The Hottest Downtown Drinking Spots In The Desert
Hot. Really hot.
No, not just the weather – the nightlife!
Okay, just to set the record straight, Palm Springs isn’t exactly Mykonos in the Greek Islands. And it’s a small town. A very small town. A few hours out in the downtown bars and the places may change but not necessarily the faces.
And quite frankly, that’s not a bad thing.
PubClub.com approaches this review as if it’s a pub crawl. And it’s focused in Palm Springs. Granted, there are other places placed throughout the Valley – the sushi bar at the Palm Desert Marriott and for sports the Yard House in “The River” in Rancho Mirage, for example, but Palm Springs has a great stretch of bars all within 5-6 blocks along its main drag (oops, maybe we shouldn’t call it that here!), Palm Canyon Drive.
The dress code is shorts and sandals for visitors. Locals wear jeans and long shirts (guys) or casual skirts and blouses (gals). Everything is walking distance. No drinks in the streets.
Reviewing The Best Palm Springs Bars
We’ll start our tour with Sonny Bono’s hangout when he was in town. The Hair of the Dog is a small English pub that, well, still has the lingering smell of all those years of cigarette smoke. Let’s say it’s 4 or 5 on any afternoon (the day of the week is inconsequential) and you’re looking for a drink. Well, join the hard-core locals here. It may not look like much on the surface, but this is culture, folks! One can’t help but wonder how many meetings were held and decisions were made over cold pints here when Sonny was mayor.
Next up is Los Casuelas. It’s a beautiful Mexican restaurant four blocks south with an cool-decored outdoor cantina, live band and lively margaritas (IF you know how to order them).
Now don’t be tempted to eat here. This is a cocktail place. If you are looking for Mexican, or any good eats for that matter, go directly to our Palm Springs restaurant guide. This is Palm Springs’ #1 Happy Hour (though they don’t really have a Happy Hour), the place to meet locals and tourists, the plant-the-seeds bar where straight romances can be struck with the stroke of a tequila shot. And when it comes to margaritas, forget the house ones; have one of the bartenders make them “fresh.”
From there, it’s up to one’s desired age-hanging group. A block to the south is the Village Pub, a cool indoor-ourdoor bar and pub that’s the casual hangout for anyone 20 to 40. And that’s just what it is – a causal hangout. There’s a band – and air conditioning! – inside. For those who explore it, the place is like a plate of spaghetti in that it keeps growing and growing.
There’s an upstairs that overlooks the band and small dance floor. Turn to the rear and it’s a room of pool tables, another VIP-looking place with couches and plasmas (great for sports!) and yet another outside area. Quite often, there’s no need to go anyplace else in Palm Springs.
But there ARE other places. To keep from losing the night altogether too early, the Blue Coyote (455 N. Palm Canyon) makes the Best and Most Potent Margaritas in Palm Springs. A couple of them can somewhat obscure the atmosphere of the very cool restaurant/bar, so be sure to take it all in, like spending a moment to smell a nice bouquet of roses. There are several dining rooms in a Southwestern Mexican theme.
From the BC, the next logical coctail location is the outdoor patio at the Hyatt. The Blue Bar, as it’s officially known though locals call it Cafe 285, is a quiet outdoor place where locals sometimes wade through the fountain. This is the kind of place where it’s always worthwhile to stop in and have one. As any bar veteran can attest, that “one” can suddenly turn into many. Here, there’s just no telling.
God’s Waiting Room, as some locals call it, is a sleek, old-fashioned piano bar called Melvyn’s. A Frank Sinatra clone – how appropriate here – makes those ivory keys tingle to just about any song people can request.
More live entertainment can be found at Shanghai Red’s, directly behind Los Casuelas. The blues band is not quite as sensational as the food but it’s a great place for beers on a patio. When there’s no band, it’s a good place to watch sports with locals.