Escape to Palm Springs
This Jose Garces spot at the Saguaro Hotel is a departure from the cool California aesthetic that dominates Palm Springs. Small and dimly lit, it has the feel of a wine cellar—appropriate, given the focus on Spanish wines and Basque tapas like octopus with potatoes and smoked paprika. Tinto pays special attention to Spain’s favorite cocktail, the gin and tonic; service for four comes with a bottle of Distillery 209 gin, Fever Tree tonic water, and lavender and juniper berry garnishes. 1800 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; palmsprings.tintorestaurant.com.
Rooster and the Pig
Located in a strip mall, this new restaurant from chef Tai Spendley is already becoming a cult favorite among locals. Drawing from Spendley’s personal and cultural influences—his mom is Vietnamese, his dad’s American, and he’s lived in Vietnam and on both US coasts—the menu features classic Vietnamese flavors with surprising American touches. The Banh Mi burger, for instance, includes pickled daikon, mint and house mayo. 356 S. Indian Canyon Dr.; roosterandthepig.com.
L’Horizon Palm Springs Resort and Spa
Built in 1952 as a getaway for movie producer Jack Wrather, this 25-room bungalow-style resort has been massively revamped for the Hollywood crowd (and everyone else). The renovation upgraded the interior but left the exterior, designed by iconic Palm Springs architect William F. Cody, more or less untouched. At the restaurant, Sopa, ambitious chef Giacomo Pettinari adds complexity to every dish—pairing burrata, for instance, with roasted butternut squash puree, roasted pistachio oil and watermelon radish chips. Rooms from $605 per night; lhorizonpalmsprings.com.
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
Looking out from a 650-foot bluff over the Coachella Valley, this luxury property reopened in 2014 after a seven-year overhaul. Aiming to maximize the spectacular desert views, outdoor terraces and fireplaces now dot the property. Because Rat Pack experiences are still mandatory in Palm Springs, a steakhouse called The Edge serves prime rib eye or New York bone-in steak; all the meat is dry-aged on-site. Rooms from $199 per night; ritzcarlton.com.
The new spa at the Avalon Hotel features a range of holistic therapies, from the “waning moon” treatment— a full-body exfoliation with salt, charcoal and sage—to a “desert rhythms” massage timed to match the in and out of your breathing. The light-filled spa also offers wellness activities such as yoga and aqualates, while the shop sells clothing, skin-care products and housewares from Kelly Wearstler, one of the hotel’s designers. 415 S. Belardo Rd.; avalonpalmsprings.com/estrellaspa.
Palm Springs is all about midcentury-modern architecture, but Sparrows Lodge has gone after a more rustic look. A recent renovation transformed the 1950s inn into a 20-room lodge with exposed-beam ceilings, russet-red walls and old horse troughs refashioned as tubs. Guests are encouraged to socialize at the fire pit or at the barn turned kitchen, where they can grab a light meal or snack. The restaurant, like the hotel, aims for an experience that is simple but satisfying, with basic sandwiches and salads. Rooms from $149 per night; sparrowslodge.com.
Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki
This hybrid coffee shop and tiki bar has technically only been open since 2014, but its history goes back much further. Located in the space that once housed Don the Beachcomber, it retains vestiges of the famed ’50s-era tiki bar: “We still have an original bamboo tiki column,” says co-owner Jaime Kowal (above left, with co-owner Chris Pardo). Bootlegger opens at 4 p.m., and guests can order drinks that were on the menu six decades ago, like two classic variations on the mai tai—Don the Beachcomber’s and Trader Vic’s—and a modern riff that substitutes Campari for one of the rums. Plus, there’s a rotating list of craft cocktails like Coffee and Cigarettes, a blend of Japanese whiskey, Amaro di Angostura and tobacco bitters. 1101 N. Palm Canyon Dr.; ernestcoffee.com, bootleggertiki.com.
“I’ve always wanted to do a wellness project in Palm Springs,” says Chi Chi owner Tara Lazar, a native of the city and the force behind several of its best restaurants. “I felt that Palm Springs was missing food that matched the purifying quality of this place.” Lazar’s menu at the Avalon Hotel’s restaurant features light, Latin-influenced dishes, made with quinoa, coconut oils and loads of vegetables, to have with coconut iced teas and hibiscus waters. A tent roof covers the open-air space, and tables are adorned with colored ceramic plates, gold flatware, green wood, sea glass and textiles from the “local tie-dye girl.” 415 S. Belardo Rd.; avalonpalmsprings.com.