In 2007, I took a trip to Southern California. I had planned a few days in beautiful La Jolla followed by a trip out to the desert to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs. Unfortunately, there were devastating wild fires that changed my itinerary. Since San Diego County was declared a state of emergency, I couldn’t leave La Jolla. I extended my hotel reservation, got myself a face mask for the ashy days, and sadly missed my first California desert experience.
Recently, I “met” Jen of GFPalmSprings on Twitter. From Jen’s informative Tweets, I assumed she was a blogger so I asked her to write a guest post about being gluten-free in Palm Springs since I didn’t get to experience her city myself. Turns out Jen is not a blogger, but she was up for the challenge. I am excited to share her awesome write-up about her city. I love Jen’s approach to gluten-free eating and exploring. She does not let Celiac stop her, which is a theme on this Gluten-Free Globetrotter website. Thanks Jen for your contribution. I hope to meet you in Palm Springs one day!
Gluten-Free in Palm Springs, California
My name is Jen, and I’m a year-round resident of Palm Springs, California. I have celiac disease, which means I have to be very careful about eating out, but I refuse to let my diagnosis keep me from enjoying the world-class dining that Palm Springs has to offer. I also eat at dives, bars, and less-classy places, so I have a lot to share about living gluten-free in this particular oasis.
Palm Springs is a unique resort community that attracts visitors from around the globe. Whether your vibe is casual or elegant, you can find world-class dining without batting an eyelash. I try a new restaurant about once a week, which is hard, because it’s very easy to fall into a routine of your favorites when the menus are so good. I won’t go into the finer points of ordering a celiac safe menu, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of common sense: If you get a blank stare, get out of there!
If you haven’t visited Palm Springs, I can’t recommend it highly enough. “The season” begins when the weather gets cold everywhere else, so winter is hopping here. There is something deeply satisfactory about strolling down Palm Canyon wearing shorts, when you know your family is shoveling snow. Summers are slower, and some restaurants and stores restrict hours or even close in late July and August, so if you visit in the summer it’s a good idea to call ahead.This happens less frequently than it used to because Palm Springs and other desert communities have done a great job bringing tourism in all year round, but double-check if you have your heart set on a particular place.
Global exposure does good things for local cuisine, and Palm Springs has a wide variety of tastes to appeal to every palette. Of course, some cuisines are more naturally gluten free than others, and I have had really good luck at the Mexican and Spanish restaurants. At Casa De Frida (www.casadefrida.com) they make their own corn tortillas and you have to specially request flour — what a fun change! The tapas menu at Alicante (alicanteps.com) is clearly labeled with gluten free items and the sangria is delightful on a hot afternoon.
The following are just a few places that I recommend for safety, food quality, and general ambience:
A Palm Springs highlight, Trio (www.triopalmsprings.com) is known for exceptional food and desserts. Their menu is very clearly marked, and the first time I went in, I almost fell over when I counted fully eleven gluten free items, many of which were naturally gluten free and very high quality ingredients. The wait staff is knowledgable and will always double check with the chef. The lamb shank is to die for and it comes with gravy — a rarity for the celiac diner!
Bill’s Pizza (www.billspizzapalmsprings.com) makes the best gluten-free pizza I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s fresh and prepared safely, and they have a small beer and wine list. The menu is very unique and the staff is truly delightful. Bill’s is always packed, so order ahead if you’re starving.
The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge (www.thetropicale.com) is true Palm Springs. The decor is swanky and chic, with enough nod to the 50s and 60s to feel nostalgic. The menu in the restaurant is very elegant, and the taro chips are a must try. The patio is a great place for a light dinner, appetizer plate, and a drink or two. Another nod to a staff that really gets it, they’re very careful with my orders and make suggestions for modifying the standard fare.
Escena Lounge and Grill (www.escenagolf.com) gets an honorable mention for the extensive wine list and the best view in the valley. The gluten free selection of food is not great — mostly salads — but I go often for a glass of wine at sunset. It’s too pretty to stay away!
One more honorable mention to Workshop Kitchen + Bar (www.workshoppalmsprings.com) for their unique, fresh, delicious cocktails. I’ve never eaten there, but it’s a frequent last stop for a nightcap on the way home. Try the Matador #2 for a spicy kick or the Town & Desert, a delicious take on a sour.
There are many more delightful little hideaways in the desert that I’d love to share with you all. If you can brave the summer temperatures, Palm Springs Restaurant Week (www.palmspringsrestaurantweek.com) is a great time to visit — price fixe menus are available at over 100 restaurants and they pull out all the stops. But any time of year is great here in the desert, and I hope you plan a trip knowing you can eat delicious and safely-prepared gluten-free meals!
About Jen of GF Palm Springs:
Jen is a lifetime resident of Souther California, currently living in the resort town of Palm Springs with her husband and two Australian Shepherds. A celiac diagnosis mandated a new relationship with food, and she tweets about living the good life, gluten-free. You can find Jen on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GFPalmSprings