It’s no secret that the Coachella Valley has emerged as a leading culinary destination for innovative chefs and foodies looking for a great meal. For their collective attention to wholesome ingredients, delectable flavor, and genuine hospitality, the restaurants on El Paseo stand out as some of the valley’s best.
Cuisine styles on the street span the spectrum from old-world Italian and classic French to traditional Japanese and Thai to fine steaks and seafood, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating available.
If, like La Dolce Vita director Frederico Fellini, you believe “life is a combination of magic and pasta,” the menus at IL CORSO and RISTORANTE MAMMA GINA will delight your tastebuds with the essence of amore. Perhaps you have a hankering for pizza, in which case PIERO’S PIZZAVINO, SAMMY’S WOODFIRED PIZZA, and CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN aim to please, each serving up a diverse selection of pies.
Surf and turf is the specialty at MASTRO’S STEAKHOUSE, EDDIE V’S PRIME SEAFOOD, SULLIVAN’S STEAKHOUSE, PACIFICA SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, and MITCH’S ON EL PASEO. All of the above cultivate a posh ambiance that’s equally suitable for a special occasion or just because.
Of course, much of the cooking that happens in the fine dining world starts with classical French techniques. The Parisian bistro-style restaurant CAFÉ DES BEAUX-ARTS has been perfecting entrées like duckling à l’orange and coq au vin for almost three decades. LE PAON has been around for more than four — highlights there include the braised Kobe beef cheek with truffle oil and red wine reduction; Dover sole, which gets de-boned tableside; and frogs legs served over sautéed spinach.
Favorites from The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge include the sashimi platter.
Favorites from The Venue Sushi Bar & Sake Lounge include spicy tuna tostadas.
Food is transportive. One bite can whisk you away to a faraway locale. Venture to Thailand with a table at THAI SMILE. Savor the picante flavors of Mexico at ARMANDO’S DAKOTA BAR & GRILL. Experience the meticulously crafted cuisine of Japan at THE VENUE SUSHI BAR & SAKE LOUNGE as well as MITCH’S ON EL PASEO, which also boasts a sushi bar. Can’t decide? KITCHEN 86 RESTAURANT + BAR serves up a multicultural mix of woodfired pizzas, pork butt tacos, Thai-style fried shrimp, and East Indian curry.
Maybe, at some places, you really can have it all.
NOW OPENLarkspur Grill There’s a new restaurant on the block.
Eric Theiss was riding his bike on the east end of the Coachella Valley in Thermal when he happened upon an organic produce farm. “I took a chance and drove down the lane, talked to the folks, and now we have their beets on our menu at all times — they’re phenomenal,” he says.
Theiss is the executive chef of Larkspur Grill, a new ingredient driven restaurant that debuted at Hotel Paseo in June 2021. The bright, art-forward dining space opens to an expansive patio. Inside, a stage by the bar boasts a regular rotation of live local bands. Homegrown ingredients, like those beets from County Line Harvest, steer the kitchen’s seasonal menu.
Plan to sample multiple courses at Larkspur Grill. Above: The grilled Coachella Valley artichoke, County Line Harvest roasted beet salad, and tomato- and artichoke-crusted Alaskan cod. Photograph by Fab Vernandez
“It’s all about that California feel,” the chef says, “focusing on quality ingredients, fresh fish, the best meat you can buy.” He calls it California comfort food, touting healthful spins on dishes that make you feel good — think skillet cornbread with shallot butter, wine-braised short ribs, and a vegetarian version of Bolognese — alongside reinterpretations of usual SoCal suspects like ahi tartare and his County Line Harvest beet salad.
“This is a place where you want to come and dine and have a great experience,” Theiss says. “The Larkspur concept is that: California cuisine and comfort.”
Plan to sample multiple courses at Larkspur Grill. Above: 14-ounce grilled herb-brined pork chop. Photograph by Fab Vernandez.
The Hotel Paseo restaurant has their own house-labeled red and white wines. Order by the glass or the bottle. Photograph by Fab Vernandez.
Mitch's on El Paseo. Photograph by Daniela Stallinger
SPOTLIGHTA Sweet Finish Where to find a decadent dessert.
1 CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING: Warm salted butterscotch sauce seeps into an über-flaky croissant base in Sweet Basil’s variation of this 18th-century treat.
2 MESSY SUNDAE: The classic vanilla sundae at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza arrives in a wine glass that’s smothered in chocolate sauce and piled high with whipped cream and a cherry.
3 CHOCOLATE BALLOON CAKE: This concoction at Mitch’s on El Paseo transforms tableside when hot caramel is poured over a dark chocolate casing to reveal cake and ice cream.
4 BUTTER CAKE: At Mastro’s Steakhouse, the melt-in-yourmouth yellow cake gets jazzed up with a touch of cream cheese and caramelized sugar, then it’s topped with ice cream and fresh fruit.
5 CANNOLO: Thank the Sicilians for this traditional treat. Prepared Il Corso style, a crisp Italian wafer with sweet cream and cheese filling is finished with a chocolate drizzle.
6 CRÊPES SUZETTE: The ultrathin French pancakes at Café des Beaux-Arts are simmered with citrus juices, Grand Marnier, and a touch of orange zest. (There’s a gluten-free option, too.)
7 CHURRO DESSERT TOTS: At Daily Grill, mini churros are tossed with cinnamon sugar and dressed with fresh berries, whipped cream, and spicy chocolate syrup.