A list of "old standbys" and new-and-notable spots to visit in Palm Springs, that we recommend to guests of Elrod Villa (a licensed Palm Springs vacation rental—The City of Palm Springs ID #1234). Updated Jan 24, 2018.
Dining Out (Usually, with Drinks)
330 East Amado Road, Palm Springs | +1(760)8661952
Such a great place: Good American/California cuisine, full bar, swanky dining room, a good happy hour, and beautiful big patio for dining.
The Tropicale is another great restaurant for special occasions or anytime - certainly less "fussy" (and less expensive!) than either SoPa or Melvyn's (described below) and really good, consistent food. Beautiful outdoor or indoor seating, good for groups (with a reservation) and we love it for brunch.
If you want a sit down dinner, make reservations. Call them or book on OpenTable.
Tipper's Gourmet (Deli/Catering... Should You Choose to Dine In)
276 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | 1-760-322-6666
Our friends Tim and Arik "tipped" us off (get it?) to Tipper's and introduced us to their friend, owner Felix Tipper. We were doing some poolside entertaining one stay and wanted to have some sandwiches and salads catered... Felix to the rescue! Absolutely delicious, expertly prepared deli foods delivered direct to the Villa. Perfect!
Felix is a delightful person and his deli and catering business are just fantastic. As a friend of Elrod Villa, he offers a 10% discount on orders from Elrod Villa guests. (Just mention code "Elrod Villa" when you call or visit the storefront.) Hey, if you didn't want to cook at all and didn't want to have to leave the villa at anytime during your stay, Felix could fix you up with just about anything you'd need, food-wise.
Tipper's physical location—a cute deli and marketplace—is located near the center of downtown (near the Hyatt Hotel and not far from the Art Museum). Their sandwiches are cleverly named for and/or by Felix's friends. So, the "T&A" in the "BLT&A" stands for "Tim & Arik"... This tickles me to no end.
Melvyn's Restaurant & Lounge
200 West Ramon Road, Palm Springs | +1(760)3252323
The oldest of the old school. If you want a trip back in time to the glamour days of Palm Springs as the vacation destination to the stars, this is it. Fancy dining room (proper attire required), rich old-school American food, a cool bar (with live piano entertainment) decorated with photos of the Rat Pack, Sonny and Cher and other 20th Century celebs partying with proprietor Mel Haber.
The cocktail napkins are emblazoned with a painting of FRANK SINATRA! You're out of your mind if you don't at least pop in here for a drink.
Mind you: The food is not *great*. It's the 1950's idea of fine dining (go check out the menu, you'll see). The service in the dining room can be surly/inattentive. However, if you wanna put on a suit and go chow down on a steak and tableside Ceasar salad, this is the place.
As of this update (Jan 22, 2018), Melvyn's recently came under new management and the restaurant and bar areas got a nice little makeover that makes things *a touch* more contemporary, but leaves all the old school charm. Unfortunately, even with a new chef, the menu is still very old school and I have to say that the execution on the food leaves quite a bit to be desired. So, just as in the past: I highly recommend Melvyn's for a drink or fun in the piano bar, but cannot recommend it as a dining destination. (Your mileage may vary, as in all things!)
The piano bar is fun and the cocktail servers are adorable gals. They make proper cocktails here. Pro tip: Ask your server for a stack of Sinatra cocktail napkins to take as a souvenir and they will deliver.
Alternative: While it's not quite the same level of mid-century throwback, several of our local freinds swear by Mr. Lyons Steakhouse, where apparently the prime rib just can't be beat in terms of quality for the (quite reasonable) price.
2444 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)3201558 | http://deltaco.com/
Yes, this is fast food. Yes, fast food is gross. However, sometimes you've been out at your favorite bars and need some grease to soak things up. This fast food joint's drive thru is open 24 hours a day and is walking distance to the Villa. (Distance wise, that is... There are a couple small areas where there is not, at present, sidewalk all the way between EV and the DT. Do use caution if walking!)
No trip to Palm Springs is complete without making your taxi or Uber driver take you through the drive thru at Del Taco. Proceed to order way more food than you need. Ask for extra "Del Scorcho" sauce packets. Take it back to the Villa and chow down. Wake up in the morning going, "Oh my god, why did I eat all that?"
