Along Interstate 5, almost perfectly between San Francisco and Los Angeles, lies a lush oasis in California’s Central Valley. For nearly 40 years, Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant has welcomed travelers and locals alike to share in its philosophy of locally sourced, farm-to-table eating. “Everything that we do here in the restaurant we try to do from California,” Executive Chef Reagan Roach says. “We’re very proud to be a California company and to support the Californian economy through our efforts.”
The Harris family started their farming operation in the San Joaquin Valley in 1937, but the Harris Inn & Restaurant’s modern operation emanates from the growth in traffic along I-5. In 1975, the family opened a small burger stand just off the freeway and soon realized the demand for a major rest stop between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Two years later, the Harris family founded the Harris Ranch Restaurant and it quickly became a signature stop on I-5 and a gathering place for the area’s agricultural families to share the day’s news.
The restaurant has expanded three times in the ensuing four decades and in 1987 added the inn at Harris Ranch. Today, Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant is the fifth busiest independent restaurant in California by volume, according to Restaurant Business Magazine.

Chef Walter Staib is a third-generation restaurateur with more than four decades of culinary experience and a culinary historian with a focus on 18th-century cuisine. With a strong passion for all things 18th century, Staib couldn’t put the RFP written by the National Park Service down for Philadelphia’s City Tavern, which included historic information dating back to the 1770s.
“I got into the historic information and read about the parties that were held here and envisioned George Washington meeting John Adams here,” he says. “I had to do this: reopen the place and show Philadelphia what the 18th century was about.”
Staib completely restored City Tavern in 1994 to bring back its authenticity, which includes recreating menu items that were served in the 1700s. The restaurant’s most popular dishes are the turkey pot pie that was served to George Washington and a lobster pie, but Staib says they are all noteworthy. “Everything on the menu is, by definition, a signature item,” he adds. “The recipes are historically based and we make everything here. People’s palates are different now, so we get pretty close to the original recipes, but do cheat a little bit. We lowered the sugar in our desserts and include tomatoes, for example.”
To keep up with changing palates and dietary needs, Staib was lucky to come across a recipe Ben Franklin sent in 1770 to Philadelphia’s John Bartram that included instructions on how to make tofu. Staib created a fried tofu dish that includes spinach, seasonal vegetables, tomatoes and herbs with linguine. “That was the smartest thing I have ever done,” he adds. “It took care of the needs of vegetarians that before were hard to adhere to.”

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