Where to Eat in Palm Springs

This is a post about eating in Palm Springs, with a sprinkling of advice on eating in cities that are not food destinations. I did my research. The highest recommended restaurants in Palm Springs have menus that look about ten years behind San Francisco and entrees that run upwards of $25. We were mostly going for four days of sun— for once, food was not my priority, but a girl still has to eat, and eat well. The plan was to skip the white tablecloths, fill up on the hotel breakfast, bring lots of snacks and fruit, and venture beyond the pool to find good, affordable food whenever we absolutely had to.

The tricky part about finding good food in places where there is no good food, is figuring out who to trust to tell you about finding the good food. For our first big meal we tried the highest rated taco joint on Yelp, El Taco Asado. It was also listed in the LA Times, which I would assume has high standards for tacos, so the food had to be ok, right? Wrong! The tacos were bad, the rice was greasy, and those $4 margaritas are obviously cheap because they’re made with a mix. It felt like that time when I went to a hairdresser after reading tons of great reviews on yelp. Two hours and a terrible haircut later, I realized that the reviews were all mostly written by women with straight hair. I have big, thick, wavy hair. It sure is all relative. With Yelp and LA Times off the list, I looked for recommendations from friends of friends, annoyingly foodie threads on chowhound, and a big red and white sign that read, “voted best in the valley 2009.” It had to mean something.

Where to eat in Palm Springs:
I’d like to retract any previous statements I made about not waiting for brunch. I’ll wait for Cheeky’s. A twenty minute wait for the best brunch in town feels like cheating. Cheeky’s has a perfect mix of fresh, healthy options and just-over-the-top indulgent breakfast plates. They have a kale and acai icee that I was hoping would arrive in the red and blue stripped cup of my childhood, but it came in a glass, and was still fun. Four dollars got us a flight of five bacon strips, each a different flavor. Our favorite was the Thai sweet chile. I never order pancakes because I love homemade pancakes so much, but this stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes was perfect and the fresh corn and blueberries in the batter were an extra treat. We also ordered the eggs benedict with bacon, sauteed arugala, and a homemade cheddar scone that should officially replace the english muffin— everywhere. The service at every Palm Springs establishment besides Cheeky’s was terrible, so we were pleasantly surprised when our host thanked us for our patience and our food came out fast.

Thai Smile
I think there may be two window signs and at least five signs inside this restaurant that say “Best of the Valley 2009.” Please congratulate the host on your way in. We ordered two curries, yellow and green ($11), and they were both solid. Not greasy, good flavor, and stacked with vegetables. They also have chinese food here, which I would rather not know about.

Palm Greens Cafe
greensWhen the waiter asked us if we would like yeast flakes on our caesar salad and tempe with my sauteed greens, I thought my inner Ron Swanson was going to come out and slap him. Still, Palm Greens Cafe delivers exactly what a traveler needs. Their menu is healthy, affordable, and the portions are huge. They have fresh juices, smoothies, and interesting salads. Most of their menu items are things one might make at home— stir fry, roasted vegetables, wraps— but when you’re traveling and eating out all the time, sometimes that’s all you want. After an eight hour drive from the Bay with a stop at In-N-Out Burger and several pounds of Trader Joe’s snacks consumed, all we wanted was vegetables when we got to Palm Springs. The raw caesar (the dinner caesar, not to be confused with the lunch caesar) was amazing, and they added avocado, which is always a plus on any salad for me. We went back once more and were happy again. Must have been those yeast flakes.

Espresso Cielo -CLOSED
Come here for good coffee, cute blue cups, an exceptionally delicious earl gray, and a sunny outdoor patio.

Cheeky’s Most dishes range $9-$11. Menu changes weekly. The same owners also have a pizza restaurant that doesn’t look half bad.
Thai Smile
Palm Greens Cafe

Cheeky’s photo courtesy of Gabriela Casal.