foodie finds

Bites to Fuel Popular Day Hikes

Find these nearby healthy options before or after hitting the trail

Lori Cohen-Sanford Hiking 0 Comments

foodie finds

When the sun is out and the temperatures are cooler, it’s time to head for the hills in Palm Springs.

Explore the many, easily accessible trailheads tucked in the midst of where tourists and locals stay and play. This list of foodie finds near three popular hiking areas will set you off on the right foot to fuel-up a pre or post trek.

• See related story: Find Your Hike in Greater Palm Springs

photo courtesy of palm springs life archives

Tony Riccio offers a variety of salads, pastas (with gluten-free options), sandwiches and mini pizzas.

Bump & Grind Trail, Palm Desert

This is a popular trail for day hikers, easily accessed behind Desert Crossing Shopping Center in Palm Desert located off Highway 111. This moderately strenuous hike is less than 4 miles round trip and an elevation gain up to 750 feet. This trail is ideal for a quick jaunt outdoors, and you can stop for a bite before or after at one of these local restaurants around the area.

La Bella Cucina Trattoria is an unassuming café tucked in amongst some larger chain retail stores in the Desert Crossing Shopping Center. However, this family-owned delight is owned by Tony Riccio and his wife, and the Riccio family has been running restaurants in the Palm Springs area for 40 years. The recipes at La Bella Cucina have been passed down and continue to be made “in-house” in the style of the sign on the front door which states, “Old Fashion Italian Deli.”

As Tony says, “I do Italian comfort food. My snowbirds get off the plane and this is the first place they stop, with luggage still in the car.”

Hikers can stop in for lunch or dinner and select from a variety of salads, pastas (with gluten-free options), sandwiches and mini pizzas. Tony enjoys the loyal base of followers he has earned since opening La Bella Cucina 20 years ago, and will feed hungry hikers healthy options like Minestrone Zuppe made from “nine different fresh vegetables,” and a variety of salads made with organic greens. For those wanting to carbo-load, try one of the pastas with house-made sauces.  
72-355 Highway 111, Palm Desert, 760-836-3280,

photo courtesy of Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Café

A croissant and Cappuccino fit as snugly as a pair of broken-in hiking boots at Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Café, located just down the street from the Bump N Grind Trail, on El Paseo.

Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Café is another hiker-friendly spot with healthy breakfast and lunch options. If caffeine is on your supply list, stop in for a Cappuccino, Latte or French Press coffee. The array of freshly made, French-inspired baked goods will reward your efforts up the hill. Healthy and heartier breakfast options include Bruleed Oatmeal, Granola Parfait or the Josephine Special, a scramble made with egg whites, ground turkey, mushrooms, spinach, onions, and feta.
72990 El Paseo, Ste. 3, Palm Desert, 760-834-8814,

Photo by Lori Cohen-Sanford

Get your greens on and let Carmen Jaco blend your perfect hiking-booster — Carmen’s Organic Fresh Harvest Green Smoothies at the Palm Desert Farmer’s Market.

The Certified Farmers’ Market in Palm Desert runs each Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and coincides with prime-time morning hours for a “Hump-day” hike on the Bump 'N Grind.

Park at the market and beeline straight to Carmen’s Green Smoothies booth for a variety of green blended smoothies made from organic produce sourced from the market vendors. The Green Smoothie has kale, spinach, chard, apples, honey and fresh orange juice and the 16-ounce size is around 200 calories with over 7g of protein. You can also choose from varieties such as Celery-Lime, Citrus-Beet, Tropical, Blueberry-Basil or Blueberry-Avocado.

When you return from your hike, shop the market vendors for locally grown, seasonal, organic produce and grab lunch while you listen to live music. Carmen Jaco also serves up more substantial selections like Huevos Racheros, French Toast with fruit, Potato Taquitos and a Powerhouse sandwich made with Portobello mushrooms, jack cheese, sprouts, guacamole and pico de gallo.
Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce, 72-559 Highway 111,

Indian Canyons Hiking Trails, South Palm Springs

Many hikers flock to Palm Springs to enjoy the unique and varied hiking trails running through the Indian Canyons, located south of downtown. Some trails are no charge, while others are located on Indian land and can be accessed via a tollgate on South Palm Canyon Drive, requiring a fee be paid for the day. Choosing eateries to fuel your hiking adventures is made simple with this no-sweat list.

Photo Courtesy of Appetito

Stop into Appetito for a carbo-loading lunch or post-hike evening refuel meal of the Whole Wheat Pappardelle in Tuscan Tomato Sauce.

