Crave, A Modern Dessert Bar
At Crave in Palm Springs, people linger over conversation and desserts paired with wines, coffee, or beer. The 1,000-square-foot dessert house has a clean minimalist look and is the hip spot to connect in the late afternoon or for pre- or post-dinner drinks, artisan desserts, and other delicious edibles. Owner Davy Aker offers a continually evolving wine list, a signature house red and white, corked craft Belgian ales, in addition to Crave’s private-label coffee collection.
Savvy restaurant entrepreneur Tara Lazar, of Birba and Cheeky’s fame, turns out another popular restaurant. Jiao in Palm Springs’ The Corridor boasts a bevy of eclectic Asian tastes as Lazar looks to her grandmother’s Chinese background for cooking techniques and memorable tastes she takes in this fresh culinary direction. The cuisine is light and flavorful, playing up crisp, crunchy freshness with the heat of chilies and spicy oils, and the menu changes frequently with daily specials. Stainless steel dining counter, stark white tiles, a mirror-backed shelf with tea lights, newsprint-papered walls, and a stamped tin ceiling make Jiao an ideal fit for the Palm Springs Uptown Design District vibe.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
Housed in the former Bing Crosby restaurant in Rancho Mirage, The Old Spaghetti Factory (number 42 for the family-owned chain) features a complete remodel with intricately carved wood paneling, black granite-topped bar, and dark wood creating a rich, turn-of-the-19th-century look. A whimsical booth resembling a four-poster bed is one of many fun places to sit. Other notable spaces include a trolley car and luxurious curved booths in red velvet. Try the mizithra cheese featuring Greek hard cheese made from sheep’s milk grated over pasta and drizzled with browned butter. A complete meal includes freshly baked bread; soup or green salad; entrée; coffee, tea, or milk; and spumoni ice cream.
Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine
Inspired by art, culture, and a passion for food, Catalan brings Spanish-influenced cuisine to Rancho Mirage. Examples of this rich, varied cuisine include seared scallops with chanterelles, fava beans, chorizo, and leeks and veal Milanese — a crispy bone-in chop served with arugula, red onions, radicchio, and pecorino with a lemon citronette sauce. Owner Drew Davis trained at Culinary Institute New York and partners with his father in this venture. Davis changes up the menu regularly with seasonally fresh products. Clay walls with splashes of colorful abstract artwork and teakwood window awnings transform Catalan into an artistic, yet understated space.
Richie’s Real American Diner
This bright, family-style restaurant opened its fourth location in the former Marie Callender’s space at Westfield Palm Desert. The group of family-owned and -operated restaurants bases its menu on founders Jack and Linda Williams’ family recipes, ranging from authentic barbecue to home-style pot roasts, pot pies, and bakery items. With a contemporary retro, roadside diner feel, reminiscent of America’s penchant for road trips and regional fare, Richie’s Diner offers expanded seating in two wings, as well as on an outdoor patio where barbecues smoke rib eye steaks, sirloins, filet, Porterhouse steaks, tri-tips, ribs, and chicken.
Crispy duck breast
Blue Orchid Thai Bistro
Enjoy small-plate Thai food at Blue Orchid Thai Bistro on El Paseo in Palm Desert. Refreshing light blue décor, cobalt blue glassware, counter seating and banquette and café tables, and orchids update the former Legacy Chinese spot. An extensive menu includes shrimp and soft-shell crab, pot stickers, satay, summer roll appetizers, Tom Yum soup, larb (meat salad), steamed and pan-fried noodles, curry, and rice served in a way designed for sharing or multiple sampling. Most dishes offer the option of large or small portions.
A bit of elbow grease and a lot of love turned the former Cucina Pasta restaurant into a delightful Palm Desert Italian restaurant owned by Mimmo and Victoria Di Salvo. Sicilian-born chef and restaurateur Di Salvo displays his passion for his native cuisine through sauces, dressings, breads, and desserts. Classic dishes include spaghetti alla Bolognese; veal scaloppine Marsala with mushrooms; linguine alla Isolana with mussels, clams, scallops, and shrimp in marinara sauce; and petrale sole with lemon, capers, and butter. Completely refurbished, the cozy restaurant and bar features artwork by muralist Veronique Branger.
Solano’s, A West Coast Bistro
Solano’s move to Old Town La Quinta doubled the size of its restaurant, while losing none of its charm. Alex Wipf and Executive Chef Paco Solano refurbished the space with new carpeting, plank wood flooring, granite-topped bar, custom cabinetry, freshly painted walls, and hand-painted works by local artists. Appetizers include baked brie loaf and tuna tartare, plus several vegetarian/vegan items, such as quinoa-stuffed acorn squash. The dinner menu features New York steak and roasted half chicken. For lunch, try Chef Paco’s Famous Fish Tacos or Solano’s Kobe cheese burger.
Hamilton’s Sports Bar & Grill
Filling a need, the father-and-son team of William and Aaron Hamilton built a cozy neighborhood bar along a busy stretch of highway where there was none. Hamilton’s Sports Bar on Highway 111 at La Quinta Drive invites locals and visitors in for a beer, a burger, or to catch up on the latest scores. The open dining room features booth and table seating, dark wood, high-top bar tables, and chairs centered around a slate-topped bar where flat screen TVs offer sports viewing.
Favorite foods include the half-pound Angus beef Buddy’s Burger; Hamilton’s half slab baby back ribs, slow-roasted, broiled and basted with Aaron’s special barbecue sauce; and the must-try beer-battered fish and chips, served with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and a lemon wedge.
Enjoy live music Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.