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Get Close to World-Class Talent at Pappy and Harriet’s

Pioneertown and Pappy and Harriet's are must-visit destinations and frequently land on Palm Springs bucket lists. The saloon-style honky-tonk restaurant in a town that wouldn't exist were it not for Roy Rogers and his buddies is an epic spot to dine and listen to excellent music. A road trip highlight, put Pappy's on your itinerary when you're heading for Joshua Tree National Park or Coachella. In fact, Pappy's hosts small Coachella performances, so now you know another place to go.

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01 A storied past: Pioneertown’s beginnings

Pioneertown

Pioneertown traces its roots back to the 1940s when a bunch of movie industry bigwigs decided to build an 1870s-themed living set for Western films and TV series. Cut to the 21st century, and approximately 400 people still live in this faux frontier town, a curious place now deemed a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places. Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace is located where the facade of a cantina once stood. Harriet's mother bought the building in 1972 and opened and operated a biker burrito bar for a decade before Harriet and her husband took over and renamed the place.

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02 From the silver screen to the music scene

musicians performing on stage

When Harriet and Pappy were at the helm, the venue became more family-friendly and filled with the sounds of live music. Pappy died in 1994, and Harriet sold the business. Subsequent owners were former customers who loved the restaurant's atmosphere and capitalized on the growing popularity of Joshua Tree National Park. The cantina went from featuring as an exterior on "The Cisco Kid (1950 to 1956)" and "Annie Oakley (1954 to 1957)" to becoming a growing venue hosting illustrious musicians like Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, Sean Lennon, and newer acts like Lizzo, Lorde, Vampire Weekend, and The Arctic Monkeys.

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03 Culinary delights: More than BBQ

Pappy and Harriet's serves fantastic Mesquite barbecue and yummy Tex-Mex comfort food. Smoky, umami flavors appear on the carnivore-focused menu alongside traditional comfort food. You'll find garlic mashed potatoes, chocolate cake, and the kind of food beloved by all. Try the homemade melty cheese fries, which come highly recommended, along with the mac n' cheese, nachos, chili, gamey bison burger, and the cactus flower drink. The LA Times has raved about the food.

04 The ambiance of the Old West

pioneertown with western culture

Expect nostalgic and rustic Old West vibes with earthy colors, wooden elements, and desert succulents. Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace is a popular dining place, so the restaurant encourages waiting patrons to explore the town to while away the time. You'll feel transported to the Wild Wild West. Take pics of dusty Mane Street and the bank, stables, jail, bathhouse, barns, and bowling alley. You may even stumble across a pretend gun duel.

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05 A stage for legends and locals

Pappy and Harriet's intimate music venue can accommodate more than 1000 attendees and has become a legendary venue during and beyond the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Savor the sounds on a star-studded stage while the skies above glitter. Think Phoenix, Glass Animals, Orville Peck, and even Kesha. Weekly open mic nights are a huge draw for artists and audience members alike.

06 Pappy & Harriet's in pop culture

With a reputation as one of the top 100 American music venues, this legendary tavern has been referenced in the media numerous times. From "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" to a lyric in the Counting Crows "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" and as a filming location in music videos, films like "Ingrid Goes West" and multiple ads, each mention leads to an influx of visitors.

07 A desert oasis for music lovers

There's peace to be had in the barren desert. The 794,000 acres of Joshua Tree National Park beckon folks seeking a temporary reprieve from the hustle and bustle of life. Huge yuccas and boulders pepper the landscape in the Colorado and Mojave deserts, and you can benefit from the oasis before and after a memorable performance.

08 Community and camaraderie

people sitting at pappy and harriet

Pappy and Harriets isn't just a hub for musicians and music lovers. Work from the region's visual artists is dotted all over the venue. Paintings, sculptures, triptychs, murals, photographs, and video stills add to Pappy's character. In recent years, the community has banded together to fight gentrification and preserve the town's heritage aesthetic.

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09 Expanding horizons: New owners, new era

In 2021, Pappy and Harriet's changed ownership. The venue was bought by a married couple with experience in entertainment and hospitality who took over from Robyn Celia and Linda Krantz, the New Yorkers who bought the bar in 2003. The new operators handle bookings and promotions and plan on retaining Pappy's special ambiance while upgrading WiFi, sound gear, wait times, and customer flow.

10 A menu that tells a story

The hikers and the retirees. The bikers and the weekenders from LA. They all queue for Pappy and Harriet's amazing pub grub. This is the place to eat if you're in the area because of the venue's legacy and because the chef honors the ingredients. Pappy's goes through 500 pounds of ribs per week, and the tri-tip is seasoned beautifully but minimally.

11 An unforgettable live music experience

With a music venue inside plus an outside concert area and a stellar reputation earned over many years, Pappy and Harriet's is a special place to come and relish music, specifically indie rock. Live shows are energetic and attendees feel physically close to performers. It's often a packed house, and you might see fans shed tears at the proximity to their idols.

12 Pioneertown: More than just a venue

There's lots to do in Pioneertown. Look out for the pottery studio where you can take classes. There's also horse camping and a film museum to check out. Pioneertown's motel is fabulous too, if you want to stay in town. Travel for half an hour north for a different acoustic experience at the Integratron.

13 Celebrations in the desert

desert at pioneertown

If you'd like your wedding photo album to be full of moody adobe brickwork and unconventional aesthetics, you'd do no better than to have your nuptials at Pappy and Harriet's. The hip venue has an eclectic history and event planning track record to help you host a breezy boho SoCal celebration like a family reunion or workshop. Accents like native florals, macrame, and feathers can keep things classy.

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14 The evolution of a desert landmark

Pappy and Harriet's has been on quite the journey over the last few decades. When Francis, Harriet's mom, was at the helm, outlaws may or may not have frequented the bar. The owners from New York transformed the humble cantina into a coveted performance venue. These days, tech is being employed to streamline processes, and there are more employees than ever (around 70). The current owners plan on expanding the kitchen by 500 feet too.

15 Planning your visit: Tips and tricks

old saloon in pioneertown

The restaurant isn't open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so plan your visit accordingly. There may be shows on these days though. Pappy's doesn't do reservations or takeout and tickets to shows don't include a table for dinner and vice versa. Parking is available 100 feet past the tavern, on the right-hand side. Taxis are your best bet.

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