Photography By: Wyatt Faller
Photography By: Wyatt Faller

11 Open-Air Restaurants in Palm Desert We Love

Dine Outside in the Coachella Valley This Fall Season

While most areas of the country have one spectacular season, the Coachella Valley has three. As fall temperatures slip back into the 70s, tourists arrive en masse and many make it their second home. The region’s year-round idyllic climate creates an epicenter for outdoor living and culture. Expansive mountain ranges, hiking trails, golf courses and swimming pools make it the perfect weekend escape—and also the ideal place for some al fresco dining. If you’re planning a  visit to Palm Desert this fall, here are 11 open-air dining spots you’ll love! Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

 

Ristorante Mamma Gina

Dating back to Florence in 1956 and Palm Desert in 1986, this local valley landmark is the epitome of authentic Italian cuisine, bringing old-world flavors to the desert. Nestled between the high-end boutique stores and bustling energy of El Paseo, Ristorante Mamma Gina transports diners to the streets of Italy with an immersive culinary experience. Palm trees line the streets, but wood-framed lattices, hovering string lights and old-school music will make you feel like you’ve been whisked off to a Tuscan vineyard. It’s the perfect notte bella, what Mamma Gina calls “Chiaro di Luna” or “moonlight dining.” Italians wouldn’t feel any more at home in the eternal city itself. And in terms of food, Mamma Gina knows how to whip up the Italian classics. From starters like fresh bruschetta on toasted sourdough and caprese drizzled with balsamic to mains like Spaghetti alla Carbonara (spaghetti with egg yolk, pancetta and a touch of cream), Linguine Mare (featuring fresh seafood) and Scaloppine Nonno Piero (Veal, mushrooms and marsala sauce), you’re sure to find something that’ll make your mouth water. 

@ristorantemammagina

Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

Cuistot

It’s a veritable continental dining experience at Cuistot, where Chef Bernard Dervieux recreates some of the most delectable culinary dishes from his French homeland. Step out onto the terrace and you’ll feel like you’ve escaped on a European vacation. It’s a surreal experience as you admire the verdant Faye Sarkowsky sculpture garden amidst authentic French stonework and the serene backdrop of a cascading waterfall. It’s what General Manager Michael Shimer refers to as “a mystical wonderland.”

@cuistotrestaurantca

 

Backstreet Bistro

Backstreet Bistro is a Tuscan-inspired gem with rustic cuisine and array of specialty cocktails. A sliding door opens up the dining room to the blissful outdoors. The courtyard itself is within breathing distance of the San Jacinto Mountains. It’s a beautiful desert retreat that’s just a couple of blocks away from the adjacent, lively El Paseo. Most nights feature captivating outdoor entertainment, from live acoustic Spanish guitar to energetic jazz.

@backstreetbistro.pd

Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

Bellatrix Restaurant

Golf is one of the biggest draws to the Coachella Valley, making Bellatrix an unrivaled dining location. It’s part of Classic Club’s Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and sits in the Tuscan stone-themed clubhouse. Nationally acclaimed Chef Gerard Brunett serves up creative, Mediterranean-inspired dishes, and the restaurant’s terrace overlooks the gorgeous green golf course. Reflect amidst the serenity of the adjacent waterfalls and pristine greens that stretch out towards the desert horizon.

@bellatrix_restaurant

 

Wilma & Frieda

Wilma & Frieda is the desert’s most buzzworthy brunch spot—its fame extending to Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” While the eclectic decor is an experience in itself, the patio is the perfect spot to catch a little desert air. This charming cafe resides inside The Gardens on El Paseo and next door to Saks Fifth Avenue, making it a popular spot for breakfast followed by a little shopping. Enjoy a cappuccino as the sun rises above the mountains or people-watch with lunch and mimosas in the desert sunshine.

@wilmafrieda

Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

Cork Tree

This contemporary spot is renowned across the valley for its vibrant, locally sourced California cuisine and extensive wine list. It’s ideally situated in the midst of Palm Desert’s country club community; indeed, many arrive here by foot or via golf cart. Inside Cork Tree, you’ll find a space for secluded romantic dining and a bustling bar. Outside, you’ll enjoy all the romance of starlit dining while you gaze towards the desert’s eternally clear night skies. 

@cork_tree_california_cuisine

 

Jillian’s

Nationally acclaimed, Jillian’s has long established itself as the pinnacle of Coachella Valley dining with its exquisite and eclectic cuisine. Outside, the restaurant converted its magnificent gardens and secluded driveway into a permanent terrace. Entering through the private iron gates, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped into another world. “The word I keep hearing is magical,” says co-owner June Trubee. It’s immaculate and intimate, featuring live entertainment as well as a new adjoining cocktail terrace.

@jilliansdining

Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

Photography Provided By: Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

For the past 20 years, Pacifica Seafood Restaurant has established itself as the premier seafood destination in the Coachella Valley with freshness arriving daily from the coast. The enticing aromas of freshly prepared seafood dishes will send you to a virtual desert oasis. From the second-level patio, you’ll enjoy an elevated boardwalk view of the busy street below. Stretching further, the panoramic views extend out like an ocean towards the mountains. 

@pacificaseafood

 

Piero’s PizzaVino

With its 850-degree, wood-fired brick oven, Piero’s PizzaVino delivers Neapolitan pizza in the most authentic Naples style alongside an array of other Italian dishes and wines. While the whole restaurant offers outdoor views, it’s the terrace that boasts the best combination of local climate and lifestyle. It’s a prime nighttime spot for admiring the sculpted El Paseo illuminations and landscape. The cross of true Italian flavors and a busy sidewalk may have you yelling “ciao” to bemused passersby.

@pierospizzavino.elpaseo

Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

Daily Grill

With elevated American comfort fare and restaurants stretching across the nation, Daily Grill has become our dependable “home away from home.” Palm Desert is one of their premier locations, ideally situated at the point where Hwy 74 disappears towards the mountains and at the entrance of El Paseo. The original patio enclosure now stretches the length of the palm tree-lined sidewalk. Enjoy the fresh desert air within the setting of a Parisian bistro trottoir.

@dailygrill

 

Kitchen 86 + Bar

Photography Provided By: visitgreaterpalmsprings.com Greater Palm Springs CVB @visitgreaterps

One of the newest revelations on El Paseo has been Kitchen 86 + Bar. Its modern, creative, fusion cuisine has quickly established it as one of the valley’s hot spots. A retractable front gives the whole dining room a plein air feel, especially at the bar that sits right at the entrance. The busy streetside, palm trees and lights of El Paseo all offer plenty of things to look at, but the real buzz is the lively patio and a hip, energetic social dining experience.  

@kitchen86_elpaseo

Outdoor Dining in Palm Desert

About the author

I'm a craft beer enthusiast, but also a restaurant aficionado having spent over 20 years in the industry and management.

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