With fresh apple-green walls, wood awnings made from reclaimed lumber, new wood floors, modernism style lights, and a couple of fun semi-circular booths added to the mix of seating accommodations, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) on El Paseo reflects the current trend of modern, sustainable environments.
During a three-day construction period in December, the Palm Desert restaurant was also enlarged by enclosing a rear patio that provides overflow seating or private dining for up to 20.
And a whole new bar area that is separated from the dining room by glass walls has both bar and dining options, with three coveted tables on a slender open patio overlooking El Paseo.
The new bar offers an early and late happy hour that General Manager Bruce Bradford hopes “will enliven night life this side of El Paseo.”
Small plates, flatbreads and other appetizers are available Monday through Thursday, 3-5 p.m. and 8:30 to close. Signature cocktails, wines and beer are $7 during happy hour, with $1 off draft beer, and an adventurous wine flight for $9.
Customers can also get a closer view of the pizza kitchen with counter seating right in front of the yellow-tiled wood-burning oven. Chefs hand toss and stretch the dough right before your eyes, and load each pizza with dozens of creative toppings.
While the eclectic California menu has been scaled back to keep everything fresh, dozens of CPK favorite items remain, each starred by the palm tree in a yellow triangle symbol.
The original BBQ chicken pizza is still on the menu, made with CPK’s “legendary” barbecue sauce, smoked Gouda, red onions, and cilantro.
CPK’s Thai chicken pizza offers a spicy peanut and chili sauce with chunks of chicken baked until the crust is lightly browned, and topped with cool, crisp shredded carrots, bean sprouts and cilantro.
Crispy thin-crust pizzas include a pear and gorgonzola with chilled field greens; Sicilian style with marinara, Italian sausage, Capicola ham, salami Mozzarella and shaved parmesan; and the Jamaican Jerk chicken with a spicy, sweet Caribbean sauce, Jamaican spices and Nueske’s apple wood smoked bacon.
New on the menu are CPK’s gluten free pizzas using a certified gluten-free crust and other verified ingredients.
The flavor-forward Moroccan spiced chicken salad comes with roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, red peppers and chopped cranberries all tossed with a house-made champagne dressing.
CPK’s popular Kung Pao spaghetti tosses garlic, scallions, peanuts and red-hot chilies with your choice of chicken, shrimp or a combo of both over penne pasta.
Don’t miss the signature Panko-crusted Mahi Mahi fish tacos with shredded cabbage or the California club sandwich with avocado, tomatoes and Nueske’s bacon that you can customize with chicken or turkey breast.
Right now, their Valentine’s Day celebration for two offers one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert for $30, available Feb. 12-16.
California Pizza Kitchen, 73080 El Paseo, Palm Desert, (760) 776-5036. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.