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From swanky hotels and swimming pools to outdoor adventures and many great restaurants, Palm Springs offers something for just about everyone. Situated in California’s Colorado Desert, Palm Springs is an ideal getaway for families, friends, couples and especially foodies.
Knowing the lay of the land is important in Palm Springs, which encompasses nine diverse cities. Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indio, Desert Hot Springs, La Quinta, Indian Wells and Coachella make up the Greater Palm Springs Area.
It’s easy enough to navigate, but can take 30 or more minutes to get to your destination. I recommend choosing an area that’s close to attractions and restaurants you plan to visit.
My recent visit was focused on enjoying resort amenities and the best restaurants in or near Rancho Mirage. In fact, Rancho Mirage’s restaurant row offers a nice selection of diverse dining options, most of them close to the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa, my home away from home during my visit. (Scroll down to read about why I loved the resort so much.)
Here are the restaurants I tried and an extra list of Rancho Mirage restaurants recommended by locals that I didn’t manage to visit, but plan to try on my next trip there.
Don’t-Miss Rancho Mirage Restaurants
From tacos to truffles, takeout to fine dining, I was pleased to find a number of diverse Rancho Mirage restaurants close to the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa, where I stayed on this visit.
Trust me, you’ll never go hungry in Rancho Mirage.
Located in the Westin, Pinzimini serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu favors meat eaters and is a bit pricey.
I don’t eat a lot of meat, so my tough choice was between the two fish options: striped bass for $48 or salmon for $42. I always get salmon so I tried the striped bass. It was a basic white fish, dense but plain. I swapped out the fingerling potatoes for broccolini, a good choice.
I think in an effort to make up for the plain tasting fish, the entree included several competing flavors that were an odd mix of hot and cold. The sautéed escarole and broccolini were tasty and hot. The marinated artichoke hearts and heirloom tomatoes were cold. My tastebuds were confused. There was no fusion. It didn’t taste bad but I would not order it again.
Breakfast was a better experience. A friend and I both enjoyed the omelet station at the brunch buffet along with fruit and yogurt. I would like to have seen more bread and fruit and vegetable options.
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This carnivore’s eatery is in the center of Rancho Mirage, in an area called The River – a 10 minute drive from the Westin golf resort.
Pigs are revered here – bronzed, framed and barbecued. This is the right place to watch a game, let the kids hang out, and of course, to eat delicious barbecue.
This is the place to eat meat and Babe’s set me up with a variety of comfort food. The baby back ribs were tender and tasty, the seasoned corn on the cob kept me fed for two days. The coleslaw is uniquely seasoned and worth a trip back just for that.
I wasn’t a fan of the signature brisket, which is served as a chunk. And, even though the rhubarb pie is homemade and looked gorgeous, it lacked in flavor. My southern tastebuds found the crust to be too pasty.
About a 15-minute drive from the resort, Norma’s Italian Kitchen is a casual Italian eatery on Bob Hope Drive. The menu features traditional dishes such as pizza, sandwiches, and pasta entrees. Dine in (no reservations accepted) or order takeout.
This small, family-style restaurant is located in the Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center in Rancho Mirage.
This fine dining establishment has been a Palm Spring icon for more than 44 years. You can expect good service and an elegant dining experience with fine linen, heavy silver, an extensive wine list and a diverse, quality menu.
Consider starting with items like a French onion soup, Gioia burrata salad and oysters in the half shell.
Entrees include filet of Loch Duart Scottish salmon, free range stuffed chicken and lobster ravioli.
Don’t stop there. Cap off your meal with a dessert, maybe Wally’s souffles or macadamia nut bread pudding.
Live nightly music takes places in the Sahara Lounge.
The website promises the restaurant is “Where dogs bring their humans.” And that pretty much sums it up. The restaurant owners love dogs and built the restaurant to cater to dogs and their humans. It’s a cool place with good food where dogs are welcome — and can order from their own menu!
The doggie menu includes a beef bowl, chicken bowl and a “weeni-tini” of chicken broth, chicken whipped cream and a doggie biscuit crumble. Extra livers, gizzards and kidneys are available on the side.
There was a line to get in to dine on the day I visited. My friend, Joyce, ordered the Spam egg bowl with kimchi, which was delicious. I chose the avocado salmon poke toast and specialty alcohol-free cocktail that was pink. I named it the Pink Poodle.
Fun, hip and a must if you have a dog. Dogs are treated like royalty, but the human must keep the dog on a leash and on the floor. No table dogs allowed.
This is a fun Japanese restaurant with knife-twirling teppanyaki chefs and delicious food prepared at your table. You’ll sit at a U-shaped table with other diners as the chef chops, jokes and interacts with kids and adults alike as he prepares the food.
While waiting, enjoy a yummy exotic cocktail.
