It seems every time you stick your fork into a plate of food, a new restaurant opens in the desert. Never before have we seen such an uprising in the Greater Palm Springs dining scene, with bars, restaurants, and hotels with bars and restaurants popping up before you have a chance to shout, “Check, please!”
Don’t worry about keeping score. We’ve compiled a list of the best new spots to check out, claim your “in the know” status, and then move onto the next slew of new spots about to open.
Grand Central, Palm Springs
Despite a large, loft-like space with dining room, bar, and even an art gallery, this downtown location has an unmistakable energy. Before we get started on the creatively tasty menu from Birba alum Chef Aaron Rogers, you have to give wonder to the details at Grand Central. From the handmade check holders made from vintage books created by owner Rita Capponi to the exclusive “fish bowl” seating where you can dine in the window of the former Desmond’s department store circa 1936, this thoughtful approach to interiors is part of Grand Central’s magic.
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVEN SALISBURY
The Morning BLT includes Nueske bacon, heirloom tomato, lemon arugula, double yoke poached egg and avocado dressing served open faced on grilled sourdough.
The original clock that hangs center in the restaurant “reminds us all to take time out to eat, sip, talk, and enjoy,” Capponi says. Their menu is a metropolitan downtown meets cozy farmhouse menu featuring rise-and-shine favorites like the Morning BLT and Avocado Toast, unique dishes like Savory French Toast made with Parmesan brioche, citrus hollandaise, whipped goat cheese, and breaded poached egg. For lunch, I love the Beet Salad and the Grilled Cauliflower Steak made with a garlic-crusted cauliflower, rich house pomodoro sauce, and sweet potato gnocchi. The full bar creates refreshing, no-fuss cocktails inspired by the down-to-earth, laid back soul of the desert.
VIDEO: Chef Aaron Rogers describes three signature dishes on the menu at Grand Central.
This is the casual sushi restaurant your appetite and wallet have been begging for. With a menu that features prices that will have you checking the calendar (is this 1982?) and entrees that will keep you salivating between chopstick breaks, you’re sure to leave satisfied and a little more heavy-in-the-wallet than expected.
The menu is more like a War and Peace novel of Japanese favorites including sushi rolls, sashimi, teriyaki plates, poke bowls, and ramen. With most items priced at $5 or less, it’s easy to have your own personal sushi party.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY CARTER
Chef Jay Are finalizes the Spider Roll at Happy Sushi, featuring soft shell crab roll with lettuce, avocado, and soy paper topped with eel sauce.
My perfect “pack it on” lunch at Happy Sushi would be the miso soup and edamame for starters, then onto the Spider Roll (the plating of this roll is electrifying), a little seaweed salad, and finish off with a mini chicken curry bowl. The location is perfection inside the Mercado courtyard – so plenty of parking in the lot behind followed by a nice stroll downtown to work off those poke bowls.
Cups Cafe, Palm Desert
A new spot to get your mimosa on, devour pancake stacks, and get jacked up on cold brew coffee. Cups Cafe elevates your brunch game to new levels by offering it everyday. Imagine Peanut Butter Jelly pancakes and Wheat Zucchini Pancakes paired with a Bloody Mary..…on a Tuesday? Order their Mexican favorites like Mexican Benedict, a gluten-free Eggs Benedict served over Potato Chorizo cakes and finished with a béarnaise sauce and a side of refried beans.
The chilaquiles are a customer favorite, especially with that homemade red sauce and sunny side egg on top. Cups Cafe also serves lunch and “dunch” (a dinner/lunch hybrid) offering such dishes as Tamarind Sea Bass and Hawaiian Ahi. I love their unique desserts like Rice Pudding Cheesecake and Homemade Apple Cake. Cups Cafe is a great place to come for a quick after-work glass of wine or sangria with an appetizer before heading home for the day. The fish tacos and crab cakes are great snacks to munch on.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CUPS CAFE
Crab cakes with a Mimosa for color at Cups Cafe.
Sapporo Ramen & Grill,
Their ramen menu is four pages long, for starters. Kimchi Ramen, Soy Sauce Ramen, and Spicy Beef Ramen are just three of the beauties from this ramen pageant. The Soy Sauce Ramen is a tasty Sapporo soy mixed broth soup with added slices of roasted pork, boiled egg, bean sprout, cabbage, bamboo, fish cake, and seaweed. Don’t dismiss the rest of the tantalizing menu. You’ll feel straight outta Tokyo with authentic dishes like Pepper and Salt Squid, Fried Calamari Ball, and Pan-Fried Dumplings. Can’t handle the heat? Sapporo’s cold noodle menu features Japanese Bamboo, Roast Pork Noodle, and Spicy Noodle.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY CARTER
The Spicy Miso Ramen includes miso paste in mixed broth soup with slice roasted pork, boiled egg, bean sprout, bamboo, cabbage, fish cake, and seaweed.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY BEYOND BALISAGE
Beyond Balisage offers three-course organic wine pairing dinners seasonally and wine & meze at the Chef’s table — their small plates happy hour which features exceptional wines and international bites for under $10.
Beyond Balisage, Cathedral City
Veteran chef Daniel Villanueva brings his signature “Earth to Table Cuisine” from catering and private dinners to a full-service restaurant. “I only serve what I eat … fresh, from scratch, free-range, organic, non GMO grass-fed meats and wild fish,” says Villanueva. Menus change weekly based on the availability of ingredients and fresh food sourced directly from local farmers. Some exquisite dishes you could find in any given week include Fig Cake, Spiced Duck Breast, and Lamb Kleftiko, the latter made with fresh herbs, preserved lemons, reasoned garlic, and potatoes. Two things you must check out — their three-course organic wine pairing dinners offered seasonally and their wine & meze at the Chef’s table — their small plates happy hour which features exceptional wines and international bites for under $10. Beyond Balisage is open for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday from 5–10 p.m.