As every resident of the Valley knows, Harris Ranch in Coalinga is a landmark in and of itself. Founded in 1937 by Jack Harris — and now operated by his son, John — Harris Ranch is California’s largest producer of beef.
The Ranch’s entree into food service was humble, beginning with a burger stand by the nearby Interstate 5. These days, the sprawling property operates no fewer than four restaurants, where you can enjoy dining experiences ranging from slow-cooked, paper-wrapped brisket on a park bench to world-class filet mignon served alongside some of Napa Valley’s most famous cabernet sauvignon.
Of course, food this good comes at a price, but we at Have a Heart feel the Ranch’s offerings are well worth the splurge. In case you’re still on the fence, let’s take a closer look at a few of the four restaurants’ various offerings.
Harris Ranch in Coalinga: Four Restaurants in One
The Ranch features four dining rooms: The flagship Steakhouse, the homey Ranch Kitchen, the Horseshoe Bar, and the Express Barbecue (featured elsewhere in our roundup of favorite Coalinga restaurants).
You can probably guess the central theme in all of them: Beef. It’s served in nearly every conceivable format, but of course, pride of place has to go to the Ranch’s signature steaks and prime rib.
Our Favorite Steak
It’s way too easy to go overboard at Harris Ranch; the 6-ounce petite filet is a full portion of protein, but you can go big — very big — with a 30-ounce bone-in “Cowboy Cut” ribeye.
We love tender prime rib, but for our money, the 20-ounce T-bone is the way to go. You just can’t beat the flavor of beef cooked on the bone, plus that great big honkin’ bony handle makes for unbeatable drama. A dollop of whiskey-shallot butter — one of four garnish options — is the icing on the cake.
Slow-Cooking for Deep Flavor
Because beef cattle feature such a variety of cuts, some are better suited to slow-cooking than for a quick turn on the grill. Short ribs — featured in the Horseshoe Lounge — get star billing in an unbelievably hearty and satisfying braise. Creamy polenta and maple-glazed carrots round out this full-flavored dish, perfect for the cooler nights of winter.
Wait…There are Vegetables, Too?
Harris Ranch in Coalinga isn’t just a cattle ranch; some 14,000 acres are devoted to growing broccoli, tomatoes, citrus, and many other fruits and veggies.
One of the mainstays on all the menus here are fried green beans, addictive in a crunchy batter and served with a chipotle pepper-spiked remoulade sauce. They’re a snappy and fun reminder that there’s more to life than beef!
A Quick Pit Stop
But who are we kidding? Harris is a cattle ranch, right? If you don’t have the juice (or the cabbage) for the full-on restaurant experience, the new Express BBQ is a worthwhile sampling of the pitmaster’s art. We can heartily recommend the oak-smoked tri-tip family platter, a hunk of tender meat and savory sides guaranteed to keep a hungry crowd happy for an altogether reasonable price.
And finally, there’s one cherished beef dish on the menu you don’t see too often. What are “mountain oysters,” you ask? Here’s a hint: They have nothing to do with the sea and everything to do with bulls. They’re deep-fried and crunchy here, served with tangy cocktail sauce. Come on, we dare you!