Meals include miso soup or salad, a main entree of steak or seafood or both, steamed or fried rice and desert.
A Rancho Mirage staple, Shame on the Moon has been providing fine dining for nearly 40 years.
The menu offers classic dishes with a twist. For example, there’s chicken ravioli with kale, and seared ahi steak with a mango vinaigrette.
Although this restaurant is located about 25 minutes away in Palm Springs, it’s well worth the visit. However, because parking can be a pain, you might consider a car service.
The dining room decor is minimalist French and the vibe is funky cool. My millennial kids would have loved hanging in the bar area for happy hour. The food and cocktail menu is eclectic.
I was sensing a cocktails theme on my restaurant excursions: creative healthy-style, non-alcoholic cocktails, so I tried one. The lemonade cucumber spritzer was refreshing with just the right amount of sweet.
My meal began with 849’s signature clam and wild crab chowder which I found rich in flavor but light in wild crab. I wanted chunks of crab but it was more like shreds. And honestly, the French butter deserved better bread.
My main entree was a delicious sweet and savory roasted cauliflower steak with cauliflower curry hummus, topped with a walnut currant salsa. Adding walnuts for protein is brilliant.
There was a group of young women nearby who were on a girls trip from Seattle so I asked them about their meals. They unanimously agreed their favorite menu item was the cocktails (no surprise!) and that they would definitely come back for the food and outdoor seating.
More Rancho Mirage Restaurants
Since my visit was only a few days, I couldn’t try every Rancho Mirage restaurant. Sadly. But I did ask locals for their recommendations for my next visit.
Here’s what they said:
- Looking for a good steak? You’re in luck. You have several options. Try the Edge Steakhouse in the Ritz Carlton or Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, a favorite with locals and celebrities.
- Enjoy a tasty meal at Catalan Mediterranean Restaurant featuring tapas plates, cheese and charcuterie, and pasta and paella.
- bluEmber is the place to go for classic American cuisine. The swanky restaurant is located in the Omni Rancho Las Palmas resort.
- For a casual dining experience, check out the Acqua California Bistro featuring all day happy hour. Another bistro worth visiting is Si Bon, serving Belgian fare, espresso and a full bar.
- Shabu Shabu Zen offers Japanese hot pot and tapas. The Japanese family-owned restaurant also features a premium sake menu.
As I said, my home base for this visit was the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa. It’s about 12 miles from Main Street in Palm Springs, and a 10-minute drive in the other direction to Rancho Mirage.
The entry is lined with bright pink flowers, and I saw outdoor patio seating and fire pits on the way to registration. I point this out because it set the tone for me before I even made it to the front desk: welcoming, comfortable and elegant but not pretentious.
The property is large, with 512 guest rooms in 16 main buildings. My room was in building 5, which is convenient to the lobby and restaurants. Buildings 10-16 are a 5-10 minute walk from the lobby but closer to the tennis shop, spa and the Las Hadas pool.
The General Manager is the true tone setter at the Westin. I met him as I was leaving my cabana. He was in a suit, pushing a garbage can around the pool, picking up trash.
The son of Italian immigrants, Tom came out of hospitality retirement several years ago to run the resort. I could write a whole story about Tom from his 25-plus years running a successful family restaurant business in New York to his love of dogs. More than one employee told me that they worked at the Westin specifically to work with Tom. His likable personality permeates the atmosphere of the entire place.
Dogs are available to pet, walk, talk to and adopt at the Westin. Tom, the GM, adopted one, who posed for this article.
I did not get to see the adoption center during my visit because all 42 dogs had been adopted.
Locals can enjoy the amenities as golf and/or social club members. I met one retired doctor who lives nearby who confirmed the Westin Rancho Mirage has two terrific courses.
Even though I don’t golf, there was plenty for me to do at the resort.
The spa is gorgeous, with a private pool and lounging area. My masseur, Darius, successfully treated an issue I was having with my hip. I especially liked that I was invited to use the spa amenities the following day since my appointment was at the end of the day.
Bikes are available to rent and there are several pools and restaurants on the property.
The mini-golf area is challenging enough for teens. And for the whole family, there is Pinz and Pints, a giant arcade with three bowling lanes and full bar.
Dive into the Swimming Pools
The resort’s three pools offer quiet space for adults, and fun water activities for kids. The family-friendly Las Brisas pool is lively with a brand new humungous slide that adults and kids were lining up to try. It is just outside the lobby.
There are plenty of lounge chairs, but I recommend reserving a cabana if you have a family or large group. Cabana rentals, ranging from $300-$500/day, offer plenty of seating and amenities. They come with a fridge stocked with water and soft drinks, towels, and a light appetizer.
Movies are also screened here.
The recently renovated, adult-only Las Hadas pool has a spa and bar. And the quiet La Paloma pool has cabanas and a bar.