Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar, Colony Palms Hotel

During our inaugural stay at Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn (see “digs”), we met another couple of fun-lovin’ travelers poolside who recommended the Purple Palm Bar at the Colony Palms Hotel.  Intrigued by the lasses’ description of a lushly-decorated lounge perched on the edge of an active pool, we made a point to check it out that very evening.

Upon descending the courtyard steps beyond the supple hotel’s lobby, we were immediately seduced by the chic balmy vibe that now exudes from this former “Movie Colony” resort.  Striped private cabanas hide quietly just beyond the minions who flank the sides of the aforementioned pool, while slender palm trees shoot high above and sway in the delicate, warm evening breeze.  The overall ambiance oddly reminded us of New Orleans, though the reference is clearly not the intention of the Colony Palms’ design team.

We found the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar rather easily. Its indoor/ outdoor setting is impeccably decorated in shades of lavender and green that pay homage to tropical climes without being too cloying.  We loved the subtle Moroccan influences in the tiled floor almost as much as the accompanying cocktails.  Doug sipped on the “Lavender Mojito” while Set of Drifter Brady opted for the “Purple Lemonade,” a choice later repeated by his mama on Mother’s Day during a subsequent visit for lunch the following afternoon!  (Try the fried avocado appetizer.  Accompanied by pickled cabbage and a lemon remoulade, the dish offered an unusual taste that was still entirely comforting.)

We returned to the Purple Palm a third time many months later in September of 2011... though this visit surprisingly resulted in a less than desirable experience.  While our frites were entirely too stale, our issues ultimately had nothing to do with the food itself.

Perhaps off-put by our seating a bit too close to “quittin’ time,” our waiter displayed sour grapes throughout the duration of the meal.  Every one in our party of six quickly picked up on his tartness, and it must have shown!  Midway through dinner, the manager came over to greet us and asked how everything was going; the service level noticeably improved shortly thereafter.  In fact, birthday boy Doug even received a special passion fruit crème brûlée at the conclusion of his meal!

Upon leaving, we were willing to chalk up the experience as simply an “off-night” for the restaurant, but after discussing our visit with Ruby back at the Coral Sands, she lamented that she had heard other complaints from guests in recent months as well!

Nevertheless, the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar is truly a beautiful spot to relax and unwind - even when a stay in the hotel’s charming pool-hugging quarters is not within your immediate budget.  Go for the drinks and don't expect too much from the food.  The picturesque spot is open 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and 8:00 AM until 11:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar - 572 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA  92262, (760) 969-1818


Toucan’s TikI Lounge

All right, all right, we know you get the point, your “Set of Drifters” love anything tiki!  This was most certainly true during a 2007 trip to Palm Springs when we rested our heads at the weird and wacky Caliente Tropics (see “digs.”)  Hoping to further enrich the Polynesian cultural exchange, we were excited to check out another nearby spot that sounded promising, Toucan’s Tiki Lounge.

Located just a few blocks north of the vintage furniture stores along North Palm Canyon Drive, Toucan’s is a favorite watering hole of both locals (from Palm Springs and beyond) and tourists thanks to its colorful interiors that are humorous and fun, if not authentically “tiki.”  A waterfall on one wall cools off desert patrons while an open-air patio out back is linked to the dancefloor by a hallway decorated in groovy retro-style lamps.  I am sure there were some actual toucans dangling from the ceiling as well for good measure.

Spend any time here and you will soon realize that Hawaii is the last thing on everyone’s mind.  While the club features rotating nights of go-go boys and drag queen performances, it’s the small square dancefloor that is its star attraction.  Now, your “Set of Drifters” are normally not the types to dance to typical Lady Gaga or Britney “gems-of-the-day” while at a club.  Songs of this ilk tend to send us straight back to the bar, and yet, Toucan’s rather unpretentious vibe worked overtime and tempted us linger under the faux tiki-hut song after song.

A signature drink that glowed in the dark was served by a friendly staff who are busy all night long.  (The mixed crowd - male and female, gay and straight - grows and grows as the night progresses.)  People watching at Toucan’s is ace.  During our first visit we spotted a dead ringer for "monster" Aileen Wournos.  Out on the dancefloor, an energetic freak with a terribly short-cropped dome dyed it perfectly to match her witchy purple Stevie Nick's skirt!  (At least she didn’t try to match the color of her nipple which poked through her fuchsia knit bra all night long!)  On a more recent trip, we were quite surprised to find so many older straight couples getting down to the tunes of Friday night’s “Jungle Boogie” party, a testament to that hideous “Hello” song by Martin Solveig and Dragonette we presume.
Toucan’s is fun for a few laughs - and drinks, though if you are a “tiki aficionado,” it does not need to be a requisite stop.  Set of Drifter tip:  Fan of RuPaul's Drag Race?  Toucan's often features West Coast-based performers from the show on Sunday nights!  The club features a horde of other special events throughout the week as well, so make sure to check their events calendar! 

Toucan’s Tiki Lounge - 2100 North Palm Canyon Drive, # A100, Palm Springs, CA  92262, (760) 416-7584


We also recommend:

Koffi (fantastic coffee, shake and malt creations) - 1700 South Camino Real, Palm Springs, CA  92264, (760) 322-7776, http://www.kofficoffee.com/