Whether you're a self-proclaimed foodie or simply appreciate good food, you'll enjoy this one-day guide to the best eats in the desert. Grab your most forgiving pair of pants and get ready to feast.
Chilaquiles — Photo courtesy of Cheeky's
The ultimate foodie day in Palm Springs starts, unquestionably, at Cheeky's in the Uptown Design District. Owner Tara Lazar's ode to simple and unpretentious breakfast foods has quickly become a local favorite since opening in 2008. Don't be put off by the lines this farm fresh restaurant draws - instead, try popping by on a weekday or outside of brunch hours. The menu changes every Wednesday, but regular must-try's include the chilequiles, custard eggs and five-flavor bacon flight, Lazar's fittingly cheeky take on the sampler set.
After breakfast, it's time to start making room for lunch. A walk around the Uptown Design District offers a look at some of the city's best modern and vintage art, antiques and home decor. Work your way south down Palm Canyon Drive to hit the main downtown drag, where galleries are replaced largely by clothing boutiques and restaurants. Spend an hour or two soaking up the epicenter of Palm Springs' uniquely laid back desert vibe, and don't miss landmarks like the Palm Springs Walk of Fame or Lucille Ball statue.
Lunch at Clementine — Photo courtesy of Clementine
When the lunch pangs start to kick in, hop in the car and head east toward Palm Desert. Your destination? Clementine Gourmet Market, a French and Mediterranean-influenced breakfast and lunch restaurant just off of El Paseo. The salad station, pasta bar and pastry case can immediately overwhelm a foodie's senses, but rest easy: you can order the full menu from any counter. Dig into three artisan salads from the bar with the lunch special, or try one of the paninis. Before you go, do yourself a favor and try one of the freshly baked croissants, if there are any left. Pastries by owner Jennifer Douheret, who spent her childhood in Naples, and her French husband Christophe are the real deal.
After lunch, thank yourself for wearing those extra-forgiving pants and head around the corner to El Paseo, Palm Desert's famed shopping district. Give yourself a couple of hours to wander through the boutiques, galleries, shops and street art that fill this Rodeo-esque boulevard, and for a great foodie souvenir, be sure to stop in at Savory Spice Shop. Hundreds of seasonings and spices from salts and peppers to custom blended rubs and line this foodie-friendly boutique.
Spanish Octopus, Harissa, Grilled Lemon & Garbanzo — Photo courtesy of Tinto Palm Springs
As dinner approaches, it's time to weigh your options. Tinto at The Saguaro hotel in South Palm Springs is a Jose Garces concept serving pintxos (small plates) and tintos (red wines) from the Spanish Basque region. As the only Iron Chef-owned restaurant in the valley, Tinto and its shareable plates don't disappoint. If a modern take on classic California cuisine is more your thing, you'd better make reservations at Workshop Kitchen + Bar. Chef-owner Michael Beckman offers plates like octopus carpaccio and buttery sea scallops with squid ink risotto in his concrete cool dining room in Uptown. Like Tinto, everything at Workshop is meant to be shared, from the full roasted chickens to the punch bowls filled with handcrafted cocktails.
If you're the hardcore foodie type, you might even design your own progressive dinner with small plates at both restaurants.
Or, you could drive out to Cathedral City for a fine dining experience that's recently taken the desert by storm. Attorney-turned-restauranteur Joane Garcia-Colson is offering a dining experience unlike any other at DISH Creative Cuisine. Nothing is what you'd expect at this nine-table restaurant, from the donuts served in lieu of bread service and the flavorful one-bite plates, called amouse bouche, served between courses. Palette cleansers take the form of push pops, and signature dishes like the coq at vin come completely deconstructed and reimagined under Garcia-Colson's creative mind.
If you happen to have room for dessert, we tip our hats (and loosen a belt notch) to you. Your final stop? Crave Dessert and Wine Bar, where you can enjoy a sweet treat and a well-deserved nightcap.