Local Flavor: A Foodie’s Guide to Palm Springs

There’s more to Palm Springs than pools, golf and hikes. These restaurants and eateries will satisfy your cravings while beating the desert heat.

Palm Springs is one of my favorite escapes from Los Angeles. What’s not to like about a relaxing desert city surrounded by mountains? Only two hours away from LA, this hot town (literally and figuratively) has tons of pools, golf courses, hiking trails, spas and — most importantly for foodie travelers like me — great restaurants. Because of the abundance of amazing culinary options all over town, there’s no reason to ever have a bad meal in Palm Springs!


Courtesy of Cheeky’s
Plan an amazing brunch to start your day.

Brunch is, by far, my favorite meal of any day. I live for it. And in Palm Springs, brunch is synonymous with Cheeky’s. The menu at this hotspot changes weekly, but it’s guaranteed to feature the best selection of both sweet and savory dishes. However, no trip to this eatery is complete without ordering the bacon flight. Yep, you read that right: you can order a plate of bacon cooked five ways. It’s a real crowd-pleaser. I mean, how can it not be?!

Another brunch spot I like to hit up is Pinocchio in the Desert. This Palm Springs landmark serves up no-nonsense brunch fare like omelets, pancakes and a variety of egg benedicts, plus a bottomless mimosa special on Sundays. Don’t forget to snap a picture for Instagram with the famous Marilyn Monroe statue out front!

Quick Tip:

If you’re driving to Palm Springs from Los Angeles, stop at Hadley Fruit Orchards in Cabazon for a delicious date shake.

Eat late lunch like a local.

Every time I’m in Palm Springs, I stop at Sherman’s Deli & Bakery. As a former New Yorker, I get excited whenever I find a Jewish deli. And fortunately, Sherman’s doesn’t disappoint. This authentic eatery features quintessential New York-style foods like bagels and lox, hot pastrami sandwiches, knishes and potato latkes. It’s fun to eat old school food in an old school city like Palm Springs, where the mid-century modern architecture makes it feel like you’ve stepped into an entirely different era. Make sure to save room for dessert: Sherman’s cakes and cookies are legendary.

Quick Tip:

After lunch, visit the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — it’s the world’s largest rotating tram car and affords the best views of Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

Courtesy of Birba
Soak in the ambiance during dinner.

Birba has quickly become a go-to spot for me when I’m staying in Palm Springs. This Italian eatery has a wide array of to-die-for pizzas, pastas and salads — my favorites are the tricolore salad and the braised greens pizza. They also have a nice wine list that won’t break the bank. But one of the best things about Birba is the ambience. The gorgeous outdoor patio, with hanging lanterns and tealights, creates an ideal dining atmosphere. I once dined here with a group of fourteen for a bachelorette party dinner, and the restaurant’s staff came up with a special prix-fixe menu just for us! Between the appetizing food, top-notch service and idyllic atmosphere, Birba is a can’t-miss dining experience.

For a more casual atmosphere paired with superb south-of-the-border flavors, l get my fix for Mexican food at Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill. There’s nothing quite like drinking a margarita and eating chips and salsa on a hot Palm Springs night. Honestly, it might just be my favorite activity of all time. The other food at Rio Azul is excellent, too — you’ll be hard pressed to find a better enchilada in the city. The servings here are sizeable, so you’ll likely leave stuffed. Luckily, the restaurant is in downtown Palm Springs, which means you can walk off the meal. Or pop into one of the neighborhood’s ice cream shops for dessert (you’re never too full for ice cream, right?).

Quick Tip:

Palm Springs has a vibrant nightlife. From drag shows to cabarets to casinos, there’s no shortage of entertainment in this lively city.

Stay hydrated and enjoy your vacation!
Courtesy of Bootlegger Tiki

Since Palm Springs is often extremely hot, remember to hydrate. Along with drinking lots of water, try sipping the yummy fruity drinks at Bootlegger Tiki. This classic tiki bar is tiny, intimate and feels like you’re in a bar on a Polynesian island. The beverages are out of this world, too. From the Lost at Sea to the Islay Zombie to the Aztec Warrior (my personal favorite), everyone in your group will find a drink to love. And if you come hungry, you can order a festive and delicious snack.


Quick Tips:

If you visit Palm Springs in the summer, remember it’s the off season and businesses sometimes close for a few months. Check business hours before you plan your trip!


Jeanne L. is a writer living in Los Angeles, California.