Pro tip: The "Double Del" cheeseburger is arguably the best fast food cheeseburger (outside of In-N-Out Burger). Yes, it's strange that a taco place has a good cheeseburger, but have one when you're drunk 'n' famished and you shall see.
Azul (also Club Alibi)
369 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)3255533
Azul is one of our "go to" places in Palm Springs. We never drink/dine inside here - it's all about the huge outdoor bar with bar seating, cocktail rounds and swinging booths (they're like big porch swings). In summer months, they have misters going full blast to keep things moderately cool. In winter, they have heat lamps going full blast to keep things moderately warm. Great happy hour specials on snacks. Full menu served at the bar. The food can be a little inconsistent (I don't recommend their nachos or taco salad, for example, too bland), but the flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and such are just fine.
Good mixed crowd of gay/straight. Some really nice bartenders who (like just about everybody in Palm Springs) are happy to chat you up, give you suggestions about things to do, etc.
Azul recently tweaked its menus (simplifying the choices somewhat) and its flatbread pizza is now much more like your standard thin-crust pizza than in the past (and I believe the crust is gluten-free, if that's a thing for you). Pricing is a bit higher than in the past (though perhaps that might be a seasonal thing). Anyway, still a great choice for casual outdoor drinks and dining.
Alibi is the club upstairs. We never go there, but some people like it. Indoors, Azul sometimes has drag shows and other entertainment.
Wang's In the Desert
424 South Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)3259264 |
Sorta fancy sit-down Chinese food. The restaurant is huge and has an interesting bar area. The food's not *great* (just good), but it's a Palm Springs standby that folks will frequently refer you to. And that name... How can you not?
This restaurant was recently the subject of rather a lot of controversy in the city as the restaurant was the site of a fundraiser for a controversial political candidate. The owners claim they did not endorse nor support this person's campaign, but that said controversial candidate simply booked some space there. Welcome to the exciting world of local Palm Springs politics!
Brickworks Bistro (formerly Matchbox Pizza)
155 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)7786000 |
This pizza/Italian restaurant is upstairs in a shopping/dining complex that used to include a lovely steak restaurant ("The Falls," which unfortunately is recently closed). However, Brickworks Bistro is a reasonable substitute if you're in the mood for slightly upscale pizza. They have a well-stocked bar and service is better-than-expected (especially since the restaurant itself is HUGE and it's often quite bustling). It can be busy on some nights and is popular with the "family friendly" crowd.
Out in the courtyard on the street, you'll find a fountain with a sculpture of Sonny Bono. That's cool.
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
800 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)4593451 |
We don't really like this place and don't really recommend it. But here's the thing: Everyone - literally, actually EVERYONE - will tell you to go here and tell you how great it is. So it must be mentioned.
Workshop specializes in "farm to table" California cuisine with innovative recipes made from the freshest ingredients, locally sourced and sustainably raised. It's situated in a cool, modern-industrial looking space and has a full bar with high-end and hard-to-find liquors. Fantastic, sign me up, right?
Unfortunately, we've generally found the service (seated at a table) to be slow and inattentive and find the food is poorly executed, over-priced and, to our minds, unremarkable.
If you must go, I think the best bet is to sit at the bar (which is small and only has a few seats) and eat there if you can. The bartenders seem to be awesome and, since they're situated next to the kitchen, I think service issues are eliminated there. But we haven't tried that. Also, reservations are a must. If you don't want to sit at a communal table or outside, make sure you request a booth at the time of reservation. Even then, you might not get your desired seating.
Your mileage may vary.
1050 EAST PALM CANYON DRIVE, Palm Springs | +1(760)3231858 |
We have just one thing to say about this place, "WOW... JUST WOW!"
