A trip to sunny Palm Springs is a rite of passage for every sort of traveler: The town’s star-studded history, amazing architecture and—yes—pool parties aplenty, make it a no-brainer for an unforgettable trip. Add to that list a whole slew of fun things to do and some of the best restaurants in the country, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed amazing vacation. Whether you’re renting a house or splurging on one of the area’s top hotels, if you’re not familiar with the little enclave’s restaurant and bar scene, it can be easy to get suckered into dinner or drinks at a tourist trap or sub-par dive. As usual, we’re here to help. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner for your next desert adventure.
Cool off with the best restaurants and bars in Palm Springs
Chef-owner Engin Onural blends traditional Japanese technique with modern global touches, resulting in one of Palm Springs’ hottest—and most genre-bending—dining spots. Sashimi, carpaccios and seasonal goods like squash blossoms may take the form of tostadas, aguachiles or sushi, and are best enjoyed with those cocktails sporting desert-foraged herbs. Looking for something straightforward? There are classic hand rolls and nigiri, too—and Sandfish is also home to one of the area’s best whiskey collections.
This swanky, retro spot feels like the classy steakhouses of yore—the kind we can only imagine must’ve been a hit with Palm Springs natives like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. Mr. Lyons boasts classics like steak frites, prime rib, lobster mac and cheese, tomahawk steaks, wedge salads and burgers, along with lighter, more modern fare like hamachi crudo and beet carpaccio. If you’re just here for drinks, try the well-designed back bar, Seymour’s, which is booze-only.
What was once a historic movie theater in the ’20s is now a stark, concrete space with plush booths, minimal lighting and a spacious courtyard—Workshop is a James Beard Award winner for best restaurant design, after all. It's also an elevated dining experience in the midst of a touristy stretch; the Modern American small plates are made with ingredients from local farms, most of which are within an hour of Palm Springs. Dinner is on the fancy side, but brunch is great, too—try the blue crab eggs Benedict.
Show up early, because this beloved Vietnamese-American spot takes no reservations and almost always draws a crowd. It’s worth the wait, though, with snacky small plates like crispy wood ear mushroom spring rolls and shareables such as lemongrass pork and shrimp rice noodles always rotating to keep things fresher than the mango-stuffed rice paper rolls. Cool down in the desert heat with Vietnamese iced coffee, watermelon crush cocktails and sparkling wines.
Most of Palm Springs’ newer, more elevated restaurants are all about Modern American cuisine, but no one does it more stylishly—or in a more stylish setting—than 4 Saints. The interior of this Rowan Kimpton Hotel spot is sleek and streamlined (even just sitting at the bar is a treat), while the patio is a show-stopper complete with view of the town. California ingredients are all over the place, whether it’s Santa Barbara uni in an apple vinaigrette, or local citrus in the granita at dessert.
This beautifully modern restaurant serves Italian dishes and creative cocktails that you can enjoy beneath a flowering tree and surrounded by romantic string lighting. Though it’s the ideal outdoor dinner date spot in Palm Springs, Birba’s friendly staff and breezy ambiance make it a great choice for family-friendly dining as well. The most popular dish is Nonna’s Meatballs, but Birba has options for everyone’s dietary needs—including cauliflower and gluten-free crusts for the pizzas—and the menu changes every couple months, so every time you visit there’s something new to try.
This gorgeous all-day restaurant at L’Horizon offers dishes with a Middle Eastern flair—we're talking honey mussels with coconut, turmeric and sheaths of yogurt naan; roasted olives with sheep’s milk feta; and Maine scallops in curry sauce—plus a perfect house-made labneh with grilled bread. If you’re looking for upscale outdoor dining (or a great, twinkly-lighted date option), this is your spot.
Cheeky’s is a Palm Springs institution. Yes, there’s always a line, and yes, it’s always a bit of a scene, but this place has been churning out consistently fresh and inventive breakfast and brunch fare for years, and is a favorite of both visitors and locals. The place is known for its drool-worthy bacon flight, custard-style scrambled eggs, fresh-corn pancakes and house-made pastries and sausages—as well as a spicy (and stiff) Bloody Mary.
Sure, we’ve got plenty of Wexler’s in L.A.—between Grand Central Market, SaMo and Century City, you’d think we’d get enough of it here. Not so. Micah Wexler and Michael Kassar brought their smoked-fish temple to Palm Springs, and while their outpost in the Arrive Hotel offers the usual Wexler’s fish platters, bagels, corned beef, and pastrami lox, it’s also got a few unique items not available at all the L.A. spots (hello, brisket, fried trout, and caviar add-ons).
Formerly a Denny’s, this retro-style diner got a makeover from the folks behind Ace Hotel Palm Springs, the hotel to which it’s attached. The menu of solid fare hits the spot whether you’re looking for a full meal (wagyu burgers, fried fish tacos) or a snack (roasted beets, date shakes) between pool lounging and a night on the town. If you’re in town on a Monday, stop by for Fabulous Bingo, or on a Wednesday, drop in for standup comedy.
Tucked into the lovely little Sparrows Lodge, the Barn Kitchen is a casual American eatery that now offers à la carte lunch and family-style suppers to the public—a boon to visitors, considering you used to need a reservation at the hotel just to dine here. Choose from easy-but-elevated options like smoked salmon spread, the avocado toast, the burger or a fruit-and-burrata plate, then dine at the communal table or in an oversized outdoor patio chair, for best results. This place feels like a true hidden oasis, away from the bustle of downtown and perfect for relaxing with a cold drink on triple-digit days.
Believe it: There’s a full-service kosher deli in the middle of the desert. Wexler's may be an exciting new addition to the scene, but Sherman's is the PS OG, serving all the traditional favorites, including thick-cut pastrami and a matzo ball soup so good you’ll be tempted to order it on 90-degree days. There’s always a line, and unlucky ones will have to wait outside in the sun, so try to hit this spot early in the morning or just before closing.
This stylish spot in the Colony Palms Hotel sports California dishes that almost always incorporate the freshest of organic veggies. Lounge poolside on the patio as you snack on black bean burgers, seared sea scallops and roasted cauliflower, all while sipping on sangria, spritzes and barrel-aged cocktails. Looking to drink with a side of golden desert light? Stop by from 3 to 6pm for Purple Palm's Sunset Hour, where you'll find $5 draft beers, $10 highballs, $12 specialty cocktails and a handful of shareable plates for a portion of the price.
More of the best in Palm Springs
While many will spend their weekend simply lounging by hotel pools, there are plenty of other things to do in Palm Springs. Seasonally, it becomes the epicenter of cool during Coachella and hosts highlights like the design-focused Modernism Week and the quirky Christmas light display Robolights. Ready to explore?
You won’t find a single property on our list of best hotels in Palm Springs that doesn’t have a pool—with the dazzling sun overhead and mountain views all around, spending time poolside is practically a requirement for travelers who make their way out to this colorful, spirited town.