs.
                                    or you could download the self-guided tour from PS Modcom
                                    http://psmodcom.org

                                    but why you want all to get all this input and travel all that way and then cook dinner in your hotel room (albeit on a groovy infrared bbq) is bizarre to me. that said, Jensens was my go-to market of choice when I was spending a ton of time there, but that was a while back.

                                    1. re: iOnLa

                                      We have 6 nights total plus another 4 in Beverly Hills. I'm not sure what you mean by travelling all that way... we're coming from the Bay Area and make at least 3-4 trips down to SoCal each year. I appreciate and have taken all of your input to heart. We're staying in a Lautner with a private garden, pool and BBQ: 3 things we don't have in San Francisco. I was simply asking about the food at Lyons to determine whether it's worth taking advantage of the grill one night. You're probably right though and we'll most likely end up at Lyons. I'd still like to know whether the food measures up to the ambiance or if we should just enjoy a few cocktails before Lord Fletchers.

                                      Thanks for the tips on the tours. We'll most likely book with Robert or Michael if we can get access to some of the interiors (Sinatra Twin Palms, etc). I'll do a bit more research on that.

                                        1. re: iOnLa

                                          No worries; I moved to San Francisco 3 years ago. Haven't been to Palm Springs in a long while though.

                                          We currently have dinner reservations at Melvyn's and Purple Palm. As soon as the calendars open, we'll book at Le Vallauris and Lord Fletchers as well. Possibly Lyons (still waiting on recent feedback of the food).

                                          Lunches will be at Tyler's Burgers, Norma's at Le Parker (are res needed??), Sherman's Deli, and Citron at The Viceroy (walk-in okay??). We'll also be visiting Windmill Market and Produce & Shields Date Gardens in Indio. We may also have lunch at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on our last day en route to LA (coming back from Joshua Tree, if we decide to go for the morning).

                                          1. re: OliverB

                                            Anyone know when Lyons reopens? Their answering machine indicates mid-October but I'm curious if anyone has a more accurate date?

                                            I just booked at Vallauris btw, and it looks like I can get scratch Fletcher's off the list tomorrow when they open, so Lyons will be the only outstanding reservation to be made and after flipping through online photos of the main dining room, I've decided we're definitely eating there as well!

                                            1. re: OliverB

                                              Looking forward to your report when you get back. Everyone is always stumped when asked about good dining in this area. Hope you have time to add all the good details and that you enjoy your time there very much. I know they have the best backyard grapefruit in the world - sister has winter place there.

                                              1. re: glbtrtr

                                                Thanks! I will definitely post feedback with plenty of photos. We're actually not going until the December holidays so I'll be back with updates in the new year. I'm planning so early because we're spending the next few months in Japan. :)

                                2. Is there a good liquor store (preferably between PSP and Desert Hot Springs but I don't mind a slight detour) where I can pick up a bottle of Plymouth Navy Strength and Noilly Prat? Preferably a place that stocks quality higher end bottles. Also a convenience store where I can load up on ice?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    Vons isn't good for much, but it will be your friend for ice and a superior selection of well-priced CA wines and spirits. I don't know if they'll have exactly what you're looking for or whether the selection in their PS and DHS stores is the same as in L.A.
                                    here's a specialty wine store that rates on yelp
                                    http://www.yelp.com/biz/desert-wines-...