10 Best Palm Springs Area Restaurants for a Satisfying Midday Lunch Break
By Marissa Willman
Palm Springs Local Expert
After a morning of exploring Palm Springs’ architecture, shopping on El Paseo or meeting the desert critters at The Living Desert, you’re going to need some serious midday fuel. Luckily, Palm Springs has no shortage of quality lunch restaurants to please even the pickiest of eaters. Serving everything from towering pastrami sandwiches and fresh seafood fillets to classic California fare and fresh hamburgers, the desert’s restaurant scene truly shines at lunchtime.
Locals love Sherman’s Deli, and with locations in both Palm Springs and Palm Desert, there’s no reason you can’t pop into this New York-style diner to try their massive pastrami sandwich, fresh baked cakes and homemade coleslaw. For a classic American dining experience, try Tyler's in Palm Springs. This popular burger stand is only open for five hours a day but is well worth the stop for one of the best burgers in town. In the east valley, you'll want to make a stop at Eureka! for artisan burgers and an impressive selection of craft beer. If you prefer your beef messy and slathered in sauce, Babe's Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse at The River in Rancho Mirage has you covered for mid-day dining. Another solid lunch choice? Acqua Pazza, known for its all-day happy hour that includes food and drink specials that make for a relaxing lunch under the patio misters.
10 Babe's Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse
With a focus on good barbecue and good beer, Babe's is a popular Western-themed restaurant in Rancho Mirage. From St. Louis-style ribs to pulled pork sandwiches, Babe's has you covered on all the barbecue fronts. You'll find pork, beef and chicken options in a variety of finger-licking good styles, as well as homestyle sides like cornbread, coleslaw and sweet potato fries. Don't miss the homemade rhubarb pie, which is made fresh in the kitchen. The bar also focuses heavily on craft beers from the award-winning in-house brewery and from top breweries around the world. Babe's Honey Blonde is one of the most popular beers, while the Blackfin lager pleases more discerning beer palettes. ((760) 346-8738)
9 Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar
Wolfgang Puck has burst onto the desert dining scene with his casual pizza bar concept in the heart of Palm Desert's El Paseo neighborhood. Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar serves a range of Mediterranean- and Italian-inspired pizzas, pastas and entrees with a focus on sustainable sourcing and local ingredients. Everything from salad dressings to simple syrups are made in-house, resulting in the freshest meals possible. Plus, the casual restaurant shares the same ingredients as Wolfgang Puck's high-end Spago restaurant, but without the high price point. Some of the most notable dishes include the San Daniele Prosciutto platter, the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad and Wolfgang's Classic Smoked Salmon Pizza. Best of all? The average check is about $30 per person. ((760) 568-2700)
With a focus on all-natural ingredients, tasty craft beers and small-batch American whiskeys, Eureka! offers a unique dining experience in the heart of Indian Wells. While the name of the game at Eureka! is hamburgers, these aren't your typical fast food burgers. Eureka! burgers feature vegetarian-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef, with artisanal toppings like figs, blue cheese, arugula and charbroiled tri-color peppers. The menu also features fresh salads, sliders and sandwiches, if you aren't in the mood for a burger. Don't miss a chance to wash down your meal with a selection from the restaurant's extensive craft beer and small-batch whiskey menu, which features American-made drinks. ((760) 834-7700)
7 Sherman's Deli and Bakery
If you're spending the day in downtown Palm Springs and looking to recharge over lunch, try this authentic New York-style diner just off of the main strip. Sherman's Deli and Bakery is a Palm Springs institution, beloved for its authentic New York fare and fresh baked pastries. Among the must-tries are the towering pastrami sandwich, the beef and latkes and matzo ball soup. If you have your puppy in tow, feel free to grab a seat on the patio. The friendly servers are ready to make suggestions if you have a hard time choosing between all of the delicious options. (760-325-1199)
6 Clementine Gourmet Market
