Coachella: The Best New Restaurants in the Desert

10:00 AM PST 03/08/2014 by Jimmy Im

A wave of new eateries is silencing longtime complaints about a lack of great food in the area. Make your reservations now.

This story first appeared in the March 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. 

A new wave of restaurants is silencing longtime complaints about a lack of great food in the desert. Leading the openings was the debut of farm-fresh Workshop Kitchen + Bar (800 N. Palm Canyon Drive) a year and a half ago, boasting a chic industrial design. "They do a chicken for two brought out on a wood platter that's spectacular," says ROAR Management's Bernie Cahill. Before dinner, stop into the year-old, indoor/outdoor BAR (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive), which Palm Springs International Film Festival director Darryl Macdonald recommends for its "retro craft cocktails, specialty beers and great music." It's opening an outdoor performance space in time for Coachella in mid-April.

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Insiders, including Authentic manager Gary Ventimiglia, drive a few miles southeast to a strip mall in Cathedral City to enjoy plates like chervil- and charcoal-rubbed beef tenderloin at Dish Creative Cuisine (68525 Ramon Road).

Another entry is Med-themed Catalan in nearby Rancho Mirage (70026 Highway 111). Its chef-owner, Drew Davis, once was Steven Spielberg's private chef.

The desert community of Indian Wells (where the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament runs through March 16) has welcomed the casual Eureka! (74985 Highway 111), a gastropub serving such inventive burgers as the flambeed vodka and the jalapeno egg.

Coming up: Exec chef Chad Shaner, who worked at NYC's Gotham Bar and Grill, and partner Patrick Service, former manager at Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, soon are opening Appetito (1700 S. Camino Real) near the hip Ace Hotel. The classic Italian deli will serve such bites as crispy calamari and ricotta gnocchi with kale.

And in late March, celebrated local restaurateur Joe Funkey will debut Smoke Tree Supper Club (1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive), a saloon-inspired spot with a grill in a communal area.

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