By Denise Ortuno
The famous Pioneertown venue known for its music, also has some incredible rockin’ food as well, all in the high desert at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.
It was a crisp November Sunday to take a day trip up to Pioneertown near Yucca Valley. I had been there several times before, but this time I wanted to take my boyfriend up there as he had never been. It’s a trippy place without a doubt, originally built by the likes of Roy Rogers, Dick Curtis and Russel Hayden as a full blown old western style movie set in 1946, where crew members and cast could actually reside and enjoy while filming. Complete with a motel, and services, all tucked away in the high desert mountains, and is still a fun attraction to visit today.
Pappy & Harriet’s grew from Pioneertown, once being the Cantina in which Harriet’s mother and father, Francis and John Aleba opened in 1972, and then passed on to her daughter and her husband Claude “Pappy” Allen. In 1982 Pappy & Harriet’s began what would become a legendary Pioneertown destination for fabulous music and incredible food. After the passing of Pappy in the 90’s, the hot spot changed hands, and landed in the palms of Linda Krantz and Robyn Celia, who have continued the tradition of Pappy & Harriet’s and have grown its popularity as a music and food haven.
The road to Pioneertown is a slightly daunting one. Not necessarily on your way up, but the thought of people driving it on the way down after enjoying themselves at P&H can kind of be a worrisome thought…but cheers to hoping that people utilize the belief in the DD concept. On our arrival to P&H, there was a noticeable difference in the air. It smelled especially clean, as if it had been filtered for my nostrils. I found myself taking greedy breaths of the fresh air, thinking that with each intake, I was somehow cleansing my lungs of any lesser air I had breathed before. It felt good, really good. There was a wait to be seated at P&H, a collage of people looked in no hurry as they waited for a seat. But as the smell of the mesquite grill spilled generously out of the doors, it inadvertently lessened the patience.
Within a small span of time, our name echoed towards us as we were summoned to be seated. We passed the cool rustic bar, and the wall dotted with encased colored bottles lit by the sunlight streaming through them. To my delight, we were seated at a high top, right next to a cozy stove fire place, perfect for chipping off the chill that I had accumulated from the mountain air. I admittedly looked at the menu before getting there, so I kind of had pre-ordered. Although the smell of the grill was messing with the order in my mind, I still stuck to my previous decision.
We ordered the Chili Nachos, and Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw and Mac and Cheese for our side. A cold Negro Modelo was my beverage choice, and my boyfriend, since he was driving, had a soda, thanks honey! Before our food came out, we took all of the details of P&H in, from the wood ceiling, to the brick walls and eclectic wall art. It reminded us of something Disneyland would want to replicate, but this place is the real deal. Our food arrived and our mouths went liquid. The Chili Nachos looked crazy, with a load of no B.S meat chili (no beans or sprouts, what did you think I meant?) with cheddar and jack cheese, topped with sour cream, over 1970’s collar sized tortilla chips. The Chili was deep meat, with a rich bold flavor. The kind of Chili that would warm any cowboys bones after a long day of riding, or a couple of tourists from Palm Springs day tripping.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich had a perfect smoky flavor, cooled by the mild crunch of the coleslaw, and padded by the brioche bun. A side of their homemade tangy BBQ sauce came on the side, a practice I appreciate instead of slathering on the sandwich from the get go. And their Mac and Cheese, yeah…high on my Yummer-rater for sure! Cheesy and creamy, with the larger style tubed pasta, this was some major Mac and Cheese, and it married perfectly with the Chili on the Nachos. That’s right, a new dish, Mac and Cheese with Chili…oh yeah!
As we were deep in our dishes, we did cheat on the ones that we were with, as we eyeballed menu items being delivered to neighboring tables. The Baby Back Ribs looked as if they needed me…next time ribs, next time. Their Burgers were huge and come in different realizations such as Black and Blue (bleu cheese crumbles), Desert Burger (Swiss and avocado) and Bison Burger (organic and hormone free), among others. They offer Tex Mex selections, Salads, and Sandwich’s, as well as steaks including a Flat Iron Steak (8oz grass fed Wagyu Beef) and Porterhouse (18 oz.), plus many more.
They are opened for lunch and dinner, and there is live music at P&H each night that they are opened (usually closed Tuesday and Wednesday, check calendar), some events are free and some require tickets.
Does the music add to the food, or the food add to the music? Does it really matter? Whichever way, Pappy and Harriet’s is a great time, with amazing food, and authentically friendly service. All in a very unique and stunning location. I can’t wait to go back, look out Baby Back Ribs!
Pappy and Harriet’s is located at 53-688 Pioneertown Rd, Pioneertown, Ca 92268
For more information and a calendar of events visit www.pappyandharriets.com