I’ve been coming to Palm Springs for one or two months every year for several years. Not to escape the snow but to escape the Vancouver damp and cold. Not a snowbird exactly, more of a wet bird.
The sunshine is a big draw although this time it rained heavily for a few days and a medium strength earthquake shook me out of bed one morning. I enjoy a good shake in the morning but mostly after a workout.
There are a lot of things to enjoy in and around Palm Springs. I get to swim almost every day and pick fresh grapefruit and lemons for my good morning start. I love the food here.
Oh, speaking of food…for this post, let’s focus on the Food.
There is unbelievably good cuisine to be found in and around Palm Springs. Of course, I haven’t been to every single restaurant but I can recommend a fair share of superb and varied places. So here are my pics with a short review and I’m certain many of them are considered to be the Pride (no pun intended) of Palm Springs.
DEBBIE’s baker’s DOZEN (in no particular order):
Woody’s Burgers: 317 N. Indian Canyon Drive – 760.230.0188
From the outside it looks like a typical 1950’s diner but once inside you realize it is not your typical diner. That’s what I love about Woody’s. In short, they have excellent burgers but the real draw is when you step into the back room. There you’ll find a blue dining room complete with a stage, professional sound system and great live music. This former bus station is the place where top jazz and blues artists perform every night of the week. It’s where I bumped into my friend Michelle from Vancouver with her family and some friends sitting at a nearby table (photo above). Then for sure I knew it was a cool spot. Bonus: no cover charge, but reservations are recommended.
Copley’s of Palm Canyon: 621 N. Palm Canyon Drive – 760.327.9555
I wanted to go here based on the fact that it was formerly Cary Grant’s estate. Built in the 1920’s, this inside/outside restaurant has kept the flavour of the original Spanish architecture with its red-tile roofs, fountains and tile patios. It has consistently been rated among the top restaurants in the valley by Zagat’s and New York Times. A welcoming atmosphere with inspiring food and fire pits best describes this romantic spot. The only thing that would have made it perfect is if I had been sitting across from Cary Grant instead of my friend Colleen (but don’t tell her that).
PHO533: 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive 760.778.6595
In short, this is PHO sure the best Vietnamese (fusion) food I’ve had to date. They are noted for their Vietnamese Crepe but I ordered the summer mango rolls, chicken lemongrass meatballs & slow roasted Pho (broth) with rice stick noodles, herbs, spices and kaffir lime. Satisfaction guaranteed!
TRIO: 707 N. Palm Canyon Drive – 760.864.8746
Trio is a treat. It’s casual but cool and has classic comfort food like Mac’ n 5 Cheese, St. Louis Ribs and an original vegetarian ceviche. Oh; you don’t consider ceviche to be in the comfort category? You should try it! This is where I stole the recipe.
Sherman’s Deli & Bakery: 401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way – 760.325.1199
After leaving your name with the host you’ll have a relatively short wait but it’s worth it. Focus is on very casual, unbeatable platters, sandwiches, soups and salads. Everything you want in a deli. Bring a hearty appetite and give the chefs a chance to show off – as the menu states. You will not be disappointed! Also, this is the place where my friend Cher and I made national news (twice in one day) when we were questioned re the vibe surrounding Palm Springs at the International Film Festival. Didn’t you see it? We were awesome!
Lulu California Bistro: 200 S. Palm Canyon Drive – 760.327.5858
One of my all-time favourite hangouts when in P.S. It’s located in the former space of a major art gallery. A lively atmosphere with an extensive, value-priced menu celebrating California casual cuisine. It’s just a memorable place with very good food. One of my favourites is the tuna tower. I spent New Year’s Eve here twice.
Tropicale: 330 E. Amado Rd. – 760.866.1952A chic and sophisticated décor with “world class” cuisine. The Coral Seas Lounge, a hip mid-century style bar is lined with sexy black leather bar-stools and is reminiscent of the upbeat lounges of old Palm Springs. It wraps around the dining room and leads outside to a lush, tropical, 2000 square foot dining patio where a variety of specialty cocktails and old-school favorites are mixed – an ideal place where friends gather and martinis are sipped under the starlit desert sky. How could that not be attractive?
Bill’s Pizza: 119 South Indian Canyon Drive (they don’t take reservations)Two of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted – that’s all!
Al Dente: 491 N Palm Canyon Dr. – (760) 325-1160
This relaxed trattoria with a cozy patio and European atmosphere serves Italian classics. Everything is homemade using the freshest ingredients. It was one of the first places I dined at when visiting Palm Springs.
Sammy G’s Tuscan Grille: 265 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs – (760) 320-8041
Casual yet elegant vibe, traditional Italian mixed with updated classics are on the menu. I really loved sitting outside under the heat lamps while being serenaded by the guitarist. Thursday through Saturday night the lounge becomes energetic where you can dance the night away to live music and enjoy some signature cocktails.
Morton’s (Palm Desert): 74-880 Country Club Dr, Palm Desert – (760) 340-6865So this is really in Palm Desert but it had to be included. Aside from offering some of the best steaks in the world, this steakhouse has one of the best happy hour menus ever. We enjoyed filet 3 ways (bearnaise, bleu cheese & chipotle), beef short rib tacos, tuna tacos, crab sliders and parmesan/truffle string fries. Very reasonably priced happy hour too.
Melvyn’s: 200 West Ramon Road – 760.325.2323
My friend Colleen told me that this restaurant which is located at the Ingleside Inn (an historic landmark) and is very “Old Hollywood” is really old. She said she went for drinks and there were lots of lushes hanging out but the Inn itself was very interesting. Hmmm….it piqued my curiosity so I had to check it out. After all, the brochure claims it “One of the World’s 10 Best.” The smaller print under that says…according to “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” But that show is waaay before my time. So I went for brunch. I see what Colleen means; it’s living in the past but to be fair it has a somewhat elegant atmosphere and the brunch was very good.
I had prime rib hash with a poached egg over top and scalloped potatoes. Did I mention the endless champagne? I say it’s worth checking out because it’s been here for more than 40 years and the b+w who’s who photos lining the wall with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Heidi Klum is glamorous memorabilia and fun to look at. At least a drink at the piano bar in the evening would be worth it. p.s. when strolling the property I stole oranges off the tree.
BEST in BREAKFAST: Elmer’s hands down: 1030 E. Palm Canyon Drive – 760.327.8419
A family-style restaurant offering exceptional American-style breakfasts. Memorable food & gracious service make this a must. *Their German pancakes look awesome.
p.s. I’m told by some very reliable sources (Michele & her mom Vicki) that restaurant & lounge Eight4Nine (west coast modern cuisine) located at 849 (no kidding?) N. Palm Canyon Drive is excellent. 760.325.8490 *I haven’t been yet – the decor does not appeal to me but I intend to try it.
Oh; I cannot forget my all-time favourite flan (after my friend Rosa’s) is from JJ’s Oasis Latino
located at 1550 N. Palm Canyon Dr. This family run Mexican restaurant which has been here for ages has the greatest coconut flan…..ever! Trust me, I know.
I know, I know…those in the know will say she missed Spencer’s but really there is only so much I can eat and as you can see…I’m doing a pretty good job of it so far (but I have to run and swim more on account of it). As I write this I’m looking at the bougainvillea room at Spencer’s (their stunning outdoor patio allows dogs so you know what that means. It means more working out). It never ends….
Spencer’s Restaurant: 701 W. Baristo Road – 760.327.3446
Photos: d. king (Tropicale and Morton’s – google images)
Now for the Detox