persimmmon bistro

The Art of the Bistro

With over 30 years cheffing and managing restaurants for others, Art Vasquez has stepped into the role of co-owner and managing director of Persimmon Bistro at the Palm Springs Art Museum. He’s so happy he’s throwing a party, and you’re invited.

Kay Kudukis Current Digital, Restaurants

persimmmon bistro
Persimmon Bistro hosts a grand opening party June 6 at its location inside the Palm Springs Art Museum.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY COLBY TARSITANO

There are a lot of brand new eateries popping up in Palm Springs, all with different angles, different menus, and different vibes. Persimmon Bistro is not exactly one of those, it’s more “new restaurant adjacent.”

Formerly operating as The Muse, the restaurant has been downstairs, next to the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum for years. But then the owners retired, and the cafe and museum teetered about what it would be in its next incarnation.

That’s when Tristan Gittens stepped in. Already a successful restauranteur, (he owns Frankinbun, which appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) and thought The Muse would make a great French-American bistro.


Persimmon Bistro

Shareable charcuterie boards, tapenade and other olive plates. Baguette sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads, and a carefully crafted selection of California wines and beers.

Location: 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs, 92262; persimmonbistro.com

Prices: Under $20

Details: Parking available on site and across the street, Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Wednesdays.

Recommended dishes: TBD (new menu, so hard to recommend).


The name and menus changed, and the overall look was given a good dusting up with new wallpaper, and a bar. It was open for about a year when Gittens came to the realization that he couldn’t be in two places at one time. He needed someone with the creativity and experience to turn Persimmon Bistro into a destination eatery. Enter Art Vasquez, who has an extensive background in the food industry. Gittens approached Vasquez with an interesting proposition: become co-owner and managing director of Persimmon Bistro.

Vasquez thought it over, did some homework on the menus at the bigger museum bistros (The Guggenheim,The Getty, etc.), saw what they were offering, and finally while sitting in his favorite place, Los Olivos Cafe, on his way up to wine country, he looked around and thought “this is what I want.” He joined forces with Gittens.

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Art Vasquez

As well as being a chef, Vasquez is a former brewer and connoisseur of both beer and wine. He is revamping the food with what he calls a “California wine-driven menu” with wines mostly from Southern California. “It’s an amazing state whether in agriculture, beer or wine,” says Vasquez. “There’s no reason to bring in old world wines where everything is from France, Spain or Italy when we have these amazing products in our own backyard. We have cabernet from Paso Robles, merlot from the Central Coast, chardonnay for Santa Barbara County, and four rosés.” He’s already made a hit with his choices of craft beers, which tend to be fruitier than IPAs, because that’s what patrons seem to gravitate toward.

He plans to expand in the fall with a hoodless, tabletop, conveyor-belt oven for specialty pizzas like ricotta and basil or roasted vegetables topped with arugula and a balsamic drizzle, and also has an eye to future kitchen changes. He’s pretty experienced with barbecue, so we’ll see if he’s going to make that happen, but right now he’s excited about the new park and amphitheater scheduled to open across the street in 2020. He thinks his menu is perfect for a day or evening at the park.

The menu (which will be available June 7) consists of classic, artisan dishes. From shareable charcueterie boards, tapenade and other olive plates to meals like baguette sandwiches and panninis, soups and salads, all created to go well with Vasquez’s selection of California wines and beers.

If you’ve never been, you’ve missed out on a very chill and cozy bistro with jazz playing softly overhead, and beautiful indoor and outdoor seating options. On nice days, make sure to sit outside in the sculpture garden (seats 32) and take advantage of the artwork and the great views. It’s a great place to go after a visit at the museum, or just a spot to go with friends and catch up over wine and shared plates; maybe even stay for a light, early dinner.

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The “California wine-driven menu” will feature wines mostly from Southern California.

Vasquez and Gittens are excited to show off their new menus so they’re throwing a party, and everyone is invited. So clear the calendar from 5-7 p.m. June 6 (come early, or stay later, Thursdays nights from 4-8 p.m. the museum is free) and find out for yourself what this charming bistro is all about.

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For information about future events and collections at the Palm Springs Art Museum, visit psmuseum.org. Check out their upcoming (and free) “Summer of ‘69” movie event.