Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Over Bite is Just Right.

The Over Bite

133 East Center Street

Monticello, UT, 84535

Phone: (435) 777-2749



Here I sit, fingers playing lyrically over the keyboard, thinking about the meal we just had at the newest restaurant in Monticello.  July 20, 2023, The Over Bite made its grand debut on Pioneer Day weekend, and to say they were busy was a huge understatement.  A month later, on a quiet afternoon, the Cokenour duo descended on owners, David and Tracy Carpenter, and head chef, Allea, formerly of Peace Tree CafĂ© fame.

Chef Allea, Owners David and Tracy Carpenter

The building location is where R& F Restaurant and Paca Pantry formerly resided; and David Carpenter, still involved in realty, saw, and purchased, the property as a great opportunity.  Selecting the smallest section of the three units, what estimated as three months of work, turned into nine months.  Then again, is that not the right amount of time for a new born baby to take form?  While ideas are still being bandied about, menu additions or deletions being tweaked, The Over Bite is building up a following.


It is no wonder really, as the atmosphere, staff and, mainly, the foods and beverages, are what many diners crave.  The atmosphere is comfortable, welcoming and inviting; definitely no feelings of stress or of being rushed.  The staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and do not mind being asked questions about the various menu items.  Ah, but the food and drinks, are they truly that enjoyable?  The answer is a definite, “Yes”, especially when seeking out a simplistic, yet very satisfying taste, experience.  Tourists, especially from foreign nations, enjoy offerings from The Over Bite as they are not heavy, and overly laden down with oil from too much deep frying.  Light and fresh is best!

The meat and poultry products are sliced on premises, no prepackaged cold cuts. Vegetables are also prepared on site, as freshness is a key ingredient to any food menu item.  The bases used to create the out-of-this-world smoothies come from an east coast company, famous for its high-quality ingredients.


Aloha Pineapple Smoothie











Allea, who is also in charge of training the staff, has created specialty sauces such as green chili aioli, horseradish (wonderful on roast beef), and chipotle.  She is also attending a barista training program, so will be whipping up more than regular and blended coffees once the new espresso machine arrives.  Blended coffee?  I do not know about you, but from what Allea described, there is destined, in my future, a chocolate blended coffee soon.  While there are also a variety of soft drinks, The Over Bite has a complete assortment of “Stubborn” brand carbonated beverages.  With flavors such as Black Cherry Tarragon, Agave Vanilla and Pineapple Cream, to name a few, your taste buds will have their minds blown!


Top Sellers from the menu are The Trail Grinder (top), Turkey Avocado Swiss, The Club (my favorite pick) and the Ultimate BLT.  The Club was packed with turkey, ham, Swiss, Cheddar, bacon, lettuce and tomato, in just the right amounts so that not one item overwhelmed the others.  I asked for extra mayonnaise, since I like it messy, personal choice of course.  Sandwiches are made on sliced white or wheat bread, toasted or not; and come with a side of kettle cooked type chips and large pickle wedge.   


Now Roy ordered The Greek, and inhaled it before I could get a decent taste test in.  He did say though that it was almost like eating a Greek gyro, as it was packed with meat, Feta cheese and tzatziki sauce.  We will all just have to take his word on this.  We did have a tug of war going on for my Aloha Pineapple smoothie, but I believe I won, since I developed brain freeze.  The smoothie was luscious, so smooth and full of flavor; it was difficult to put down, and concentrate on the sandwich.



The Over Bite does have a Kid’s Menu.  Allea has been experimenting with baked goods, and her cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies have been a success.  She has, in the works, a “black magic” cake with caramel sauce, but is considering bringing in pastries from other sources as well.  For the winter, the addition of soups and winter themed drinks are being considered.

Other developments in the works are a large screen wall television for the dining area.  By spring of 2024, an adjoining section of the building will be converted into a lounge area.  Imagine it now, coffee drink or smoothie, maybe a cinnamon roll or sandwich, while relaxing on a comfy, cushioned chair and reading your favorite novel, or exploring the internet on laptop or phone.  Sounds nice, does it not?


The Over Bite serves breakfast (great for tourists on the go, and locals too), lunch and dinner; options are dine-in or take-out.  Current hours of operation are Monday – Saturday, 6am to 9pm; Sunday is 8am to 9pm.


When it comes down to the reality of eating; comfort, good service, great food and drink, and walking away feeling deeply satisfied is what it is about.  The Over Bite can help you with all that.

Mary Cokenour






Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Canyon Smokehouse Serves Utah Style Barbecue.

