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Restaurant review: Wildest, Palm Desert

A mug of coffee and a powered sugar donut served with berries and a chocolate drizzle Coffee & Donuts is made with coffee ice cream and sugar-topped doughnuts at Wildest Restaurant and Bar in Palm Desert.

Discreetly tucked into the corner of a strip mall, Wildest’s modest exterior gives no indication of the warm, welcoming interior that awaits. A spacious lounge gives way to a glamorous dining room, where dazzling chandeliers illuminate funky wallpaper and a towering glass wine vault that doubles as a dining room for 6. It’s akin to a restaurant in a boutique hotel lobby, with a vibe that beckons you to steal a moment at the bar with a drink before moving on to a sit-down dinner.

A pair of duck confit tacos topped with pickled red onions and herbs

Duck confit tacos with slow-cooked shredded duck, red onion pickle, cotija cheese, and green avocado salsa at Wildest Restaurant and Bar in Palm Desert.

The starters are a wonderful prelude and can make a worthy feast on their own. The hearty duck confit taco duo, topped with fresh cilantro and snappy pickled onions, is excellent. I was an instant fan of the trumpet mushroom calamari, where lightly battered strips of meaty mushrooms stand in for squid to make a winning vegetarian dish.

The entrées are divided into “from the land,” “from the sea,” and “from the plant” categories, each containing artfully plated dishes. A sautéed Chilean sea bass flaked perfectly under the weight of my fork, though I wanted a notch more flavor from the brothy miso-ginger sauce. The light-sauce approach worked far better in the clam and shrimp pasta, where the subtle citrus notes of the lemon-wine sauce allowed the chile flake–speckled seafood to shine.

I’m always happy to see plant-protein plates get the same attention from a chef as meat-centric ones, so Wildest’s wild mushroom bourguignon was a delight, creatively layering creamy polenta, vegetables, and, of course, mushrooms. Mix the bourguignon sauce surrounding the polenta into the dish so each bite has a robust flavor.

Read more: Best bites along the Oxnard Taco Trail

Clam and shrimp pasta with black ink linguini in a lemon wine sauce

Clam and shrimp pasta with black ink linguini, capers, and lemon wine sauce at Wildest Restaurant and Bar in Palm Desert.

The lengthy dessert menu is filled with tempting choices. The blueberry soufflé arrived like a fruity cloud, with a sweetness that recalled cotton candy. I prefer my soufflés a bit denser, but I found myself finishing it nevertheless. The show-stopping Coffee & Donuts surprised me in the best possible way. It consisted of a mini mug made out of chocolate that was filled with coffee ice cream, plated alongside a puffy, sugar-topped doughnut. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Best dishes at Wildest

Duck confit tacos, trumpet mushroom calamari, clam and shrimp pasta, wild mushroom bourguignon, coffee and donuts.

Dinner prices

Starters, $13–$18; entrées, $24–$50; desserts, $12–$13.


72990 El Paseo, Suite 3. (760) 636-0441.

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