Situated in the new and very exclusive L'Horizon Resort and Spa, SOPA is one of the best dining experiences we have had ANYWHERE in the world (and we live in very foodie San Francisco). It's pricey and very California in its portion sizes, but sharing several dishes family style in this beautiful location is a rare treat. Zagat describes it as follows, "The almost all outdoor space features a fire pit, fountains, Lindsey Adelman chandeliers and a mix of intimate and communal tables for small luncheons or group dinners. Chef Giacomo Pettinari, who worked in Michelin-starred kitchens like Fabio Trabocchi’s Floriana in London and El Bulli in Spain, plus Valentino in Santa Monica, creates things like foie gras torchon with preserved black cherries; squid-ink gnocchi with seasonal vegetables; and ricotta and orange blossom gelato." IT IS ALL FANTASTIC.
Bars (Sometimes, with Food)
Toucan's Tiki Lounge
2100 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)4167584 |
This is *not* a Tiki bar. It's a dive bar. And it's a great dive bar. A fave amongst all of our faves. Here's the deal:
Back home in San Francisco, our friends and I hang out at another fantastic dive bar called Vertigo. Vertigo features surly/sassy/friendly bartenders, vaguely Tiki-inspired decor, tall/strong/cheap drinks, has a covered smoking patio (rare in SF!), a random and eclectic clientele, decent-to-great music (depending on the night, bartenders and or DJs in residence) and turns into a DJ disco dance club on weekend nights... And it's less than a half mile walk from our home...
Toucan's is all of those things, but here in the desert. In fact, we call it Vertigo-in-the-Desert. Toucan's is ostensibly a gay bar and they have drag shows and other events on certain nights (check their website), but in truth it attracts a completely mixed crowd.
It used to be kind of dirty and trashy, but it got quite a makeover in recent years, so we can't call it "Trashcans" anymore. It's also easily walkable/stumbleable from the Villa when it's not too hot out (alternatively it's a real real quick cab or Uber ride away).
Tuesday nights they have two-for-one drinks. You know what you're doing on Tuesday night now. You're welcome.
The Tonga Hut
254 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)3224449 |
Tonga Hut is a real Tiki bar that focuses on rum-based cocktails, cool retro Tiki bar decor and they even serve a small menu of tasty pu-pu platter snacks to go with your Mai Tai or Singapore Sling. The menus and some of the decor were designed by lowbrow artist SHAG (see "SHAG: The Store" under Shopping).
It's upstairs and has outside seating on a patio where you can smoke, if you so desire.
The patio/balcony is also a great place to escape from the Thursday night street fair (see entry under "Things to Do") - you can sit up there and people watch.
If you're a fan of midcentury Tiki bar culture, craft cocktails, etc., you'll also want to check out Bootlegger Tiki (see entry for Earnest Coffee under "Coffee").
302 East Arenas Road, Palm Springs | +1(760)3230700 |
Hunters is one of the many bars on Arenas Road, which is sort of Palm Springs's version of the Castro. Though most of the bars in this area are, ostensibly, gay, many of them attract a mixed crowd and Hunters is one of them. If you're looking for a place for DJ dancing, this is a good bet (but see also, Toucan's).
On many nights, I've seen just as many bachelorette parties in here as gays. If you really wanna get your drink on, you can order a rainbow of Jell-o shots (yeah, one of every color) here.
There are many other bars and clubs along Arenas: Other faves of our crew include Chill Bar (which has a great outdoor patio) and Streetbar (pretty much next to Hunters - I think that Streetbar smells like dirty socks, but some of my friends really like chilling on the patio there).
1101 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760) 318-4154
Bootlegger Tiki is a small, but *legit* Tiki bar that serves "craft cocktail" versions of the classic Tiki drinks. Bootlegger Tiki (and its daytime counterpart, Ernest Coffee) are situated on the site of the original Don the Beachcomber tiki bar and restaurant and the proprietors are quite proud of this fact. It's nearby to many other cute and interesting boutiques and shops.
Well worth a stop and it has a nice little covered patio outside where one can enjoy one's drink al fresco!
Coffee (Sometimes, with Liquor)
Koffi North Palm Springs
515 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)4162244 |
Koffi is another indie coffee place in the northern "Uptown Design District" part of downtown. It's in a little complex with a garden out back, and little shops. They roast their own coffee and some folks swear by it.
