Escaping to Palm Springs centers around lounging by pools, sipping cocktails at friendly bars, and, of course, eating well, even if you're wearing shorts and flip-flops. Here are the best places to dine in the desert:El Jefe (above)Inside the Saguaro Hotel1800 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262(760) 323-1711jdvhotels.com/restaurants/california/riverside-dining/el-jefeThis Mexican small plates restaurant from Iron Chef winner Jose Garces has both great design and food that's just as well thought out. Looking like the most-inviting cantina you've ever stumbled across, El Jefe almost instantly makes you feel good the way only strong tequila drinks and top-shelf Mexican food can. Hit up the guacamole, grab a ceviche, try a goat taco, and wash it all down with a margarita; that's happiness.TintoInside the Saguaro Hotel1800 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262(760) 323-1711palmsprings.tintorestaurant.comGarces's second restaurant inside the Saguaro is all about Basque food, from northern Spain. The high-caliber food is presented in a beautiful space; it's as polished a restaurant as you'll find in L.A. or San Francisco. There's no shortage of delicious carne dishes, as well as cold items like gazpacho and chilled beans that contrast nicely with the triple temperatures outside.King's HighwayInside the Ace Hotel701 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262(760) 325-9900acehotel.com/palmspringsThis former Denny's is now producing diner food that won't make you doubled-over in pain. There's the requisite scrambled eggs and club sandwiches, but also lentil burgers, fried avocados, and Stumptown coffee (the best!). Also check out the bingo nights.
707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Centrally located on the Palm Canyon Drive "strip," this gay-owned eatery feels both casual and upscale. The restaurant is a great place to see and be seen, with an outside patio (that features water misters that bring down temperatures in the summer months) and large bar. The food is classic SoCal American, with hearty salads, sandwiches, and seafood dishes that will make your forget you're landlocked.
330 East Amado Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Located next to Palm Springs' Spa Resort and Casino, this gathering spot (also gay-owned) is serious about its food and drinks, but is never stuffy; you'll likely see a friend as soon as you enter the huge outdoor patio. The pizzas are delicious, try the gorgonzola and mushroom, and the entrees sizes are very generous. Unless you're a teetotaler, don't forget to get a cocktail, which are big, boozy, and often contain an umbrella. Also, Sushi Sundays and brunch are worth your time.
Wang's in the Desert
424 South Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Another (!) gay-owned P.S. restaurant, Wang's is Asian-fusion cuisine (not a hot dog stand), with a mix of Sichuan, Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, and Korean dishes. Lots of beef and chicken options as you'd expect, but also a healthy assortment of veggie and tofu dishes. The award-winning restaurant also has a great happy hour worth checking out.