Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace – Pioneertown, CA

Name: Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
Address: 53688 Pioneertown Rd, Pioneertown, CA 92268
Order: Tri-tip and half rack of baby back ribs, red rice, pinto beans (link to menu)
Pricing: $$$

Monk: Last month, Mrs. Monk and I found ourselves in southern California spending time in Temecula Wine Country and Palm Springs for our 10th wedding anniversary. This being a big anniversary, my gift to her was going to be not forcing her to go to a barbecue restaurant. I’m kind of a romantic that way.

After spending a few nights in Temecula’s wonderful wineries, we set off to spend a day hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. Looking for a lunch spot nearby, we were recommended Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown by my cousin who lives in the area. I do want to make it clear that I only asked my cousin for a food recommendation and she was the one who brought up barbecue. So I still (technically) kept my promise. Thankfully, Mrs. Monk obliged and we set our GPS coordinates to Pioneertown. She’s a keeper, that one.

Pioneertown has an interesting history since its inception in 1946 as a living old western movie set, with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry being some of they initial investors. During normal times, Pappy & Harriet’s is a live music and dance hall that since its opening in 1982 has hosted the likes of Victoria Williams and Robert Plant to nowadays more indie rock bands such as Vampire Weekend or Jenny Lewis. The original owners sold it in 2003 and it was then taken over by two New Yorkers who seem to have largely kept the original vibe while making it sightly more hipster.

In addition to the live music, P&H also grills their meats over mesquite wood in a Santa Maria-style wood-fired grill. I focused in on the tri-tip and the baby back ribs on the menu, but there was no combo plate listed. Thankfully, the waitress helpfully let me know that it could be done for a price, of course. The tri-tip came cooked medium with a slight pink on the inside for the middle slices but was a little cool to the touch by the time in arrived. It had good flavor, though I could have used a little more pepper. It also came with a ramekin of thin barbecue sauce for dipping.

The ribs were sauced with a savory-and-not-too-sweet sauce but were well cooked. I should note here that neither meat was overly smoky with mesquite smoke, a concern of mine going in.

The sides of rice and beans were bland and a little forgettable but the chili fries we ordered as our appetizer hit the spot after our morning hike.

Pappy & Harriet’s is a fun spot in a cool setting in a historic town. The weather was nice enough (if a bit chilly in the shade) to sit outside and enjoy the food with mesquite smoke wafting in the air. And the food isn’t too bad, either (if not a bit pricey). It was well worth our trip into Pioneertown.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – 5 hogs
Tri-tip – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Linkdown: 2/19/20

The Takeout explores Santa Maria-style barbecue and the history of tri-tip in their latest “Acquired Tastes” column

John Tanner’s Barbecue Blog reviewed a few barbecue restaurants recently: he found great brisket at 2Fifty Texas BBQ in Riverdale Park, MD, good ribs (but not much else) at Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q in Douglasville, GA, and left The Original Leo and Susie’s Green Top Barbecue in Dora, AL disappointed

The evolution of the Texas beef rib from J.C. Reid (paywall)

Aaron Franklin’s latest venture isn’t about barbecue

Feges BBQ is opening a second location in the Houston area

Meanwhile, Ronnie Killen is opening another barbecue joint in The Woodlands area of Houston

Grape jelly in barbecue sauce? Apparently so in some regions of Georgia

This short list of eight black-owned barbecue joints in Houston includes Gatlin’s BBQ and Ray’s BBQ Shack

Interesting story, on a potential origin of hush puppies, but according to historian Adrian Miller its 50/50 whether or not its actually true

Legalize Barbecue

Friday Find: Santa Maria BBQ: Why Garlic Rubs & Red Oak Make Great Flavor

Santa Maria barbecue is not considered one of the four major styles of barbecue in the US, but it has its proponents. Zagat takes a deeper look.

The sight of grilling over an open flame and scent of red oak has made Santa Maria-stye barbecue a favorite for road trips. But what is it about beef tri-tips and garlic rubs that’s helped this alternative style of barbecue thrive? Zagat visited a selection of three Santa Maria area barbecue spots to hear from the men and women responsible for continuing the legacy of this west coast tradition.

Linkdown: 6/24/15

– In Praise of Hushpuppies and Barbecue, by Robert Moss

– After a fire early Monday morning, Speedy Lohr’s in Lexington will be closed for a few weeks

#Brisketgate explained, from the man who shot the original video at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party a few weekends back

NYC’s top 20 barbecue restaurants, according to Eater – bookmarking this for our week in NYC in October

– The name of the article says it all: 11 ways BBQ is like church

These days, it seems like more and more fanatics are joining Belinda Carlisle in the belief that heaven is indeed a place on Earth. To us, it smells of burning oak, cold beer, and fatty brisket. To many, barbecue is like a religion, so much so that barbecue worship is a lot like going to church. Still a non-believer? Here are 11 reasons barbecue is like church, but with better bread. So it was written, so it was smoked.

– Queen City Q is now hiring for its upcoming Matthews location

– EDIA Maps (the folks behind The Great NC BBQ Map) create a barbecue cocktail for the summer

– The case for Santa Maria being the secret fifth major barbecue style in the US

Santa Maria barbecue is always cooked over a fire of red oak logs, using meats heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and dry spices, then marinated or basted with a mixture of vinegar and oil while cooking. Side dishes almost always include fire-grilled then buttered bread, tossed green salad, fresh tomato salsa and beans. Because the area is known for growing sweet strawberries, berry pie or strawberry shortcake is often paired with the main course as dessert.

– Charlotte’s getting a “Mediterranean smokehouse” concept in the old Sol and Tijuana Flats location from local restaurateur Martin Sprock (c0-founder of Moe’s and whose other ventures includes Leroy Fox and RuRu), and it sounds interesting while bringing up a little skepticism from this barbecue bro

The concept for the restaurant is the first of its kind for Sprock. He plans to feature barbecue menu items like pulled pork, smoked butts, chicken and lamb – all with a Mediterranean flavor.

A specialty grill that uses hickory wood will be the focal point of the restaurant, which he plans to adorn with distressed wood and copper trim. The restaurant will also have a bar and an approximately 1,000-square-foot patio

– A NC barbecue trail from the Wilmington Star-News, though curiously it includes Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, which isn’t open yet

– Want to win a $500 gift card to Midwood Smokehouse? Of course you do! Even though Father’s Day was last weekend, enter in Midwood Smokehouse’s #SummerofDad photo contest through the end of the month for a chance to win