El Jefe Desert Cantina Brings More Uncomplicated Fun To The Saguaro

A new speakeasy lounge elevates the cocktail experience
Photo: Official
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An all-new cocktail experience debuts tomorrow at the Saguaro Palm Springs and just in time for the music festival weekends. Part-speakeasy, part-lounge, El Jefe Desert Cantina is located just beyond the Saguaro’s lobby, where guests will enter through a hidden door tucked into a bookcase.

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Inside, the atmosphere and design is signature Saguaro: bold, relaxed, and brimming with uncomplicated fun. But don’t let the oversized mural off our floatie-adorned luchadores—or the ‘80s video games doubling as drink tables—lead you to believe you’ll find anything less than seriously-thoughtful craft cocktails at the bar.

Anchored by a collection of agave-based spirits, the menu features nearly 20 unique cocktails for fans of seasonal and classic mezcal and tequila drinks. Try El Jefe’s The Floor is Guava—made with Fresno chili-infused tequila blanco and pink guava—or choose a mezcal riff on something more familiar, like the Mezcal Old Fashioned or Mezcal Negroni. To complement the beverage program, Chef Ben Diaz has created a rotating botanas-inspired menu that celebrates locally-sourced ingredients for Mexican street food, so you can pair whichever drink you choose with snacks like citrus-spiced corn nuts and smoked hoja santa pork rinds,as well as dishes like octopus agua chile.

The Desert Luchadores mural is a nod to El Jefe Desert Cantina’s larger celebration of Mexico’s vibrant cuisine, cocktails, and culture. The Playful depiction of each luchador puts a singularly Saguaro spin on Mexico’s long tradition of freestyle wrestling and colorful personalities. While at first glance, each wrestler comes across as a towering, hulking figure in their full, masked wrestling uniform, their pool float accessories and facial expressions hint at their unique personalities and deliver a message that the Saguaro energetically extends to all guests.

The mural was created by Yusufu Bwire and Family, a family of artists from Orange County, California. Yusufu drew the basic structure and composition, as well as the final details and contours, while his wife, Emily, filled in each of the figures with a singular set of hues. Their three-year-old daughter, Ianai, served as “supervisor”of the operation.

Open until 1:30 am on weekends, El Jefe Desert Cantina will be the newest—and one of the only—late-night food and drink destinations in Palm Springs. For fans of El Jefe’s larger menu of Mexican specialties, famous Taco Tuesdays& Thursdays, and monthly mezcal dinners,the restaurant will continue to operate seven days a week in its newly expanded space, which includes both indoor and outdoor dining.

Lisa Hay

Lisa is a staff reporter for What Now Media Group. She covers new restaurant, retail, and real estate openings across all of our markets. A true foodie, this Air Force veteran has lived all over the world — from Aviano, Italy to Nairobi, Kenya — but her favorite spot is NOLA for its rich history, architecture, culture, and of course, its good eats.
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