A longtime local favorite, Clementine Gourmet Market and Cafe is the perfect spot to kick off an inspired day in Palm Desert. This Mediterranean-inspired cafe blends co-owners Christophe and Jennifer Douheret's respective French and Italian upbringings under one orange roof. Locals love breakfast at Clementine, which offers fresh baked breads, gourmet breakfast paninis and indulgent Nutella croissants. The breakfast menu also includes smoked salmon on toasted levain, baked egg ficelle boats and granola parfait cups. Farmhouse tables allow you to meet new friends over coffee, and after breakfast, you can browse the retail area to take home a taste of the Mediterranean. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. everyday except Sundays, when breakfast is served all day. ((760) 834-8814)
5 Acqua Pazza
Acqua Pazza, which literally means "crazy water" in Italian, literally sits on the water at The River in Rancho Mirage. This California bistro boasts the desert's longest happy hour and is a popular lunch spot for shoppers. The lunch menu is extensive, including everything from soup, salad and seafood to pizza, paninis and pasta. Locals know the best deals at Acqua Pazza are on the happy hour menu, which includes favorites like margherita pizza, Kobe beef burgers and Santa Fe paninis at special prices. Enjoy the refreshing misters while you dine under the shaded patio and enjoy the warm desert weather. ((760) 862-9800)
4 Tyler's Burgers
When Tyler's closes seasonally in the summer, local burger lovers can't help but count down the days until this family-owned burger institution reopens. Owner Diana DiAmico grew up around her mom's beachfront hamburger stand, and today, Diana uses her lifelong experience to run a burger joint that locals can't ignore. This old-fashioned hamburger stand sticks mostly to the basics--a few hamburger variations, sandwiches, classic sides like French fries, soup and potato salad, and thick, creamy milkshakes--and only fresh ingredients are used to create a Tyler's burger. Tyler's is open just five hours a day--from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.--so plan your trip accordingly. ((760) 325-2990)
3 Wilma and Frieda's
Nothing will ever compare to the dishes your grandmother used to make for you as a child, whether you were brought up on her top-secret meatloaf recipe or an oh-so-creamy mac and cheese. But you can come dangerously close at Wilma and Frieda's, a Palm Desert breakfast and lunch restaurant that deconstructs classic comfort food dinners to create dishes like griddled meatloaf and eggs and a five-cheese mac and cheese. Serving their own special roast from local java joint Koffi and an impressive presentation of pastries from the in-house pastry chef, Wilma and Frieda's is a must-try when in Palm Desert. (760-773-2807)
2 Jake's Palm Springs
If you're in downtown Palm Springs and looking for fresh lunch options, be sure to stop by Jake's Palm Springs. Named for the owners' beloved West Highland Terrier, this popular restaurant is known for its fresh fare and superior service. The pet-friendly courtyard is also perfect for a leisurely lunch filled with people watching. For a hearty lunch, try the chicken milanese sandwich, a breaded chicken breast served with melted gruyere cheese, greens and dijonaisse on a ciabatta roll. Be sure to check out the custom cocktail menu, too, which includes a cactus pear margarita and Bloody Mary served with horseradish-infused vodka. ((760) 327-4400)
1 Spencer's Restaurant
If you're searching for a lunch restaurant soaked in quintessential Palm Springs style, make a reservation at Spencer's Restaurant. This award-winning restaurant in Palm Springs serves American fare influenced by French and Pacific Rim cuisine, and attracts locals, tourists and celebrities alike. At midday, the express lunch option--served with soup or salad, bread, an entree and pastry, is perfect for a filling midday meal. Other options include a lobster club sandwich, wild mushroom ravioli, an Ahi tuna nicoise salad. Reserve a table on the canopied outdoor patio to enjoy a Palm Springs lunch surrounded by Mount San Jacinto, palm trees and sunshine. (7603273446)
About Marissa Willman
Marissa Willman moved to the Coachella Valley in 2001 and loves discovering the best that the desert has to offer. As a Palm Springs local, Marissa enjoys sharing her knowledge of this desert destination through her travel writing. In a previous life, she worked as an English teacher in South Korea and spent months traveling throughout Asia. Today, Marissa prefers to explore her backyard in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, while occasionally jetsetting as her wanderlust strikes.
Read more about Marissa Willman here.