The Good Life

Desert Dining is Thriving!

The desert dining scene this winter is alive and bustling, with abundant opportunities for both outdoor and indoor experiences that celebrate the cuisine and culinary talent of the Coachella Valley. A bounty of enticing eateries, many nestled among public art installations and close to upscale boutiques, proves ready to welcome guests to dining events that lead to contented discoveries! 

Wildest Restaurant + Bar 

Wildest is about unparalleled flavor, artistry and evolved choices. The exceptional cuisine at this El Paseo hotspot features wild-caught fish, local pasture-raised and grass-fed poultry and beef as well as plant-based meals for delicious meat-free options. The philosophy is cruelty-free and supports local organic and sustainable farms.

A powerful triumvirate leads the effort with Charissa Farley and Bill Hay partnering with renowned chef Eric Wadlund who has cooked for U.S. presidents and royalty alike. 

In the way of cocktails, a cucumber gin refresher or monkey jam sour makes for a perfect starter, and the curated wine list was awarded the 2020 Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator. Menu items are from the land, sea and plants, with dishes such as sautéed plant-based scallops made from king oyster mushrooms with pea puree, okinawa sweet potato and crispy chickpeas; ahi tuna tartare with avocado and mango papaya salad; porcini char-spiced grass-fed rib eye steak with crispy herb fries; sautéed Chilean sea bass with wild rice and roasted red pepper and many other edible works.  

Prepare for an approach to dining that celebrates true flavor and makes kindness cool. 

7760.636.0441, wildestrestaurant.com

Bobby Botina’s Mexican & American Grille

Opening in the former Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse space at The River, Bobby Botina’s excitedly brings an upbeat and lively dining dynamic to the valley. Owner Bobby Granatt, formerly of the ultra-popular Bobby Mao’s, says that the new restaurant and lounge are designed to be a hangout for friends and family, residents and visitors, couples and colleagues. 

Serving up straightforward and flavorful concoctions, lunch and dinner will be offered along with a high energy happy hour, pouring everything from the colorful to the complex, jazzed up with live music several nights a week. Menu items will serve a variety of tacos, nachos, enchiladas, fajitas and burritos as well as burgers, pizza, lettuce wraps and, of course, Tina’s caprese salad. The guacamole, fresh salsa and Bobby’s margarita make it worth the trip alone!

760.776.6685, website under development.

Cork & Fork Wine Bar

Chef Andie Hubka started out with weekly get togethers inside of her cooking school, seeing it transform into Cork & Fork, combining delicious small plates and outstanding wines for every palate. Casual fine dining ranges from classic comfort and exotic fusion with a mix, match and share concept at a charming La Quinta location. 

Small plates to share include butter poached lobster shooter and Thai shrimp cakes. Street tacos are filled with filet mignon and tequila lime shrimp, and salads showcase grilled Caesar and luau.  Neopolitan style pizza is flavor-packed, and larger plates serve lobster penne alla vodka and miso ginger wild salmon. 

Desserts and happy hour are two of the main attractions, and you’ll want to be sure to try the gelato.

760.777.7555, corkandforkwinebar.com.

Guillermo’s Restaurante

Family recipes and authentic taste are the hallmarks of this classic Palm Desert establishment, featuring traditional Mexican cuisine, colorful and intimate interior design and a friendly, open dining space. 

A mainstay since 2003, house specialties include camarones a la Calafia (sautéed shrimp with mushroom sauce), molcajete plato Azteca (grilled beef, chicken, chorizo, panela cheese and a cactus paddle in red salsa) and filete mignon con salsa roja (filet mignon with manchego and pasilla sauce). A tasty happy hour serves up chicken flautas, cheeseburger and cheese quesadilla.

Serving over 300 varieties of tequila, guests will find themselves sipping the most delicious margaritas in town, made even better with live music in the background. 

760.341.0980, guillermosrestaurante.com.

Mélange at Chateau La Quinta 

Evocative of a luxurious European getaway, the patio dining experience within a luxury boutique resort surrounds diners with majestic mountain views overlooking a picturesque lake. Specializing in California family farm-sourced ingredients, the menu offers classic and contemporary dishes. 

The fire pit keeps the mood relaxed while guests enjoy cocktails such as a Chateau Bellini and Caleo Bay Cooler. Or start with a glass or bottle of Brander Santa Ynez sauvignon blanc or a Coppola Director’s Son merlot. 

Lunch, dinner and brunch include Margaretta flatbread, salmon filet with miso sauce, grilled flatiron with peppercorn sauce and strawberry and goat cheese blintz. 

Dining with the ultimate view makes everything taste even better, and it’s pretty spectacular to begin with at Mélange.

760.564.7332, thechateau.com/dining.

RD RNNR Libations, Pints and Plates

This modern craft American restaurant uses local farm to table ingredients and pours refreshing craft cocktails and a well-balanced selection of hops and rotating taps all set in a casual and laid-back environment. 

Cocktails like cali girl and cherry Jerry pair well with the pecks and bites menu which includes  spinach and artichoke dip, squidward (crispy calamari strips), tomato and gorgonzola soup and more. The foraging for greens menu covers baby beet salad and crab Louie, and evening grazing serves up Adam’s gift (baby back ribs) and cheesesteak. There are also specials like chicken piccata and pepper crusted filet.

Owners Chris and Anita Chmielak have succeeded in their dream to open a “great” restaurant with a hip vibe, in the heart of Old Town La Quinta.  

442.400.3255, roadrunnerlq.com.