Oscar's Keeps its Cool, Even When the Temps Rise

Downtown Palm Springs restaurant serves up Californian menu with European flare

(Clockwise from back left) Here are some of the favorites served at Oscar's Cafe and Bar in downtown Palm Springs: Seafood Fra Diavolo Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, Calamari over Linguini in a Spicy Marinara; Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with a Porcini Cream Sauce, and Four-Cheese Phyllo Pastry with Honeydew & Fresh Fennel.

courtesy of Oscar's Cafe & Bar

Desert locals are a hearty bunch.

So even when it’s steaming hot outside, we still love to dine alfresco. Throw up some misters and most of us are good to go.

Oscar’s Cafe & Bar, which opened in March right in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, is ready to accommodate our adventurous souls on a large patio with a lovely fountain and the requisite misters.

“Our food is Californian with a European flare and we make our breads fresh in house,” says manager Christopher McElroy. “Our biggest sellers are our Prosciutto and Fontina-Stuffed Chicken Breast in Scallion Mushroom Sauce, Gorgonzola Stuffed Eggplant Parmagiana, and our Pasta Bolognese in a traditional Italian meat sauce.”

Two of the restaurant’s owners, Jeffrey Schmitz and Gene Switzer, also own a bistro-style bar and restaurant in Kansas City, Kan. Here in Palm Springs, they have partnered with Mike Meier and chef Wayne Smith.

McElroy notes that Chef Smith is known for his New Zealand rack of lamb, which he serves herb crusted in a porcini cream sauce.

Oscar’s offers all of their dinner entrées in two sizes, “small plate” and “entrée portion,” to give people the option of ordering a dish that is on the lighter side.

While there are plenty of dinner options to choose from, Oscar’s also has a large lunch menu.

My friend and I stopped by on a recent afternoon and were impressed with the barbecued pork with sweet caramelized balsamic onions on lightly-toasted ciabatta, and a tasty Tuscan chicken sandwich that arrived artfully composed with pesto and fresh mozzarella atop marinated chicken breast.

The restaurant also has an indoor bar area right off the patio. McElroy says they are in the process of renovating a large indoor dining room that will seat up to 140 people.

While they’re still finalizing the details of the design, it will include the addition of walls to give the room a more intimate feel, along with a new bar that will have seating and a view in to the kitchen.

So if you decide you don’t want to brave the heat after all, Oscar’s will soon have a nice cool table with your name on it.

Oscar’s Cafe & Bar, 125 East Tahquitz Canyon Way #108, Palm Springs, 760-325-1188.

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