We’re officially into the second half of spring, which, in the Coachella Valley, translates to blissful temps, long twilights, and, in turn, evenings that are perfect for alfresco feasts. Here are five superb eateries to consider for your next supper under the stars.
Copley’s on Palm Canyon
May 11 marks the final monthly happy hour cooking class of the season at this contemporary American restaurant, located on a property that once belonged to Cary Grant and was used as the actor’s guesthouse. Co-owner and executive chef Andrew Copley leads a culinary lesson focused on an appetizer or soup along with an entrée from a mirrored chef’s station on the restaurant’s expansive courtyard patio. During the hour-and-15-minute session, guests sip a glass of wine and nosh on hors d’oeuvres (one of which usually stems from what the chef is preparing). And if you can’t tear yourself away when he’s done, you can book a table, stay for dinner, and get 20 percent off your bill.
$35 per person. Reservations required.
621 N. Palm Canyon Drive
The Provençal-style restaurant with its vibrant bougainvillea-flanked, tiled patio is tucked behind the historic La Plaza shopping center in downtown Palm Springs. It’s a lovely space for breakfast and lunch, and it transforms Friday and Saturday evenings, when tables get dressed up with white tablecloths and Peruvian lilies. Strings of white lights, vintage chandeliers, and a flickering fire pit provide mood lighting as a live vocalist croons in the background. The five- course prix fixe menu changes weekly. Seatings are staggered, but owner Liz Ostoich prefers to run her dinners as if she were in Europe, meaning she won’t rush you, insisting, “We plan for everybody to stay all night long.”
$45 per person. Reservations required.
6 La Plaza
the barn kitchen
If you’re wondering what all the buzz is about, snag a seat at one of these family-style dinners, which take place just twice a week at boutique hotel Sparrows Lodge. This time of year, 25 or so guests sit down to supper at a communal farm table under a tree-lined trellis on the idyllic grounds near herb gardens and trickling fountains. Chef Gabriel Woo says he plans to take full advantage of the plethora of produce spring brings. “Vegetables like asparagus and artichokes are in their prime and one of my favorite potatoes, the Yukon Gold, is available for early harvest.” Next up: Look for Sparrows’ new sister property Holiday House to kick off similar dinners at its restaurant, The Pantry.
$45 per person. Reservations required.
1330 E. Palm Canyon Drive
This whimsical supper club prides itself on keeping dinner events shrouded in mystery. Attendees don’t learn the location until the clock strikes midnight the day of and have no idea what’s on the menu until it’s time to eat. Though the date hadn’t been chosen at press time, co-owners Michael Fietsam and Dave Horgen hold a multicourse alfresco dinner every May. “The weather is perfect in May and it’s kind of our last hurrah before we have to take it inside in the summer,” explains Horgen. “We always choose a fun and relaxing spot.” Sign up at PS Underground’s website for details.
A few of chef/owner Andrew Copley’s favorite things: scallops and polenta, ceviche with guacamole and chips, and a roasted beet salad with fried goat cheese.
Dinners: $80 and up. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Various locations. 760-636-8442; www.psunderground.com
cork & fork
There is perhaps no better way to get a crash course in the world of wine than indulging in several different varietals from different vintners … paired with a five-course outdoor dinner under the stars. That’s probably why wine dinners on the courtyard patio at this La Quinta restaurant have become so popular that they’ve started offering them multiple times a month during prime season. Dinners might have a theme or simply showcase chef and owner Andie Hubka’s upscale comfort-fusion fare (from her garlic-and-rosemary-crusted baby lamb chops to her famous wild mushroom soup with Gruyère and truffles). The next courtyard wine dinner takes place May 5.
Wine dinners: $85 and
up. Seats must be purchased in advance.
47875 Caleo Bay Drive, Suite A106