I put this here not so much because I go there a lot (though I have), but to orient you to this area. There are lots of cool midcentury modern antique shops, design stores, etc. along this stretch of Palm Canyon. Great for exploring.
There's also a Koffi location in the southern part of town, not too far from Smoketree Village shopping center. It seems to be almost constantly busy and is quite the scene. Both locations sell very interesting custom coffee blends, if you're looking for beans or ground coffee with a local flavor!
Ernest Coffee / Bootlegger Tiki
1101 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760) 318 4154 |
This is a really good coffee place on Palm Canyon (again at the North end in the design district) that is close to the Trina Turk / Mr. Turk store (just 1 block south). It's co-located with a true Tiki bar called Bootlegger Tiki (open nights), with a focus on craft cocktails inspired by the classic Tiki drinks. Ernest Coffee/Bootlegger Tiki are situated on the site of the original Don the Beachcomber tiki bar and restaurant and the proprietors are quite proud of this fact.
I really like the coffee here. It's outstanding. When riding my scooter around Palm Springs, I nearly always stop here to fuel up.
Shopping and Browsing
I'm still building out this section... Sorry for the brevity here right now... A couple of our fave places in the Uptown Design District include:
Trina Turk / Mr. Turk
891 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs | (760) 416-2856
Amazing resort, swim, suiting and casual wear for both women and men. We are huge fans of their wonderfully wild patterns and slightly retro styling. This flagship store also has home decor, linens, etc. and other fun Palm Springs-perfect items.
Guests of Elrod Villa can schedule a dedicated shopping/styling appointment here with champagne (should you desire it) and gift-with-purchase. You'll find a postcard with info when you arrive. Of course, you can always simply drop in and tell them that Keith & Jill from Elrod Villa sent you!
Shag: The Store
745 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs | (760) 322-3400
Elrod Villa features several art pieces by the wonderfully whimsical Shag (artist Josh Agle), whose art is heavily inspired by the midcentury style of Palm Springs. This shop and gallery dedicated to his work features prints, originals, and various Shag-designed tchotchkes. It's just super fun and not-to-be-missed!
It's also located near to many other super-cool boutiques, restaurants, etc. in our Uptown Design District.
The Shops at 1345
1345 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Located at the very North end of the Uptown Design District is this midcentry building that houses a variety of antique, home goods, jewelry and fashion brands—very unique stuff by local/regional artisans for the most part. It's almost like a collection of "pop-up" shops. Really unique stuff and quite fun to browse and shop. Since it's not in the very heart of the Design District, it would be easy to miss, but well worth a visit.
Rowan Hotel | H&M | MAC Cosmetics | Starbucks Reserve and More
Intersection of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way
After several years of demolition and development, the very heart of downtown Palm Springs has recently been revitalized by the opening of a combination hotel/retail space where a drab shopping center had been located before. The new site is anchored by the Kimpton Rowan Hotel (which features a rooftop bar with amazing views of the mountains). Retailers that just opened include an H&M clothing store, MAC Cosmetics, and a Starbucks Reserve location.
There are many, many other shops, restaurants and galleries to peruse in this area of course. As you'll notice, nearly all of downtown sidewalks are dotted by metal plaques—the so-called "Palm Springs Walk of Stars"—which honors celebrities, local dignitaries and philanthropists who have contributed to the fame and welfare of Palm Springs over the years.
Related: Every Thursday night, the City of Palm Springs hosts a street fair and Palm Canyon becomes an entire pedestrian mall with food stalls, vendors and other attractions in addition to the permanent shops. See Villagefest under Attractions, below.
1751 N Sunrise Way #1, Palm Springs | (760) 778-6576
Most of our guests want to do at least a little cooking at home. So, you'll need some supplies. While we keep our kitchen pretty well-stocked with spices and other basics, you might want some meat to grill or something, right? This is the closest supermarket to Elrod Villa and where we do most of our grocery shopping when we reside in Palm Springs.
Just across Sunrise from Albertson's is a Walgreens pharmacy, for all of your drugstore type needs, BTW.
