Let’s Do Lunch

Let's Do Lunch - Pull up a seat, savor the gourmet flavors, and enjoy the unrivaled scenery at the restaurants on El Paseo in Palm Desert.
Photography by Fab Vernandez; Styling by Neil Cohen; Beauty by Jen Plus Colour.

To fuel an afternoon packed with boutique- and gallery-hopping, you’ll need a midday bite. Thankfully, the promenade’s eclectic eateries promise to fill you up with fresh interpretations on salads, sandwiches, tacos, and just about everything in between.

Big leafy greens are easy to come by on El Paseo. Let your preferred mix-ins guide where you choose to dine. For a tasty chopped chicken salad, head to SAMMY’S WOODFIRED PIZZA. Meanwhile, IL SOGNO tosses a traditional Caesar with locally grown hearts of romaine and creamy housemade dressing. The mixed greens salad from THE FIX is anything but basic with toasted coconut and a homemade blackberrybalsamic vinaigrette. MITCH’S ON EL PASEO makes a Japanese-inspired salad with thinly sliced octopus, cucumber, and chuka.

For some, though, lunch is always served between two slices of bread. Even better if that bread is baked from scratch in house, like it is at IL CORSO. Their panini menu features tasty pairings like salami, ham, and burrata. PIERO’S PIZZAVINO is another option for melty Italian “pizza sandwiches.” Down the street, French favorite CAFÉ DES BEAUXARTS whips up sandwiches on buttery croissants and crusty baguettes. JC’S CAFÉ presents a variety of options to hold your hoagie together, from marble rye to jalapeño-cheese — they also have hot dogs so big you may need a knife and fork (and likely a bib).

If an all-American burger is more your jam, WILMA & FRIEDA has one that’s called “You Gotta Try This!”. The chuck and short rib patty takes center stage to your choice of toppers. We’re partial to caramelized onions and brie.

Then again, tacos are always a good idea. Authentic Mexican recipes rule at ARMANDO’S DAKOTA BAR & GRILL. There, try the Tijuana-style fish tacos with either Alaskan cod or calamari piled high with cabbage, chipotle sauce, and fresh avocado. For an altogether different flavor profile, TOMMY BAHAMA RESTAURANT puts an island spin on filet mignon tacos, which come with slaw, street corn salsa, aioli, feta, and guac.

We’re all guilty of rushing through lunch to get back to work or finish the next errand. Give yourself permission to pause and savor the moment. After all, you’re on El Paseo time. All that’s left to do is decide: What are you in the mood for?

Sally Hill

Il Corso


Sally Hill
Chef/Owner Sweet Basil California Eatery

Entrepreneurs often say they had a hand in every aspect of their business. For chef and restaurateur Sally Hill, the expression is literal. After 13 years operating Sweet Basil in Big Bear, she and her family relocated to Palm Desert.

Hill and her husband, Martin, found an ideal spot for their new eatery on El Paseo in early 2020. With the surprise of a pandemic, the couple took the remodel upon themselves. Their elbow grease can be seen in everything from the paint and the artful woodwork to the charming patio that extends onto the street (which they built in just four days).

And the menu? That’s all Hill, too. A trip to Tuscany inspired a commitment to simple recipes and ultra-fresh flavors. “My intention with food is to keep it clean and let the [dish] stand for itself,” she explains. “Not too much complication, just quality ingredients.”

Let's Do Lunch

Soup of the day and sautéed lobster cakes with fennel-apple slaw at Sweet Basil.

Let's Do Lunch

The bacon-and gouda-topped burger at Kitchen 86 Restaurant + Bar.

Let's Do Lunch

Another Sweet Basil favorite: Prime rib French dip served on grilled naan with a mista salad.

Let's Do Lunch

Steamed mussels and baby clams at Café des Beaux-Arts.

Let's Do Lunch

A Sweet Basil favorite: Grilled salmon with Mediterranean orzo pasta and tomato basil relish.