The Best Places To Eat & Drink In Joshua Tree guide image


The Best Places To Eat & Drink In Joshua Tree

12 restaurants, bars, saloons, and wine shops in Joshua Tree.

Simply put, there’s no place quite like Joshua Tree. The land of mysterious energy vortexes, sound baths, and a National Park that fell out of Dr. Seuss’s imagination, this remote high desert East of LA has been home to hippies, artists, and friendly neighborhood mystics for decades. But thanks to Ingrid Goes West and every annoying lifestyle blogger’s Instagram, Joshua Tree has quickly become one of the more popular weekend vacation spots in SoCal. And while the town of Joshua Tree isn’t exactly known for its abundance of restaurants, there’s more here than you might think. This is everywhere you need to be eating and drinking during your spiritual quest in the desert.

The Spots

Pappy and Harriet’s imageoverride image

Pappy and Harriet's


53688 Pioneertown Rd, Pioneertown
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Open for takeout and outdoor dining.

No trip out to Joshua Tree is complete without a night at Pappy And Harriet’s. The iconic restaurant/saloon/outdoor music venue has history dating back to the 1940s when the original building (and the surrounding Pioneertown) was designed to be a 1800s frontier set for Hollywood movies. Needless to say, we wish these walls could talk. If you aren’t stumbling out after a long night of drinking and eating BBQ, you’ve done Pappy and Harriet’s wrong. Their live music area is still dark, but we dream of the day we can once again dance uncontrollably to a honky-tonk band in the desert.

Reopening for outdoor dining on March 19th.

Even by Joshua Tree standards, La Copine is in the middle of nowhere. That said, this daytime cafe (open Thursday through Sunday, 11am-4pm) serves some of the best food in the area and is worth the extra 20-minute drive into the desert. The menu is on the smaller side, but with options like duck liver mousse, pork belly banh mis, and fried chicken, it covers a lot of ground and is more upscale than most places you find around Joshua Tree. Seating is first come, first served at the moment.

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Open for takeout and outdoor seating.

Every person who goes to Joshua Tree is there to hike, take shrooms, or do both at the same time. And that means pretty much everybody is looking for a good breakfast or lunch to put in their stomachs before hitting the trails/seeking enlightenment. There are a handful of spots right outside the entrance to the National Park catering exclusively to this crowd, but you should go straight to Natural Sisters. Lines get long on the weekends, but the order-at-the-counter cafe has fantastic vegetarian wraps, sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. There’s also a vegan carrot cake that will change you, but you might want to wait till after the hike to eat it. Or not.

Open for takeout only.

In a place as remote as Joshua Tree, there aren’t a ton of new restaurant openings on a yearly basis, but one exception to that rule is The Dez. This all-day eatery opened in late 2020 and gave the downtown area another excellent post-hike refuel option. The small counter-service space is takeaway only at the moment, but there’s a large daily-changing menu that’s sure to appease every dietary restriction in your group. We recommend going for either a fresh-made sandwich (if the pesto BLT is on the menu, get it) or one of their pre-made lunch boxes to enjoy on the hammock back at your rental.

Open for takeout and outdoor dining.

As fantastic as Pappy and Harriet’s is, it’s also a 40-minute drive from the town of Joshua Tree, and tonight you’re in the mood to keep it local. Head to Joshua Tree Saloon. As the name suggests, this restaurant/bar has a kitschy Old West aesthetic, and after three beers and a whiskey shot, you’re completely fine with it. The menu is full of burgers, sandwiches and big plates of meat, and while nothing will blow you away, it’s what you need after a long day of taking photos of big rocks.

Open for takeout and outdoor dining.

It’s been a long day at the park and the last thing you want to do is stand in the kitchen for two hours to make dinner for everybody. Give the cutting board the night off and order takeout from Pie For The People. It’s easy to be skeptical of a NYC-style pizza place in the middle of the California desert, but after one pie your instincts will be proven wrong. The pizza is solid, and the menu is big enough to ensure everyone will be happy. The meat-heavy Hwy 62 Revisited is our favorite.

Open for takeout and delivery.

Perhaps you didn’t come to Joshua Tree thinking you’d be indulging in Indian takeout, but after three days of hemp smoothies, you’re ready for something a bit more substantial. Head to Sam’s. This family-run spot has an extremely solid menu filled with dishes ranging from chicken tikka masala and spicy aloo gobhi to shrimp saag. As the name suggests, there is also pizza served here, and while we applaud Sam’s entrepreneurial prowess, we recommend sticking mostly to the Indian side of the menu. Be sure to call in your order early - wait times can get intense.

Open for takeout only.

You can find bags of Joshua Tree Coffee’s beans in markets all over Southern California these days, but a visit to the original location for early morning caffeine is an essential JT experience. Not only is the locally roasted coffee excellent, but its slightly hidden location (down the alley in between two other businesses) is the perfect place to sit, relax, and shake off last night’s Pappy and Harriet’s hangover. Prepare for lines and don’t leave without a nitro cold brew.

Open for in-store shopping.

From the vast array of affordable natural wines and crystal necklaces to the festively dressed alien out front, Wine & Rock Shop in Yucca Valley is a must-visit during any trip to JT. The quirky shop is a great place to do some gift hunting for that one friend who’s always hard to shop for, as well as replenishing the weekend wine stock without having to venture to Vons. And if you think you’re leaving without an extensive photoshoot with the alien out front, you’re sadly mistaken.

Open for takeout only.

You just showed up to Natural Sisters and the line is 30 people deep. Head one block over to Crossroads Cafe. The all-day diner has solid food any time of the day, but their breakfast is excellent and hearty. By mile eight of your hike, you’ll be grateful you ordered those huevos rancheros. The bar is also a solid place to down a beer or two after you’re done with the trails.

Available for in-store shopping.

Apologies to the fabulous national park, but drinking under the stars in the backyard of your rental house is the reason you come to Joshua Tree. But in the event your booze stock starts to run low, there’s no need to stress - JT Bottle Shop is here. The downtown shop that opened in December 2020 specializes mainly in small production wine under $25, but there’s also an excellent beer fridge as well as a small selection of craft mezcal and other spirits. Plus, they’re open until 8pm on the weekends, which in Joshua Tree, basically makes it an after-hours spot.

Open for in-store shopping.

If you need to pick up some vitamins or supplements during your trip, you can do that here. But that’s not why JT Health Store is on this list. It’s on this list because it’s a fine purveyor of the greatest hummus ever created - Majestic Sprouted. Yes, you can order this hummus online for an exorbitant price, but what’s the fun in that? This is a must-stop before heading out of town, because everyone knows that hummus is the best road trip snack. Get some falafel chips for dipping.

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Suggested Reading

Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew review image
Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew

Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew is a lunch spot with excellent sandwiches, cookies, and a quiet side patio.

La Copine review image

La Copine is a daytime cafe in Yucca Valley, and is worth the drive from Joshua Tree for a late lunch.

Cafe Aroma review image

Cafe Aroma is an all-day cafe in Idyllwild with regular live music and an indoor/outdoor space.

Ferro review image

Ferro is a family-run Italian restaurant in Idyllwild with a big menu of pastas, salads, and pizzas.

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