Eating my way around Palm Springs, California

I have said it more than once: I adore Palm Springs in California. Love love love love. Yes, I really do. For the last 8 years, no exception, Mr. O and I head to this beautiful part of the world once a year, every year. No ifs or buts. We just go.

It is one of my favourite places in the world – and we really have a routine, with our favourite places to shop and eat, and things to do. Every year is the same – and we love it.

Looking healthy at the top of the San Jacinto Mountain (accessed by Palm Springs Aerial Tramway)

Looking healthy at the top of the San Jacinto Mountain (accessed by Palm Springs Aerial Tramway)

But this year, the lovely people at the Greater Palm Springs CVB wanted to challenge my taste buds – things do change from year to year and there were some exciting new openings in the wining and dining front. And the shopping. But thankfully, no changes in the ‘sleeping and reading by the pool all day every day’. Small mercies.

So I was ready to eat, and went on an interesting culinary journey around the Palm Springs Desert – starting in Rancho Mirage, moving on to Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta, four of the nine ‘Desert Cities’ which make up Greater Palm Springs.

Feeling hungry? Here are some of the yummiest places in town (seriously, I did not have a bad meal).

 

Workshop Bar + Kitchen, Palm Springs

The Workshop Bar + Kitchen was very sexy and the cuisine very interesting.

The Workshop Bar + Kitchen was very sexy and the cuisine very interesting.

I really did not know what to expect and believe me, I was wowed from the moment I walked in. This workshop place was totally up my street and full of surprises. We were surprised to see it completely packed on a Monday, testament to its reputation. I loved the classic cocktails with a very unique twist, but I can’t tell you how much I actually enjoyed the food. I was not expecting to eat brussels sprouts in this part of the world – and the octopus carpaccio really threw me. The lamb chops were also to die for. And the wine selection? Yes please. I stayed faithful to my ‘wine miles’ concept which wasn’t 100% easy as the wine menu features some very very interesting world wines. A place I will go back to, for sure. Visit website.

 

Figue Mediterranean, La Quinta

Modern but very true to its Mediterranean roots

Modern but very true to its Mediterranean roots

Also a newcomer to the Desert dining scene, Figure Mediterranean was one of the highlights of our stay. Chef Francoise and manager Frederic’s charm offensive started when we walked through the door – and did not end until we could not move. I love mediterranean cuisine (for obvious reasons), but I am also a bit wary of how it is interpreted. Francoise is a real European and cooking is in his and his family’s blood. Figue had one of the sexiest doors I have ever seen (and I won’t share a photo – you will need to get there and have a look yourself). The food was also incredible – I was very partial to the lamb tartare (oh my) and the  kuni kuni pork. The wine selection was also outstanding – and with a lot more American wines. We fell in love with some Oregon and Washington reds (and cheated on California, but at least they were all American wines). And lots of figs everywhere, which I adore. I cannot wait to go back. Visit website.

 

Pinzimini, Rancho Mirage

Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills

Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills

Interestingly, we always stay at the Westin Mission Hills – it is a beautiful property and we love the villas. We tried the restaurant many moons ago and were not inspired at all – so it was interesting to go back. The hotel is trying hard to make this a destination restaurant, namely for non hotel guests and a lot of work has been done in the inside – it does look quite smart indeed. We had a good meal – very Italian with an Chef’s tasting platter and an incredible bistecca alla Fiorentina paired with an incredible Amarone, selected by Dan, the manager (I did fail on my wine miles but it was for a good reason).

Sadly, we ate outside (as the weather was so fab) and we lost out. The outside area is quite uninspiring and the lighting does not do it any justice – it did feel like a nondescript hotel restaurant, which was a real shame. The food was good – and I would consider going back if there were some layout and decor changes. It is interesting how it all makes a difference. Visit website.

 

Las Casuelas Nuevas, Rancho Mirage

Oh Margarita, mi amiga Margarita.

Oh Margarita, mi amiga Margarita.

A very casual Mexican restaurant, hacienda-style of course, which has been around for over 20 years in this part of the world. And we had no idea! After so much eating during the week, it was actually a very nice change of scenery – and I loved to see how many Mexican customers the restaurant had. My love affair with Mexican food is only a couple of years old, but I have to say, it continued. And those mango margaritas.. well… mas, por favor. Visit website.

It was also very interesting to discover that one of our favourite restaurants in town, Cork Tree (with possibly the best wine selection in the area – read about it here) is also owned by the same family. We did not get a chance to visit this time, but surely will when we are next in town.

