Lunch Like a Local

These are the best Palm Desert restaurants on El Paseo to grab a bite for lunch, whether you're planning a work lunch or need a kids menu.
Story By: Marissa Willman
Photography by Brandon Harman

Power Lunch

Whether you’re catching up with coworkers or trying to close a deal, many El Paseo restaurants cultivate a business-appropriate ambiance for a working lunch. Set an upscale tone with reservations at Il Corso, an elegantly decorated Italian restaurant with an equally scrumptious menu that’s sure to impress clients and colleagues alike. Over at Sweet Basil, power lunches are always on the menu, thanks to a quiet atmosphere with spacious seating that makes it easy to talk business. Over at Porta Via, dazzle guests with a glam atmosphere and fresh California fare. Mitch’s on El Paseo offers a relaxed fine dining setting, with indoor high-top seating and a spacious alfresco section that recently underwent an overhaul. For a chic yet casual bistro option, head to The Fix for modern fusion eats, including a poke bowl, Southwest salad, and street tacos.

Lunch Like a Local

Photographed at Porta Via. She wears an Elie Tahari dress from Saks Fifth Avenue, vintage necklace from Dragonette Limited, and bracelet from Todd & Company. He wears a J.McLaughlin jacket and a Theory shirt from Saks Fifth Avenue (Styled by Jardine Hammond; beauty by Jen Plus Colour)

Patio Dining

When it comes to patio dining on El Paseo, some of the best views can be found at second-story restaurants, especially during events like the annual Golf Cart Parade or the monthly Cruise Nights, when hot rods ceremoniously roll down El Paseo. You’ll be at the center of it all at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, located upstairs at The Gardens on El Paseo. Grab a table on the patio for magnificent views of the boulevard and the San Jacinto Mountains. If you’re looking for a late lunch or early aperitif, Pacifica Seafood Restaurant also holds prime real estate for El Paseo views from above (but note they open after regular lunch hours subside). Wilma & Frieda serves up leafy salads, hearty sandwiches, and gourmet coffee along with comfort classics like meatloaf.

The larger-than-life margaritas at Armando’s Dakota Bar & Grill are also known to lighten the mood. Soak up streetside views from the covered patio over quality Mexican cuisine. At Hotel Paseo, Larkspur Grill’s large patio offers plenty of space to enjoy the sun and scenery.

Meanwhile, Café des Beaux-Arts is a favorite for its unbeatable corner location with ample patio space that’s shielded from the elements, putting guests in the heart of the El Paseo action. Dine alfresco while enjoying an authentic French menu in Palm Desert.

Family Matters

Picky kids in tow? Many hot spots cater to the entire family. Over at The Daily Grill, a dedicated children’s menu includes crowd pleasers like macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers, and a special hot fudge sundae dessert. Parents will appreciate the spaciousness of the restaurant, with plenty of table and booth options available for larger parties. Little ones love Wilma & Frieda, thanks to a full menu of comfort classics and an incredible dessert case featuring cakes, cookies, and homemade Pop Tarts that even the adults flip for. Speaking of the classics, JC’s Café pleases with a variety of hot dogs. And for tropical-inspired fun for
the entire family, head to Tommy Bahama Restaurant; kids get their own special menu here, while Mom and Dad can sip a mai tai (or maybe two).

Lunch Like a Local

Porta Via

Lunch Like a Local

The Fix

Lunch Like a Local

Café des Beaux-Arts (photo by Mollie Kimberling)

Lunch Like a Local

The Daily Grill (photo courtesy Elizabeth O'Baker Photography)