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What To Do In Palm Springs

10/24/2012 07:23 am ET | Updated Dec 24, 2012

Palm Springs, California is celebrated for its Rat Pack-era architecture and notorious for its stuck-in-the-era-of-steak-and-béarnaise cuisine. But Tara Lazar and Marco Rossetti are quietly changing the city's reputation for retro restaurants. Over the past few years, they've opened three places combining modern design, reasonable prices and fresh, local, incredibly good food: brunch-centric Cheeky's, pizzeria Birba and Asian spot Jiao. Here, the couple's insider's guide to the city.

Design Guide to Palm Springs

Travelers come to Palm Springs in pursuit of everything from midcentury-modern furniture to vintage sunglasses. Here, Lazar and Rossetti's favorite shopping sources.

Hedge
Thomas Sharkey and Charles Pearson sell an eclectic midcentury design mix. The cement disks below once provided shade for the Daily Insurance building in Denver.

Trina Turk
The fashion designer's first outpost, designed by Kelly Wearstler and opened in 2002, underwent a serious expansion last spring. The foil wallpaper and white shag carpets remain intact, a funky backdrop for Turk's signature mix of bold colors and prints.

notNeutral
Launched as a pop-up last year by Los Angeles architectural firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios, notNeutral sells its own designs, like perforated lanterns and nature-inspired dinnerware.

Flow Modern
Run by local interior designers Brigitte Lehnert and Andre Blaise-Boughtwood, the store sells vintage items, including costume jewelry; Lazar recently bought a gold-link bracelet here.

Alcazar Palm Springs Hotel
Lazar and Rossetti updated the rooms in the building, whitewashing walls and adding extra outlets for guests to charge gizmos.

Restaurant Empire

With three restaurants on a single block, Lazar and Rossetti have helped lead the revival of the Upper Design District.

Cheeky's
Lazar and Rossetti's first restaurant, a local design-crowd hangout, is a breakfast-and-lunch spot known for excellent pancakes and eggs Benedict with applewood-smoked bacon.

Jiao
Inspired by Asian street food, the menu features dishes like a red cabbage salad with red onion.

Birba
At this Italian pizzeria, everything goes into the wood-burning oven, like roasted artichokes with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

More Favorite Spots

Men's Clothing: Wil Stiles
This boutique, adjacent to Trina Turk, sells colorful watches and clothes from British designers (like Fred Perry), which Lazar often buys for Rossetti. "He's Italian and has three times the closet real estate that I do," she says.

Vintage Haute Couture: Mr. Cox
Specializing in '60s and '70s couture fashion by the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Pierre Cardin, this vintage shop exemplifies the "glam underbelly" of Palm Springs, Lazar says.

Accessories: Kerson
This store sells luxe European vintage clothes and furniture, but Lazar especially loves the sunglasses--"hundreds and hundreds of pairs!"--including tortoiseshell ones from Paris.

Mexican Food: El Mexicali Cafe
Started by the Murguia family decades ago, this restaurant catered Lazar and Rossetti's wedding. Among its specialties: chile gueritos (shrimp-stuffed chiles) and octopus ceviche.

-- Gina Hamadey, Food & Wine

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