 

Because I always go back to the desert – we went once by mistake, and have been going back every year ever since.

xo

Mrs. O

 

From Palm Springs, I headed to Los Angeles, for a completely different type of weekend. You can read all about it here.

 

 

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Greater Palm Springs CVB. Opinions, as you know by now, are always my own.

34 Comments

  1. Would you believe I’ve lived in San Diego for a decade and have never made it to Palm Springs? I think I need to change that in 2014. And am definitely going to check out Figue Mediterranean.
    Gina recently posted..Why You Shouldn’t Travel With a Black iPad CaseMy Profile

  2. Love Palm Springs, this post is making me want to go back!
    Becky Padmore recently posted..Discovering Virginia: kayaking in the Blue Ridge ParkwayMy Profile

  3. I have never been in Palm Springs. Seems like a romantic place from workshop bar to margarita tasting. Should be at my bucket list.
    Jeff recently posted..How Has Air Travel Changed in the Past Decade?My Profile

  4. The Workshop Bar and Kitchen looks totally my speed. LOVE it.
    lola recently posted..#VisitPhilly – Beyond the Liberty BellMy Profile

  5. Figs, bistecca alla Fiorentina, wine and margaritas – sounds like a trip made for me!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Sports Travel: Not My Usual Pursuit but FunMy Profile

  6. I definitely could have used this post in April when I was visiting, but I am sure I will be back. Any one of these places would be marvelous to eat at after adventuring in Joshua Tree.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..MacRitchie Park case of the Mondays in SingaporeMy Profile

  7. Oh, I love the decor from Figue Mediterranean. All of it sounds delicious although I’m not so sure about that octopus carpaccio. How did you find it?

  8. Everything looks so beautiful, from Workshop to that margarita! I know you love Palm Springs and I’m glad you got to try some new places that suited your fancy.
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Sipping & sampling around Traverse CityMy Profile

  9. I love the look of Workshop. Just looking at the interior, I would be shocked if the food wasn’t great. These all seem to be great mood-setting restaurants.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Winter Weather Road Trip GuidelinesMy Profile

  10. All of these restaurants look so chic. I would have never placed them in Palm Springs, but I’m glad they are. Something to try the next time I’m in the neighborhood.
    Leah recently posted..An Open Letter to Santa: My 2014 Travel Wish ListMy Profile

  11. so many fancy places!
    Hogga recently posted..Why Everyone Should Go Eat a PeckerMy Profile

  12. mrs. o. you have NO idea how much i miss mexican food. everything looks amazing!! xo, the romantic
    the lazy travelers recently posted..driving the ring road: the great icelandic roadtripMy Profile

  13. I just Stumbled this and it was so fun to read. ^_^ I actually live in Palm Desert, and trust me it’s gorgeous year round, though the 100+ summers are when we have people leave in droves! Ireally enjoyed seeing some of these restaurants that I didn’t even know were here even though I was born and raised here. Next time you’re here, stop by the Book Rack in La Quinta!

    • Kate hi! Thanks for stopping by! Which are your favourite restaurants?

      • Katraca Noland /

        You’ve got a lot of nice, higher end restaurants on here. I’d definitely recommend Cliffhouse in Indian Wells. If you like Las Casuelas, try any of the La Casitas around: they’re all delicious and authentic! And of course you can’t beat a simple burger at In N Out. I like suggesting them to anyone not from here because they’re only found in a tiny part of the southwest

  14. Jean Yves /

    I have never been to Palm Springs but you are always talking about it. When is the time of the year to go? Maybe when it is cold here in France?

    • I tend to go when it is still coldish in Europe – love it in March/April until June (gets very WARM in our summer) and then from September onwards. The high season starts in October until Xmas (but gets around 20C and I need a bit more!!)

  15. John M /

    Palm Springs is also a favourite of ours – and we go almost every year. Great for golf too – do you play? Will need to check these new places out. Also very fond of Cork Tree and that wine menu. And the prices…

    • That is great to hear, John. No golf for me, but Mr O tends to play a lot when he is there. Always very early because of the heat. The Cork Tree is epic. I do like Cakebread at $45! Such a great concept.

  16. Therese /

    I also love Palm Springs! Always stay at the Westin Mission Hills too (it is a great hotel), but the restaurant needs to up their game – if they want it to be a destination restaurant as they say. I will definitely check out the Workshop and Figue – they were not there when I last visited. We are going for New Years and will be a treat. We know Las Casuelas well, as you say, relaxed but good margaritas and food!

    • Could’t agree more, Therese. New Years should be fun – I wonder how warm it gets? Do visit Workshop and Figue and let me know how you liked it!

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