5 Spots for Healthy Eats in the Desert

An image of garnished ribs on a plate from Essence

When the temps rise come summer in Coachella Valley, taking frequent dips in the healing waters, recharging with spa treatments, and lounging under an umbrella is pretty much the plan for visitors to Two Bunch Palms. Well that and eating fresh, light, and healthy (because nobody wants fettucine alfredo when the thermometer inches past 100 degrees).

Luckily there are plenty of good-for-you dining options in the desert where you can get everything from fresh-pressed juices to locally-sourced salads to homemade tempeh. Here are five spots where you can thoughtfully fill up during your next visit.



Desert Hot Springs

Image of a lunch spread from Essense in Desert Hot Springs

Two Bunch Palms is all about health and wellness, so it’s no surprise that the resort’s onsite eatery is too. The menu focuses on local, seasonal, sustainable, and organic fare and the kitchen doesn’t allow anything with hormones, artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, or high-fructose corn syrup to come through its doors. The result is a mix of omnivorous offerings like the broccoli and sorrel salad, California avocado toast topped with hemp hearts, and a grass-fed filet done with an out-of-the-box shishito pepper salsa. Teetotalers can go for fresh-pressed juice combos, but even the cocktails have been given a good-for-you twist like the Mezcal-and-ginger Al Capone (named for a one-time rumored regular) and the Mojito that gets a boost from matcha tea.


Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

Palm Springs

An image of chef inspired bowls from Chef Tanya's Kitchen in Palm Springs

If you want to learn just how mainstream a meatless diet has come, ask longtime Palm Springs resident Tanya Petrovna. When she opened her first vegetarian restaurant in town back in 1990, she didn’t even include the word “vegetarian” in the name for fear of scaring off potential customers. She later founded the vegan chain Native Foods and, more recently, opened the doors to her plant-based paradise known as Chef Tanya’s Kitchen. The counter-service spot hidden within an industrial neighborhood started as a deli with little seating but has morphed into a lunchtime gathering spot. Tanya’s fabled housemade seitan is the base for hearty sandwiches, and there are lots of colorful salads, daily specials including tacos on Tuesdays, rotating soups, and ever-changing agua frescas. You can also grab deli salads like Moroccan-roasted cauliflower or eggless egg salad to go along with jars of her addictive cashew-based crack cheese.

Photo: Silvia Ryan


The Gray Cafe

Desert Hot Springs

Image of a green smoothie from the Gray Cafe in Palm Springs

The philosophy behind this holistic cafe is to provide healthy, plant-based food and drinks to help those struggling with chronic disease… along with those of us who just want to eat healthy and feel good. There’s a nutritionist available to chat about what ails you and to offer tips on incorporating more plant-based meals into your life. In addition to veggie-packed wraps, salads, and sandwiches, the cafe (not far from Two Bunch Palms) offers a menu of juices and smoothies. Keep an eye out for the ever-growing offering of hemp-based items including a tempeh salad, date shake, and fresh-pressed hemp milk.

Photo: The Gray Cafe


MidMod Cafe

Palm Springs

Opened by the same folks behind South Palm Springs’ longtime health-focused storefront Palm Greens Cafe, this stylish offshoot has more breakfast options and a perfect patio within a courtyard in the always-bustling Uptown Design District. Highlights include a root veggie hash, scrambled eggs with brown rice, and a dragon fruit bowl, and – rather than just being relegated to greasy hash browns – health warriors can opt for sautéed greens, a protein pancake, or tempeh bacon on the side. Those who still need a boost can knock back one of the wellness shots.


Wildest Greens

Palm Desert

An image of a plate of cauliflower at Wildest Green in the Palm Desert

One of the newest healthy additions to the desert is also the one where you’ll likely have the most trouble deciding what to get. That’s because the menu is seriously massive. You can customize salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, and wraps and fill them with stuff like kimchi, green lentils, watermelon radish, and proteins ranging from grilled bison to chilled shrimp to nut cheese. There’s also a breakfast menu, grab-and-go bakery goodies like whole-grain and gluten-free bagels and vegan muffins along with a smoothie and juice bar. And plenty of the dishes come laced with power ingredient turmeric since owner Denise DuBarry Hay’s family runs their very own organic turmeric farm in Hawaii.

Photo: Wildest Greens

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