The Smashingly Events team spent a week in Palm Springs in early September reviewing event venues there and taking in the restaurant scene. We took a mid-century modern home tour with Robert Imber, the one-man sensation behind PS Modern Tours (Featured in April 2009 WSJ as one of the top things to do in Palm Springs). We also went to Joshua Tree National Park to hike and gather inspiration.
The architecture, the feel, the flow, the energy that is Palm Springs is inspirational and it got me thinking – how would you throw a Palm Springs 1960s, cool vibe, Mad Men party?
Palm Springs was the place for Hollywood legends to get away from it all, especially for the “it” cool-cat, Rat Pack crowd of the swinging 1960s. The streets today are laden with old Hollywood names like Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Jack Benny and Gene Autry.
Today, after reinventing itself, the Palm Springs area is again a place for young Hollywood and hipsters to live, gather and get away from it all. The Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival, a 10-day, hipster music venue in the Coachella Valley (the valley that Palm Springs is nestled within) draws young Hollywood and music legends each year to the area. Leonardo DiCaprio just bought Dinah Shore’s former home. There is a trend to preserve the old architecture there and it is wonderful to see.
Top Picks on the Restaurant Scene from the Smashingly Events Team:
Workshop Kitchen + Bar is the newest inspiration in the heart of the Palm Spring’s Uptown Design District. It just was awarded the 2015 James Beard Award for design. The inside of the restaurant is absolutely stunning. The architecture is modern and industrial. We ate at the bar. If you go there, please give a special shout out to John the mixologist. We ordered small plates to share at John’s suggestions. We ordered wood oven roasted carrots, Foie Gras French Toast, duck fat French fries, and Penn Cove mussels in a white wine sauce. Every bite was better than the last. The drinks were so much fun. I have attached a picture of one of John’s creations, called the Bee’s Knees. Like Martha Steward says, It’s a good thing.”…. (workshopkitchenpalmsprings.com)
Copley’s on Palm Canyon – is the 1940s former guesthouse of Hollywood leading man Cary Grant. The restaurant has been open for 10 years and everyone that we asked for recommendations, talked about Copley’s as one of their top destinations. We ate in the beautiful gated courtyard. There is a gorgeous fountain and fireplace where groups were gathered before dinner for a cocktail. The atmosphere is very warm and inviting. The restaurant reopened on the night that we were there from their summer break and they didn’t skip a beat. It runs like a smoothly oiled comfort machine! (copleyspalmsprings.com)
Spencer’s Restaurant – is an absolutely stunning place to eat for lunch or dinner. They have an award winning patio covered by trees that makes you feel like you are eating outdoors in the middle of a forest. However, the restaurant is located right in the heart of Palm Springs. Spencer’s is a local favorite. I started out with the Chilled Gazpacho with Maine Lobster and Vine ripened tomato, yellow peppers and cucumber essence and followed that with Pan Roasted Sesame Crusted Norwegian Salmon on coconut-ginger basmati rice with asparagus, star anise sauce and pineapple relish. Fabulous! (www.spencersrestaurant.com)
LULU California Bistro – awarded as one of the “Top 100 Hot Spots in the US” by Open Table, Lulus is the place to have lunch or brunch in Palm Springs. The restaurant décor is ultra-cool, with large plexi glass covered chandeliers presiding over the large bar area. The restaurant boasts multi levels with large white leather banquets lining the outside of the lower level. There is a very large upstairs area that we hear turns into a nightclub type atmosphere way past my bedtime (LOL). The outside space is spectacular and provides the premier viewing area for the great people watching. The food is very good. They have an extensive menu and if you can’t find what you want to eat at Lulus, I would wonder about you. (lulupalmsprings.com)
Norma’s at The Parker Hotel – If you want to see a celebrity, this may be one of your best opportunities. Norma’s is fantastic for brunch and is a well-known transplant from the New York Le Parker Meridian Hotel. Norma’s menu is chalk full of creative comfort food. We ate way too much that day. However, I don’t regret one bite. Here are a few decadent things that we had that day (don’t judge): Chunks of Lobster Swimming in Cheesy Macaroni, Spicy Shrimp Quesadillas, Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash and Chocolate Decadence French Toast. My mouth is watering thinking about it. There is an extra bonus when you visit Norma’s. You also can tour the very hip Parker Hotel. (www.theparkerpalmsprings.com)
Bootlegger Tiki – When you walk into this small, quaint space, you feel like you are being transported to the Polynesian islands. So cute. The drinks are all handcrafted. The atmosphere takes you back in time to the South Pacific. Grass cloth walls and ceilings, pukka shell lamps and ceiling lights made out of blow fish. The drinks of course have all the tiki details including umbrellas, fruit and interesting colors. I had the Gooney Goo Goo drink and another team member had the Pod Thai. Best happy hour and late night drinks in town! (www.bootleggertiki.com)
Next, the Smashingly Event’s team is going to Vermont and Cape Cod. Pictures and ideas to follow. Remember, Smashingly Events is your event source.