Hidden Valley visit leads to dinner treasure

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — While walking around the Hidden Valley trail loop, I never expected to get a promising dinner suggestion from an local couple. The couple has lived in Twentynine Palms for about eight years and raved that our class try Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace in nearby Pioneertown.

Claiming that Pioneertown is known for being the film location of classic Western movies, they assured that we would enjoy the scene.

After telling the rest of the class and our professors, we all agreed we would trust the locals. Driving down the dark windy road, with no streetlights and rock formations towering on either side, was not the most comforting start to our evening.

Click on the video at the right to view a slideshow about Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace located near Joshua Tree National Park. The slideshow was photographed and produced by writer Stephanie Beyl.

It seemed like we were driving to nowhere, shocking us that something appeared even more remote than Twentynine Palms out in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. Following the GPS, we heard our stomachs rumbling and hoped we made the right choice.

The final turn assured us we had found it. A brightly lit old restaurant was ahead. Too many cars had tried to fit themselves into the lot, but thankfully we found parking. Our faces lit up as we got out of the car, not only from the appearance of this popular restaurant, but from the smell of BBQ in the air and the unmistakable sound of country music.

Still adjusting from the Miami heat and humidity, we ran inside from what we considered “freezing” desert weather. We all peaked our heads inside like little children trying to spy on Santa.

We definitely did not belong to this crowd, but we wanted to. Women could easily be spotted in boots and men in cowboy hats.

Once seated, our entire group gawked at the menu. It was filled with everything from soups and salads, to pulled pork sandwiches and steaks. Side dishes of garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw made our mouths water.

We ordered as quickly as we could, but were easily distracted when served our beverages. All drinks were served in Mason jars, something we definitely did not see in the city of Miami.

A musician performs as part of the band at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace near Joshua Tree National Park (Photo by Stephanie Beyl).

While waiting for our dinner, we watched the band. The lead singer guzzled a beer before he started. The lights were low and gradually people made their way from the bar to the dance floor. The type of dancing was also new to us. I chose to snap pictures of my classmates as they enjoyed the tunes, possibly to avoid dancing myself.

When we returned to the table, the food was as tasty as we expected. We had juicy meats, flavorful sauces, vegetables, and the comfort of country cooking.

We were even intrigued by the bathroom, which had saloon style doors, but thankfully with locks. The front of each door was hand painted with a different scene and inside the stalls the walls were covered with handwritten notes from customers.

The billiard room with an old piano only added to the atmosphere of this hidden treasure. While our trip to Twentynine Palms was a quiet get away from Miami, we definitely managed to find a little bit of celebration in Pioneertown.

Stephanie Beyl
University of Miami ’12

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