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