A bit of the Southwest in Monroe

  • By Anna Poole / Restaurant Critic
  • Thursday, April 7, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

MONROE – Canyons Restaurant, across the street from the Fred Meyer shopping center, opened in mid-March. But the Sunday afternoon crowd looked like one that would fill a long-established restaurant. By the time I left, there wasn’t an empty table to be found.

14919 N. Kelsey St., Monroe; 360-805-5453; www.canyonsrestaurant.com

Specialty: American with a splash of salsa

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Price range: expensive

Atmosphere: child-friendly, noisy when crowded

Liquor: full bar

Smoking: nonsmoking

Reservations: recommended for parties of six or more

Disabled accessibility: easy access

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Canyons is a local chain with restaurants in Redmond, Bothell and Mountlake Terrace. Originally, the restaurants had another name. In 1993, founder Scott Perry took the restaurants through a major change and adopted their current look and menu.

All Canyons are decorated with art that is reminiscent of cave dwellings and petroglyphs. Cavelike paintings decorate the area above the bar, while a cast-in-clay turtle, the symbol of longevity, accented my booth.

I’m originally from the Southwest, and Canyons decor felt like a little piece of home.

That feeling extended to the menu.

Here, I found under signature soups “Bart ‘n Yetis Green Chili” ($6.99). Of course, I had to have a bowl with warm flour tortillas. The soup, as promised in the menu, is loaded with chunks of marinated pork, tomatoes, onions and green chili. My server warned me that it would be spicy. The green chili added flavor and heat, just like it’s supposed to. It wasn’t exactly what I would get in Santa Fe, but why hold Monroe to that expectation? Yes, I’ll have another bowl, please.

My server said that the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich ($9.99) is “very popular” as are the tequila lime prawns ($12.99) from the “Southwest Favorites” section of the menu. The best seller, she said, are the fish and chips ($11.49). The menu also features wraps ($10.29 to $10.79), grill favorites such as ribs, chicken and ribs, and steak ($13.49 to $22.99) plus burgers ($8.49 to $10.29).

Vegetarians will find garden burgers ($9.49), French onion soup ($6.29) and gorgonzola spinach salad ($10.99).

I decided to mix my Southwestern roots with my Pacific Northwest home and ordered the fish and chips. The ling cod fillets are rolled in panko, which are Japanese breadcrumbs. Panko is lighter than most breadcrumbs, and it was a tasty coating to the flaky ling cod.

The fries struck me as ordinary until I remembered so many Herald readers writing to complain about soggy fries. These weren’t soggy. They were just frozen fries done right.

The taste treat was the coleslaw. It’s made with the traditional shredded carrots plus green and red cabbage. But the dressing is made with olive oil, toasted almonds top the side dish and cilantro adds a hint of the Southwest.

Herald restaurant reviewers accept no invitations to review, but readers’ suggestions are always welcome. Reviewers arrive unannounced, and The Herald pays their tabs.

Anna Poole: features@heraldnet.com.

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