From Europe to Asia to South America, Your Global Cravings Are All Here
If a trip abroad isn’t in the cards for you right now, don’t worry–just because you can’t jet set overseas doesn’t mean you can’t be whisked away to some great countries via the delicious cuisine right here in the Coachella Valley. In Palm Desert, you can taste globally inspired fare, ranging from authentic French delicacies to Thai classics. So read on and be prepared to experience a true taste of culture and cuisine at these seven Palm Desert restaurants!
Transports you to: Florence, Italy
If authentic Italian cooking is what you’re after, look no further than Ristorante Mamma Gina. This Palm Desert restaurant opened its doors in 1986, and its roots date back 30 years further in Florence, Italy, where the Pierattoni family opened Trattoria Mamma Gina, which remains a staple eatery in Italy today. Olivia and Jake Pierattoni are the grateful owners and pride themselves on their top-notch Italian cuisine, great service and beautiful atmosphere. The executive chef has been in the family business since its opening day, the sous chef for 20 years, and many staff members have been on board for decades as well—always the mark of a great place to work. Cozy up in one of the many booths and try the Risotto o Fettuccine alla Mamma Gina, an Italian arborio risotto, or homemade fettuccine with imported porcini mushroom sauce. Be sure to come during happy hour from 4 p.m. to close every night to try a Bellisimo Bellini with Prosecco, Giffard’s Crème de Peche and peach nectar. Buon appetito!
Transports you to: the French Countryside
At this picturesque French restaurant, you can be seated in one of five beautiful indoor or outdoor spaces. Cuistot’s owner and chef, Bernard Dervieux, was born to a family who owned a farm in France, which inspired his love of fresh, healthy food. Dervieux was once the Beverly Hills Hotel’s executive chef during the ‘80s before branching out on his own. If you want to experience his creative vision for French cuisine, make a reservation in Chef Bernard’s Room, which has a view of his exhibition kitchen. When you go, try the pork medallions over steamed spinach paired with the Domaine Joseph-Drouhin Chablis chardonnay. Cuistot also hosts delectable wine dinners!
Transports you to: Lima, Peru
This charming restaurant specializes in a variety of tasty dishes from both Peru and Colombia. Mi Cultura’s signature dish is the rotisserie-style Pollo a La Brasa, which you can order whole, halved or quartered along with sides like arroz (Peruvian jasmine rice), papas frita (french fries) or frijoles (Colombian-style beans). Also popular are the Colombian or Peruvian Empanadas, which are made from hand-crafted cornmeal or flour dough and filled with beef, chicken or potato. The owner, Jonathan Moreno, explains that his restaurant is unique to the Coachella Valley and that it offers dishes that can be found mainly in LA or Miami.
Transports you to: Baja, Mexico
For traditional Mexican food plus a lively atmosphere, Casuelas Café has been the place to go in Palm Desert since 1992. In 2018, the restaurant was redesigned by architect Juan Carlos Ochoa to add an outdoor patio and special-event area called El Zochalo. You can check out the musicians and other events scheduled at this venue on their website. Especiales de Casa includes Lobster Baja-Style, which features 26-ounce lobster tails with fresh vegetables and rice. An array of combination plates feature classic Mexican fare to pair with a soft drink or a thirst-quenching margarita.7/10
Transports you to: Tokyo, Japan
Musashi Japanese Restaurant is owned by Stella Kim and has offered high-quality Japanese dishes for more than 25 years. The staff is led by Executive Sushi Chef Masao Arai, who is devoted to serving quality fresh fish, meats, soups and noodles. You can choose from authentic Japanese dishes like chicken katsu, which is panko-breaded and lightly fried, to sushi favorites like the spicy yellowtail rolls and salmon skin roll. An extensive drink menu includes Kubota Senju Ginjo sake with a dried fruit mineral nose and Grgich Hills fume blanc wine, Napa 2013. For dessert, try a refreshing scoop of green tea ice cream!
Transports you to: Berlin, Germany
Alps Village is a family-owned restaurant owned by Chef Milka and her daughter Blanka Sanin, who have enjoyed cooking for their friends for many years. Milka was born in Mostar (formerly Yugoslavia) and moved to Germany during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. Today, she uses her experiences cooking in German restaurants to bring authentic European dishes to the Coachella Valley. Among their culinary offerings are schnitzels, homemade sauerkraut and cabbage rolls, but to experience the best of German cuisine, order a Meal Sampler, which includes a stuffed cabbage roll, smoked bratwurst and wienerschnitzel. Alps Village may not look like much from the outside–it’s tucked inside a strip mall–but you’re in for an authentic German experience!
Transports you to: Bangkok, Thailand
When this Thai restaurant opened its doors in 2012, owner Suchada Soramaki’s motivation was to please a variety of palates with Thai-style food. Blue Orchid’s master chef visits Thailand on a yearly basis for inspiration and enjoys learning more about traditional dishes as well as culinary trends. This restaurant even shares some of its recipes on its website in a “Cook With Us” page, where you can learn how to make dishes like pad Thai or yellow curry. Blue Orchid’s menu includes Thai favorites like pot stickers, teriyaki chicken, Thai curries and steaming seafood dishes.
Lynne Eodice is an accomplished writer & photographer. She is the former Features Editor for Petersen’s PHOTOgraphic magazine, and has contributed her writing and/or editorial expertise to Photographer’s Forum, Rangefinder, DoubleExposure.com, California Tour & Travel, Family Photo and Adorama’s Learning Center. She is also the author of Photos That Inspire: Photo Workshop, an instructional book that’s illustrated with more than 200 images by various photographers, published by Wiley & Sons.