By Evelyn Barge
The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but in the San Gabriel Valley, the quickest path to some great barbecue is a brief drive to Azusa.
Passing through the main entryway at Canyon City Barbeque is a transformative experience. After pulling open a series of two heavy wooden doors, visitors enter the cozy, down-home dining area, where it’s almost as if the outside world has disappeared entirely.
The decor pulls from a mix of country kitchen and roadhouse diner. It’s a quietly honest space, but one that is perpetually filled with the hum of business being conducted over lunch or families laughing among themselves.
On my recent visit, however, I comfortably dined alone during the lunch hour. Well, almost alone – I had a little company in the form of the upright, grinning pig statue that greets diners by the doorway.
Since my new pink friend was of the ceramic variety, I didn’t let him stop me from ordering the pulled pork sandwich, a house specialty. It was an excellent choice at just $5.99, and the hours of slow smoking and dry rubs made each bite a relished one.
To my delight, a ketchup bottle full of the house barbecue sauce sits on each table, so it was easy to squeeze out some extra flavor to taste.
Most of the full entrees at Canyon City Barbeque run between $8 and $14. The sandwiches are a steal at under $6 each, and there are plenty of affordable side dishes to complement each platter.
I rounded out my meal with a side order of rice and gravy – a personal favorite, as I would consume virtually anything with gravy on top – and a small order of sweet potato fries. My extras cost $1.50 and $1.99, respectively.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pulled-pork sandwich was the showstopper, while the sides played a simple second-fiddle.
With my rice, I would have liked more gravy – but, as a born and bred Southerner, when wouldn’t I like more of it? The sweet potato fries, ordered at the suggestion of my charming and expedient server, were perfect – after I added a couple dashes of salt to them.
Overall, it was more than enough food to fill my desirous belly, and I ended up leaving some of it behind. But, since the first date went well, I suppose that means I have a good excuse to go back.
Canyon City Barbeque is located at 347 N. San Gabriel Ave. in Azusa.