Back in the day, Palm Springs was not a summer destination. Barely-working swamp coolers and papered-over windows do not a fun weekend trip make.Of course neither do 110 degree temperatures, but low summer hotel prices, lotsa air conditioning and plenty of patio misting systems have made the steamy season in the desert much more popular over the last several years -- and on a recent June visit, the thermometer barely broke 100.
It's so popular, in fact, that some hotels' pools are packed with beer-swilling revelers in the heat of the daytime while the more touristy restaurants can also be crowded on summer weekends.
Summer or winter, a civilized respite from the crowds can be found at the Riviera Hotel, which got a super-glitzy makeover a few years ago that preserved the hotel's classic mid-century feel. The hotel's Circa 59 restaurant (named for the year the hotel first opened) has a good indoor-outdoor flow and the patio is a pleasant spot on all but the hottest nights.
|a private enclave on the patio|
The restaurant is a bit dressier than eating poolside -- you'll want to change out of your bathing suit and into a cool maxi or breezy shirt.
On a recent trip, the lighter summer menu was just about to be introduced with cooling choices like watermelon, feta and black olive salad, tuna tacos, gazpacho and arugula grilled peach salad.
|salmon with apple slaw|
We tried a perfectly-roasted piece of salmon with refreshing apple slaw and lemon risotto and the crispy roast chicken which is perfect for the more selective eaters in your group (read: my picky daughter).One of the menu's nice touches is that several proteins are available "simply prepared": flatiron steak, salmon, scallops, ahi tuna and filet of beef without carby sides are perfect for paleo eaters or just those looking to avoid sauces and such.
|lobster mac 'n cheese|
Although it wouldn't normally occur to me to choose lobster mac 'n cheese, my daughter's friend ordered it and I couldn't stop eating it, alternating huge chunks of lobster with a well-balanced amount of cheese sauce and pasta (I hate mac 'n cheese with huge greasy globs of cheese.)
A large selection of small plates, including truffle fries, scallops with ratatouille, lettuce shrimp wraps and burrata with tomato are perfect for grazing on with a chilled glass of wine after a day of basking in the shade interspersed with dips in the pool.
Molten chocolate cake for dessert will please the teenagers in your party or chocoholics of any age.
And come autumn, start a lazy day with brunch on the patio, with dishes like breakfast pizza or raspberry stuffed French toast and a Mimosa or Bloody Mary.
Circa 59 at Riviera Palm Springs
600 North Indian Canyon Drive
(This meal was comped.)