Birba Palm Springs
622 North Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-5678
excels on a number of levels. For starters, its location on a corner on North Palm Canyon Drive is ideal. Access is easy. And it’s easy on the eyes, too. A fabulous patio and bar area evokes a sense of home and friendly gathering. More interesting, perhaps, is the culinary gems Birba offers — there are plenty of simple comfort foods, such as pizzas, which leave a memorable impression.
And while Birba does not technically have a “happy hour,” many of its food and drink offerings suggest that the occasion is always festive with a deal to be found. You can nab a tasty Kale Salad ($10) or Tomato Bruschetta ($8). Consider the Sicilian Bikini Salad ($13) and you will savor a flavorful collaboration of tuna, tomato, fresh mozzarella, carrot, corn, fennel and radicchio.
Bigger plates are aplenty here and downright affordable. Feast on more hearty fair such as Spaghetti Al Tonno (tuna conserva, lemon, parsley, and Parmesan for $15) or one of Birba’s popular pizza’s — consider the “Egg” with pancetta, pecorino, and spring onion for $15 and the inviting Piece of the Pie, Birba’s summer calzone with basil pesto, corn, summer squash, mini peppers and fresh mozzarella for $17.
That particular dish, in fact, is bound to entice locals. Through July 2016, patrons who purchase the "Piece of The Pie" will rack up karma points. Proceeds directly benefit Hidden Harvest, a unique "produce rescue” concept, which was birthed in 2000. Since that time, Hidden Harvest has rescued about 17 million pounds of local produce from farmers' fields and packinghouses — food that would otherwise have been tossed — and given them a second life to locals experiencing hunger issues. More than 55,000 people in Coachella Valley benefit—free of charge.
Drink up with a summertime cocktail. Two that stand out are Birba Bramble ($12), which finds gin inviting lemon juice, simple syrup and Aperol together. Potent and refreshing. However the Italian Greyhound ($12; pictured) gets top honors. Served in a tall glass, it allows vodka, Aperol, grapefruit juice, rosemary and passionately smoke Maldon salt to offer a truly signature drink.
Yes. It does sound like a toast is in order. Cheers. (Speaking of ...)
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
800 North Palm Canyon Drive, 760-459-3451
In its previous life, the historic building aged gracefully as a 90-year-old movie theater. Now, it is the 2014 James Beard Foundation winner for Best Restaurant Design and a place that offers one of Palm Springs’ more memorable food experiences.
Welcome to Workshop Kitchen + Bar.
Chef/Owner Michael Beckman and partner Joseph Mourani invent, invent, and invent away. Imagination is all over the menu. You can experience such feisty, yet seemingly implausible appetizers like Pork Cheek Fries ($15) — prepare for a lesson on how to best combine braised pork cheek, red curry, shoestring fries, shaved Brussels and yes, even pickled radish. Other standouts: A remarkable Grilled Octopus ($15) with red pepper puree, pickled chanterelles, grilled lemon and a hint of mint.
Still, to truly indulge will require you to order an appetizer you be hard pressed to forget: Foi Gras French Toast (pictured). Imagine shaved purple artichoke, quail egg, Temecula valley honeycomb and blackberry sauce blanketing the toast. Yes, seeing (and tasting) is believing. ($19.)
Workshop offers a nice selection of what it calls Classic Cocktails ($14), all of which are plentiful and refreshing for the price. Several musts: Palm Springer—the drink is cold yet slightly bitter. With a mixture of vodka, fresh pineapple juice, housemade grenadine and angostura no less. The Hemingway Especial also makes you take notice. Inventive, it splashes white rum, fresh limejuice and grapefruit juice and just a bit of maraschino liqueur. Folklore tells us that the literary giant after which the drink is named, once passed through a bar dubbed “El Floridita.” While there, he sampled one of the bartender’s famous daiquiris. He set it down and proceeded to ask the server to just double the rum and add some grapefruit.
(Photo by Audrey Ma)