We temporarily moved to Yucca Valley on a whim. Where is that you ask? 45 minutes east of Palm Springs and adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. We knew it would be remote, but truth be told, it was a little jarring when we got there with a very monotone color pallet, surprisingly cold temperatures, and a lot of rundown strip malls.
We are restaurant and bar people. Love to cook, but love to explore a city by wining and dining. At first glance, this is not the place for such things, but after a little exploration and we found some amazing winners.
The outside aesthetics of most places in the Valley leave much to be desired. Don’t let this deter you from giving a place a try. I won’t mention which establishment, but we may or may not have sent a text to my sister-in-law with a pic of the outside of the place with a note that said, ‘last known location if we go missing.’ The jokes on us, the food was awesome and we became repeat customers.
TOP 10 BEST PLACES TO EAT
Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, & Twentynine Palms
*No particular order
1. Kitchen in the Desert - Twentynine Palms
After hiking 49 Palms, we swung by here for a bite. OMG! I love this place. The covered patio is a perfect place to take in the live music and enjoy some sunshine. I ordered the hot, fried chicken sandwich and it was perfectly cooked, and not greasy at all. The menu changes frequently according to what is in season. I think this is always a sign of a great restaurant.
Luckily the vibe is good because they are NOT fast, so sit back, order a bottle of wine, and relax because nothing happens quickly here.
2. Yucca Kabab - Yucca Valley
The name is cheesy but damn this food is good. Hummus, kabobs, shawarma, and falafel, we had it all. And it was all, delicious. It is family-run and operated by a group of brothers. These boys hustle. I have never seen such an amazing work ethic.
The restaurant gets busy, so either arrive by 6 or 6:30 or place your order to go. Our quoted hour-long wait was barely 30 minutes but that may not be the norm.
3. Joshua Tree Saloon - Joshua Tree
This place is classic. Dripping in history and quirkiness. A perfect place to grab a pint after a hike in the park. They make a mean margarita as well. They have a great patio and often have live music on the weekends.
The entrance is around the back through the patio. Look for the old school bus.
4. Pappy and Harriet's - Pioneertown
A Must! Pioneertown, an old western movie set from the 1950s with actual stores, is quirky and this bar is no exception. The Pioneertown Stampede is offered on alternating Saturdays. Arrive at Pappy and Harriet's at 11 am on Saturday, order a drink, enjoy a burger, watch all the people, and take in the environment. From there, head to the Stampede in Pioneertown.
Check out their music schedule. Some great shows roll through this random part of the world. Depending on the time of the year, the show will be either inside or out.
5. The Dez- Joshua Tree
This grab-and-go spot is very small but offers everything you need for a perfect little picnic. I had a Budda Bowl that hit the spot after a day of hiking in the park.
If you plan to go hiking after a visit to the market or to breakfast, first place your picnic order at Dez. This will help you beat the crowds and hopefully avoid a long wait. They will give you a little beeper that works up to a block away so you can wander while you wait.
6. Copper Room - Yucca Valley
I LOVE this place! If we would have discovered it earlier, our pocketbooks would be sorry. It feels straight out of the ’50s but not, because it just opened in March. I immediately wanted a martini and a cigarette (don’t worry, it’s no smoking and I don’t even smoke anymore) the vibe was that good.
Overlooking the tiny Yucca Valley airport and the surrounding mountains, the tranquil view is a nice surprise. I enjoyed a martini and a steak and my heart and belly were happy.
7. The Tiny Pony Tavern- Yucca Valley
So good! So weird and here for it all. Black canvas paintings of cats line the walls. Every Tuesday is karaoke. The pool table always has a set of quarters on deck.
The drinks are spot on and when we finally ate here, it was surprisingly tasty. The menu changes frequently. I highly recommend the duck confit nachos and the sloppy joes. We became frequent flyers immediately.
8. La Copine - Yucca Valley (up Old Woman Springs Rd)
Run by two female transplants from LA, La Copine is a hidden culinary gem in the Valley. It is a bit of a drive, but stop by the orchid farm on your way there and make a day of it.
This place is usually slammed. They have a great patio and a smaller interior. Make a reservation especially if the weather is bad. The menu changes seasonally. The menu descriptions are a bit odd, but our table of three was overwhelmingly happy with every bite of food we ate, even the eggplant.
9. Frontier Café - Yucca Valley
The BLT here still haunts my dreams. It is also the least healthy thing on their predominantly healthier, vegetarian menu. Brunch is super busy so bring your patience.
Order at the counter, take your number, and enjoy the people-watching. Definitely pop into the Hoof & The Horn next door. They have a great selection of clothes, hats, and accessories.
10. Sam's Indian Food & Pizza - Joshua Tree
Full disclosure we did not eat here, but every local we ran into recommended it start away. This was also amplified by our AirBnB host. It is first on the list for the next time we are in the area.
Desierto Alto - Yucca Valley
While not a restaurant or a bar, we had the best experience here. Being huge wine and spirit geeks, it was fun to explore their offerings. Friendly staff, decent range of wines including some natural options, and a ton of spirits especially tequila and mezcal. Their merch is good as well. Todd may own a Desierto Alto t-shirt now.
Joshua Tree Coffee- Joshua Tree
Great coffee! We sampled this at the Farmer's Market and immediately bought a bag.
*In town on Saturday, stop by the farmer’s market! It is small but mighty with a variety of vendors. We were lucky enough to be in town when sunchokes and mushrooms were in season. Needless to say, we ate our body weight in both.
***Bonus spot: Morongo Valley Café - If you are driving to or from Palm Springs this is the perfect place to stop for breakfast. From the outside, it looks like an abandoned building. Inside is a classic café, full-on with a tiny counter and tiny stools in the middle. Order the cinnamon roll. It is one of the best I have ever eaten. The servers were super friendly. Note, they close at 2 pm.
Looking for dessert...Boo's Oven, adjacent to the market, has great pies! Make sure to pick one up for dessert. The blueberry pie was amazing. Unfortunately, the bread was underwhelming, but they may have been having an off day. The veggie hand pie is also tasty.
I love being surprised and the food scene here did just that. I never expected the caliber of food, the unique atmospheres of each restaurant or to miss so many of these establishments when we left the area.
And needless to say, I will be slower to judge a place by it's exterior moving forward.