It’s been ages since I dined at the original Porta Via in Beverly Hills, but I distinctly remember that it didn’t look anything like this. The interior design in Palm Desert is a masterclass of California midcentury modern, a truly elegant study in green with stunning terrazzo tile floors, maple woodwork and polished brass trimmings. Natural light streams in from every angle. Entire walls of doors slide out of the way to create a lovely indoor/outdoor aesthetic, with the A/C blasting on high indoors and the misters keeping things cool on the patio.
I was probably very lucky to get in. It was just serendipity, really, as it appears there had just been a cancellation mere moments before I began searching for a reservation. I didn’t have much time to linger because as I was actually on my way out of town, stopping in for a quick lunch before hitting the road.
There’s nothing on the menu you haven’t seen a million times before somewhere else. My blackened barramundi was a flashback to the ‘90s and absolutely delicious. Ditto the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass. Apparently everyone here has a cocktail at lunch. Mine involved mezcal, and it was very good, served straight-up in a daiquiri glass.
The ladies all around me were nibbling on huge salads — dressings on the side — with no intention of eating more than a few bites. The tablehopping was in full swing, and I felt like an interloper in this company, but I gladly basked in the joie de vivre.
73100 El Paseo, Palm Desert, 760-610-6670, portaviarestaurants.com/palm-desert