Juniper Valley Ranch is the only Colorado Springs restaurant recommended by Roadfood.com. It also claims, or is claimed, to have the best fried chicken in Colorado. But getting there takes some effort. For one thing, it’s located about 20 miles south of the city on Route 115. For another, it’s only open during the summer, and then only on Thursdays-Sundays, and then only from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. And reservations are recommended.
I put forth the necessary effort and took Sally there on a Saturday evening. The outside is pleasant, almost oasis-like in the open Colorado PJ (pinyon-juniper) foothills of the Rockies. There’s a small gift shop in the back yard, with a small selection of crafts. Judging by the attention she paid us, the woman working the register must have smelled that we were non-buyers.
The place was busy but not crowded. We certainly didn’t need reservations on this night.
We were put in a small dining room with four tables and had it to ourselves for two-thirds of the time we were there. Our waitress was very nice and took good care of us.
There are only two options on the menu—fried chicken or baked ham. Sally’s chicken was dry and not terribly tasty. My ham was good. The rest of the meal was served family style. We had cherry cider (delicious), biscuits with apple butter (very good), riced potatoes with gravy (bland), coleslaw and okra casserole (fair), and apple crisp (good).
The history, the ambiance—I really wanted to love it. But it just wasn’t great. Good, yes, and fun to do once. But not great.