Flying into Orange County Christmas week...planning to day trip to Joshua Tree NP.... probably on Christmas Day...need some culinary recommendations for lunch & dinner in one of the desert towns near the park. Not sure if we will be entering the park from the north or the south (Cottonwood)....it depends on our culinary destinations. The recommendations from several guide books are to enter the park from the south & drive thru the park going north. The California Lonely Planet recommends getting off I-10 west of Banning via Hwys 243 & 74 eventually re-joining Hwy 111 west of Palm Springs specifically for a stop in Idyllwild for its bakeries & cafes. Does Idyllwild have chow-worthy destinations to make this detour to Joshua Tree NP worthwhile & to enter JTNP from the south??? Ideally, we would like to have lunch (nothing real expensive) just before entering the park & then dinner after exiting the park at a nice memorable place (just b/c it is Christmas) before getting on I-10 & heading back to Orange County. We are open to all kinds of food but considering it will be Christmas Day, our choices might be limited. We did eat at Jilberto's in Borrego Springs last spring & it was AWFUL. Chipotle & Taco Bell (chains restaurants that we try to avoid in NE Ohio where we are from) can do better. I know that Opentable.com does exist & it is easy to find what is open Christmas Day via their website but the restaurants listed there seem to be very expensive & local culinary gems aren't listed there. Thanks for your recommendations.
Taco Bell Inc.
11879 Kemper Rd Ste 11, Auburn, CA 95603