Desert Dining Guide

Take your tastebuds on a journey

By Alison Elsner

One of the most appealing elements of dining out is the escapism. Having a skilled artist prepare your meal in unique and creative ways that incorporate seasonings and spices that we don’t have on hand in our own kitchens makes for an adventure, whether remaining close to home or while away on a vacation. The restaurants highlighted in this issue can easily be said to support a spirit of wanderlust, whether that be with visions of Belle Époque palaces in Menton, France, the white villages in Cádiz, Spain, or the Ludwig Múzeum in Budapest, Hungary. This sense of discovery extends from the cuisine to the wines to the colorful decor.


Consider us your advocate in this sensory endeavor as we get you started on this month’s cultural re-awakening.


Bellatrix Restaurant

Most of know Bellatrix as the elegant eatery within the Classic Club, offering dining under the stars or lunch overlooking the championship golf course designed Arnold Palmer. What many may not realize is that the name is taken from a bright star in the constellation of Orion, translated from Latin as “female warrior.”


Both female and male guests will enjoy the Wine Bar featuring a selection of over 100 wines by the bottle and over 30 wines by the glass along with an impressive full bar. Specialty cocktails offer up lime foam margarita, fountain of youth, empress mai tai and naked, almost famous with yellow chartreuse and Aperol.


Oysters Rockefeller and short rib nachos get the party started, with mains that include honey garlic salmon, manicotti and eight-ounce filet mignon. Creative side dishes such as lemon and EVOO sea beans and mashed potatoes keep the portfolio simple yet sublime.


75-200 Classic Club Boulevard, Palm Desert, 760.601.3600,


Café des Beaux Arts

One of the few locales in the world that can re-create the sidewalk dining experience of Café de Flore or Café Les Deux Magots off Boulevard St. Germain, Paris is right here Palm Desert. Café des Beaux Arts is a Parisian-style French restaurant that captures the essence of the owner’s family heritage from the Provençal village of Saint-Cannat.


Owner Didier Block opened this charming café in 1993, and the menu along with the European ambiance has remained a favorite ever since.


The menu features an outstanding selection of fine French entrées such as duckling a l’orange, roasted rack of lamb Provençal and savory crepes and salads. The climate-controlled outdoor patio, located on the corner of Larkspur and El Paseo, is the ideal spot to people-watch and enjoy the desert lifestyle. The elegant bar with its balance of cozy booths and a U-shaped copperplate bar top is where patrons will find a delectable small bites menu and can enjoy live entertainment two nights a week.


Feel free to bring your literary circle of friends.


73640 El Paseo, Palm Desert, 760.346.0669,


Cork Tree

The name itself is reminiscent of the spectacular trees that grow along the Mediterranean coast. Cork Tree in Palm Desert serves up delicious takes on California cuisine with its rich, European influences. Wines showcase curated selections from California’s west coast as well as from Canada, ranging from sweet and light-bodied to dry and full-bodied with distinctive oak and tannins.


Entrées include temptations such as 14-ounce prime ribeye, roasted Icelandic salmon, pasta primavera and white Peking duck breast. The convivial atmosphere lends itself to shared side dishes of mushroom risotto, broccolini, scented jasmine rice, wok fried Brussels sprouts and truffle pommes frites.


Bar and lounge offerings from 5 p.m. each day present crispy Japanese pork belly, firecracker shrimp, Argentine filet and Burgundy and thyme infused escargot “en croute.” And you definitely don’t want to miss out on the braised Anjou pear salad or the organic rainbow beet salad.


Everything on the menu is part of a kaleidoscope for the senses.


74950 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, 760.779.0123,



Miro’s is a charming corner restaurant tucked away in Plaza del Sol in Palm Springs, presenting homestyle cooking with Slavic and European influences. Miro Terzic, his wife Mirela and his mother Tidja as well as the rest of the family immigrated from Mostar, Yugoslavia in 1994, establishing Miro’s as a desert favorite. Diners will find exceptional service to accompany the homestyle soups, pastries and lovingly crafted recipes from the Mediterranean including dishes from Hungary, Italy, Greece and Germany.


Miro’s features a full-service bar and unique wines from Austria, Croatian Islands and Bosnia Herzegovina, such as Grüner Veltliner from Austria and Overture by Opus One from Napa, California.


Appetizers such as escargots à la Bourguignonne and Moroccan lamb meatballs start strong. Entrées include fish and seafood such as branzino and Chilean sea bass, and turf options cover Budapest schnitzel, filet mignon, rack of lamb and beef stroganoff.


1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760.323.5199,


Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill

You’ve probably heard the news by now, but in case not, Stuft Pizza has recently completed a significant upgrade to their Old Town La Quinta location in the form of a spacious new patio. It’s been rebuilt from the ground up with fresh flooring and a complete trellis throwing shade (the good kind) throughout the space. Owner John Bertram notes the enhancement to the al fresco dining experience, offering wind protection with drop shades, permanent heaters, lighting, a sound system and misters.


Happy hour is always a solid bet at both the La Quinta and Palm Desert locations, with $6 pints of craft taps, sangria and house wines by the glass, especially tasty when paired with green bean fries or Thai noodles. Dinner and lunch menus feature Baja fish tacos, filet mignon, chicken artichoke piccata and pizza combinations such as The Maui and The Napa Valley.


The family-owned business will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year at the La Quinta location. It’s comforting to know that the plan is for this superlative eatery to be here for another 20 years!


78015 Main Street, La Quinta, 760.777.9989

72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert,760.610.7990



TRIO Palm Springs

Chef-driven, modern California cuisine continues to make TRIO a standout since owner Tony Marchese opened in 2009. His focus on exceptional service, consistent food quality and charity support keeps TRIO at the top of the food-chain, so to speak.


Launching the meal with a cocktail such as forever Marilyn or cucumber gin fizz sets a contented tone. Starters include crab croquettes and ahi tuna crudo. Land and sea entrées feature diver scallops and Wagyu New York strip steak while pastas serve up gemelli, torchietto and agnolotti. Desserts are extraordinary creations such as olive oil cake, chocolate sticky toffee pudding and buttermilk panna cotta, while after dinner drinks include pours of espresso or chocolate martini and Sandeman port (choice of 10, 20 or 30 year).


Beer, wine and sangria are plentiful, and the bar menu presents options such as braised meatballs, Aziz Farms dates wrapped in bacon and TRIO smashburger.


A bonus is the rotation of art displayed upon the walls, blending well with the nearby galleries in this Uptown Art District favorite.


707 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760.864.8746,