Are you longing for some real, down-home country cooking—the kind that harkens back to Sunday suppers at grandma’s house and warms your soul? If so, come on out to Juniper Valley Ranch.
Nestled in the piñon- and juniper-covered hills just 15 miles south of the Springs, this charming restaurant is known for its legendary skillet-fried chicken, baked ham, and all the fixin’s. Everything is made from scratch, using their grandma’s treasured recipes, and the menu hasn’t changed a lick since the doors opened in 1951.
Enter this little red adobe house with its mud walls and cozy rooms, and you’re greeted like a member of the family. As the scent of fried chicken and biscuits swirls through the air, the parade of courses begins. Every dish is served family style with love.
So what’s the secret to the menu’s long-standing success? “It’s about plain, homemade food, seasoned properly,” says fourth-generation owner, Greg Dickey, who’s been at the helm for 38 years.
Greg’s son, Preston, agrees: “We cook simple food, but we put so much pride in doing it right.”
“Milk, flour, salt, and pepper are the only ingredients in our skillet-fried chicken,” Greg says. “But you don’t get fried chicken the way we make it in a cast-iron skillet.” Peek into the tiny kitchen, and you’ll see him wrangling three skillets at a time while stirring country gravy made from the drippings of the chicken in a Dutch oven.
The popular apple butter is also deceptively simple: applesauce, cinnamon, sugar, and vinegar. The secret? Baking in the oven for four hours.
The riced potatoes are a real treat. “We use an old-fashioned ricer,” Greg says. “Pressing the cooked potatoes through the ricer makes them a little fluffier.”
After supper, a visit to the gallery and gift shop is a must. You’ll find artwork and jewelry from local artists and shelves filled with pottery, candles, jams and jellies, salsas, honey, and of course, apple butter.
Lots has changed since 1951, but at Juniper Valley, the menu, atmosphere, and attitude that “you’re always company at our house” have not.