Dine Like a Local

The Coachella Valley culinary scene serves up more than tasty eats.

Emily Chavous Current Guide, Restaurants

Del Rey’s charred octopus.

Two comic-inspired murals by Phoenix-based artist John “MDMN” Moody greet guests of Trio Restaurant who park in the lot behind the building. The Palm Springs hot spot, opened in 2009 by a Chicago-born transplant who cut his teeth at a pizzeria and later in the nightclub scene, represents the culinary shift of the last decade in the Coachella Valley — a focus on California-fusion food and drink with equal attention paid to interior and exterior design, because architectural details and art matter in this mecca of modernism.

Rewind to the midcentury, and this particular Uptown Design District watering hole was a working bank. When Trio moved in, restaurant owner Tony Marchese and his business partner at the time, Mark Van Laanen, bathed the historic building in their signature color, orange, and decked it with artwork. The menu puts a SoCal spin on Marchese’s Italian and Midwestern roots, and locals pack the place for brunch, lunch, dinner, and late-night drinks. The overall dining experience has resulted in Trio’s recognition by TripAdvisor as being among the top 10 percent of restaurants worldwide, OpenTable as one of the top 100 hot spots in the country, and Yelp users as the No. 2 restaurant in Palm Springs.

Other top-ranked hangouts across the valley are notable for being the former stomping grounds of old Hollywood types, boasting the best valley views, and crafting menus with garden-fresh ingredients grown on-site. These destinations are not merely locations to fuel up — they are where we turn for a strong sense of place, where resort vibes reign, and where every patron is made to feel like a local.

Cocktail Talk

We lunched at Trio Restaurant in Palm Springs with actress Inanna Sarkis, whose film After hit theaters April 12. She’s pictured here with a classic cosmo on the restaurant’s orange-hued front patio. Her entrée of choice? The seared ahi salad. The afternoon continued with poolside piña coladas and flatbread at Villa Royale’s Del Rey bar, where Sarkis dished on her YouTube empire, her new foray into fashion design with a line of fitted tracksuits, and her attraction to playing the villain.

• Read our interview with Inanna, click HERE.



Fashion Editor Amy Lu; beauty by Annie Ing; Gucci dress.

Palm Springs

Notable for: Its midcentury building (a former bank) and epitomizing the colorful Palm Springs aesthetic.

Drink this: Uptown Lemonade with Jim Beam rye whiskey, ginger liqueur, honey simple syrup, and lemonade.

Eat this: Chicken and waffles for brunch, served with maple butter and bacon, or the slow-roasted Yankee pot roast for dinner, plated with sour cream mashed potatoes, pearl onions, and carrots.

Atmosphere: Trendy, friendly, low-key.



Trio Restaurant

Palm Springs

Notable for: Preparing time-honored family recipes, originated in Mazatlán and passed down through generations, for the last 40 years.

Drink this: De Todos Lados tequila flight with Chinaco blanco, Corralejo reposado, and Dulce Vida añejo.

Eat this: Twice-cooked carnitas with tortillas, shredded cabbage, salsa de arbol, guacamole, and ranchero beans.

Atmosphere: Family-friendly, casual, upbeat.

High Bar at the Rowan
Palm Springs

Notable for: Having the best views in Palm Springs from its perch on the seventh-story rooftop deck of the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs hotel.

Drink this: Delayed Flight, a shaken blend of vodka, Aperol, and grapefruit and lemon juices in a highball glass.

Eat this: Lobster sliders with butter-poached Maine lobster, Old Bay seasoning, celery, red onions, tarragon, and a secret Japanese mayo blend served on brioche with bibb lettuce.

Atmosphere: Scenic, poolside, chill.



A cocktail from High Bar at the Rowan.

Palm Springs

Notable for: Its midcentury-meets-modern décor, trendy tapas-style bites, and location at the historic Villa Royale hotel.

Drink this: The Shy Rickey, 
with vodka, celery and lime juices, ginger syrup, ginger beer, and Angostura bitters.

Eat this: Charred octopus served with salsa verde and fried marble potatoes.

Atmosphere: Intimate, throwback, swanky.

La Quinta

Notable for: Launching in 1926 as an exclusive gathering place for Hollywood’s elite and business tycoons; at La Quinta Resort & Club.

Drink this: House-mixed tonic and gin, made with Hendrick’s gin, Wilks & Wilson tonic elixir, and San Pellegrino.

Eat this: Chargrilled Pacific ahi tuna steak with braised local fennel, roasted golden heirloom and Chioggia beets, sumac-spiced California almonds, and Coachella Valley citrus.

Atmosphere: Rustic, upscale, resort.


Indian Wells

Notable for: Using ingredients grown in gardens on-site at its parent Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

Drink this: Gin martini with local gin, grapefruit soda, elderflower liqueur, a rosemary sprig, and lemon peel.

Eat this: Mangalitsa tomahawk pork chops with fig jus, chanterelles, sautéed Brussels sprouts, and garnet yam.

Atmosphere: Spacious, informal, farm-to-table.


Indian Wells

Notable for: A vibrant bar scene that has featured Broadway performers and regular live entertainment on its lounge stage since opening in 1989.

Drink this: The Vickyrita, with Don Julio blanco tequila, Cointreau, sweet and sour, a splash of orange juice, and a Grand Marnier float, served on the rocks with a salted rim.

Eat this: Ten-ounce filet mignon — with your choice of béarnaise sauce, Gorgonzola butter, or peppercorn sauce — and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and pine nuts.

Atmosphere: Southwestern, old-school, country club.


Palm Springs

Notable for: Winning a 2015 James Beard Award for restaurant design and featuring a seasonal, market-driven menu.

Drink this: Pisco punch, a blend of pisco, housemade pineapple shrub, clove, local lemon, and sparkling wine.

Eat this: Duck leg confit with scratch-made merguez sausage, Bloomsdale spinach, young vegetables, and lentils.

Atmosphere: Epicurean, modern, pricey.