Anthony Bourdain in Palm Springs: 6 Spots Where Tony Ate
As you drive east out of Los Angeles, the desert quickly becomes prominent. Miles pass along the interstate, before a mirage-like vision appears: it’s Palm Springs, named for the natural springs that created an oasis that has drawn artists, celebrities, and hipsters over the decades.
Anthony Bourdain visited the Palm Springs area twice: to film season 4 (episode 15, called “U.S. Southwest”) and season 7 (episode 13, called “U.S. Desert”) of No Reservations; these were his only two visits to the area, and were both part of compilation episodes with other destinations too.
I have to be honest though: Anthony Bourdain did not visit Palm Springs (the city) – at least not on screen. He visited lots of communities in the Greater Palm Springs area, which I would also classify as the Coachella Valley, as well as the high desert near Joshua Tree National Park. While this post says it’s about places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Palm Springs, we need to be generous with that definition.
So if you’re planning a trip to Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley, or Joshua Tree, let this post inspire you. There are a good number of spots Bourdain visited in this part of Southern California worth visiting if you love good food, quirky spots, and places Tony ate.
Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visited Palm Springs?
The “U.S. Southwest” episode is available on Amazon and Hulu, and the “U.S. Desert” episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Ɂívil̃uwenetem Meytémak (Cahuilla) peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
No Reservations (2008)
Bourdain’s first trip through Palm Springs was part of his “U.S. Southwest” road trip episode (which also took him to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). He actually didn’t eat anywhere in Palm Springs, but did visit some of the nearby communities in the Greater Palm Springs area.
Ski Inn (Bombay Beach/Niland)
Tony’s first stop is the Salton Sea, the unusual and man-made saltwater lake at the southern end of the Coachella Valley. There, he meets with locals who call the area home, and gets a tour from some of them. He also visits the Ski Inn in Bombay Beach/Niland, a local’s spot – also the only spot – for good food during his visit. He tries the patty melt and a beer.
Shields Date Garden (Indio)
Next, Tony turns his wheels back up the Coachella Valley and stops at Shields Date Garden in Indio, one of the communities within Greater Palm Springs. This date farm is famous for its date shakes, which you can find throughout the area and which he tries after taking a tour of the site.
After that, Bourdain and crew turn east and head out of Southern California, so these are the only two places he visited in Palm Springs/the Coachella Valley during this episode.
No Reservations (2011)
Interestingly, Bourdain’s return to Palm Springs was part of another compilation episode; this time it was the “U.S. Desert” episode which takes place throughout the high desert of Southern California near Joshua Tree National Park – including the Palm Springs area. In this episode, Tony is hosted by his friend Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age.
Pappy + Harriett’s (Pioneertown)
Tony and Josh’s first stop is at an iconic restaurant for the Palm Springs/Joshua Tree area: Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown. This roadside watering hole is always popular; I’ve actually been there myself during a trip to Joshua Tree a few years back.
The pair dig into what Pappy and Harriet’s does best: smoked meat. Homme has the ribeye with mashed potatoes and broccoli while Bourdain digs into the ribs.
Sky Cafe (Yucca Valley)
After a night of fun, a well-earned hangover setting in, and a strange souvenir-shopping session at the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley, Tony and Josh head to the Sky Cafe for breakfast to chase the bad feelings away. Again they choose different foods: Homme opts for the ham and cheese omelet while Bourdain has the chili and onions and eggs.
JT Country Kitchen (Joshua Tree)
Another day of drinking, music-making, and revelry leaves the two guys in need of another breakfast. This time they visit JT Country Kitchen, another local favorite spot. They enjoy an American breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and hashbrowns, but Tony notes that JT Country Kitchen serves Cambodian dishes later in the day – so it’s worth stopping no matter the time of day.
Lord Fletcher’s (Rancho Mirage) (CLOSED)
Last but certainly not least, Bourdain and Homme went to another iconic spot: Lord Fletcher’s in Rancho Mirage. This place was known for its great prime rib, paired with Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach, and horseradish sauce – but unfortunately, it closed in 2020.
There is some indication it may reopen, or a new restaurant may open in its spot… hopefully it’s the former so we can all enjoy the same dinner Tony and Josh did.
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Palm Springs – or the surrounding area, to be more accurate? Let me know in the comments below!