Pioneertown, CA: Pappy & Harriett’s

Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is located near Joshua Tree National Park and is the only bar / restaurant and music venue in Pioneertown, California.  We had dinner reservations at 7:00 on the Sunday before Memorial Day… and good thing we did! Without a reservations, the wait time was over 2 hours.


The place is tiny but full of history (see history facts below).  We waited by the bar, and was seated a little after 7:00; The place was packed… standing room only at the stage.  Since we had a reservation after 7:00, we were told there was no time limit on our table. (Prior to 7:00 there was a 2 hour time limit).

Our table was facing the stage, but since it was such a tiny place, people were constantly standing in front of our table, dancing or nodding to the music, played by musician Sara Pettite. If you check in on Yelp, you get a free draft beer.  However, there’s barely a cell signal and the free wifi was slow and spotty.  I was lucky to get a signal to check in, saving us $7.00.

They were known for their barbecue, so I ordered the Skirt Steak with macaroni and cheese, and asparagus, while Stephen had the 1/2 rack of ribs, red rice and broccoli.  Food was cooked to order, and it was low and slow… we didn’t get our food until close to 9:00 (I believe we ordered around 7:30), so don’t eat here if you’re in a hurry.

We didn’t leave until close to 10:00, enjoying the music.

So a bit of Pappy & Harriet history:

In 1946, Hollywood filmmakers and investors (including Roy Rogers and Gene Autry) built Western style movie set, and a cantina set that was used in numerous Westerns during the 1950s.

In 1972, John Aleba and his wife Francis purchased the building and John further developed the property into a real cantina.

In 1982, the Aleba’s daughter Harriet and her husband, Claude “Pappy” Allen, bought The Cantina and renamed it Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

Anthony Bourdain featured Pappy & Harriet’s in the “US Desert” episode of his television show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

Performers who have appeared at Pappy & Harriet’s over the years include Paul McCartney, Eric Burdon, Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, Rufus Wainwright, The Donnas, Grizzly Bear, Neko Case, Spiritualized, Lucinda Williams, Leon Russell, Arctic Monkeys, Daniel Lanois, Band of Horses, Alvvays, Sean Lennon, Billy Corgan and the Spirits in the Sky, Vampire Weekend, Wanda Jackson, Ricki Lee Jones, Lorde, and so many more. A surprise appearance by Robert Plant in early 2006 led to a jam with the Sunday evening house band, The Thrift Store All Stars, which featured Victoria Williams.

Who knew this little bar had so much history?