By Denise Ortuno

Relax and enjoy great lunch deals, and sidewalk dining at Thai Smile El Paseo in Palm Desert.

El Paseo is well known as the Rodeo Drive of the Coachella Valley, and dining along the famed street can get a bit pricey, even for lunch. I mean, once you buy a bobble or two, and an outfit at Gucci, you might want give your wallet a little TLC. Thai Smile is a perfect place to achieve that goal.

Located on the eastern side of El Paseo, Thai Smile sits on a popular part of the street, near shops and other restaurants, just a hop and a half skip away from The Gardens on El Paseo. The restaurant has indoor seating, as well as two cool patios for sidewalk dining, for entertaining, people watching.


Thai Smile El Paseo relocated from their spot in Rancho Mirage three years ago, where they had been for well over a decade. I remember going to the Rancho Mirage location, delighting in its cozy ambience and always consistently fantastic food. But I had yet to go into their new location until recently.

My boyfriend and I decided to stop by for lunch at Thai Smile El Paseo on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the desert. We were seated outside on the patio, and although the weather was a little on the warm side, their misting system made outdoor dining more than comfortable. I had some menu items that I had missed having since the last time I visited the restaurant, such as their Crispy Springs Rolls (ground chicken, cilantro, black mushrooms, and glass noodles, served with sweet and sour sauce) and Tom Yum Kai soup (spicy chicken soup with chili paste, galanga, ginger, lemon grass, lime juice, mushrooms, tomato and cilantro), both make my mouth water just mentioning them.

Some my other favorites are the Pla Koong salad (large grilled shrimp ,with Thai basil, lemon grass, lettuce, lime juice and hot Thai Chili) and their House Fried Rice (your choice of chicken, pork, or shrimp with stir-fried rice, egg, onion, scallions and tomato with their special sauce). Honestly, there are many more dishes that I crave from Thai Smile that could easily result in me listing the whole menu.

The prices at Thai Smile are pretty reasonable to start with, but this review is geared towards their lunch specials, which are very impressive. Their lunch entrees go from $12.95 to $14.95, and include salad, with an addictive peanut dressing, or a cup of Tom Yum Kai soup, along with steamed rice. The portions are generous, and depending on your appetite, a to-go box is more than likely. For our lunch, we started with some of the Crispy Egg Rolls that I had been craving, and then I ordered the Kungpao Chicken for $12.95( high flame Szcehwan style, with carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, roasted peanuts, green and red bell peppers, red chili peppers with oyster sauce). My boyfriend went for the Pad Thai also for $12.95 (Thai noodles with chicken and shrimp, bean sprouts, egg, crushed peanuts, scallions and their special sauce). He opted for the salad, and I of course had to have the soup that I had been dreaming of. It was just as I remembered, so very tasty, with an abundance of flavors all playing well together. My Kungpao Chicken was excellent, with just enough heat from the spice. My boyfriend was kind enough to share his salad with me, because I just had to have a fork full of lettuce ladled with that peanut dressing….so good!! His Pad Thai actually came with an option of rice, or one Crispy Spring Roll. He chose the latter and gifted it to me…thanks baby! The Pad Thai was the best have ever tasted, it was Pad Thai perfection.

Other lunch deals include, Mongolian Beef for $13.95 (carrots, mushrooms and scallions, in a rich oyster sauce), Prik Khing for $12.95 (choice of chicken or pork, chili paste sautéed with Thai basil, green beans and red and green bell peppers) and Seafood Exotic for $14.95 (seafood combination with Thai basil, onions, green bell peppers in a hot chili sauce) plus many more.

Besides Thai Smiles daily lunch specials, they also serve dinner nightly, and have a full bar, where food is also available.

Shopping on El Paseo makes for an enjoyable time. What will make it even better, is to take a nice well priced lunch break at Thai Smile El Paseo, for delectable sidewalk dining. I certainly look forward to going back soon.  

Thai Smile El Paseo is located at 73-725 El Paseo, Palm Desert 92260 760-341-6565

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