Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Where to Eat in Palm Springs
- Copley's on Palm Canyon
- Eight4nine Restaurant and Lounge
- 1501 Uptown Gastropub
- Bongo Johnny's
- Where to Eat in Palm Spring Without Kids
- PS Air Bar
- Where to Eat in Palm Springs for Takeout
- Chef Tanya's Kitchen
- 533 Viet Fusion
- Monster Shakes
- More Places to Eat in Palm Springs
- What We Drove to Go to Palm Springs Restaurants
Palm Springs is a foodie delight. A two-hour drive from Los Angeles (without traffic), this Southern California desert city has a broad range of dining experiences, from destination restaurants to quality takeout. Here’s where to eat when visiting Palm Springs.
My husband surprised me in March for my birthday with a trip to Palm Springs. It was really a surprise – my birthday is in January! He took care of the logistics – buying plane tickets in and out of Los Angeles so we could fly nonstop and have quick visits with a couple of Southern California friends. And I dove into planning where to eat in Palm Springs.
Since Palm Springs has so much sunshine, outdoor dining is ideal most of the year. In summer…not so much. The Palm Springs restaurants feature elaborate outdoor patios for al fresco dining. Even the local coffee chain had outdoor seating with live music. A very different breakfast experience than my Brooklyn neighborhood in late winter for sure!
Getting to Palm Springs from LA
A quick note about the drive from LAX. Palm Springs became popular with the Hollywood set because a clause for actors limited them to vacationing within two hours of the studios when they were shooting. Frank Sinatra, Lucy and Desi and Marilyn Monroe all had vacation homes in Palm Springs.
You could technically make the 120 mile drive in two hours. But, on a random Tuesday, with high winds, rainstorms and the inevitable traffic build up, it took us five hours. Going back to Los Angeles, we allowed for four hours and it took under three. Be sure to have plenty of snacks for the road trip. Water too.
TravelingMom Tip: Discover celebrity homes, including the former residences of Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra, by booking this Palm Springs: Legends and Icons Tour.
Where to Eat in Palm Springs
Although foodies from Los Angeles and around the country vacation in Palm Springs, we noticed that even high end restaurants had a casual vibe. There were always vegan and vegetarian options and though the hot spots we sampled didn’t have kids’ menus, they all had small plates that appeal to children.
Almost every place we visited required reservations. We explored Palm Springs during the popular Modernism Week (actually two weeks) when some of the best restaurants had no space, or off times. And outside of summer, really, every time is popular in Palm Springs.
Although prices were often quite high, we discovered one freebie. If you are in downtown Palm Springs, parking is free.
Read More: THE Must-Do in Palm Springs? Ride the Aerial Tramway!
Copley’s on Palm Canyon
621 N Palm Canyon Dr
Copley’s is one of the best restaurants and THE place to eat in Palm Springs if you are celebrating. The former Cary Grant estate was transformed with an elegant dining room and large outdoor patio. There are space heaters and overhead heaters outside if, like me, you forgot that when the sun goes down behind the San Jacinto mountains, the air is quite chilly. There were plenty of families dining in the outdoor patio area. I never even went inside to see what the restaurant looked like.
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The mostly American menu had a vegan tofu entree listed on the menu online, but not at the restaurant. No worries; they made this delicious dish with a mango papaya salad and citrus ginger sauce. My brothers-in-law can usually be counted on to order short ribs or the steak with truffle fries, but they are eating lighter these days. Which meant miso salmon and blackened fish with shrimp.
We also had an excellent salad with beets, poached pear, roasted grapes and warm goat cheese. Warm goat cheese makes everything taste great.
The starters make great choices for children: mac and cheese, (with lobster, but you can leave it off) potstickers or ahi tacos. And homemade ice cream for dessert.
Eight4nine Restaurant and Lounge
849 N Palm Canyon Drive
Eight4nine features New American cuisine with a beautiful outdoor patio. We ate here pre-theater and since it was early, there were families also eating outdoors. Again, I never even went into the restaurant.
We had a fantastic beet carpaccio salad with kale, pomegranate, almonds and cheese. My husband loved the ahi poke bowl with homemade kimchi and I had a delicious cauliflower steak with Calabrian chili. I would return to try the wild mushroom risotto and the intriguing cocktails.
Eight4nine doesn’t have a kids menu but the bar menu has less expensive kid friendly options including a cheese quesadilla, meatballs with roasted garlic Naan and a crispy fried chicken sandwich.
1501 Uptown Gastropub
1501 N Palm Canyon Dr
This eatery had the misfortune of opening just as Covid-19 hit, but by adding takeout and having plenty of outdoor space, 1501 Uptown Gastropub was able to thrive. At lunch my husband I shared spectacular vegan jackfruit crab cakes with coconut milk yogurt and a caprese sandwich with heirloom tomatoes and fresh burrata. My brother-in-law enjoyed his fish and chips and shared his addictive crispy fries. There was also vegan corn chowder and a date and arugula salad.
I wanted to try the cocktails – there are eight gin cocktails on the menu – or local beers on tap, but, day drinking and hiking never mix (Note: we weren’t driving). Kids can have small plates, which include BBQ wings and a kid-friendly strawberry and arugula salad. There is also mac and cheese with lobster and crab.
