Holding a five-year grudge on a restaurant is no joke, but that’s exactly where I stood with Cañon Grill because of an awful meal many moons ago. I was fairly new to Little Rock and thought an out-of-town guest would enjoy eating at a restaurant located in the heart of Hillcrest. With that said, my friend Sara (of Sara’s Sh*tty Pics) insisted I give the place another try, and after her spot-on Crazee’s fried catfish rec, I wasn’t about to doubt her.
We ended up at Cañon last Friday night and Sara wisely took the lead in ordering for our table of four. A large bowl of cheese dip with a scoop of guac on top and a plentiful amount of ground beef resting on the bottom came out first. This cheese dip is thicker than the norm you’ll find around town, and while it was fine, there are many others I’d put well ahead of it. We still ended up devouring the entire bowl, with the last remnants being scraped off with Ruffles (pro move by Sara), rather than the tortilla chips.
The Mexican Pizza came out next. This Totino-sized pizza consisted of a large, hard tortilla topped with a thin layer of dreamy beans, along with cheese, red onions, diced tomatoes, and scoops of guacamole and sour cream. One bite made all of my ill will towards this restaurant dissipate. This pizza is a wonderful gut bomb and an absolute guilty food pleasure.
Next up, the chicken nachos.
Here’s the thing, can you find better chicken nachos in the city? Maybe. But there’s just something about this version that is so damn delicious. I’m thinking it’s the slightly greasy, crispy, individually dressed chips where, once again, those dreamy beans showed up. Some dishes stick in your head, and I have no doubt I’ll be craving these nachos a few weeks down the line.
We also split a cheeseburger and fries, the latter of which was a positive surprise. I was expecting some bagged, frozen fries, but these were hand-cut and came out piping hot. Unfortunately, the burger didn’t match the greatness of the fries, as this thin-pattied concoction was average at best. The patty was a little dry, but, in fairness, my attention at that time was still focused on those magical chicken nachos.
I enjoyed the charming atmosphere inside the restaurant, and this included the drops of water from the overhead AC unit that hit me in the arm every few minutes. Regulars came and went throughout our meal and our no-frills, yet attentive service made for an all-around wonderful dinner. I think the key to enjoying Cañon Grill is ordering the right things, lowering your expectations just a smidge, and loving the restaurant for what it is … a nice neighborhood joint with a ton of character and some fun, tasty dishes.
It certainly won’t be another five years until my next visit.