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A woman holds a margarita in her hand during daylight in a desert town.
Desert scapes and drinks at Red Dog in Pioneertown.
Joseph Weaver

21 Places to Drink and Dine Around Joshua Tree National Park

Old Western saloons, rib joints, and swanky poolside hangouts in Southern California’s desert escape

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Desert scapes and drinks at Red Dog in Pioneertown.
| Joseph Weaver

If old legends are to be believed (and in the desert, they often are), the Joshua Tree got its name from a group of 19th century Mormon settlers who saw the upturned branches and were reminded of the prophet Joshua. It was as if the strange, prickly trees were beckoning them to the promised land.

Biblical mythology aside, Joshua Tree National Park is a sort of promised land for desert lovers. Located approximately 130 miles from Los Angeles, the 760,636-acre park is a mecca for rock climbers, hikers, and stargazers. The nearby towns of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Twentynine Palms also offer a classic California desert experience in the form of saloons that serve cocktails in Mason jars, sun-soaked cafes, and poolside restaurants that feel like literal oases in the desert.

Whether a trip to Joshua Tree calls for treks through the desert or margaritas at the pool, here’s where to drink and dine near the park.

Add: Yucca Kabob, Western Diner, Giant Rock Meeting Room, El Guero Mexican Grill, Roadrunner Grab+Go, Jelly Donut

Remove: Dillon’s Burgers, Pie for the People, Royal Siam Cuisine Thai, Joshua Tree Coffee Company, 29 Palms Inn

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Morongo Valley Cafe

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Morongo Valley Cafe is known for its dog-friendly patio and all-day breakfast. Diners can expect classic comfort food including biscuits and gravy, French toast, tuna melts, and rotating soup specials.

The Red Dog Saloon

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A little bit hipster, a little bit cowboy. That’s the vibe at Red Dog Saloon, a former Hell’s Angels biker bar that looks straight out of a western film set (because it was). Red Dog Saloon serves elevated Tex Mex menu items, including wagyu beef brisket tacos, mushroom asada tacos, and chips and queso. The cocktail list fits the desert setting: mezcal margaritas, mules with fresh ginger juice, and Manhattans made with mole bitters.

A red tray of tacos and queso and beans during daylight.
Tacos and more from Red Dog Saloon
Joseph Weaver

Pappy & Harriet's

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In 1946, a team of Hollywood investors created Pioneertown as an old Western film set. After more than 50 films and TV shows were shot on-site, it transformed into its current iteration: a restaurant, saloon, and live music venue. Located on an isolated patch of high desert far away from city lights and cell service, the restaurant serves quesadillas, barbecue, burgers, and cocktails in mason jars. In 2021, Desert Daze festival founder Phil Pirrone and Knitting Factory Entertainment took over booking for the venue.

Frontier Café

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Nestled among antique shops and boutiques, this Yucca Valley cafe serves sandwiches and salads, plus wine, beer, and kombucha. The emphasis is on fresh, desert ingredients (think prickly pear lemonade and arugula salad tossed with pepitas). There are plenty of plant-based options too, including a vegan BLT with housemade tempeh bacon.

Western Diner Yucca Valley

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Expect 7 a.m. breakfast through late lunch at this Yucca Valley option known for pancakes, french toast, and easy eating lunch sandwiches, burgers, and wraps — all served from a seriously retro space.

La Copine

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Minimalist desert style meets thoughtfully created dishes at this stylish fine dining hot spot. La Copine hits all the right notes with its sun-bathed interior and seasonal dishes. The seasonal menu includes an eclectic array of cuisine which can include items like corvina ceviche, pork belly ramen, crispy buttermilk chicken with grits, and warm beignets. Only open Thursday through Sunday, La Copine is very popular and does not offer reservations — but it’s worth waiting for a table.

La Copine
La Copine

Giant Rock Meeting Room

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Giant Rock Meeting Room is one of the coolest places to get food in all of the high desert, thanks to its rustic Western aesthetic and stage for live bands. Find wine, pizza, occasional pop-ups, and lots of artsy locals hanging out inside.

