My favorite restaurant in Palm Springs is Workshop Kitchen + Bar, located in the historic El Paseo Building in Uptown Palm Springs Design District. After decades of eating in the desert, this has become my go-to dinner recommendation without any caveats, as both Workshop's menu and design are absolute perfection; it's the best of Palm Springs. For the lover of Brutalist architecture, the restaurant's interior is a concrete paradise, one that might evoke praise from Le Corbusier if he were alive today. Winner of the 2015 James Beard Award for best restaurant design, Workshop cemented itself–no pun intended–as a proper restaurant destination on the West Coast. Alongside Hueso in Guadalajara and Sketch Bar in London, Workshop holds a top spot on my best restaurant interiors list. And the food, much like the restaurant's aesthetic, is executed with the utmost precision, relying only on a few-hand picked ingredients. A minimalist approach all around.
Helmed by Chef & Owner Michael Beckman, Palm Spring's finest focuses on seasonal foods from local farms, with a menu that is market-driven. Although they offer divine fish and meat options, its their selection of vegetables that are next level good. If you enjoy elevated plant-based dishes, you will be delighted at Workshop, quite possibly even surprised. Their menu is reflective of the Southern California movement over the past decade to serve the highest quality produce and for that I am appreciative.
If you enjoy a finely crafted libation, please take advantage of the impressive cocktail program at Workshop. It's an absolute must whether your prefer classic or original cocktails. I was feeling festive and ordered the Hemingway Special, M-80, and Spring Fling to wet my whistle, three very different cocktails, but all excellent. As tequila and mezcal are my preferred spirits, I was especially taken with the M-80 which combines the two with lime juice, ginger juice, and grapefruit oils. When I drink, I prefer my sips to feel smooth and at Workshop it felt like silk. If you don't imbibe often, I'd recommend you take it slow, as their drinks go down with ease.
I am struck when I witness great precision, as it shows an unwavering dedication to quality. At Workshop I easily gathered that Chef Michael Beckman and his staff are committed to crafting the finest dishes, they're focused, respect the craft and are passionate about their work. Everything that landed on our concrete slab was impressive.
As per usual, I ordered octopus–but this was far different than any octopus that came before it. This was Octopus Carpaccio and I fell in love with the beauty of this chilled plate topped with cauliflower fleurettes, roasted red peppers, lemon, olive oil, piment d'espelette and micro cilantro. I had never seen octopus, a personal favorite, prepared so elegantly. Among the other small plates ordered were Shaved Brussel Sprouts, House-Cured Gravlax Tartine, and Roasted Heirloom Carrots; the carrots were top tier, even rivaling the ones I raved about at FnB in Scottsdale. Their superiority shined through in flavor, having tasted as if they were just pulled from the ground, which is quite the possibility with Workshop's farm-to-table ethos. Tossed with Temecula farm honey, avocado oil, black garlic and petite mustard greens, these sweet little babies are on my must order list.
I didn't think anything could surpass the flavor impression made by the carrots and that's when the hearty plate of Romanesco arrived at the table. Accompanied by Temecula Valley Honey, whipped goat cheese, grilled Kishu tangerines, Fresno chili and garlic ferment, this "small" plate boasted strong and unique flavors. The fractal patterns tossed across the plate were gorgeous; the colors chartreuse and orange playing off one another like a work of art.
To round out our already phenomenal dinner, two large plates made their way to our table–the Farmer's Market Spring Vegetables and an order of the Black Cod. I can say without hesitation that I have never ordered a $45 plate of vegetables and was curious as to why the dish out-priced duck, fish, and steak. Made with fiddlehead ferns, asparagus, hedgehog mushrooms, fava beans + leaves, English peas, kohlrabi, Weiser Farm pee wee potatoes + parsnips, harissa yogurt, and Serrano chili ferment. Had I known how scarce fiddlehead ferns are, I would've understood the price tag. The funny thing is, I've been spoiled with so many extravagant meals, that I've seen the fiddlehead many times without blinking an eye. All I knew is that I love them, because I love a vibrant crunch. Having done my research, which is only proper when trying to expand one's culinary knowledge, I learned that the Fiddlehead Ferns are considered expensive in comparison to other vegetables you might find at the farmers market. They are truly seasonal, so much that you might blink and miss them. The production costs are high as they are wild-harvested, not cultivated, foraged by those mostly in the Northeastern United States. Averaging about $19.99 a pound, these beautiful coils are something special in the world of produce.
Make reservations at Workshop Kitchen + Bar Palm Springs when you desire a thoughtful dinner made with quality ingredients. The ambiance is perfect for an evening with your girls or a romantic desert date. In town solo dolo? Pull up a seat at the communal table and make new friends, or not. Workshop is a vibe, believe that. The food is superb, the design sexy–that's my favorite combination.
Workshop Kitchen + Bar, 800 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262