Cafe des Beaux-Arts
If your holiday prerogative calls for a leisurely afternoon among friends over a bottle of French wine, a pot of steamed mussels, and a basket of fresh-baked bread to sop up all the sauce, you need not travel to the City of Lights to find it. Harkening back to the bustling bistros of Paris past, Café des Beaux-Arts cultivates an experience that is decidedly transportive.
The indoor-outdoor restaurant sits at the heart of Palm Desert’s buzzy shopping boulevard, El Paseo, offering prime alfresco seating and peoplewatching. Inside, wood paneling, antiqued mirrors, and crimson booths are illuminated by the soft glow of glass pendant lamps. Owners Didier and Christina Bloch have infused the space with touches of retro French décor and playful artwork — the paintings are Christina’s handiwork, while the quirky sculptural objets d’art are all crafted by Didier.
New partner Emmanuel Bulteau adds his expertise as a lifelong restaurateur. Paris-born “Manu” moved to the desert from Florence, Italy, two decades ago, charming and welcoming patrons on El Paseo’s restaurant scene before joining Café des Beaux-Arts.
You’ll find locals gathered around the circular central bar, unwinding after a round of golf or a workday. Daily happy hour includes drink specials and a vast small-bites menu, with live jazz Wednesdays nights during season.
The menu focuses on French fare, breakfast until dessert — from stuffed crepes and duckling à l’orange to artisan cheese plates and profiteroles. One bite and your taste buds will be singing, “Oh là là!”