El Guero Mexican Restaurant

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El Guero is for the people, as evidenced by the wide array of folks who frequent the restaurant. Families split large combo plates, buddies share trays of nachos, and everyone eyeballs the fajitas and enchiladas as they pass.

Yucca Kabob

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Hummus, grilled meats, and side salads feel perfect for this small corner of the larger desert, and thankfully this Yucca Valley staple provides. Find families, hikers, and tourists all dining in on any given day.

Sam's Indian Food & Pizza

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Sam’s Indian Food & Pizza does indeed serve both of its eponymous items, with an emphasis on Indian food — shrimp tandoori, jalapeno naan, and saag shorba. The pizza menu includes all of the usual favorites (meat lovers, Hawaiian, veggie), plus unique Indian fusion pizzas, such as the Bombay pizza topped with chicken tikka masala.

Natural Sisters Cafe

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This quintessential Joshua Tree counter service restaurant always has a crowd of rock climbers and hikers posted up out front. Situated at the epicenter of the small downtown area, Natural Sisters Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants near the park. The plant-based restaurant serves curried rice wraps with homemade tahini dressing, quinoa burgers on whole grain, spinach and sun-dried tomato salads, plus customizable juices and smoothies.

The Dez

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From pre-hike sausage rolls and cortados to post-climb charcuterie, The Dez is a great option for grab-and-go breakfast, lunch, and dessert. Diners can choose from a la carte items such as caprese paninis and avocado toast or order entire boxed lunches made with desert adventures in mind.

Crossroads Cafe

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Crossroads Cafe serves diner food inspired by southwest and California tastes. In other words, there are good old fashioned hamburgers made with beef, but there are also ahi tuna burgers with jalapeno-lime aioli and Impossible burgers on brioche. The menu also includes tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, salads, housemade pastries, and beer and wine.

Joshua Tree Country Kitchen

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What is it about desert trips that makes roadside diner food taste so good? When passing through the town of Joshua Tree, the place to have it is Country Kitchen. Open since 1977, this restaurant serves all-day breakfast and lunch with comfort food classics such as biscuits and gravy, blueberry pancakes, and country-fried steak.

Roadrunner Grab+Go

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While admittedly not much of a restaurant per se, this centrally located Joshua Tree stop is ideal for groups wanting quality food on the cheap. It’s perfect for backpackers and day trippers heading into the park, and don’t sleep on the wide array of awesome drinks.

Joshua Tree Saloon

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Joshua Tree Saloon’s outdoor space (simply called The Yard) may be one of the most photogenic spots in town. It’s also the site of live music and outdoor barbecue on the weekends, and it’s the perfect place to savor ginger-marinated ahi tuna poke with homemade tortilla chips or beer-battered jalapeño slices. An indoor saloon serves 14 draft beers and a must-try mojito. Karaoke night draws crowds here.

The Rib Co

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Longtime Twentynine Palms favorite The Rib Co. sits poised on the Twentynine Palms Highway (the two-lane road that serves as the main artery through the Joshua Tree area), just begging desert travelers to pull over for some brisket. The menu includes several styles of ribs, like baby back, St. Louis style, and Tennessee whiskey glazed, to name a few. There are also burgers, brisket sandwiches, and build-your-own plates served with a choice of meat, plus two side dishes, and corn muffins loaded with honey butter.

Edchada's

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The bar at Edchada’s in Twentynine Palms serves as an unlikely melting pot of Marines from the nearby base, hikers from the national park, and local desert dwellers. One thing they all have in common? The need for a good margarita. Edchada’s serves peach margaritas, strawberry margaritas, Midori margaritas, and even a moonlight margarita, made with an electrifying dash of blue curaçao. The menu also features burritos, chimichangas, tacos, sopas, and other Mexican favorites.

Jelly Donut

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Swing into the Twentynine Palms location of Jelly Donut for steaming bowls of Vietnamese beef noodle soup, along with a classic collection of doughnuts. The bowl to get is the #1 with all the trimmings — brisket, meatballs, and tenderloin. A maple bar or apple fritter for dessert is a must.

