Felipe and Lisbet Castañeda pose at Los Arboles Hotel, where one of two El Mirasol restaurants are located in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRANDON HARMAN
140 E. Palm
266 E. Vía Altamira
Gather around. These true-to-tradition Mexican recipes are made with love and passion, and you can taste the difference. Since 1985, this beloved family-run eatery has developed a loyal clientele who have become extended members of the El Mirasol family.
Husband-and-wife owners Felipe and Lisbet Castañeda operate two locations — the flagship cocina just south of downtown and a second outpost at the charming and historic Los Arboles Hotel.
“We take a lot of pride in our food here,” says Karina Castañeda, the eldest of their three daughters, who grew up in the kitchen watching their parents prepare wholesome dishes whose roots trace back to their native Zacatecas. Over the years, the recipes have evolved to become more healthful and accommodating of varying dietary preferences. The refried beans are vegan, for example (a rarity in most Mexican restaurants); the chiles rellenos are now prepared with rice flour, so gluten-free guests can still enjoy them.
With tortillas, sauces, and each dish made from scratch, a lot of care goes into the quality of ingredients. “Set aside the fried and cheese-filled items, and you’re left with a lot of really nutrient-dense sauces that have a lot of vegetables,” Karina says. “And the mole, for example, is full of so many different seeds and nuts and chiles that we grind with a stone mill to release all the oils. All of that is just so good for you, full of vitamins and minerals.”
She admires her parents’ tenacity through their decades of hospitality service and their desire to continually evolve and remain current. “They focus on making sure that the ingredients are good, the recipes stay true, and that there’s room for growth, ” she shares.
She and one of her sisters, who both work at the company, are now fixing their attention on the bar to create new drinks.
“So the growth continues,” Karina enthuses. “I’m really excited to see where we end up later — it’s a lot of fun.”