10 Palm Springs Restaurants for Escaping Coachella

Food Lists palm springs

It’s no secret that Coachella has upped the music festival food game by bringing together chefs and breweries from around the U.S. This year, it will feature more than 100 vendors serving everything from tacos and burgers to wood-fired pizza and pad Thai, a Craft Beer Barn and a four-course meal paired with beer and wine. But what do hungry festival goers eat away from the festival? We have your guide. Whether you need to quell a raging hangover with a boozy brunch, chow down on a burger or keep the party going with late-night eats, here are 10 Palm Desert restaurants and bars to check out.

The Vegan: Native Foods Cafe
1775 E Palm Canyon Dr #420; 760-416-0070
The state of California might as well be called the plant-based state. No matter where you go, you’re bound to find excellent meat-free meals. This excellent multi-state chain was actually founded in Palm Springs back in the mid-90s. It offers a large selection of satiating dishes featuring house-made plant-based proteins like tempeh, seitan, “chicken,” “bacon” and cashew cheese set atop salads and bowls or in burger or sandwich form. One of the top picks is the Scorpion burger: blackened tempeh, chipotle sauce, romaine, carrots, red onions and avocado served on a whole wheat bun paired with the fantastic lavender lemonade.

The Hangover Brunch: Cheeky’s Palm Springs
622 N Palm Canyon Dr; 760-327-7595

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Make yourself a roadie before heading over to this brunch hotspot. Hordes line up for a taste of its regularly changing brunch menu, which features creative riffs on classics like hueveos rancheros, benedicts and mint patty waffles paired with fresh juices, aqua frescas and killer morning-appropriate cocktails. The spicy Bloody Mary can get even the most under the weather frat boy back on his feet in no time. Plus, the place has the ideal tonic for soaking up the previous night’s booze, bacon flights. Just $5 gets you a sample of five different styles of marinated smoked porcine goodness such as Guinness beer, jalapeno or Lucky Charms.

The Burgers: Tony’s Burgers
35903 Date Palm Dr, Cathedral City, Calif. 92234; 760-832-7794

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More than 50 burger variations are on the menu at this no-frills Cathedral City strip mall joint. Six-ounce Black Angus chuck patties are topped with all manner of accoutrement, ranging from a simple cheeseburger with special sauce and seven choices of cheese, to the Aloha Burger finished with grilled pineapple, crispy bacon, teriyaki glaze, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and more teriyaki sauce on a regular ‘ole burger bun. If you can take the heat, don’t overlook the spicy options: El Infierno is sure to make your insides burn—let’s just say “a friend” told us about “stomach problems” after eating one. The mouth-scorching sandwich layers crispy bacon, fried serrano chilis, deep-fried onions, habanero relish and ghost pepper jack cheese atop a perfectly cooked patty with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and Sriracha Mayo on a jalapeno-cheese bun. Chicken, veggie and turkey burgers are available, too.

The Late-Night Eats: Lulu California Bistro
200 S Palm Canyon Dr; 760-327-5858

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Set right in the midst of all the action on Palm Canyon Drive, the outdoor patio of Lulu is one of the top places to people-watch in town. It also serves dinner later than most of the restaurants outside of hotels, open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The menu offers a solid selection of California-style American fare with options like pizzas, pastas, chicken piccata, lobster quesadilla and Meatloaf a la Lulu, red-glazed Angus meatloaf topped with choice of tomato or mushroom sauce with mashed red skin potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables. The tower of avocado and Ahi tuna tartare has been a longtime hit.

The Date Shake: Shields Date Garden Indio
80225 CA-111, Indio, Calif. 92201; (760) 347-0996

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A chocolate shake may be the perfect pairing for an In-N-Out Double-Double, but in the Palm Desert one must sample the region’s iconic milkshake. The date shake has long been synonymous with Palm Springs, where date farms are plentiful. Take a drive out to one of the oldest around, Shields Date Garden for a date shake. The old school storefront, operating since 1924, offers traditional date shakes made at an old-time soda fountain. Breakfast and lunch are served at the farm’s onsite cafe.

The Pho: Pho 533
1775 E Palm Canyon Dr #625; 760-778-6595

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Take your pick from more than a half dozen variations of pho at this buzzy Viet-fusion place. Options range from rare steak and brisket, to chicken lemongrass meatballs, to gluten-free vegetarian. Each one is made with slowly simmered broth accented by fresh herbs, shaved white onion, cilantro, scallions and makrut lime leaves. Over the past half-decade, the restaurant has become so popular partners Anh ho Rock and chef Chad Gardner (owner of catering company Dash and Handful) expanded the space with more seating, a new spring roll bar and a separate cocktail bar.

The Tacos: El Taco Asado
440 El Cielo Rd; 760-323-7544

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Find straightforward but impeccably prepared Mexican dishes at this nondescript strip mall spot. Open for more than two decades, this place has long been drawing crowds for its excellent, well-priced entrees and house-specialties like enchiladas suizas, chile rellenos and camarones al ajillo. There’s no going wrong, but the tacos are definitely a must-try. Plates come with three tortillas (soft or hard) piled high with choice of shrimp, chicken, pork, shredded beef, chorizo, goat, beef head, ground beef or buche (pork stomach), served with lettuce, tomato, onions, cilantro, rice and beans.

The Doughnuts: Vienna Donut & Ice Cream
68655 Ramon Rd, Cathedral City, Calif. 92234; 760-321-5855

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Find time-honored and newfangled flavors at this family-run institution. Just as the title implies, Vienna serves doughnuts and ice cream, along with breakfast and lunch sandwiches, smoothies and boba, all at budget-friendly prices. Regulars rave about the maple bacon bar, layered with crisp strips of smoked pork inside and out along with a sweet maple glaze.

The Hotspot: the Rooster and the Pig
356 S Indian Canyon Dr; 92262; 760-832-6691

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Ask a Palm Springs resident where to eat, chef/owner Tai Spendley’s Vietnamese-American concept is bound to come up. The nightly hoards who line up for small plates only reaffirm the local love. While the menu changes regularly, there are some signature mainstays including the banh mi burger, Jasmine tea leaf salad, Fresh off the Boat crispy cod with turmeric and dill as well as a section dedicated to spring rolls. Dishes are matched with a nice selection of wine, sake, a plethora of craft brews and interesting booze-free drinks.

The Happy Hour: Trio Restaurant
707 N Palm Canyon Dr; 760-864-8746

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Swervy orange chairs, aquamarine walls, geometric panels: Trio honors Palm Spring’s full-fledged mid-century glory. That groovy decor paired with solid American fare and cheap drinks, has made it one of the town’s most popular happy hour destinations. Make like Sinatra with $8 Martinis and premium drinks as well as $5 call and $3 well cocktails everyday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even better, the special also includes $5 bar bites.

Sara Ventiera is a roaming eater and traveler who looks for amusing stories across the United States. She works from New York, Los Angeles and various places in between. Her work has appeared in theVillage Voice, New York Daily News, Zagat, FoodNetwork.com and more.

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