Obviously, when you head out to the desert this weekend for Coachella, it's not uncommon to push thoughts of food to the back of your mind. However, at some point between dancing beneath the scorching sun and swooning over Vampire Weekend, you’ll feel those familiar and primal pangs of hunger and thirst. For exactly those moments, here’s a dining guide to the Palm Springs/Indo area, because fainting in the desert is so passé.
In an effort to not neglect the most important meal of the day, head to Koffi Coffee (the original is on N. Palm Canyon Drive) for the desert’s best coffee and a homemade scones. If you wake up past noon, no judgment it’s the weekend, Koffi serves lunch as well – think panini and a variety of salads.
Speaking of breakfast, the Parker Palm Springs hotel has got your bright and colorful breakfast needs taken care of with Norma’s. Open from 7AM (not that you would be up at this hour but...), Norma’s offers everything from their Chocolate Decadence French Toast to Farm Fresh Eggs with Homestyle Sausage.
A casual yet consistently popular spot for breakfast and lunch is Cheeky’s, also on N. Palm Canyon Drive. With homemade pastries, seasonal, organic food, and, mercifully, a liquor license, Cheeky’s could be your morning hangover cure. When lunch rolls around, Jake’s Ready-To-Eat offers Roasted Beet Salads, Roasted Turkey BLTAs, and a Seared Ahi Tuna Wrap. If you’re still around Sunday morning, head to Jake’s for Sunday brunch.
For a burger make your way to Tyler’s Burgers on S. Indian Canyon Drive. All the classic burgers you would expect are on offer here and they’re done really well. Mix in some solid people watching, especially during Coachella, and Tyler’s is your new hangout.
For a more upscale dining experience, head to Augusta on El Paseo Road. Sit outside or watch through the exhibition kitchen as they prepare your Chilean Sea Bass. You may begin to miss the comforts of city-life (i.e. Nate ‘N Al’s) when you’re sweating it out to the sounds of Dirty Projectors or Phoenix, and when that happens there’s Sherman’s Deli. Or, if you’re craving a cuisine that’s more exotic than its “triple-stacked pastrami,” head to the classic Palm Springs hotel, the Colony Palms. Their Purple Palm restaurant offers Fetoush, Calamari, and an Open-Faced Tuna Nicoise Sandwich and Homemade Falafel.
Anyone who’s anyone knows that 5PM means happy hour time. Palm Springs is no stranger to discounted drinks and snacks in the pre-dinner hours. Café Azul is a casual tapas lounge with a constantly packed happy hour while the Ace Hotel and Swim Club provides a restaurant, the King’s Highway, and an old-timey bar called The Amigo Room. Sidle into one or the other to discover where the cool kids hang out when they’re not listening to the Grizzly Bear.
For dinner, try Zin American Bistro where you’ll find oysters on the half shell, a mouth-watering mac ‘n cheese, and a hangar steak with a side of desert cool. Speaking of cool, the cocktail menu at the Viceroy hotel’s restaurant Citron will keep you hip and happy – try a classic like the Viceroy Sunset, go bold with a Gin & Sin, or embrace the desert and order up a classic Mojito. Their dinner menu, for those of us who don’t just drink dinner, offers Grilled Lamb, Jidori Chicken, and the Viceroy Burger.
What was that you said about margaritas in Rancho Mirage? Did you whisper something about nachos and tostadas? Las Casuelas keeps the Hispanic heritage of the deserts alive with Tortilla Soup, a traditional variety of tacos, and some mean fajitas.
And finally, the 70s are still alive in the desert, especially in a place like Tropicale, where the dinner menu features a Crispy Nori Tuna Roll, Crispy Crab Cakes, and Moroccan Lamb Meatballs. It’s only true that there’s never a time when food could ever completely leave your mind. Understandably, when distracted by the musical stylings of MGMT, though, a ready-made guide of where to refuel can prove incredibly helpful. Additional suggestions always welcome in the comments.
— Nicole Campoy-Leffler