Desert Dining: Palm Springs Delights

It’s a good thing there’s no ocean near Palm Springs. After indulging in the great food in and around great Palm Springs, I was happy not to be seen in a swimsuit.

Though I could have done without the immediate return to frigid New York weather. The day after we got home, it was 4 in Brooklyn, and 72 in Palm Springs.

Lexus LX 600
The Lexus LX 600 I drove to our hikes and dinners

We spent a lot of time hiking and even more time eating on our family trip to Palm Springs.

533 Viet Fusion

The Asian fusion 533 Viet Fusion makes all its own sauces and uses local ingredients. There is a kid-pleasing spring roll menu and if you eat inside, you can watch the chefs make the spring rolls.

Ahi nachos at 533 Viet Fusion

We loved the spicy red curry ramen and eggplant cooked in a wok with a balsamic reduction. There was also a delicious yellow curry ramen with lime and coconut milk, not billed as spicy but packing plenty of heat. It had either a vegetarian or a shrimp version. Everyone but me devoured the fresh ahi nachos.


Winter salad at Eight4Nine

Eight4Nine has a huge outdoor patio with plenty of heaters to ward against the nighttime desert chill.

My husband, daughters and I shared all the excellent salads, including beet carpaccio with pomegranate, baby gem Caesar and winter salad with  Asian pear, watercress and frisée.

Cauliflower steak

There were 2 vegetarian main course options and I was thrilled with my vegan roasted cauliflower steak with walnut-caper salsa, curried cauliflower puree, and grilled lemon

The Wildest Time, in Palm Desert

Mushroom ‘scallops’ at Wildest

Wildest, in Palm Desert, had the kind of menu vegetarians dream of. Every dish on the plant based menu sounded amazing, so my daughters and I strategically each ordered a different one and passed plates around.

Appetizers had great vegetarian choices too: even the simple sounding spiced roasted carrots was a winner. We also shared the crispy Brussels sprouts with pomegranate and goat cheese, and the king trumpet calamari with plant-based wasabi aioli that our meat-loving in-laws devoured.

Our entrees included Lion’s Mane ‘crab cakes,’ wild mushroom bourgiugnon, vegetable paella with plant-based chorizo and favorite, king oyster mushroom scallops with pea puree, white beans and broccolini. We over ordered and had plenty to divvy up for lunch the next day.

Del Rey

Keeping warm by the fire at Del Rey

The tapas bar Del Rey is a mostly outdoor restaurant, with the poolside cabanas serving as private dining areas. urs was kitted out with a roaring fire and overhead heaters, but the curtain was ineffective against the blustery wind.

Nevertheless, we had a dinner of small dishes including beets with labneh, asparagus with romesco, bomba: fried potato balls with manchego and chili aioli, Brussels sprouts, of course, with dates, manchego and romesco (hold the chorizo) and a few seafood tapas that I avoided.

The only misstep was the dish we all thought sounded wonderful, grilled flatbread with mushrooms. It was stone cold and tasteless.

The bill was also extremely high since the small plates quickly add up.

Shields Date Garden

Shields Date Garden is approaching its 100th anniversary

I thought Shields Date Garden was just another place to get a rich, thick date shake (date paste, vanilla ice cream and whole milk – take a Lactaid pill!) but it’s so much more. The shakes are delicious and refreshing. We shared a few after our Red Jeep Desert Adventures Eco-Tour of the San Andreas Fault.

We were too late to tour the garden, so if you want to see this, come before 3pm. But we were able to enjoy shopping for great gifts: plenty of dates, of course, date paste, some date ‘sugar’ because why not, and toffee. There are also gift bags of citrus, but my brother-in-law has his own orange and lemon trees, so we were set.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The view from the top of San Jacinto, courtesy of the Tramway ride

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway has a whole host of things you can do: hike around in the cooler weather. It was 24 degrees when we were there and people were sledding and snowshoeing.

There’s also Pines cafe where my brother-in-law, a Texas native, had second lunch, chili that he said was quite tasty.

Peaks, the fine dining restaurant, ha plenty of great sounding options, from the roasted squash salad to the vegan root vegetable curry. There is also a cocktail bar with intriguing drinks and a spectacular view.

Driving Around Palm Springs

Six of us, heading home from a hike, husband in 3rd row of the Lexus

We fit our family of five, plus my brother-in-law and his husband, in the Lexus LX 600 F Sport. The luxury SUV had super comfortable seats, easy folding 2nd row to get passengers into the third row and a roomy luggage area with the third row folded.

My husband rode in the third row with one of my daughters so his much larger brother-in-law could ride up front, and he said it was fine for our mostly quick trips. The longest time he spent back there was the 45 minute drive from Palm Springs to our Jeep tour and he slept both ways, so he must have been comfortable,

I was surprised that I needed the heated seats, but early mornings and evenings were quite cool.

The red area in back of the cup holders is a built in cooler!

And speaking of cool, the Lexus had a surprise built-in cooler which has handy for extra water after a hike and bringing a picnic lunch.

When it warmed up during the day, we opened the large sunroof.

For more on what to do in the area, check out Greater Palm Springs.

Note: Lexus loaned me the LX 600 for a test drive.


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