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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.