Engage The Senses With Exquisite Cuisine
Who needs a passport when El Paseo presents a multitude of global dining options in one spot?
A wide range of Mexican specialties and a cool Cadillac margarita await at ARMANDO’S BAR & GRILL. And if it’s cucina Italiana you crave, there are molto choices. RISTORANTE MAMMA GINA offers authentic Florentine cuisine and a large selection of wines by the glass at their Enoteca Bar. If you have your eye on a big pizza pie, cross the street to PIERO’S PIZZA VINO, which has “the four key ingredients for the true Neapolitan pizza.” You could also venture down the block to CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN at The Shops on El Paseo or check out healthy global cuisine at SAMMY’S WOODFIRED PIZZA AND GRILL at The Gardens on El Paseo.
The Gardens also serves up PACIFICA SEAFOOD RESTAURANT. Sip cocktails from their international vodka bar on an outdoor patio overlooking the desert. Next door, SULLIVAN’S STEAKHOUSE offers cuts aged a minimum of 28 days. Beef is also the main attraction at one of El Paseo’s newest restaurants, MASTRO’S STEAKHOUSE — a family-owned business founded in Scottsdale in 1999.
Back at The Gardens, float on a Coconut Cloud martini at TOMMY BAHAMA’S, or choose from one of their 10 rum concoctions. Across from The Gardens, THE FIX offers breakfast, lunch, desserts, and a full bar.
JC’S PATIO CAFE will brighten your morning with its Greek Scramble (eggs, cream of spinach, tomatoes, and feta). You could also start your day with pastries, breads, and espresso at IL SOGNO.
Meanwhile, CAFÉ DES BEAUX-ARTS transports the City of Lights to the corner of Larkspur Lane and El Paseo, where you may find yourself speaking with a French accent as you order entrées such as bouillabaisse, coq au vin, and duckling a l’orange. French is also spoken at LE PAON — in the form of vichyssoise, sole meunière, an orgy of fruits de mer, and more.
Once you’ve had your fill of European cuisine, pack your bags for Asia. Stop by THE VENUE SHUSHI BAR & SAKE LOUNGE for nigiri sushi and maki rolls, or place yourself in chef Engin Onural’s capable hands and try the omakase. A few blocks east, drop into the 48-seat Japanese spot NO DA TE for sushi, teriyaki chicken, or tempura.
Contemporary California cuisine is the order of the day at FIRECLIFF, with prime steaks, seafood, and rack of lamb. Watching what you eat? Every item on the Simply 600 menu at DAILY GRILL has less than 600 calories.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for preparing exotic meals at home, SAVORY SPICE SHOP has a fantastic selection of unusual and hard-to-find ingredients that can be purchased in bags as small as half an ounce.
Engin Onural — The Sushi Specialist
Photo: Chris Miller / Imagine Imagery
There’s nothing in Engin Onural’s upbringing that suggests he would become a passionate and creative sushi chef. His parents are both engineers; and although he was born in Buffalo, N.Y., he was raised in Turkey. But at the age of 10, Onural had an epiphany that set him on his career path.
“We were in Toronto and went to the restaurant at the CN Tower. The executive chef was Turkish; and when he heard there were Turkish people dining with him, he made everything very fancy schmancy,” Onural says. “It was just such a happy atmosphere; and I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
In 2006, Onural headed to Los Angeles to pursue his dream and attend the Sushi Chef Institute. After completing the program, he worked for a sushi bar in Orange County before JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert recruited him to open its sushi bar. Onural followed that up with a stint at Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Indian Wells before striking out on his own with THE VENUE SHUSHI BAR & SAKE LOUNGE.
“I hate to be in a kitchen with no windows,” Onaral says. “In my business, I am with the customer all the time. I’m making the food, and they’re right in front of me.”
The names of many of Onural’s popular specialty rolls reveal his international leanings: Scandinavian, Bosphorus, Mediterranean. “A lot of regulars have the omakase [in chef’s hands],” he says. “They just sit down, I feed them, and they’re happy.”
Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert™
Photo: Elena Ray
Indulge in a three-day feast for the senses during the final weekend of Fashion Week El Paseo™. Inspired California chefs offer culinary delights, gourmet luncheons, cooking demonstrations and education, and more under the Big White Tent, March 22-24. Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert™ also features wineries that provide varietals specifically selected by an expert team to complement each restaurant’s menu presentation.
The festival begins on Friday with the James Beard Foundation luncheon — a sit-down, four-course dining experience hosted by celebrity chefs. Prior to enjoying an exquisite meal, attendees are treated to cooking demonstrations.
On Saturday and Sunday, event-goers taste their way through the festival, exploring selections from local and regional restaurants and wineries. Succulent aromas of garlic, sizzling meats, and wood-fired pizzas entice eager palates.
Examples of food and wine pairings from 2012 included yellow curry chicken from Legacy Thai served with a Grgich Hills chardonnay and crimini and oyster mushrooms in truffle oil on crostini from Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa matched with Roth Estates’ structured red blend. Swirling a crisp pinot grigio or breathing a deep sigh of syrah is part of the sensory excitement.
The festival benefits the Culinary Institute of America’s Endowed Scholarship Fund, while showcasing the Coachella Valley as a culinary destination.