On the edge of an old western movie set in Pioneertown, CA sits an old biker roadhouse called Pappy & Harriet’s. It was originally founded by Harriet’s mom in 1972 as an outlaw biker bar called The Cantina, which she operated for 10 good years. When Mom decided to sell, Harriet and her husband (affectionately known as Pappy) decided to step in. While not shunning the bikers, Pappy & Harriet managed to create a friendlier atmosphere in the place by bringing in live music and family style BBQ dinners.
In 1994 Pappy died and it changed hands several more times. In danger of closing down and becoming a forgotten piece of history, it was purchased by two New Yorkers who had fallen in love with the place. They bought it in 2003 and while keeping the original integrity, charm and grit, turned it into a “must play” on the indie music circuit. Big names like Robert Plant and Sean Lennon have played there, as well as Sonic Youth, Calexico and The Donnas who seem to love the down-home unpretentiousness and genuine enthusiasm of the desert crowd.
The dining hall and bar walls are covered from floor to ceiling with band flyers, old license plates, photos and taxidermy, giving the venue a timeless quality. Their menu is the antithesis of the now popular raw, vegan and micro-brew scene as the kitchen serves up hefty portions of roadhouse classics like ribs, top sirloin, and Santa Maria tri-tip—all grilled outdoor over a mesquite fire on the back patio. Of course, all this is to be washed down with an icy cold Bud or PBR from the bar.
While the desert can seem like a vast sweltering wasteland, Pappy & Harriet’s is truly an oasis where road-trippers and desert rats alike can share good music, good food and friendly small-town vibes.