The Not-So-Grand Canyon

At Post Oak and Westheimer, Mark Miller meets Wally World

The only thing not listed on the menu are the desserts. Our waitress offered us a dessert tray, but by then we were scrambling for the door, the torches fluttering in our wake. I've since tried to think what I might have missed. Chipotle mousse with chocolate adovo mushrooms? Poblano peaches with tequila and queso blanco?

Perhaps the Canyon Cafe used a computer to generate its entire menu: Feed in a list of cliched Southwestern ingredients, click the "Churn" button and out spew endless variations of garlic-smoked, jalapeno-garnished, chile-mashed fill-in-the-blanks. I've heard the Mexican government used similar software to create Cancun.

Or, speaking of Cancun, perhaps the Canyon Cafe is cynically playing the big-city game of "get the tourist." Hotels engaged in this wily gambit spend all their decorating dollars on the lobby; you sign in amidst marble and brass, thick carpets and smoked glass, then discover that your room is a bare broom closet next to the clanking elevator. In the restaurant version, the owner contrives to capture a prime location, on the ocean, say, or the boulevard or the wooded peak. That's all he need do: Tourists flock, drawn by the venue. It doesn't matter what he feeds them; they'll never come back anyway, and there are always new tourists off the next flight.

Location Info


Canyon Cafe

5000 Westhiemer
Houston, TX 77056

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Galleria

Even if I never return to the Canyon Cafe, and even if no one from inside the Loop ever sets foot in the place, I'll bet the place stays in business. There are plenty of people too intent on seeing and being seen to notice the food, and some who actually like jack cheese on pasta. And there will always be more out-of-towners -- dazzled Galleria shoppers from Peoria or Newark; expense-accounters or tipsy Chicago conventioneers -- to fill the tables.

After all, you can't miss it.

Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, 629-5565.

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