Harvest Grill and Greens at James Ranch
On the road from Durango to Silverton in Colorado sits a vast 400 acres of beautiful scenery and a working farm. The ranch sits in the Animas Valley in the San Juan National Forest. The ranch has several irrigated pastures amongst the sparkling river streams. There are 100% grass fed and finished cattle along with the Jersey Milk cows. Then there is the organic vegetable and flower garden as well as a Spruce tree nursery.
They create artisan cheese and raw milk as well as fresh eggs from the pastured hens. Not only can you get some great beef, but also whey-fed pork. The ranch has been in existence since 1961, and they continue to add and grow the ranch and farms. One of the additions to the ranch was the Harvest Grill and Greens restaurant. Cynthia James Stewart and her husband Robert, are serving up delicious creations out of a little trailer right on the edge of the entrance to the ranch. There are picnic tables spread out amongst the grounds just past the market shop. You order your food at the wagon and then take your drinks and service number to a table. The wait staff will come and deliver your food to you once it is ready. So I recommend giving a tip at the time of purchase.
We each selected a specialty beverage from the stand to start the meal along with some fresh baked cookies for a light dessert after the meal. I ordered a glass of the fresh lemonade ($2.49) that was sweetened with honey from the Honeyville plant just down the road. The drink was perfect! Not overly tart or sweet, I could have sat in the shade, looking out at the ranch, and enjoyed glass after glass of this lemonade.
The first dish that we dug into was the Large Beautiful Garden Salad ($7.50). This salad starts with a bed of butter lettuce and is tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Then they added a ton of extra flavor with diced seasonal vegetables. They added Heirloom tomatoes, oranges and green bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and apples. The freshness of all the ingredients made this a wonderful and light salad to enjoy.
The next item was the Harvest Burger ($10.50). This is a hand formed 1/3-pound beef patty that is cooked to your desired temperature. It is then placed on a lightly toasted and buttered bun. You can choose to have lettuce, tomato, red onion and/or pickles on the bun as well. For an additional charge you can add items such as bacon, a fried egg, farm-produced cheese, Black Currant jam and even Green Chiles. We decided to add bacon ($1.75) and some of their Belford cheese ($1.00). You also get to choose to have a side salad, farm produced potato chips, or the vegetable of the day as an accompaniment. We decided on the potato chips for this visit. The burger was perfectly seasoned and the flavor was magnificent. If you like a really good burger, you have to make sure to stop here if you are in the area.
We also enjoyed a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie and ginger molasses cookie ($1.00 each). Both cookies were still on the soft side and were just the right finishing notes to the day. The ambiance as well as the food made it a perfect location to enjoy cooler weather and feel more a part of nature than at many other farm stand restaurants that exist.
The ranch has a guided 2-½ hour tour so that you can explore the entire ranch. It is open Monday through Saturday most times of the year. While you are in the area, stop at Honeyville Honey as well as they have all different types of fresh honey. Some that is mixed with different complimentary flavors like Peanut Butter or Lemon. The refreshing views and scrumptious bites of food make this one of the best eating locales I have ever visited. It is hard to compete with the freshness that can be accomplished directly at the source. So plan some time to sit under a shade tree on a pleasant trek just North of Durango city limits. You may want to plan an entire day, as it is a lovely spot to stop. A quick reminder to make sure to not to forget the honey, Honey!
Location and Website – 33846 Highway 550 Durango, Colorado 81301, https://jamesranch.net/harvestgrill