The Hot Season in Palm Springs, California
June in Palm Springs is when the desert really starts to heat up, and that means smaller crowds, better travel deals, and the long-anticipated annual restaurant extravaganza. During Palm Springs Restaurant Week, participating restaurants provide a three-course prix fixe menu for $24 or $36.
To get a preview of what’s coming to the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week on June 3-12, I visited a few local favorites during my recent stay at the Riviera Palm Springs resort.
First, about the Riviera. It’s full of light, lavishly decorated, and seems to provide everything so its visitors will never want to leave the premises.
The mirrored hallways, plush guest rooms, and red-glass chandeliers of the Riviera are only rivaled by the excellent service, chic restaurant facilities, and a luxurious freestyle swimming pool surrounded by palm trees. I indulged in scrumptious crème-brulee crepes at the poolside restaurant, Circa 59, one of the Restaurant Week participants. As they say, life is short – eat dessert first.
The Restaurant Week venues
Melvyn’s Restaurant is located in the historic Ingleside Inn, built in 1925. Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Marlon Brando, Barry Manilow, Liza Minelli, Cher, John Travolta, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are among the celebrities who have visited here.
Melvyn’s decadent desserts include the Chocolate Bomb Glace prepared tableside – chocolate and Grand Marnier sauce over vanilla ice cream.
Mister Parker’s is a dark atmospheric dig in Parker Hotel, offering butterscotch pot de crème with candied bacon and a Mini Pie Duo by the pastry chef Chantal Carter. You are in luck if one of the pies is key lime and another banoffee – banana and toffee, made after the chef’s family recipe.
Copley’s on Palm Canyon is a very special place, where chef-owner Andrew Copley makes his own ice cream out of fresh herbs like basil, mint, and tarragon.
Chef Copley also teaches Thursday and Saturday cooking classes, where he explains how to make this kind of ice cream at home, as well as other dishes from his menu.
Kaiser Grille’s French chef, Didier Tsirony, makes wonderful prosciutto-wrapped salad, house-cured salmon, and cabernet-braised short ribs, but when a latte glass appears on the table, beware – it’s a soup of black mussels with goat-cheese foam on top. Drink if you dare.
Johannes Restaurant, owned by Austrian-born chef Johannes Bacher, has wiener schnitzel on its menu along with other European-inspired dishes such as Scottish salmon and escargot.
Jake’s Palm Springs offers the amazing Jake’s Ribs, smothered in pineapple teriyaki sauce, and a watermelon salad with feta, mint, frisee, and fresh lemon vinaigrette. Everything tastes great at Jake’s.
TRIO in the Uptown Design District celebrates the union of food, art, and sound, but let’s not forget cocktails. The list here is very impressive – try the Trio Tini, the Palm Springs Punch, or the Desert Flower to see what I mean. I also enjoyed the wonderful salmon ceviche, scallops with cantaloupe-habanero sauce, and St. Louis-style spare ribs with chipotle rub.
Las Casuelas Terraza, in operation since 1958, serves traditional Mexican cuisine prepared with lots of love, such as the tender and tangy chicken mole.
Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, family-owned since 1977, offers an extensive menu of Italian staples with homemade sauces and breads.
Cheeky’s is a cozy place for breakfast, with outdoor seating, freshly squeezed juices (try the blood orange), house-made yogurt, fancy omelets, and sandwiches.
I also enjoyed my breakfast at Escena Lounge and Grill, located at a scenic golf course with a view of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Peaks Restaurant is at the Mountain Station on San Jacinto Peak, at an elevation of 8,516 feet. The Restaurant Week menu, prepared by Chef Kevin Oakes, features plenty of choices, from sashimi-grade ahi and macadamia-crusted scallops to caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, filet mignon with marsala jus, and panko-crusted rack of lamb with porcini risotto. The desserts also shine, especially the dulce de leche cheesecake.
Click for more info about Palm Springs Restaurant Week.
There are several cool attractions in town to help you survive the midday heat before dinner time.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway brings you from the hot valley to the cool mountaintop – at least 30 refreshing degrees difference in temperature in just 10 minutes. The tram covers more than two and a half miles and five biological zones of Chino Canyon. These are the largest rotating tram cars in the world, and they deliver 360-degree views and a thrilling ride to Mt. San Jacinto State Park with its 54 miles of hiking trails. Did I mention the cheesecake at Peaks Restaurant?
The Palm Springs Art Museum is currently showing Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Don Wexler through May 29; John Baldessari: A Print Retrospective from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation through June 26; and Comic Art Indigéne through September 18.
The Palm Springs Air Museum has the world’s largest collection of flying WWII warplanes, computer flight-simulators, and war-veteran docents.
The Spa at Spa Resort Casino’s signature service is called the Taking of the Waters. It includes steam, sauna, eucalyptus inhalation, a 10-minute soak in a private tub with mineral water, and a visit to the Tranquility Room… and they have springtime spa specials!
All information about what to eat and see in Palm Springs is readily available at:
Palm Springs Visitors Center
2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs