I have been coming to Palm Springs long enough to remember the many restaurants that tried and failed to make a go of it at the space that has come to be defined by Lulu California Bistro. With its signature water bubble fountain located on the corner of two major thoroughfares it never made any sense to me why this space could not succeed. Perhaps the corner of Arenas and Palm Canyon the space was simply waiting for Lulu to come along and make it into the restaurant it was meant to be.
My husband and I met up with a dear friend to see how Lulu was handling the changes that our modern dining scene entails. This was her first restaurant experience since May, so needless to say she was quite excited. Please check out my previous article with tips on dining out during the pandemic.
The emphasis on safety starts when you visit Lulu’s website with a pop up letting you know that guests must wear face coverings except while eating. Although as of this writing Lulu is not taking reservations you can add your name to the wait list online to ensure you will be seated quickly upon your arrival. They also have created a QR code that links to their menu, so just point your phone’s camera at the sticker on the table and you are whisked to your own copy.
Lulu has done an admirable job of mirroring their indoor space in the parklet they have created in front of the restaurant. With multicolored sun sails, green Astroturf and lush planter boxes, the garden space is where the party is when dining here. As with all restaurants, they have taken a significant hit to their seating capacity dropping from a maximum of 500 guests down to 150.
We started out ordering a couple of cocktails, a delightful Negroni for me, a little sweet and a bit medicinal, just the way I like it. My friend got the special Watermelon Delight, a sweet and spicy frozen drink bursting with fresh watermelon and salty, spicy Taijin powder, perfect for a hot late-summer night.
For me Lulu is all about returning to old favorites, so we ordered the Iceberg Wedge Salad and the Tower of Avocado & Ahi Tuna Tartare. The salad comprised of about one half a head of Iceberg lettuce, crispy hickory smoked bacon, tomatoes, and red onions exactly what I was craving. Iceberg lettuce has always for me been a way for me to justify spooning blue cheese dressing into my mouth and Lulu’s version does not disappoint. I can also recommend Lulu’s Beet Salad, earthy and tangy with goat cheese chickpeas, pine nuts and bright lemon vinaigrette.
The Tuna tower was just as I remembered from past visits. A huge portion of mild, fresh fish with rich avocado, seaweed salad and wonton chips allow you to build your own perfect combination of flavors and textures. I am always happy to order this for lunch, dinner, or happy hour no matter if I am with friends or by myself.
One side note: we decided to share our appetizers among the three of us so were very careful to dedicate specific utensils as for each of us to safely accomplish what in the past would have been a no brainer. Eating out during COVID is all about finding novel ways to return to normalcy.
My husband had the Kobe Beef Burger, this classic was perfectly cooked to medium rare on a fluffy bun with Lulu’s crispy fries. When you want comfort food, and who doesn’t these days, this burger will satisfy your needs.
I am trying to add more plant-based options to my diet, so I ordered the Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash. A whole acorn squash mounded with quinoa, figs, almonds, corn, and roasted peppers. Served with a little salad and some tangy sweet orange fig sauce, this was more than I could eat. Quinoa doeshave a tendency to taste bitter when not prepared correctly, but I am happy to say that there was no hint of bitterness, just the sweet nuttiness highlighted by the ingredients.
I am glad there were three of us, because we ended with a sampler of all the deserts on offer. With our newly acquired sharing protocols in place we each were able to get a little bit of everything! The home spun cotton candy. dramatic as always when it arrived at the table. instantly transported me back to the county fairs of my youth. Strawberry Ice-cream, dense rich and luscious chocolate cake. and a bite of Tiramisu was so much more than I needed to make my evening complete.
Getting to share a meal with an old friend at Lulu California felt very right somehow. Dining out in a time when we are all searching for a way to live safely while respecting the rules of the “New Normal” gave me hope that we will someday be able to take back the little pleasures that are so important to living.
Saturday & Sunday 9:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m. (Brunch)
Sunday 9:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m.
Monday-Thursday 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Friday 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
200 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs 92622