Appetito Cal-Italian Eatery is situated within “peeping distance” to the Carl Lykken trail, a popular day hiking trail accessed from a trailhead within a mile or so from the restaurant. Owner, Patrick Service wants hungry hikers to know that the restaurant uses freshly made, “wheat dough to craft beautiful ribbons of pasta for slow burning of complex carbs up the steep incline.”

Appetito also offers fresh salads, Panini, and focaccia-style pizzas in addition to the fresh-made pasta selections, served up in a casual atmosphere with a bar featuring a Negroni selection signature to the valley. Locally brewed craft beer from Coachella Valley Brewing Company is also on tap.
1700 S. Camino Real, Ste. 2, Palm Springs, 760-327-1929,

Photo Courtesy of King’s Highway

The Mahi Mahi Tacos at King’s Highway can be prepared grilled or fried.

King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club is also a great stop for hikers in search of a locally-sourced menu created by the celebrated chef and restaurateur team behind current culinary hotspots in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. With breakfast options like Avocado Toast, Farro Breakfast Bowl, or a Carnitas Breakfast Burrito, you can rest assured that your taste buds will have the kick-start they need to power your feet. If you want to wait until your day exploring the Canyons ends, stop in to enjoy Mahi Tacos or The World Famous Five Leaves Burger. Save room for dessert after a day of exertion well-done, and order the Sticky Date Pudding or the Desert Lime Pie.
701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-969-5789,

Photo by Lori Cohen-Sanford

Chicken Enchiladas are a soul-satisfying selection to satisfy the hunger you work up after a sole-saturated day in the Indian Canyons.

El Mirasol Cocina Mexicana has two locations in Palm Springs, but the at the south end of town is close to the Indian Canyons trail system and a casual spot to stop for a quick Mexican fix. The outdoor seating on the front patio will allow you to soak up the sun just that extra bit longer.

This local favorite is family-run and in operation since 1985. Enjoy traditional Mexican food favorites and margaritas that pack a true punch. Stop in for a chip fix and one of their popular margaritas after your day blazing the trails. But sip slowly, or you may have to walk home!                  
140 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-323-0721,

Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Pines Café is a popular stop for visitors to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway/San Jacinto Mountain Hiking Trails,

North Palm Springs

One of the unique and celebrated attractions in Palm Springs is a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Thousands of visitors annually experience the 10-minute, 2.5-mile ride, which begins at the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 feet) and ends at the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet). Once at Mountain station, you can revel in the stark change in terrain from the desert floor to the woodsy, cooler climes of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. With over 54 miles of trails, this is truly a hiker’s paradise.

Pines Café at Mountain Station is located in the tram station at the top. The casual, cafeteria-style café is ideal for groups and families looking for snacks, a light lunch, or more traditional sit-down dinner meal once they reach the top of the tram ride. Tram admission can be packaged to include the popular Ride-N-Dinner package after 4:30pm, which includes a meal at Pines Café in the pricing of $36 (adults) or $23.50 (kids and seniors). A regular Grab-N-Go lunch menu is available after 11:30 a.m. with options like sandwiches, pizza, salad and soup. .

Photo by Lori Cohen-Sanford

Billy Reed’s Lo-Cal Plate is a no-fuss, classic American-style meal made for the health-conscious hiker or sight-seer craving a ‘home-cooked meal-feel’.

If you prefer to grab a bite on the desert floor pre or après tram ride, a historic stop right on the way out of downtown is Billy Reed’s Restaurant. If you have ever visited Billy Reed’s in the past, you will feel like you stepped back in time, because the restaurant hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1975. The original owners, Billy Reed Garner and his partner, Robbie Lemley, reclaimed operations in the past several years, and continue to serve up American-style, home-cooked and scratch-baked meals and desserts.

Health-conscious menu items geared for outdoor enthusiasts on wheel or on foot include egg white omelets, a veggie burger, veggie wrap, salads and a veggie plate served with a baked potato. A featured item popular with diners looking to fuel-up for a day of outdoor fun is the Low-Cal Plate, which includes choice of grilled chicken, grilled salmon or a beef patty,  served with cottage cheese and fresh fruit.  If you are feeling like you deserve a splurge, try a slice of one of the home-baked pies made from recipes passed down from Billy’s Grandma.
1800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-325-1946,

Lori Cohen-Sanford is a private/personal chef, cooking class instructor and owner of Nourishfoods Organic Meal Services — Tastes Around Town will appear weekly. Follow her on Twitter @nourishfoodsps.

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Leave a Reply