By Tracy Dietlin

I had not planned on writing a review this week and certainly not at the last minute on a Tuesday which is production day here at CV Weekly. However, events lead me to a meeting and holiday gift cards from my daughter lead us to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch.

It had been over 10 years since my last visit to this restaurant and much had changed. They now have a separate bar area divided by a glass enclosure and a lunch menu designed to satisfy every palate. I’m not usually a fan of chain restaurants but I assure you I will be returning to this establishment very soon.

From the time we walked in we were waited on hand and foot. Our lovely server Leah Juarez, was not only friendly and professional but she made us feel like we were her personal guests at her home and not serving us in a restaurant. You could tell this 20 year old girl loves her job. Her vivacious yet genuine personality truly was a breath of fresh air. I must also mention the great assist from bartender Michele who was also a delight. While my back was to the kitchen, my husband pointed out that the manager, Danny Hoben, was working right along with his cooks to keep things moving smoothly during heavy lunch hour.


My husband and I decided to try the Tuscan hummus with warm pita bread for an appetizer while enjoying a glass of chardonnay. Delicious!

Our food arrived in a timely fashion and was superb. I chose the kale salad which had shaved Brussel sprouts, pear, candied pecans, cranberries, quinoa and gorgonzola topped with salmon. Even though it was the ½ size salad it was so big I could barely finish it. It was definitely one of the best salads I have eaten and the salmon was perfectly prepared. My husband selected one of the lunch specials; the oven roasted turkey sandwich on toasted ciabatta with warm brie, shaved Bosc pears, baby greens and house-made honey mustard. This was accompanied by a Caesar salad. (With ½ sandwich and salad only 9.95 and with full sandwich 13.45) His meal was equally as impressive as mine was. So much that he didn’t even share a bite.

Even though we were too full for dessert, Leah twisted our arms and insisted we try the salted caramel pudding with black cocoa cookie crumbs, housemade whipped cream, caramel sauce and natural flaked sea salt. What more is there to say! A perfect ending to an unexpectedly delicious and refreshing dining experience.

CPK is located at 73-080 El Paseo in Palm Desert. Call 760-776-5036 for curbside takeout.