Wally's Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDON HARMAN
Wally’s Desert Turtle
At this swanky dining destination, established in 1978 by Wally Botello (who also founded the famed Velvet Turtle chain), time slows down. Decades later — and now operated by his granddaughter, Madalyn — Wally’s retains the same formal service standards and elevated California cuisine. wallysdesertturtle.com
Known for its chic patio, with tables arranged beneath a canopy of trees and string lights, Lavender Bistro serves new American cuisine — from a seared scallop and pork belly appetizer to prime steaks, a pistachio-crusted rack of lamb, and pan-seared duck breast. Come for a fabulous dining experience and stay for drink specials and live entertainment in the lounge. lavenderbistro.com
The Bistro at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
Contemporary cuisine, including fresh seafood and sushi, premium USDA steaks, chicken, and a “famous” pork chop, pairs with fine wines and handcrafted cocktails at this casino restaurant that enforces a resort-casual dress code. Indoor and outdoor terrace seating is available. fantasyspringsresort.com/project/the-bistro
Set at the historic Palm Springs Tennis Club, an exclusive gathering place since its inception in the 1930s for such celebrities as Katherine Hepburn and Bob Hope, Spencer’s Restaurant is synonymous with the desert’s classic style. The shrimp cocktail, Chilean sea bass, Australian rock lobster tail, center-cut veal chop, and Black Angus filet mignon are dining house favorites. spencersrestaurant.com
Family-run for 28 years, this charming dining spot has garnered a loyal patronage thanks to the team’s keen attention to detail (in the menu and the ambiance) and their generous hospitality. Four intimate dining rooms and a large courtyard set the scene for artful plates spotlighting seasonal ingredients. jilliansfinedining.com
Vicky’s of Santa Fe
Take a break from midcentury modern architecture and head to Vicky’s of Santa Fe, an adobe-style restaurant established in 1989 that’s now operated by Vicky’s nephew, Marc Laliberte. The original five-item menu has expanded in lockstep with the local food scene, but the old-school piano bar and lounge entertainment keep the nostalgic supper club era alive. vickysofsantafe.com
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