Kitchen in the Desert

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The town of Joshua Tree gets a lot of acclaim for its artsy aesthetic and desert culinary gems, but in recent years Twentynine Palms has been drawing its own crowds, thanks in part to the addition of Kitchen in the Desert. Featuring a cactus studded patio interspersed with historic mining equipment, this restaurant serves Carribean-influenced American brunch and dinner seven days a week. Diners can enjoy jerk chicken, fried cauliflower, and mezcal palomas while exploring the historic property and listening to occasional live music performances.

Palms Restaurant

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Located way out in the Wonder Valley, Palms Restaurant is so directly in the middle of nowhere that it might appear as an actual mirage to travelers. Those curious enough to step inside will find one of the most authentic desert dive bars in California complete with a pool table, PBR on draft, and a stage out back for live music under the stars. The shockingly cheap menu includes burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and chili cheese dogs.

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Morongo Valley Cafe

Morongo Valley Cafe is known for its dog-friendly patio and all-day breakfast. Diners can expect classic comfort food including biscuits and gravy, French toast, tuna melts, and rotating soup specials.

The Red Dog Saloon

A red tray of tacos and queso and beans during daylight.
Tacos and more from Red Dog Saloon
Joseph Weaver

A little bit hipster, a little bit cowboy. That’s the vibe at Red Dog Saloon, a former Hell’s Angels biker bar that looks straight out of a western film set (because it was). Red Dog Saloon serves elevated Tex Mex menu items, including wagyu beef brisket tacos, mushroom asada tacos, and chips and queso. The cocktail list fits the desert setting: mezcal margaritas, mules with fresh ginger juice, and Manhattans made with mole bitters.

A red tray of tacos and queso and beans during daylight.
Tacos and more from Red Dog Saloon
Joseph Weaver

Pappy & Harriet's

In 1946, a team of Hollywood investors created Pioneertown as an old Western film set. After more than 50 films and TV shows were shot on-site, it transformed into its current iteration: a restaurant, saloon, and live music venue. Located on an isolated patch of high desert far away from city lights and cell service, the restaurant serves quesadillas, barbecue, burgers, and cocktails in mason jars. In 2021, Desert Daze festival founder Phil Pirrone and Knitting Factory Entertainment took over booking for the venue.

Frontier Café

Nestled among antique shops and boutiques, this Yucca Valley cafe serves sandwiches and salads, plus wine, beer, and kombucha. The emphasis is on fresh, desert ingredients (think prickly pear lemonade and arugula salad tossed with pepitas). There are plenty of plant-based options too, including a vegan BLT with housemade tempeh bacon.

Western Diner Yucca Valley

Expect 7 a.m. breakfast through late lunch at this Yucca Valley option known for pancakes, french toast, and easy eating lunch sandwiches, burgers, and wraps — all served from a seriously retro space.

La Copine

La Copine
La Copine

Minimalist desert style meets thoughtfully created dishes at this stylish fine dining hot spot. La Copine hits all the right notes with its sun-bathed interior and seasonal dishes. The seasonal menu includes an eclectic array of cuisine which can include items like corvina ceviche, pork belly ramen, crispy buttermilk chicken with grits, and warm beignets. Only open Thursday through Sunday, La Copine is very popular and does not offer reservations — but it’s worth waiting for a table.

La Copine
La Copine

Giant Rock Meeting Room

Giant Rock Meeting Room is one of the coolest places to get food in all of the high desert, thanks to its rustic Western aesthetic and stage for live bands. Find wine, pizza, occasional pop-ups, and lots of artsy locals hanging out inside.

El Guero Mexican Restaurant

El Guero is for the people, as evidenced by the wide array of folks who frequent the restaurant. Families split large combo plates, buddies share trays of nachos, and everyone eyeballs the fajitas and enchiladas as they pass.

Yucca Kabob

Hummus, grilled meats, and side salads feel perfect for this small corner of the larger desert, and thankfully this Yucca Valley staple provides. Find families, hikers, and tourists all dining in on any given day.

Sam's Indian Food & Pizza

Sam’s Indian Food & Pizza does indeed serve both of its eponymous items, with an emphasis on Indian food — shrimp tandoori, jalapeno naan, and saag shorba. The pizza menu includes all of the usual favorites (meat lovers, Hawaiian, veggie), plus unique Indian fusion pizzas, such as the Bombay pizza topped with chicken tikka masala.

