The top brunch spots on Palm Desert’s culinary avenue please with sweet and savory, breakfast or lunch.
By Lisa Marie Hart
Photographs Courtesy of the Restaurants
Brunch is not only practical — often extending more variety in menu items than any other meal — but it’s also a leisurely and convivial way to ease into the day. If you’re planning to stroll along El Paseo, why not brunch beforehand and then spend some time walking off the French toast and shopping the boutiques?
The valley likes to brunch every day of the week, so seating can come at a premium, especially if you have an indoor or outdoor preference. You’re in luck: Most brunch spots accept reservations, so call ahead or book online to hold your place. Even if you’re not heading out for classic Sunday brunch, it’s best to know a table will have your name on it when you arrive. Then you can move on to ordering a specialty Bloody Mary or mimosa post haste.
Wilma & Frieda When this leader of the local brunch pack says they serve “comfort food with a twist,” they’re not kidding. If comfort can be found on the end of a fork, it’s here in the form of hearty dishes with a decadent composition. The twist steps in with creative sides (homemade pop tarts) and unusual offerings with a pop of spice (Chile Verde with pork and Brie omelet). Ask about the egg-topped griddled meatloaf or the Chilquiles, which loads house-made tortilla chips up with house-made salsa verde, vegetarian-approved soy-rizo, queso fresco, and two eggs cooked your way. Salads, sandwiches, burgers, and melts balance out the assortment of sweet temptations like blackberry custard French toast and a churro waffle. Sidewalk seating available on the upper level of The Gardens on El Paseo.
73575 El Paseo #2310, Palm Desert;
Café des Beaux-Arts The next best thing to waking up in Paris is heading to this French institution on El Paseo for brunch on the sidewalk terrace. Francophiles will want for nothing as they peruse a menu that speaks their language with a very authentic accent. (The owner is French, after all.) Where else can you indulge your craving for Eggs Meurette (poached eggs on an English muffin with Canadian bacon, spinach, shallots, and a red wine sauce, served with breakfast potatoes), crepes, a Croque Monsieur, or Quiche Lorraine? Avocado toast, Salade Niçoise, and cold poached salmon with tarragon mayonnaise are among the most-ordered entrees at this bistro that opened in 1993.
73640 El Paseo, Palm Desert
Kitchen 86+Bar A relative newcomer to El Paseo’s brunch scene, this bustling hub with expanded sidewalk seating strives to focus on local and organic ingredients. “Modern” and “eclectic” menu items also drive the plates the come out of the kitchen with artistic presentation. For brunchers, that translates into a Boom Boom Beni (signature shrimp in a Thai chili glaze with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on an English muffin), a seafood ceviche, and egg dishes that incorporate a bounty of fresh garden vegetables. An extensive salad menu calls to healthy eaters; wood-fired pizzas are among several specialties that incorporate the chef’s homemade meatballs.
73130 El Paseo, Palm Desert
The Fix Once a cute café known for its house-made desserts, The Fix is now a full-fledged restaurant that maintains its charming café atmosphere. Lavazza coffee served piping hot is the smart start to a parade of benedicts, omelets, and frittatas that join customer favorites like ahi tartare and house-made corned beef hash and eggs. Take your tastebuds to the southern states with a plate of chicken and waffles or south of the border with a breakfast burrito or huevos rancheros. East Coasters are happy to see lox on a bagel here, too. Any café that offers oat or almond milk and a green tea latte is clearly on a mission to please.
73580 El Paseo, Palm Desert
JCs Patio Café Family-owned since 1987, this casual courtyard café serves a full breakfast and brunch menu all day. (They are open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.) Among the seven different scrambles and three breakfast burritos are more than a dozen salads, a long list of time-honored sandwiches, and breakfast staples like Belgian waffles, French toast, cheese blintzes, and a bagel with lox. Patrons and their pups appreciate the shaded, dog-friendly patio that attracts a strong following of regulars.
73200 El Paseo #1A, Palm Desert