301 N Palm Canyon Dr Suite 200
Almost the whole menu at the diner Bongo Johnny’s is kid friendly. Breakfast goes till 4pm, with a short stack of French toast for smaller appetites. Burgers come in beef, chicken, turkey, bean or Beyond and there are fish tacos and four kinds of mac and cheese.
We ate here for lunch, and then strolled around downtown Palm Springs. At dinner, kids can try the fish and chips or spaghetti and meatballs.
650 E Tahquitz Canyon Way
We grabbed breakfast at the Palm Springs Central branch of this small local chain. Coffee, of course, was excellent, but kids can have milk or a smoothie. There are decent bagels (not a New York bagel but close) and you can have them with peanut butter.
There are also breakfast sandwiches and delicious pastries. And if you need a quick lunch, they have fresh salads. Everyone eats outside, overlooking the San Jacinto mountains. On the morning we were there, a guitarist entertained us.
Where to Eat in Palm Spring Without Kids
PS Air Bar
611 S Palm Canyon Drive 22
This air travel-themed speakeasy, inside the gourmet food shop Bouschet, serves a boozy prix fixe brunch every Sunday. Seating is in facing airplane seats: ‘first class’ is two seats facing another pair and ‘economy’ is three by three. There is a low table between the rows and flight attendants serve drinks. No free beverages, even if you are seated in first class.
For day drinkers, there is a deli menu of sandwiches and salads. The nighttime bar menu includes a tasty vegan mushroom bolognese and a gourmet pizza with feta cheese, truffle oil and arugula. The drinks menu has aviation themed cocktails: the Aviation; (gin, Luxardo, Creme de Violet) Paper Plane (bourbon, Aperol, amaro) and Red Eye (grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, hibiscus syrup).
Where to Eat in Palm Springs for Takeout
Chef Tanya’s Kitchen
706 S Eugene Rd
Chef Tanya’s Kitchen has vegan deli takeout and a second location in Palm Desert. Our excellent sandwiches included the Pastrami Mami with pastrami, sauerkraut, thousand island, pickle and cheese on rye bread and El Cubano, with seitan, mayo, mustard, cabbage, tomato, pickle and onion on a torpedo roll. My brother-in-law devoured his first ever tempeh burger, a Mexican-inflected burger with chiles, caramelized onions, guacamole and chipotle mayo.
The children’s menu uses plant based cheese in its mac and cheese and grilled cheese. The kid’s cup of guacamole has jicama strips to dip. And no one checks your ID to make sure you have a child with you to eat it.
Chef Tanya’s has a small, well curated grocery store. I wanted to fill my suitcase with the amazing snacks and plant based versions of baked goods, “heat and go” entrees and chocolate.
533 Viet Fusion
1775 E Palm Canyon Dr STE 625
We had takeout from the Vietnamese bistro 533 Viet Fusion. The vegetarian pho had a complex, flavorful broth and the cold soba salad was perfect for lunch the next day – we totally over ordered. We had veggie pad Thai and Japanese eggplant with oyster and cremini mushrooms.
Be sure to get the Vietnamese crepe. It is chock full of veggies or veggies and meat, and is a great way to get children to eat their vegetables. Mine would always eat anything in a crepe. There is also a large variety of kid-friendly spring rolls.
425 S Sunrise Way Suite H-7
Monster Shakes has giant milkshakes and smoothies. The entire menu caters to kids and sugar deprived adults. We came here to sample a date shake, a Coachella Valley specialty that includes dates, vanilla ice cream, salted caramel ice cream and whole milk. It is rich and tasty, but a little goes a long way.
You don’t have to wait to go to Disney for Dole Soft Serve. Monster Shakes has nine flavors of Dole Whip. There are also a couple of vegan ice cream options, as well as frozen yogurt.
More Places to Eat in Palm Springs
With just five full days in Palm Springs, we could not eat at every restaurant we had planned. For next time, these hot spots are high on my list:
- Cheeky’s for homemade pastries and inventive omelets
- Mr. Lyons, a popular steakhouse
- Workshop Kitchen + Bar, which is opening a second location in Los Angeles
- Italian food at Birba
- Tropicale, which has a great happy hour menu with pizzas and small plates.
What We Drove to Go to Palm Springs Restaurants
For driving from LAX to Palm Springs, tooling around Palm Springs and getting takeout, we needed a car. The Mazda CX5 had all the tools for desert driving: heated and cooled seats and a big sun roof for the extremes of temperature we experienced, a smooth ride so our takeout didn’t slosh all over the SUV and plenty of room for four adults or a family of five.
We took a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park and I was impressed with the sporty feel of the Mazda on the winding roads. My husband sat in the back seat and said the ride was smooth. It was also quiet enough for us to play music and chat. And I appreciated the dual climate control since I get cold easily and my brother-in-law likes to blast the AC.
TravelingMom Tip: Explore Joshua Tree National Park with the help of expert guides on this Driving Tour.
We took another day trip to Sunnylands, the former Annenberg Estate, in Rancho Mirage. The gardens are open for free exploration and you can picnic at the benches. Kids are welcome but if you are bringing a stroller, some of the garden paths are uneven. Children would enjoy walking the meditation maze.
TravelingMom Tip: Bring sandwiches from Chef Tanya’s Kitchen.
Note: Mazda loaned me the CX5. Opinions expressed are my own. I paid for my travel and meals and may have gained a few pounds on this trip.