Canyon Smokehouse

281 Main Street

Bluff, UT, 84512

Phone: (435) 269-0400


Hour of Operation:

Thurs – Mon: 2 to 9pm

Tues & Wed: Closed


What happens when you take one culinary school trained chef, add fifteen years of experience, and a graduating thesis centered on smoking and barbecue?  The answer to all this can be found at the newest of Bluff’s restaurants, Canyon Smokehouse.  The chef is Jacob Nelson, born on the west coast, schooled on the east coast, and traveler of barbecue joints throughout the USA.  Now another question is, how did he end up in Bluff, Utah, on his quest to create great barbecue?   That is where his wife, Erin, takes the stage as director.  Originally from Colorado, she moved to Bluff in 2019, and met future husband, Jacob, online (yes, online relationships do work out!).  She convinced him to move back to Bluff, with her, as business potential was full of positive vibes there.  

Finding a location, the site of the former San Juan Kitchen, was available; working with the landlord, and much help from Elaine Gizler of San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services, got the ball rolling strong.  Redecorating was not a prime issue, as the restaurant already had an open-air seating plan, plus a good view of the kitchen prep area as well.




Opening on March 25, 2023, the menu, unfortunately, had to be quickly revised due to a delay, of delivery, of an important piece of equipment.  What to serve that would not openly compete with the established restaurants in town?  Being able to work under pressure, a limited time menu of Mexican cuisine was the answer.  However, once that equipment arrived, barbecue was a go!  April became the grand opening of “Utah Style Barbecue”, and now you are all wondering whatever could that entail. 

Barbecue lovers know their barbecue; the wood used for smoking, the perfect temperatures and timing; the quality of homemade rubs and sauces.  Whether in Texas, St. Louis, the Carolinas, or many another Southern state, styles and tastes differed.  Now as I mentioned before, Jacob did his thesis on this culinary genre, but he wanted more, he wanted to create!  The emphasis of the food served is: Cooked low and slow, and once ordered, get the food out to the customers Fast and Fresh!  Portions served are on the generous side, so make sure to come hungry.  Then again, enjoying the leftovers, the next day, is a pretty sweet deal too.

So, the food at Canyon Smokehouse is a mixture of barbecue styles and tastes, all geared to make each diner’s tastebuds sing their own song.  Sweet maple to tangy vinegar, smoky richness to “holy smokes, someone get me a fire extinguisher!”.  Brisket, ribs, chicken, pork and sausage are the main meats, but hush now vegetarians, there are items on the menu just for you.  Sides galore can be as is, or are added to meats to create their own main dish.  Desserts, Kid’s menu, a variety of beers and microbrews, and non-alcoholic beverages as well. 

Curious meter going up?  How about a few descriptions to get those mouth juices flowing?  Now please be aware that the evaluations are based on the taste testing of four individuals, who happen to love barbecue.  The brisket is so tender, you could eat it with a spoon (as one friend described it).  Whether eaten alone, or in a sandwich, you simply cannot get enough of this full flavor meat; it is craveable.  The pork ribs, at first, fall off the bones, but then there is that little bit that sticks.  Oh heck yeah, you want to gnaw those bones clean!  The chicken is tender and juicy, only getting moister closer to the bone, but it is thoroughly cooked throughout. 


BBQ Sandwich with Fries

The Single

Sausage Combo

The Double

Beef Brisket and Pork Ribs

Side dishes ordered and passed around for taste testing were the brisket baked beans, cornbread and French fries.  Brisket baked beans was a thick mixture of baked, with a slight firmness to, beans, and chunks of luscious brisket mixed in, plus a tangy taste of barbecue sauce.   The cornbread’s flavor was more savory than sweet; tasting more of corn and cornmeal; dense, yet crumbly; we knew this was homemade immediately!  The French fries, only one of a couple of items purchased frozen, were crispy on the outside, but delectably creamy on the inside; did not need ketchup, nor any other condiment to enhance them.


Brisket Baked Beans

Dessert was either a homemade chocolate chip cookie bar, or a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich.  Either choice was a perfect finale for the meal we all enjoyed immensely.

As I mentioned, only a couple of items are purchased frozen; all other menu items, including sauces made-in-house.  Canyon Smokehouse has four sauces to choose from: House (smoky and rich), Maple (sweet), Carolina (tangy and vinegar sharp), and Mango Habanero (a kick that will wake you from death).

Dining is eat-in, or take-out; large parties or bus groups can be accommodated (please call and make arrangements); and plans are in the works to create an outdoor dining area.


The Menu

Overall, our party of four had the most fun, not just laughing, but sharing the food, and enjoying the friendly, welcoming atmosphere.  That attests to the personalities of both Jacob and Erin Nelson; a very happy couple, full of excitement, energy, the love of good food, and the enjoyment of offering it to the public.  Get down to Bluff and get some Utah style barbecue in your bellies, now!

Mary Cokenour