7-Eleven Convenience Store
2493 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs | (760) 325-7868
Just across Palm Canyon Drive from the Del Taco, there is a 7-Eleven convenience store. (So, again, even walkable from Elrod Villa, should you desire.) Great for when you might have run out of ice or cigarettes or something like that. (Or perhaps it's hot and you're just dying for a Slurpee?) Open 24 hours!
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs | +1(760)3251391 |
Near us at the North end of town is an aerial tramway. Yep, it's a tram that takes you to the top of the mountain where, due to the elevation, it's many degrees cooler and there's a stunning view of the entire Coachella Valley. It's apparently the world's largest rotating aerial tram and during the gentle ride up mount San Jacinto, the large tram cars rotate to afford you a 360 degree view of your ascent. During winter, there's snow up there (and, during warmer months, the significant temperature drop provides a welcome escape from the Palm Springs heat)!
This is an amazing outing and well worth the adventure—even if you're a little bit cautious about heights. Once at the top, there are several miles of hiking trails and a gorgeous view of the valley.
Buy tickets in advance on the website, because if you just show up, you're in for a long wait. There's dining, a bar, and gift shop, etc. at the top as well. A "must see" experience.
Every Thursday Night: Palm Springs Villagefest Street Fair
Amado and North Palm Canyon, Palm Springs | +1(760)3203781 |
Every Thursday evening, there is a street fair in downtown Palm Springs. It takes place right in the heart of downtown (N Palm Canyon Drive between Amado and Baristo). Lots of different vendors, street food, entertainment, etc. Pretty fun to go mill about with both tourists and locals. When you get bored of it, duck into Tonga Hut or Hair of the Dog (both on Palm Canyon about halfway between Amado and Andreas) for a real cocktail.
Street fair hours are:
October through May 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
June through September 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
It's worth noting that this event messes up traffic downtown because it blocks off several blocks of the main drag. So, if you're out and about on a Thursday evening, be advised!
From the description on their site:
"Every Thursday evening, Downtown Palm Springs transforms into the Palm Springs VillageFest, also known as the Palm Springs Street Fair. At the VillageFest, you will experience a diverse array of artists, artisans, entertainers, and purveyors of fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, jewelry, snacks and sweets. Add all that to the great shops, restaurants, clubs, and entertainment venues located along World Famous Palm Canyon Drive - and the result is one of Southern California's most popular weekly events: VillageFest!"
Palm Springs Art Museum
101 North Museum Drive, Palm Springs | +1(760)3224800 |
It ain't the MOMA, but the building is a really interesting example of modern architecture and the collections and exhibits are quite good. Worth a visit for art and architecture lovers.
Palm Springs Air Museum
745 North Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262 | 760-778-6262 |
A surprisingly interesting and *large* collection of vintage warplanes and other exhibits await at this family-friendly museum. With both indoor and outdoor exhibits, the Air Museum is an interesting diversion at any time of year.
Other Recent Round-Ups of Palm Springs Recommendations
Recently, we've come across several great blog posts with current recommendations for various accommodations, dining and attractions in Palm Springs. All of these are worth checking out!
Visit Palm Springs | Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism Site
The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism is the City’s official destination marketing organization whose focus is to promote the City as a world-class year-round leisure destination. Their site has info on all the major festivals, new things to see and do in Palm Springs and a lot of other useful information. Worth checking out!
Eater LA: 17 Essential Palm Springs Restaurants, Winter 2018
Eater LA has a summary of 17 new (and "old standby") restaurants in Palm Springs to consider. (January, 2018)
What to See, Do and Eat in Palm Springs: The Ultimate Travel Guide
Let's Go To: Palm Springs, California
Thrillist: Where to Drink in Palm Springs this Summer
The Best Of Palm Springs
The Elrod Villa (www.evillapalmsprings.com) is a fabulous vacation rental villa with accommodations for up to six overnight guests—featuring three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a private pool & spa, and amazing mountain views. We offer our guests a luxury vacation rental experience with hosted check-in, a fantastic local property manager, comfy beds, robes, a well-appointed kitchen, beautifully-maintained grounds, and much more! Elrod Villa is a licensed Palm Springs vacation rental. The City of Palm Springs ID #1234.