Bellatrix overlooks Classic Club, which is a certified bird sanctuary.
PHOTO COURTESY MONOCLE PROJECT
Hang that Vineyard Vines polo back in the closet. Modern country clubs are reinventing themselves with distinct vibes that set them apart (from both their earlier iterations and one another).
Something they all share in common is elevated dining with golf course views. But the rest — whether it’s a luxurious sports bar, robust selection of rare spirits, or an ongoing lineup of live musical entertainment — is uniquely their own.
Bellatrix Restaurant & Wine Bar
Classic Club, Palm Desert
Post 18th hole (or not), grab a table for cocktails, supper, or this restaurant’s ongoing Wine Lunch Series, offered through May. The latter features “menus that truly show the full range of our culinary team,” says Classic Club food and beverage director Anthony Nespoli. A passion for innovative cuisine prepared with local and organic ingredients fuels the culinary offerings, while cocktail selections also change seasonally based on what’s fresh. A Wine Spectator Award reflects Bellatrix’s biggest draw; uncork at the bar or in the main dining room (both cultivate a warm Mediterranean feel) or head to the wraparound patio, where Nespoli notes, the “mountains create stunning backdrops at sunset.”
Ernie’s Bar & Grill
PGA West, La Quinta
For a refined gastropub experience, Ernie’s marries simple, made-from-scratch cuisine with a contemporary twist. Dine indoors or alfresco, where an expansive patio with double fire pits overlooks the fairway and fan palms. A floor-to-ceiling wine wall caters to oenophiles, but beer and cocktail enthusiasts won’t have anything to whine about — delicious options abound on both menus. Dress up or down and make the experience whatever you want it to be.
Appetizers dazzle at The Penney & Parlour.
PHOTO BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING
The Penney & Parlour
Desert Island Country Club, Rancho Mirage
When Miguel Nelson purchased Desert Island, a members-only country club established in 1971, he had a vision: “Make it public and become an intersection for all creative things happening in the desert,” he says of the space he took over a little more than a year ago. Re-imagining the facility with an “unconventional, Wes Anderson” vibe, he’s put the location — comprising 28 acres with a lake — on the map for major events like Modernism Week and Desert X, while also creating a hip dining destination at The Penney & Parlour. The on-site restaurant is part fine dining, part piano bar, where people of all walks mix and mingle. With esteemed chef Jon Butler at the helm, the focus is elevated farm-to-table fare “in the true sense of the term.” The lounge offers rare artisanal spirits for a “discovery bar” experience. A seat on the massive terrace boasts views of the driving range and the Santa Rosas.
Vue Grille & Bar
Indian Wells Golf Resort, Indian Wells
If the term “high-end sports bar” sounds oxymoronic, enter this elevated hot spot, where a refined atmosphere and dining menus (the wagyu burger and California chicken sandwich come highly recommended) complement the game-watching experience. Each TV hooks up to a personal box, allowing patrons to watch any event they wish, says Ben Rodny, the resort’s director of sales and marketing. A new series of events is drumming up more buzz for this clubhouse restaurant: A few times each month, Vines at the Vue partners with a different winery (or brewery, on occasion) to offer a multicourse pairing dinner.
Big Rock Golf & Pub
Indian Springs, Indio
If a German-inspired beer garden and live music top your list for a dining experience, you’ve come to the right rock. This club and course were reenvisioned with a rock ’n’ roll theme when Ken Hanna purchased them in 2016. An indoor dining area, decked in music memorabilia (guitars signed by Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Nicks, among others), also houses the main stage that features regular entertainment. Serving up fresh fare is chef Tyler Nix, “who has elevated our menu to new heights,” says food and beverage director Stephanie McCormack. Upscale gastropub options include smoked buffalo wings, brisket, and a sloppy joe grilled cheese.
Brunch at Escena Lounge & Grill overlooks a water feature and the greens beyond.
PHOTO VIA VISIT GREATER PALM SPRINGS
Escena Lounge & Grill
Escena Golf Club, Palm Springs
Bring Brutus and Daisy to weekend brunch on the pup-friendly patio at this retro grill featuring fresh California fusion cuisine. Bottomless mimosas and Champagne meet breathtaking vistas and a delicious menu of smoked frittatas, breakfast burritos, omelets, Benedicts, pancakes, French toast (drizzled with lemon-honey syrup), and a whole lot more. Not into bubbles? The signature bloody mary is a must. Not into brunch? This scenic stop is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the week.
The Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage
Aptly named for the “casual vibe and relaxed atmosphere” it stokes, Fireside Lounge is all about fun, says marketing manager Andrew Nichtawitz. Thursday through Sunday, enjoy live tunes around the fire pit, along with tasty eats, libations, and views of the 18th hole. (The tuna poke bowl and caliente margarita are a popular pair.) Through the end of March, Fridays serve up a “Hello Weekend Special” where hotel guests get a complimentary sangria, chips and salsa, and tacos for $12.
- READ NEXT: The Case for Country Clubs