Winter is peak season to dine with the stars, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s Mountain Station — recently restored to architect E. Stewart Williams’ original vision — beckons both nature explorers and diners to the great heights of Mount San Jacinto State Park.
Perched 8,516 feet above the desert cactuses and California fan palms, the station’s Lookout Lounge, Pines Café, and Peaks Restaurant provide unparalleled views of the Coachella Valley, earning the latter a spot on Architectural Digest’s 2017 list of “13 of the World’s Best Cliffside Restaurants.”
This time of year, a ride on the rotating Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers views of Chino Canyon and snow-capped summits. To complement the landscape and winter chill, world-class chef John Fritch has prepared a seasonal menu that’s “heartier, more comfort style,” he says, noting that simple, quality ingredients influence his style of cooking.
Popular starters include his duck confit flatbread (baked with brie, cremini mushrooms, and apricots and drizzled with a balsamic glaze), while entrées like slow-braised pork osso bucco (over potato purée and broccolini) and the Colorado rack of lamb — “bigger than a New Zealand rack and more dramatic on the plate,” Fritch points out — serve up the ultimate comforts.
To really warm your spirits, reserve a seat by the fire and order from the extensive wine and cocktail lists. The Spiced Apple (made with cider and Crown Royal) and Espresso in the Clouds (espresso vodka, cream, and liquor) are a toasty cap to any meal or trail adventure.