The Best Dining Spots Near Joshua Tree


There is simply no place quite like Joshua Tree National Park. It is a land of mysterious energy. Of vortexes, sound baths, and a national treasure that seems to have fallen out of Dr. Seuss’s imagination. This remote high desert east of Los Angeles has been home to artists, hippies, and friendly mystics for decades.

It comes as no surprise, thanks in part to social media and Ingrid Goes West, that Joshua Tree has morphed into one of the more popular weekend spots in Southern California. While the town of Joshua Tree isn’t exactly known for its plethora of restaurants, there’s more available here than you might think.

During your spiritual quest in the desert, here are the best places to eat and drink.

Pappy & Harriet’s

For great American fare, no visit to Joshua Tree would be complete without a night at this lively spot. Located about a 40-minute drive from town, it is an iconic saloon/restaurant/music venue with a wonderful history dating back to the 1940s. Back then, the original Pioneer town was designed to be a frontier set circa the 1800s for Hollywood movies. If these walls could talk! Golden era movies aside, Pappy & Harriet’s has great BBQ and tasty drinks to suit any taste.

La Copine

For your midday meal, this local joint is worth driving 20 minutes into the desert for and seems to be in the middle of nowhere, even by Joshua Tree standards. Generally open 11am – 4pm, La Copine serves up some of the best food in the entire area. The smallish menu suggests every single item is prepared with the utmost love and aplomb. With options such as pork belly Banh mis, duck liver mouse, and fried chicken, the culinary journey does cover a lot of ground and is more upscale than you would think.

Natural Sisters

No matter who you are or what you expect to get out of Joshua Tree, just about everyone could do with a hearty breakfast before facing the day, and Natural Sisters provides. Whether you are hitting the trails or seeking enlightenment (or both) first come here to feast on the all-important meal of the day. Beware that lines can often get long on the weekends, but there is the option of ordering at the counter. Their carrot cake offers a bit of enlightenment all its own, however, you may want to hold off on this exquisite treat until after your hike. Or not.

Joshua Tree Saloon

For something a little closer in town yet on the same caliber as Pappy & Harriet’s. Its kitschy Old West aesthetic will charm the pants off you, and after a couple of beers with a whiskey chaser, you won’t mind the kitsch. The menu fills the belly with burgers, sandwiches, and huge plates of meat – perfect for after a full day of taking photos of big rocks in the desert heat.

Pie For the People

Pizza lovers! Eat in or order take-out at this New York-style pizza joint. It’s easy to be skeptical of good pizza in the middle of the California desert, but PFTP will prove your instincts wrong with solid pizza and an extensive menu that will satisfy everyone in your group. The ‘Highway 62 Revisited’ pizza is our personal favorite.

Joshua Tree Coffee

Tucked discretely down an alleyway between two other businesses, you wouldn’t think this popular coffee spot would be so popular, but the excellent locally-roasted beans suggest otherwise. A great place to sit, relax, and shake off the transgressions of last night’s Pappy & Harriet’s hangover. Be prepared for lines.

Crossroads Café

If your first choice was Natural Sisters and you get there only to find the line 30 people strong, head one block over to Crossroads. The all-day diner is greasy spoon deliciousness personified, and the rest of their menu is solid. By mile seven of your hike, you’ll be grateful you loaded up on those huevos rancheros. This is also a great place to come to celebrate the hike at the end of the day with a beer or two.