It’s a tour de force on El Paseo. The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge heightens the joy of eating sushi, sashimi, and other Asian delicacies by incorporating modern style into its menu. Chef/owner Engin Onural‘s artistry takes center stage — until you taste the dish he’s prepared. Then, the rich umami flavors of the Orient take over. Try the unagi (eel) or the rainbow roll (crab meat and avocado topped with a variety of fish and micro greens). The Venue is also home to an expansive list of beers and wine, but its sakes are unsurpassed. Sample the Moonstone Asian Pear for a daring introduction to new flavors.
73111 El Paseo, #113, Palm Desert.
Accolades follow Johannes like moths to a flame. This Palm Springs restaurant is known for its bold innovations of cherished recipes. Chef/owner Johannes Bacher was honored as one of the country’s brightest culinary talents in the inaugural edition of Best Chefs America. His stellar continental restaurant has won local accolades including Best Romantic Dining in Palm Springs Life. Let the charm of Europe fill your senses as you consume honey-and soy-glazed duck breast, or New Zealand grass-fed young lamb rack.
196 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Catalan is a Rancho Mirage treasure. Chef Drew Davis demonstrates that talent is an inherited trait (his father is entrepreneur and Catalan co-owner Mark Davis). Davis calls on his extensive training as a private chef in Hollywood, and in New York, where he was the sous chef at Nick and Toni’s. Catalan is a must-stop on any foodie’s exploration of desert cuisine; Davis’s expertise shines through in offerings like Catalan’s paella. The Spanish dish excites the senses with the vibrant colors and flavors of Southern California.
70026 Hwy. 111, Rancho Mirage.
Sex appeal is rarely the first trait associated with fine dining, but Figué Mediterranean Restaurant has changed that. The La Quinta eatery combines luxury with unparalleled service and a menu erupting with exotic dishes. Dine in rustic charm reminiscent of a Greek or Corsican vacation, as you feast on Elysian Fields lamb or filet of beef. Enhance the sensual flavors of your meal with a bottle of Sorelle Bronca prosecco, which pairs nicely with many of Figue’s savory dishes and particularly its desserts. Punctuate your evening with the seductive brown butter tart with tree-ripened peaches.
47474 Washington St., La Quinta.
Taste your way through Tuscany without ever leaving your table. Johnny Costa’s Ristorante has wowed Greater Palm Springs by winning “Best Italian Restaurant” in Palm Springs Life’s Best of the Best voting in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Ignite your passion for great food over a plate of Steak Sinatra (pan-seared New York steak strips are sautéed with mushrooms, garlic, and bell peppers in a wine sauce). Or, dine on spaghetti with garlic and anchovies for an old-world supper.
440 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Chow down on carne asada, chicken, and other Mexican favorites at Las Casuelas Terraza. Lunch here is often a spirited assortment of flavors that include black beans, citrusy limes, and savory meats. Devour fish tacos and a jicama salad in the afternoon. Dinner kicks it up a notch with a spicy bowl of menudo or pollo en mole. Wine and dine on the best strawberry margaritas and guacamole in the desert.
222 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
El Gallito’s fan base will attest to this: The Cathedral City eatery is as authentic as it gets. Order the chili rellenos — these peppers are flame-roasted and stuffed with melted cheese. Make a reservation, though. With so many people lining up to try the food, this location fills up quickly.
68820 Grove St., Cathedral City.
Socialize and dine under the Eastern influence of Wang’s in the Desert. Whether you’re looking to meet friendly singles or cool couples, there’s never a dull moment at this Pan-Asian fusion stop. Wang’s serves up old favorites and new discoveries like chicken pad Thai and Sichuan eggplant.
424 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
The name says it all. Leave satisfied after a meal at Thai Smile. Thai cuisine is prevalent throughout the Coachella Valley, but amid Thai Smile’s inviting cocoa-brown decor is an award-winning array of playful dishes that stimulate the senses and awaken the taste buds. Ready your spoon for the lemongrass-infused Tom Yum-Kai. Next, sink your fork into a warm plate of pineapple fried rice. Finally, work your way up to one of the chef’s special entrees. With so many to choose from, you’ll enjoy eating your way through this succulent menu.
100 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Dine at Big Mama’s Soul Food and show your love for the good old U.S. of A. Soul food is a time-honored tradition in this country. With origins in the Deep South, it showcases poultry, slow-cooked meats, and other “comfort foods.” Gather here with family for Sunday dinner and sample Big Mama’s fried catfish, cornbread, and ribs. And remember, each meal begs to be paired with the house wine of the South: a tall glass of sweet tea.
68510 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Cathedral City.
The azure and navy décor of Palm Desert’s Blue Orchid Thai Bistro creates a winsome setting for this restaurant’s delicious cuisine, which is plated to perfection. Celebrate special occasions or come here for a weekday meal. The chow mein is chock full of chunky, ripe vegetables that are sautéed and served hot and spicy. Give yourself over to the pad Thai, with its mélange of flavors and spices that will leave you licking your fingers.
73030 El Paseo, Palm Desert.
Stroll the sidewalks of downtown Palm Springs, and you’ll pass Peppers Thai Cuisine. The patio is a great place to relax and unwind with friends in the balmy evenings. Kickstart your meal with an appetizer of fried tofu or fresh shrimp spring rolls. Or, sit outside and watch the passersby while you feast on pineapple duck curry.
396 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Mario’s Italian Café caters to the authentic tastes of old Italy — just like Mama used to make. Owner Mario DelGudice executes standards like lasagna and vodka penne with the finesse of a Michelin-star chef. Mario’s has seven locations throughout the Coachella Valley, including Bermuda Dunes and Indio. No matter which desert city you visit, you can always enjoy a great bowl of pasta.
Occasionally, dining out presents a dilemma: What am I craving? Allow Potrero Canyon Buffet to answer that question for you. This enticing all-you-can-eat restaurant rests among the hustle and bustle of Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. It houses a buffet station for every appetite: Mexican, Italian, soul food, seafood, Asian and more. Its dessert offerings are equally inspiring. Sample cobbler, soft-serve ice cream, cheesecake, red velvet slices, tarts, and more. The staff is attentive and helpful, and the food is always hot, flavorful and plentiful in supply. Potrero is even equipped to handle larger parties of patrons, so this is an ideal location for celebrations or spur of the moment get-togethers.
49500 Seminole Dr., Cabazon.
Fill up on rich alfredos and marinaras at Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant. The Cathedral City eatery delivers home-style food and atmosphere that feels like a family reunion. Favorites like mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings are excellent choices for kids. Adults, order Pasta Alla Checca for a lighter and healthier option.
35325 Date Palm Dr., Ste. 111, Cathedral City.
Get it to go in Greater Palm Springs.
Take Me Home Tonight
Enjoy world flavors at our three favorite takeout joints
By Ebony March
Delhi Palace Cuisine of India
Transport yourself to the whimsical and exotic land of India, while feasting on favorites such as chana masala and chicken pakora.
1422 N. Palm Canyon Rd., Palm Springs.
China King Chinese Restaurant
Flavor profiles that burst with sweet, sour, and spicy tastes. Attentive service and fast takeout in centrally located downtown Palm Springs. Locals love the crispy, piping hot egg rolls.
295 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Jiao Palm Springs
Stop in for a bento box at lunch, or take away an order of summer rolls with prawn and mango at this Thai hot spot.
515 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. B10, Palm Springs.