This weekend, Molly and I found ourselves in the rare and enviable position of having nothing to do, so we decided to find something fun to do in the area. One of the great benefits of living in Los Angeles is that you are surrounded by so many different cool destinations that seem to be worlds away from the city. Mountains, oceans, forests, vineyards and deserts are all a short drive away. We opted for deserts on this weekend and headed out towards Joshua Tree National Park. Just a couple of hours east of LA, Joshua Tree is visual delight of stunning vistas, incredible rock formations, and of course the ubiquitous Joshua Trees, for which the park is named. More importantly however, Joshua Tree is in the middle of nowhere, and Molly and I, of course were concerned (as always) with what we were going to eat.
Nowadays you can get a pretty complete profile of what an area has to offer in about 3 minutes thanks to the internet or one of the many apps our “smart” phones can offer. Our research brought up one place that seemed to stand out called Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Located in Pioneertown (a fake town built in 1946 as a set for western movies- now it is home to a few gift shops, a small motel and this restaurant) Pappy’s offers pool tables, live music and lots and lots of BBQ goodness.
Since Molly and I prefer to eat on the early bird schedule of a retired couple we walked in a couple of minutes after 5. After wandering the place aimlessly for a while (there didn’t seem to be any employees on the floor at the time, though there were customers seated and eating) I tracked someone down who found us a table. Though the place was very nearly empty at the time, every single table had a handwritten card noting a later reservation on it. We took this as a good sign and were seated at a table with a 7 pm reservation on it so we had plenty of time. As I said, Pappy’s is a BBQ place and there was no shortage of meaty options to be had, and really not many unmeaty options. Luckily Molly and I are Omnivores and can work with any menu. (Side note: I have many vegetarian friends, and I wish them well, but I don’t really want them dictating my eating options, so I never feel bad being at a place that doesn’t cater to them. This may say more about me then them however.)
As usual Molly and I did our best to get as much of the menu as possible brought to our table, with her ordering the ½ smoked chicken and me getting the “cowboy combo” of a half slab of baby back ribs AND some tri tip steak. We strategically ordered different sides and vegetables to eliminate repeats (We NEVER EVER order the same sides if possible, to encourage sharing) and waited while the place quickly filled up. Shortly our giant plates of food arrived and we did our best to try to put a dent in them. The chicken was incredible, with a crisp smoky skin (Molly declared it was about as good as chicken can taste) and the ribs and steak were tasty as well (though fairly standard). Weirdly, the vegetables were a highlight as Molly’s broccoli being perfectly steamed (usually broccoli is steamed to death) and my green beans were sautéed with the perfect amount of sliced garlic. Sometimes when you are away on vacation getting leftover food wrapped isn’t an option, but the hotel we were staying at had a fridge, which likely influenced our over ordering (and we were able to eat a real cowboy breakfast of cold bbq chicken and ribs the next morning).
At the bottom of the P&H menu it recommends that you ask the server about their fresh baked pies, and so after our dinner was cleared I embarrassed Molly by engaging in some “clever” banter with the waitress about desert (most of my interactions with servers can be classified as in the style of “embarrassing dad”)
We were told that the pies were still being baked and wouldn’t be ready for about an hour. While this was mildly sad, our hotel was about a 3 minute walk away, so we settled up, brought the leftovers home, digested dinner for a bit and then came back an hour later for fresh pie. They were offering 2 of my favorites, pumpkin and blueberry and rather than lament having missed out we ordered both. By this time the band had started playing and the place was packed, luckily we found the last two seats at the bar and ate our still warm pies in less time than it takes a horse to flick a fly off its tail (I was really trying to get some cowboy speak in here, don’t know that I succeeded). It’s good to know that even in places where there are more cacti than people, the people who are there are making good food.
Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
53688 Pioneertown Road
Pioneertown, CA 92268
- tableforyou posted this