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Dining in Palm Springs

Southern California's sun-drenched oasis serves buzzy cuisine amid swaying palms

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Palm Springs has long been famous for its mid-century modern architecture, sparkling swimming pools, and glamorous Hollywood pedigree. Increasingly, it’s also becoming known for its distinctive dining scene.

The town’s world-class resorts and the Coachella Valley’s agricultural bounty have attracted talented chefs from around the world—sorcerers who specialize in seasonal, farm-fresh fare and creative twists on classic American cuisine.

Al fresco dining is a way of life in Palm Springs, even in the winter. Join the lively crowd at Birba to enjoy modern Italian dishes and cocktails under twinkling string lights, surrounding a cozy fire pit. The expansive, tropical-themed patio is always hopping at The Tropicale—especially at happy hour, when deals abound on international small plates and island-inspired mojitos and martinis. Copley’s, located in the lovely courtyard of Cary Grant’s former guesthouse, features mountain views and contemporary American food.

Palm Springs takes brunch very seriously, and Cheeky's is a local favorite. Where else can you find a “bacon flight” comprised of five pig-a-licious varieties, including harissa and jalapeño? At Norma’s in the Parker Palm Springs, linger over creative Benedicts, fruit-topped pancakes, and morning cocktails on the sunset-hued terrace. Palm Springs meets the South of France at Farm, serving up both sweet and savory crepes.

For a special occasion, head to Workshop Kitchen + Bar in the Uptown Design District, which won a James Beard Award for its starkly modern concrete interior. Fans of the restaurant’s contemporary small plates also flock to the spacious patio to dine under the olive tree, cooled by refreshing misters. Another sleek spot is Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey, where sushi classics and Japanese whiskeys mingle with modern creations like octopus carpaccio and cocktails made with foraged desert herbs.

In a town renowned for its fabulous resorts, it’s only fitting that some of the best restaurants can be found inside hotels. Case in point: 4 Saints, on the rooftop of the The Rowan Palm Springs, is a showcase for modern American cuisine and mountain views. Likewise, the Pink Cabana at Sands Hotel & Spa is an updated take on the tennis and racquet clubs of the 1950s and 1960s, sporting pink-and-green checkered floors, a blush-pink ceiling, and fresh Mediterranean fare. The Colony Club at the Colony Palms Hotel serves old-school favorites in its glamorous art deco dining room or on the breezy poolside patio.

Reservations are often a must in Palm Springs, especially during the busy spring and fall seasons, but Rooster and the Pig takes a walk-ins-only approach. Crowds find that it’s worth the wait for rotating Vietnamese small plates like fresh-rolls stuffed with lemongrass pork and locally grown dates. (Speaking of dates, be sure to try one of the region’s iconic date shakes at Windmill Market.) For more Asian-inspired delights, check out Roly China Fusion—beloved for its house-made dim sum (don’t miss the lobster dumplings) and traditional Chinese fare with a twist, served in a modern, stylish space with clean lines and pops of color.

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