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Casual fare in a desert oasis

This retro resort town known for its midcentury modern style has shed its reputation for steak-and-béarnaise heavy menus in favor of more modern, local cuisine. At Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro, crispy, thin-crust pies are fired up in an authentic wood-fired masonry oven that sizzles at 800-plus degrees for perfectly charred crust. Not in the mood for pizza? Take in the views of Mount San Jacinto and Palm Canyon Drive while you enjoy classically prepared bistro dishes like porcini-rubbed rib eye and wood oven roasted chicken.

Other worth-it destinations include Tinto in the Saguaro Hotel; Iron Chef Jose Garces creates creative tapas warmly rustic and inviting setting—great for a hot night when you want to eat light but eat well. Also consider Essence, the sophisticated restaurant of the swanky Two Bunch Palms resort and spa in Desert Hot Springs. Enjoy the mountain views as French born chef Cossi Houegban present dramatic combinations, such as tempura-fried Blue Lake green beans with crisp lemon and truffle emulsion.