Some of the very best dishes in the desert can be found hidden behind the walls of its sprawling resorts and boutique hotels, where award-winning chefs craft fine seasonal fare amid oasis surrounds. For locals, dining at a hotel can feel like a vacation for the palate, and for visitors, there’s the ultimate comfort and convenience of having great food without ever leaving the resort.
Here, we present eight hotel restaurants to try next time you dine out.
The Edge Steakhouse
The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage
Sited 650 feet above the valley floor, The Edge Steakhouse elevates the entire dining experience — from view to plate. Executive chef Bruno Lopez, a world-class culinary master sprung from the Ritz-Carlton portfolio of hotels, executes a well-curated menu with precision. Think day-boat Atlantic scallops with red-pepper risotto, mojo picón (red-pepper sauce), and parmesan tuiles, or a dish called The Chicken and the Egg, which pairs half of a roasted chicken with creamy polenta, savory mushroom pudding, a fried egg, and fresh truffles. But the main event is the steak. Each tender cut is well pampered in an on-site dry-aging room before Lopez plates it. Top quality — from the filet mignon to the 32-ounce Australian wagyu rib-eye chop — is precisely what you can expect from the gold label in fine dining.
Arrive, Palm Springs
Not all hotel restaurants need be fine. Wexler’s is a laid-back alfresco spot overlooking the swan-floaty-filled pool at Arrive in Palm Springs. A recent Los Angeles transplant (and foodie haven), Wexler’s serves up classic Jewish deli fare with California flair. It’s hard to go wrong with bagels loaded with double-smoked pastrami lox, though vegetarians will prefer The Jewish Girl, made with cream cheese and avocado. The Big Poppa (eggs, chopped pastrami, and cheddar) and Uncle Leo (lox, eggs, and onion) are tasty, too. For lunch, the menu touts traditional Reubens as well as tried-and-true Wexler’s favorites like the MacArthur Park (pastrami, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing). Save room in your calorie count for dessert — the warm mini babka melts in your mouth.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY CARTER
Wexler’s Deli is a modern Jewish deli at the Arrive featuring everything from pastrami and corned beef sandwiches to smoked fish plates for two.
Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs
Executive chef Stephen Wambach serves up bold flavors and artistic plates. His thoughtful dinner menu is a case study in culinary innovation. Entrées range from hamachi crudo with pomegranate, yuzu, celery, and grain mustard to Jurgielewicz duck with spiced squash, red cabbage, spaetzle, and tamarind. Equally divine cocktails marry old-school mixology with bright, modern ingredients: The Camp Randall is made with Basil Hayden’s bourbon, apple juice, cinnamon, sherry, almond, and lemon, while the Italian Secretary blends gin with lemon, amaro, and orange bitters. Not to mention, 4Saints perches on the hotel’s seventh floor, and those stunning mountain views somehow manage to make everything taste even more spectacular.
Colony Palms Hotel, Palm Springs
Once your mouth closes from the shock and awe of the beautifully eclectic interior at the Purple Palm, pull up a chair and ready yourself for an exquisite meal from executive chef Nick Tall. He creates a symphony of fresh California ingredients for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner: brioche French toast with pecans and lemon curd, heirloom beet and burrata salad, and pork belly dumplings with summer peas and ginger. They also have an incredible three-hour “sunset hour,” with discounts on creative cocktails (try the Purple Float, made with vodka, muddled grapes, lemon, and a pinot noir float) and a special appetizer menu (do not overlook the smoked fish dip!). The private dining area, dubbed the Olive Room, is the perfect spot for special-occasion gatherings.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage
The vacation vibes are real at bluEmber, where you can dine alfresco with exemplar Greater Palm Springs views — tables overlook the pool and the palm-tree-lined golf course. Executive chef William Withrow prepares a menu that your entire dinner party will love, including comfort foods like lobster mac ’n’ cheese, meatballs, and crispy Brussels sprouts with a sprinkle of cotija and a pomegranate-chipotle vinaigrette. On the lighter side, the Hawaiian ahi poke with cucumber, mango, ponzu sauce, sesame seeds, and seaweed salad hits the spot. Withrow also recommends the beet and goat cheese salad or the heirloom tomato salad, plated with microgreens, burrata, and pesto and drizzled with balsamic and lemon-infused oil. BluEmber’s bowls are perfect for an easy and filling, all-in-one dinner; go for the Sonoran spiced chicken with quinoa or the Korean barbecue shrimp with bamboo rice.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY CARTER
The Sonoran spiced salmon bowl.
Parker Palm Springs
Get swept away in the wonderland that is the Parker Palm Springs hotel with a Parisian-inspired menu crafted by executive chef Hervé Glin. It’s all served in an opulent, dimly lit salon with a midcentury clublike vibe. Your taste buds will rejoice with hors d’oeuvres like escargots prepared with black garlic or poitrine de porc (seared pork belly served atop cauliflower purée with olive pistou and sour-apple salad). For the main course, feast on le magret de canard (roast duck breast and duck confit with roasted purple cauliflower and a forbidden rice polenta. Pair your meal with a bottle from the expansive wine list, which highlights top Napa Valley producers.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PARKER PALM SPRINGS
The Saumon D’Ecosse at Mister Parkers features Scottish salmon filet, jumbo lump crab, cucumber-herb salad, and Heirloom vegetables.
Morgan’s in the desert
La Quinta Resort & Club, La Quinta
It’s a simple equation. A menu inspired by California, using locally sourced ingredients and flavors native to the Coachella Valley, pairs with traditional cooking methods and the passion of executive chef Andrew Cooper — the result is one of the finest resort restaurants in the desert. Morgan’s, with its cozy dining rooms, fire-lit courtyard, and always fun piano bar tempts diners with an experience that doesn’t stop at the food. But the food is why you’re here, so opt for the Nottingham Ranch lamb saddle, which comes with potato confit, vegetable ratatouille, spinach purée, and sauce Provençal, or the wild-mushroom pappardelle, with a bounty of shiitake and king oyster mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, caramelized shallots, and a delightful truffle cream sauce. Walking through the hidden entrance, trellised with fairy-tale-like bougainvillea, is the perfect way to begin and end a magical evening at Morgan’s.
T&T Innovation Kitchen
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
One of the newest hotel restaurants on the scene is T&T Innovation Kitchen. Only open Friday and Saturday evenings, this intimate concept restaurant features a rotating five-course menu by executive chef Peter Smith that is never the same.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY T&T INNOVATION KITCHEN
Pumpkin Seed Mole with sous vide duck breast.
Two things that stoke the unique dining experience are the unconventional entrance — the restaurant is accessible through the back of the kitchen, nodding to the secret speakeasies of yesteryear — and the creative approach to ingredients and preparation processes, inspired by the name of the restaurant (T&T stands for time and temperature). Smith’s menu features avant-garde cuisine with a global and hyperlocal perspective: Dishes that have appeared previously on rotation include beef tongue and cheek with bone marrow, crackling enoki, and “ugly” vegetables; and wild duck with black garlic, red curry, and kaboocha. The kitchen is wide-open so you can watch the meal prep, and the chef and his team often mingle with guests between courses.