Mitch’s on El Paseo is a concept developed by long-time restaurateur, Mitch Epstein, who brings his 31 years in the restaurant business to team up with respected sushi master and chef, James Holder – who was raised in Japan as the son of an American serviceman and a Japanese mother, and remembers learning to ‘cut fish’ (as he calls it) when he was 13, in his village of Hiyama. Mitch’s serves strictly Prime seafood and steaks with every dish a dramatic presentation.
Sushi Master James Holder began his professional career at several high-end sushi restaurants in San Diego, including playing an integral role in the opening of UTC’s celebrated Café Japengo. During his tenure, Café Japengo was awarded the California Restaurants Association Gold Medallion Award for “Best Sushi” eight years in a row. Born and raised in Japan, Holder started making sushi at the age of 13 with his mother in his hometown of Hiyama. He is currently Chef/Partner at Valentino’s lounge in Chula Vista and at Mitch’s on El Paseo in Palm Desert, which was recently voted one of 10best.com’s “Ten Best Restaurants in the Desert.”
The location of Mitch’s, the former Augusta Restaurant at the corner of Portola and El Paseo on the East end of the famed avenue, sets an exquisite dining scene with a multitude of windows showcasing the spectacular mountain views and an expansive lawn and lush landscaping in the back of the restaurant. Accommodating 275 people on upper and lower levels as well as picturesque patios, Mitch’s also has two distinctive bars with flat screen TVs, eye-catching wall art and fire pits.
Here’s what I tried:
‘Super Dave Osborne’ Margarita with Reposado Tequila, splash orange liquor, fresh squeezed lime juice with a splash of house made sour mix, topped with Grand Marnier. Big huge zest tangy flavors, this is a great margarita.
Cucumber & Raspberry Mule, with muddled cucumbers and raspberries, Russian Vodka, Bundaberg Ginger Beer and a twist of lime then topped Lindermanns Framboise. If you like a good mule then this is the cocktail for you.
Eel Avocado Cucumber roll, just what the doctor ordered, in its entire rich splendor.
Spicy Scallops handroll, with spicy crab, cucumber. There are a lot of scallops in this roll and the sauce is to die for.
Shrimp Tempura hand roll, with snow crab, avocado; everything in it makes this hand roll extremely delicious.
808 Roll, with shrimp tempura, snow crab, avocado, cucumber rolled & topped with spicy tuna, crunchy flakes and macadamia Nuts. My kind of roll, shrimp tempura with the crunchy flakes and macadamia nut, it is just perfection.
Lump and Snow Crab Cakes with corn remoulade, spicy aioli, micro greens. There are big huge chunks of crab; with the spicy aioli you can’t go wrong.
Creamy Shrimp and lobster, shrimp and lobster lightly tempura, miso lime aioli. Served in a large martini glass with shaved carrot, this is a great way to start your wonderful dining experience.
Yellowtail Sashimi Jalapeno Yuzu, sliced hamachi, sliced jalapeno, yuzu, ponzu sauce, habanero tobiko. This dish has a kick so beware, but their fish is just so fresh it makes for one exceptional appitizer.
Honeymoon Oysters, 4 Pcs. Pacific Oysters, ½ shell, tobiko & salmon caviar, sea urchin, lemon ponzu sauce. I had to eat all 4 of these, they have the most unusual pairing possible, oysters with sea urchin and caviar, all of my favorite foods. I would order this hands down again here any chance I get!
Asian Clam Miso, very subtle but the extraordinary fresh clams make all the different in the world.
Pistachio Crusted Salmon, oven roasted Alaskan salmon, pistachio pesto crusted, with fresh mixed greens, honey dijon vinaigrette. The salmon is delicate but crunchy, with an amazing flavor.
Lobster, shrimp, avocado, served in a bread bowl made of poppadum (Indian Bread) with lobster claw meat and grilled shrimp In a mango vinaigrette with fresh avocado. One of my all time favorite seafood salads, especially the way they housed it in a poppadum, truly unique.
Shrimp & Lobster Linguine, with black tiger shrimp, lobster, heirloom tomato, garlic slices, basil, in olive oil. This is a simple dish but the fish itself is remarkable. I can’t get enough of the shell fish in this pasta.
Kobe Burger, 1/2 lb. Ground Wagu Beef, on a brioche bun, sweet cornichon sauce, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, shoestring truffle fries with Parmesan Cheese. You can really taste the difference between this meat and any other regular type of hamburger. It is worth every dime extra to try Kobe/Wagu beef.
Sake Marinated Black Cod, sake miso marinated cod baked, quinoa, brown rice. The cod is just so tender with a great hint of miso and sake, a stellar choice as an entree.
Grilled Asparagus, these are big huge spears and grilled to perfection.
Truffle Fries with Parmesan Cheese. The combination of truffle and fries is always going to be terrific and these don’t disappoint.
Fuji Apple Tart, Fuji apple, sweet butter, roasted tart with vanilla gelato. The star of this dessert is the crust, buttery and flaky, just wonderful.
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulée with fresh seasonal berries. A nice departure from many of the crème brulee’s I have tried, just a bit creamier.
Here are the wines I tried:
Chardonnay Rombauer, Napa Valley, CA. A very smooth yet buttery wine, with lots of well-intentioned components. I would try this with the lobster and shrimp creamy appetizer.
Chardonnay Jordan, Alexander Valley, CA. A perfect match with the shrimp and lobster linguine, a hint of garlic, this is a great marriage of flavors.
Chardonnay, Ferrari-Carano, “Tre Terre” Russian River, CA. I loved this selection with the salmon, it is balanced and subtle, but will add a nice creaminess to this dish.
Zinfandel XYZIN, “Old Vines” CA. This is a no-brainer, hello Kobe burger, truly the right combination.
David Mc Ghee, who is responsible for their fantastic wine list worked at Pacifica 4 years with Mitch Epstein, his knowledge helped me make some great wine decisions.
The music is mostly adult contemporary with some classic rock mixed in, with a music satellite station playing Stevie Nicks, Hall & Oates, Jeff Lynne, and others.
The décor is very desert with lots of modern touches. Some very cool design elements include: ceiling with herb and floral sketches, and brass copper etched flowers, also the crystal oblong chandeliers are very artsy.
My charming waiter David, who is from Colorado Springs, has been in the desert since 2014. He also has a day job, but moonlights at Mitch’s as a waiter. He was very eager to please!
Mitch’s is going on its 5th season. There are 3 areas to indulge your senses, upstairs, patio, and the main dining room, the patio is bigger then the main room. Mitch’s on El Paseo Prime Seafood is open seven days a week from 11:30 am to 10 pm, serving Lunch and Dinner, as well as daily Happy Hour specials including a range of menu items such as sashimi, sliders, featured wines and sake, martinis and other cocktails. In December and January they have live music Friday and Saturday nights.
What your going to get at Mitch’s on El Paseo is the best seafood that you have ever tasted, with a nice Asian twist. Everything here is fresh, fresh fresh. All of the little attention to details is astounding. Every dish is perfect in its presentation and lovely to eat.
Mitch’s on El Paseo Prime Seafood
73951 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260
*note some content was taken off of their website.