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Dining Out in the Desert: Palm Springs' Best Eats

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Jun 23, 2014

Spending the day in Palm Springs, California? EDGE takes a look at some of top picks for breakfast, lunch and dinner in this desert oasis. From the hair of the dog to a perfectly grilled rib-eye steak, you'll find delicious delights at every meal. And remember, whenever you plan a trip to Palm Springs, be sure to check the wide array of resources available at

Smoke Tree Supper Club
Nestled in the Smoketree Plaza, the newly opened Smoke Tree Supper Club is a concept dining experience that should go over big in this desert oasis. The interior of the restaurant is rustic, lined with reclaimed wood walls that hearken more to Brooklyn botes than the posh Palm Springs vibe. But it's what's happening outside that will really get your juices flowing.

Start with appetizers like the spinach artichoke dip or the house hot smoke salmon plate, served with onions and capers. Guests can order a Rib-Eye, New York Strip or fresh salmon fillet, and cook it themselves on the large outdoor grill. Do yourself a favor and try the green peppercorn cream sauce or red wine shallot demi-glace with your meat. Sides include a toothsome array of grilled vegetables, hickory smoked BBQ beans, a sinfully rich mac and cheese, an Iceburg wedge salad and Asiago scalloped potatoes. Wash it all down with an artisanal cocktail like the Jalisco Flower, a mix of tequila, St. Germain, fresh grapefruit juice and champagne. If you're looking for a friendly place where you can get down-home eats cooked your way -- by you - with live entertainment on the patio, look no further than Smoke Tree Supper Club.

1775 E. Palm Canyon Dr. Ste. 405

Pinocchio in the Desert

Start your day in Palm Springs at Pinocchio in the Desert, the de facto downtown eatery for all of your breakfast and lunch needs. For the hair of the pedigreed dog, order their $3.95 bottomless champagne before you choose from breakfast dishes such as their huge, three-egg Greek omelet or the Belgian waffle, served with two eggs, two strips of bacon, and two sausage links for only $8.99.

If you're feeling adventurous, try the Hawaiian buttermilk pancakes, with cashews and coconut. For lunch, the Cobb Salad "Gepetto" is a winner, as is the Tuna Steak Salad "Figaro." Add a cup of soup for only a buck. They're only open til 2 p.m. every day, but if you're looking for a quirky, Fairy Tale-themed upscale diner where everyone is welcome, Pinocchio is the place to go. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying!

134 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way

Lulu California Bistro

Located smack dab in the middle of Palm Springs' most bustling shopping district, Lulu California Bistro is the hot new place to see and be seen. If you're in a hurry, take one of the high-top tables in the back, where you can avail yourself of the bar menu. Better still, wait for a table on the patio, where you can watch the throngs of well-heeled shoppers stroll by while overhead misters gently refresh you.

Start things out with shrimp gazpacho - a tangy, cold tomato soup packed with more than a dozen small, pink shrimp. Stick with the theme and go for the house specialty, the Ahi Tuna Tower, with layers of diced sushi-grade tuna and sliced avocado and a garnish of sprouts on top. Think of it as deconstructed sushi. Guests rave about the wild mushroom soup with white truffle olive oil and sauted tilapia, but entrees can be uneven. A good bet is the three-course Sunday brunch for $19.99, where you can recover from a night out partying in one of the nearby local gay bars.

200 S. Palm Canyon Dr.

El Jefe

Hotel restaurants are the worst... except when they're they best, like the unassuming El Jefe, located in the lobby of the ber-hip Saguaro Palm Springs. This cozy taqueria is decorated with the motorcycle paraphernalia of a mystery biker, including his helmet, saddle bags and assorted petrol cans set up near a partition where you will often find a local performer entertaining the assembled crowd as they dine.

Chef Garces serves up modern Mexican small plates in the style of the "Distrito Federal," backed by an impressive selection of tequilas. Sidle up to the bar or take a seat at the communal high-top tables and order a spicy michelada or specialty margarita while you peruse the menu. Start out with the delicious guacamole with cotija cheese. It will whet your appetite for a threesome of delicious carne asada mini tacos, served with matchstick radishes and microgreens. Another winning trio is the camarones y chorizo tacos, a mix of shrimp, spicy Mexican sausage, refried beans, tomato and radish. The welcoming crowd will make you stay for just one more drink, and the tasty tacos will keep you coming back.

800 E. Palm Canyon Dr.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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