Canyons Burger Company, Woodstock GA

(Grant here to start this one off. For a tragically short few months, the town of Woodstock was home to a really superb burger joint that I don’t think anybody else but us ever visited. It was called Bob-O’s Burgers and Chili and it was in that same little strip mall as the Play & Trade and the ’50s-style diner and the Summit Tavern, and it was amazing. They served up Vortex-quality hamburgers made from all sorts of meat, including a cajun burger made from beef mixed with andouille sausage quite unlike anything else in the area, and chili so good you’d slap your mother for another bowl. We then tried Canyons, found it quite good but nowhere close to the greatness of Bob-O’s, and didn’t return until our hearts were broken by the better joint’s closure. That’s not to take away from all that’s good and tasty about the justifiably popular Canyons, but it is evidence that once in a while, the foodie network in Atlanta really does get hold of the wrong stick. In a fair and just world, both restaurants would thrive.)

This is Marie, contributing an entry entirely devoid of desserts, for once. This time I am talking about Canyons, one of the places we occasionally visit instead of a quick trip to Cheeseburger Bobby’s. Canyons, which has two locations, one in Woodstock and one in Atlanta’s Brookhaven neighborhood, apparently used to be independent but was acquired by Baja Fresh something like a year ago. They’ve just started the franchising process and have opened a third Canyons, co-branded with the burrito place, out in Montana.

As you can tell, we’re rather fond of sandwich and burger joints. A place has to have a little something extra in order to bring us back on a regular basis, though, and what brings me back is the sweet potato fries. The burgers are definitely tasty, but this is one of the few places where I actually finish my portion of fries and wistfully think about ordering another. That is, if we are doing the very sensible 50/50 order, which is half regular and half sweet potato. This is the only place I’ve seen to offer that option and I wish more places would offer it because really, who needs a bucket of fries the size of your head as a single portion? These are clearly intended to be shared. They shamelessly put “great” next to the sweet potato fries on their online menu, and I can’t blame them a bit.

There is regrettably no photo of the burgers from this visit, but honestly there’s nothing to pick them out of a crowd visually. It’s all in the taste. The owners talk a good game about quality Angus beef and never freezing their meat and so forth, and we’ve heard those tales from other places that weren’t exactly thrilling, but so far Canyons has come through on every meal we’ve eaten there. They offer the usual toppings plus a few extra oddities like chipotle mayonnaise. Ivy got their chicken once and although it’s a tad pricier than usual, that seems to be because they have good quality meat there too. She really enjoyed dipping the strips into the house BBQ sauce.

The decor of the place is very much reminiscent of a sports bar, although they always seem to keep the volume muted. The place has a number of flat screens usually tuned to various sporting events, though there’s generally at least one screen devoted to some popular show or other. Occasionally they remember to put the captions on. Aside from that, the pictures on the wall are all good-quality poster-size photos of people doing active things like mountain climbing. (Grant adds: That seems to be an odd shtick, but they’re consistent with it. Canyons tries to sell itself as the treat you can enjoy after a hard day climbing up and down the Adirondacks or something. Suffice it to say that a fellow could get a little self-conscious looking at giant pictures of fit, smiling runners while trying to enjoy a juicy burger.)

We would probably eat here a little more often if it were more convenient to get to, and if the bar next door, Pure Taquiera, had a slightly better taste in music. The live band last Saturday night was particularly awful! Strangely, although they offer milkshakes we haven’t actually tried one. Probably on our next visit.