When we purchased our home a number of years ago, we looked for local places to eat and found La Canasta Capitolio on Van Buren.

It has become our “go to” place for breakfast on the weekends when the old “where do you want to go conversation” happens.


La Canasta Capitolio

La Canasta was started by Richard and Carmen Abril in 1962. There are a number of locations and outlets apparently operated by various family members. The La Canasta tortilla company provides fresh made tortillas to grocery stores, restaurants, and other food service organizations and is a Certified Minority and Women owned company. There are several restaurants throughout Phoenix that keep to the traditions of the Sonoran dishes created by the Abril’s.

The restaurant we frequent is the La Canasta Capitolio on Van Buren just East of 19th Avenue. We generally go for breakfast because they have this fabulous homemade pork chili in a red and a green variety. (As some may or may not know, my preference for green style is New Mexico Hatch Green Chiles) The green pork at La Canasta is an exception to my preference and is, I believe, a combination of Poblano peppers and a small amount of tomatillo’s cooked to perfection. The red variety is pretty hot even for me but is a wonderful departure occasionally or even having Christmas style (red and green). I digress, the dish we order is the Nana’s Special which is Red or Green Pork Chili, two eggs, hash browns, and refried beans. It is also served with fresh flour or corn tortillas. It is definitely a plate full of food and add the chip and salsa bar which features both flour and corn tortilla chips and two different salsa’s (one is chunky with a mild flavor, the other is smooth with lots of Cumin and a bit more tingly to the tongue) you will leave well sated.

There are many more things on the menu but we have become creatures of habit and the Nana’s Special is so good we rarely order anything else. Some of the other items found on the Breakfast Menu are Huevos Rancheros (which I had many years ago. The ranchero sauce is good), Machacas and eggs, Carne Asada and eggs, Chorizo con Huevos, and of course who can forget the very popular Menudo served Red or White.

We have visited at dinner as well and tried a number of the items on the menu. Ben prefers the chicken chimichanga and I waffle between the Fiesta combo (it has a tamale and enchilada) and the Machaca Dinner but more often select the enchilada combo (two enchiladas). The red sauce is a very dark brown slow simmered sauce that brings out the full flavor of the local chili’s and when you add that to the top of the enchiladas, you have a winning combination. La Canasta is, in my experience, fond of using lots of cheese (yay!) so if you want a smaller portion just ask.

The interior is cozy with five four-top booths in the main dining room, three four-top tables, two two-tops, and a large circular booth. The alternate dining area has about seven four-top booths. Then you have the outdoor patio seating which is quite large. Even on the hot Phoenix Summer days it isn’t that awful, it is covered and they have fans and a mister system around the perimeter that keeps it reasonable.

So, if you are looking for good Sonoran style food from recipes that have been handed down through the generations, La Canasta Capitolio is your place.

Restaurant Specifics:

La Canasta Capitolio website
1733 W. Van Buren
Phoenix AZ, 85007

Mon – Thurs: 6am – 7pm
Friday: 6am – 8pm
Sat – Sun: 7am – 3pm


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