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Famous Steak Stop on California Interstate 5

Harris Ranch Restaurant Steak House photoIt has to be said, California’s Interstate 5 route from Los Angeles to Sacramento and the Bay area has to be one of the most boring freeways in the west. From the “Grapevine” south of Bakersfield where it splits from Highway 99 to the 580 cut-off through the Altamont pass is two lanes in each direction of stare ahead, try to stay awake nothing. The I5 passes along between the croplands of the Harris Ranch West California photocentral valley and the arid foothills of the coast range, with only occasional scenery of interest, like the pump stations of the Mendota canal of the California Aquaduct. The Harris Ranch Restaurant has been one of the few standout landmarks for travelers along this stretch of freeway since it was first built in the 1970’s. Located about half-way between LA and San Francisco or Sacramento, the Harris Ranch was a welcome place to stop on the journey to have a steak fresh off the farm. About a mile and a half north of the restaurant the highway passes the huge cattle feeding yard stretching across the hills.

Harris Ranch Steaks photoThe Harris family had been farming in California for over 100 years. Since 1937 a large tract of land in Fresno country has fed the cattle herds of the Harris Ranch company which is one of the largest beef suppliers in the golden state. The Harris Ranch brand of steaks and beef can be found in supermarkets across the west and in In-n-Out hamburgers. In 1977 the Harris Ranch opened a restaurant, mostly serving the local farming community of the San Joaquin valley and the truckers passing along I-5, where fresh beef and produce fresh from the farm made the meal. Harris Ranch Inn Gifts photoIn the years since, the Harris Ranch Restaurant has grown so much in popularity it is now the Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant with a 153 room Hacienda style inn hotel to go with the two restaurants, the Harris Ranch Steak House and the Ranch Kitchen for casual dining, the Horseshoe Lounge bar, gift shop and meat and fresh produce boutique store. The Harris Ranch company is very much invested in thoroughbred horse racing from its Harris Farms breeders and the place abounds with photos of its race horses, from the horse themed Jockey Club lounge event room, the hallways and even in the restrooms.

Aside from the truckers, I5 tourists and locals, the Harris Ranch is also a popular fly-in spot for California pilots with its own 2,800 foot lighted airport runway. The runway is a bit narrow and challenging, but the private airport facility provides ample tie-downs and self-serve aviation fuel. Airnav-308

The Harris Ranch Inn has a 25 meter Olympic swimming pool and three outdoor spas. The rooms range from deluxe doubles to family suites. The rooms are designed in a classic country theme and some feature Lazy Boy recliners like any real hacienda California ranch should. The property is landscaped with a resort destination feel, though a little in the middle of nowhere.

The Harris Ranch is located at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 198 near Coalinga, about 50 miles west of Fresno. Recreation opportunities nearby are the Kings River and hiking at the Pinnacles National Monument in the high coast range canyons of a former volcano known as the home to California Condors.
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