Natural Sisters Cafe

This quintessential Joshua Tree counter service restaurant always has a crowd of rock climbers and hikers posted up out front. Situated at the epicenter of the small downtown area, Natural Sisters Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants near the park. The plant-based restaurant serves curried rice wraps with homemade tahini dressing, quinoa burgers on whole grain, spinach and sun-dried tomato salads, plus customizable juices and smoothies.

The Dez

From pre-hike sausage rolls and cortados to post-climb charcuterie, The Dez is a great option for grab-and-go breakfast, lunch, and dessert. Diners can choose from a la carte items such as caprese paninis and avocado toast or order entire boxed lunches made with desert adventures in mind.

Crossroads Cafe

Crossroads Cafe serves diner food inspired by southwest and California tastes. In other words, there are good old fashioned hamburgers made with beef, but there are also ahi tuna burgers with jalapeno-lime aioli and Impossible burgers on brioche. The menu also includes tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, salads, housemade pastries, and beer and wine.

Joshua Tree Country Kitchen

What is it about desert trips that makes roadside diner food taste so good? When passing through the town of Joshua Tree, the place to have it is Country Kitchen. Open since 1977, this restaurant serves all-day breakfast and lunch with comfort food classics such as biscuits and gravy, blueberry pancakes, and country-fried steak.

Roadrunner Grab+Go

While admittedly not much of a restaurant per se, this centrally located Joshua Tree stop is ideal for groups wanting quality food on the cheap. It’s perfect for backpackers and day trippers heading into the park, and don’t sleep on the wide array of awesome drinks.

Related Maps

Joshua Tree Saloon

Joshua Tree Saloon’s outdoor space (simply called The Yard) may be one of the most photogenic spots in town. It’s also the site of live music and outdoor barbecue on the weekends, and it’s the perfect place to savor ginger-marinated ahi tuna poke with homemade tortilla chips or beer-battered jalapeño slices. An indoor saloon serves 14 draft beers and a must-try mojito. Karaoke night draws crowds here.

The Rib Co

Longtime Twentynine Palms favorite The Rib Co. sits poised on the Twentynine Palms Highway (the two-lane road that serves as the main artery through the Joshua Tree area), just begging desert travelers to pull over for some brisket. The menu includes several styles of ribs, like baby back, St. Louis style, and Tennessee whiskey glazed, to name a few. There are also burgers, brisket sandwiches, and build-your-own plates served with a choice of meat, plus two side dishes, and corn muffins loaded with honey butter.

Edchada's

The bar at Edchada’s in Twentynine Palms serves as an unlikely melting pot of Marines from the nearby base, hikers from the national park, and local desert dwellers. One thing they all have in common? The need for a good margarita. Edchada’s serves peach margaritas, strawberry margaritas, Midori margaritas, and even a moonlight margarita, made with an electrifying dash of blue curaçao. The menu also features burritos, chimichangas, tacos, sopas, and other Mexican favorites.

Jelly Donut

Swing into the Twentynine Palms location of Jelly Donut for steaming bowls of Vietnamese beef noodle soup, along with a classic collection of doughnuts. The bowl to get is the #1 with all the trimmings — brisket, meatballs, and tenderloin. A maple bar or apple fritter for dessert is a must.

Kitchen in the Desert

The town of Joshua Tree gets a lot of acclaim for its artsy aesthetic and desert culinary gems, but in recent years Twentynine Palms has been drawing its own crowds, thanks in part to the addition of Kitchen in the Desert. Featuring a cactus studded patio interspersed with historic mining equipment, this restaurant serves Carribean-influenced American brunch and dinner seven days a week. Diners can enjoy jerk chicken, fried cauliflower, and mezcal palomas while exploring the historic property and listening to occasional live music performances.

Palms Restaurant

Located way out in the Wonder Valley, Palms Restaurant is so directly in the middle of nowhere that it might appear as an actual mirage to travelers. Those curious enough to step inside will find one of the most authentic desert dive bars in California complete with a pool table, PBR on draft, and a stage out back for live music under the stars. The shockingly cheap menu includes burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and chili cheese dogs.

Related Maps