Rancho Mirage: Dining Guide
There’s nothing quite like experiencing a little rest and relaxation in California’s Coachella Valley.
While that name is synonymous with the music festival that bears its name, it’s been iconic for much longer than the annual romp at the Indio Polo Grounds has been around. And along with the region’s invigorating desert heat, refreshing swimming pools, and alluring spa culture, there’s a cornucopia of classy and colorful restaurants serving up meals fit for any true foodie.
Truth is, people come to the Valley from all around for its fantastic cuisine almost as much as for the fun under the sun. Have we got you feeling hungry yet? Whether you’re looking for a quick casual meal or full-on fine dining, these top eateries are all just a quick trip away from the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage.
Fans of Italian fare feeling far away from their favorite spaghetti spots will be pleasantly surprised to see just how much great pasta and sauce you can manage in Palm Desert. Where better to start than with a little mozzarella, dough, and marinara? Papa Dan’s has been voted “the best pizza in the valley” many times over. The cozy parlor offers everything from traditional New York style thin-crust pies to calzones and more. Colorful atmosphere and familiar flair make patrons instantly comfortable and ready to chow down some seriously cheesy goodness.
Those who want a more robust Italian restaurant experience can get their taste of la dolce vita at Castelli’s Ristorante, featuring fresh homemade pasta, veal chops, and of course, a nice selection of Chiantis! This is a great place to get groups together for an unforgettable dinner served up by some of the top chefs in the Valley. The family business has been running for 30 years, and the house specialty of Fettuccini Alfredo is not to be missed. It’s probably a good idea to make reservations, too, especially on busy weekend evenings.
The Backstreet Bistro is just the ticket for folks looking to chill to a mellow vibe. This beautiful Tuscan-inspired café doubles as a jazz venue on Tuesday and Saturday nights. But every day of the week, customers can enjoy the pet-friendly outdoor patio and the sense of “home” that draws so many of the locals there. If you’re in the mood to drink in the atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to enjoy lighter fare and cocktails. But make no mistake: a full bar and wide-ranging Italian menu are available, too, to satisfy anyone’s quest for a hearty meal.
Drifting slightly away from Italy, we cross the border into France and find Palm Desert’s venerable Cuistot Restaurant. Now in its fourth decade, the elegant country-modern setting features warm fireplaces and terrace seating for open-air dining. The owner/chef hales from a French farm tradition and brings years of experience from Lyon, crafting delicacies like lobster ravioli and roasted duck. Naturally, the wine selection is très magnifique (as evidenced by their 13 years of earning the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine). Cuistot welcomes small gatherings and parties of up to 320 guests.
Moving on from Palm Desert, we hone in on Rancho Mirage itself, where we discover a taste from south of the border. The delightful, hacienda-style Las Casuelas Nuevas is ready to offer a little cantina culture along with the very best of Mexican food. This family-run mini-chain of eateries, with local roots going back to 1958, is the place for authentic tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. The festive atmosphere is beautiful, warm, and friendly. And yes – there are great margaritas to be had (happy hours are the best), and mariachi music to boot.
Finally, c offers a more elegant option for those seeking to dine among the Desert elite. Fine linen-and-silver service accentuates the outstanding menu and extensive selection of fine wines. The focus on farm-to-table California cuisine features such choices as pork tenderloin, Dover sole, and sublime sweet treats like Grand Marnier soufflé and Valrhona chocolate cake. There’s also live jazz music and a mirrored dancing hall. You never know who you’ll rub elbows with – Wally’s has hosted everybody from Bob Hope to Tom Hanks at one time or another.
And this is just the beginning of what the dining scene surrounding Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage looks like. There’s plenty more to explore for epicureans looking to satisfy their palates. Some of the best chefs in the world and long-established hometown locals have set their culinary roots here. Truly, there is something for everyone. After long days of hiking, swimming, or just decompressing, step out to see what these purveyors of desert victuals have waiting for you.