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Palm Springs Cuisine Scene: Latest Places to Dine in the Desert

Desert playgrounds of the Coachella Velley beckon attendees of the upcoming Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival, getting under way Jan. 3. Veteran festgoers will notice some changes around town: the Hard Rock Hotel is again the Hotel Zoso, the Camelot Theaters now function under the auspices of the Palm Springs Cultural Center and there are 10, 8-foot-tall mega-sized, Instagram-ready babies (a politically tinged art work by Czech artist David Cerny) crawling in a construction pit close to the Palm Springs Art Museum. At select festival venues and events, knock back locally made beer from Rancho Mirage’s Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewery, owned by Donald “Lucky” Callender, grandson of the famed restaurateur. Here’s where to drink up, dine out and stay during the 30th PSIFF, or Modernism Week and the second outing of the site-specific art exhibition Desert X in February.

BREAKFAST
Next level comfort food
Wilma & Frieda, Palm Springs
Churro waffles, home-made Pop Tarts and biscuits, shrimp with cheese grits, these are some of the decadent dishes to choose from at Wilma & Frieda. The Palm Desert restaurant officially opened a second location in late November, serving its crowd-pleasing breakfast specialties along with creative sandwiches, upscale burgers and even richer desserts. The new eatery is on the second floor above the plaza where former mayor (and early advocate of PSIFF) Sonny Bono’s statue is located. 155 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, wilmafrieda.com

BRUNCH
Contempo deli
Wexler’s @ Arrive Palm Springs Palm Springs’ uptown design district now has a taste of traditional Jewish deli food via Micah Wexler & team’s takeover of the former Reservoir restaurant space poolside at the 32-room Arrive hotel. Smoked fish, pastrami, pastrami bacon (slices of refried seasoned pastrami) and other smoked meats are featured; all are smoked or cured in-house and hand-cut. The array of house specialty cocktails, including the boozy snow cones, is meant to evoke a pool-party vibe 365 days a year. 1551 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, wexlersdeli.com

LUNCH
Haute Med
Evzin Mediterranean restaurant
John and Maria Tsoutis’ pan-Mediterranean restaurant, Evzin (another Palm Desert export) sits at the entrance to the Caliente Tropics hotel. The spare dining room is a pleasant backdrop for the duo’s fresh take on a mix of Greek, Spanish and Moroccan cuisine. A trio of spreads (grilled eggplant, garlic hummus and tzatziki) is served with pliable and warm pita bread. Hearty salads, lamb burgers and shawarma-style chicken are just some of the choices at this appealing newcomer; open daily for lunch and dinner. Spanish, Greek and Italian wines complement the fare. 411 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, evzincuisine.com

QUICK BITE
Chic counter service
Juniper Table
The ground-floor restaurant at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs hotel is just off the main intersection of Tahquitz and Palm Canyon Drive. Weather permitting — and it almost always does in the desert city — sit outside for a breakfast pastry and espresso drink, lunch on a date and broccoli salad or the picture-perfect avocado flatbread. The casual morning-to-night cafe (open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily) is a convenient refreshment stop between the Regal Cinemas and the Palm Springs Art Museum PSIFF venues. 100 W. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, junipertable.com

HAPPY HOUR
Tacos and tequila
El Jefe, Saguaro Hotel
Taco Tuesday is celebrated both Tuesdays and Thursdays at the colorful Saguaro hotel’s cantina El Jefe. The recent lobby redo added even more zing to the already multi-hued 244-room property. A promised new deck will add plenty of outside seating to El Jefe — ideal for taking in mountain views, snacking on carrot and short rib tacos and imbibing potent margaritas. 1800 Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, the saguaro.com

DINNER
Super stylish
Del Rey, Villa Royale
The Del Rey restaurant and bar is hidden within the hideaway 31-room Villa Royale. Completely renovated in 2018, the adults-
only, pet friendly boutique property is a connection of shaded courtyards and passageways outfitted with vibrant murals and graphic tiles, cozy cabana lounges and lush greenery. Each room is unique and decorated with mid-century modern style furniture and contemporary amenities like hi-fi speakers and original oil paintings of film stars (Dennis Hopper) and musicians (Debbie Harry). Del Rey’s dark interiors and moody lighting set the place for the tapas-style menu of Mediterranean-influenced dishes from charred octopus to grilled lamb. Expert cocktails come from Portland’s Lightning Bar Collective, which oversees the hotel’s food and drinks. 1620 S. Indian Trail, Palm Springs, villaroyale.com

OVERNIGHT
Polished stay
Hotel Paseo, Palm Desert
It’s cool inside the recently opened Hotel Paseo year-round. Making it so: sleek marble floors in the lobby, works by local artists throughout, a fun event deck with a refurbished 1950 Airstream trailer and the soothing grays and blues of the rooms. The 150-room hotel has brilliant views across the Coachella Valley and is steps from El Paseo, the Valley’s upscale shopping and dining district. If work calls, hi-speed wi fi, 55-inch HD TVs with streaming, ergonomic desk chairs and a lobby business center ease efforts. AC3 Restaurant + Bar has an expansive terrace for experiencing those velvety desert nights. 45-400 Larkspur Lane, Palm Desert, hotelpaseo.com

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