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Best food at ABQ brewery/brewpub

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I love good beer but the combination of good food and good beer is heaven. Which ABQ brewery/brewpub has the most interesting (aka not standard pub food) menu? (I'm assuming that if it's somewhat creative that it's also pretty good too but correct me if I'm wrong ...)

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  1. Let me start by saying that I haven't found an ABQ brewery/chow combination that quite hits all the right notes. There aren't that many local breweries, and my two favorites (La Cumbre and Marble) have very little food. As you'd expect, plenty of eateries in town serve good local beer, but not that many brew in house. That said, a few ideas that sort of fit your specs:

    The food at Chama River Brewing Company is a little too corporate (always spot-on, never quite inspired), but the upscale American menu is totally solid, and significantly more interesting than you tend to find at a standard brewpub. Don't love the beer; again not bad, but more conspicuously soulless than the food. Same deal at their sister restaurant Blue Corn Cafe in Santa Fe.

    Marble Brewery has vastly better beer, but their menu is extremely limited. That said, they throw a lot of green chile (NM's marquee ingredient) into the food they do serve (turkey, bacon, and green chile sandwich, a grilled three cheese sandwich with green chile), so it could be a good bet for an out-of-towner.

    Up the street in Santa Fe, you might check out 2nd Street Brewery; even if you won't have a car, you could take the train to the end of the line and go to 2nd Street's newer Railyard location (the other one has a little more personality and live music, but this location is right off the train). The beer is reliably good and sometimes interesting (had a double IPA there that punched me in the gut and even tasted good), and the food is legitimately tasty and more creative than average.

    And although their food menu is either limited or nonexistent, La Cumbre Brewing Company back in ABQ makes my favorite local beer. The tasting room is in a pleasantly weird industrial location, and the vibe is laid back and a lot of fun.

    7 Replies
    1. re: finlero

      Great info finlero. Marble Brewery sounds like a must stop for the beer at least. I've also read some good stuff on beeradvocate.com about Il Vicino Brewing Company. What do you think of that place?
      Thanks for the tip on Second St Brewery; another Vancouverite said they had the best IPA in Santa Fe. My kinda place. And I like the sound of La Cumbre. Beeradvocate reviews say good things about the IPA and PA. What's your favourite beer there?

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      Il Vicino
      321 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

      1. re: GuinnessGuy

        > I've also read some good stuff on beeradvocate.com about Il Vicino Brewing Company. What do you think of that place?

        Beer's good enough, hasn't really wowed me. I'm a huge pizza snob and don't especially like their CPK-style pie; it has plenty of fans though, and is nothing if not edible, I just find it a little generic. Again you'll find green chile on the menu, and it certainly makes a terrific pizza topping.

        > And I like the sound of La Cumbre. Beeradvocate reviews say good things about the IPA and PA. What's your favourite beer there?

        Honestly I've never gone wrong. The Elevated IPA brings a lot of flavor along with its 100 IBUs. On the other side of the spectrum, I also quite like their wheat beer, spicy and a little unusual.

        1. re: finlero

          Looks like we're in sync on beer and pizza. Now that's the true nirvana: crisp (but not crackery) pizza with simple fresh ingredients and a well-brewed IPA. Seattle and Portland have it down pat and in the fall I'll be on the lookout for the same double-header in ABQ, Santa Fe, and Taos. Wish me luck.

          1. re: GuinnessGuy

            I went to the new Il Vicino brewpub. Located in the same kind of industrial area as La Cumbre but a decidedly nicer space. The special Belgian blonde was very good and the sandwiches and appetizers were high quality and tasty. Strangely (or not, given the minimalism of the space) there was no pizza on the menu.

            Marble is still, hands down, the best beer. But the food offerings are just that, he we offered, and there to make sure you can keep having their fabulous beer. Marble also is very casual about outside food. I have seen people bring whole picnics in, and I have ordered pizza to be delivered.

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            Il Vicino
            321 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

            1. re: GuinnessGuy

              Since you're expanding your scope to Santa Fe, Marble's tap room adjacent to the plaza has become one of the hottest places in town, with good reason. As already indicated, the beer is superb, and it's one of only two places with balconies overlooking the plaza. A recent expansion nearly tripled the size of the balcony. They also serve food from the neighboring Rooftop Pizzeria, which is inconsistent but serviceable (the mixed meat pizza - I think it's #2 on the menu - can actually be pretty good).

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              Rooftop Pizzeria
              60 E San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

              1. re: rcurtism

                Okay, so it looks like Second St. and Marble in SF (overlooking the plaza), and Il Vicino and La Cumbre in ABQ. Sounds like a great plan! "Sorry honey, but the galleries and museums will have to wait for another trip!"

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                Il Vicino
                321 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                1. re: GuinnessGuy

                  The address of the Il Vicino tap room (they call it a canteen I think) is 2381 Aztec
                  Albuquerque, NM 87107.

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                  Il Vicino
                  321 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

      2. I am not even a beer person and I've been blown away by the selection and PAIRINGS at Cowgirl Cafe in Santa Fe.

        ABQ-content: Farina Pizzeria for probably the best pizza in the city (if you like Napoli style), and the owner Stewart is a brilliant pairing guy, for both beer and wine.

        3 Replies
        1. re: tenacity

          Beer pairings - LOVE IT! I'll put Cowgirl Cafe down on the list too.
          Napoli style pizza is my favourite style so I'll certainly be stopping by Farina Pizzeria. Being from the Northwest my favourite pizza is Serious Pie in Seattle (have yet to try the famous Apizza Scholls in Portland) but I also loved Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix. Anybody care to compare? (Sorry if I'm breaking protocol by morphing this thread into a pizza talk...)

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          Farina Pizzeria
          510 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM

          1. re: GuinnessGuy

            Of course this is just one hound's opinion, but since you asked, let me offer a counterpoint:

            The beer list is legitimately impressive at Farina and serviceable at Cowgirl (although since I'm somehow conditioned to opt for Cowgirl's frozen margaritas, I've never done the beer pairings). Each is a really fun spot, but to me it's all about the vibe, not the chow.

            The pizza at Farina is ok, but if you've had Bianco or been lucky enough to travel to Napoli, it just ain't gonna fool you. I actually went on an insufferably nerdy tirade about Farina last month: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/772008

            Cowgirl is great for the live music, but the BBQ is kind of underwhelming, especially as compared to the outstanding Josh's on the other end of town.

            Like I said, just one guy's opinion, I certainly don't mean to stifle the discussion, just trying to balance the opinions on these two spots.

            1. re: GuinnessGuy

              There have been a few people that have favorably compared Farina with Pizzeria Bianco. I've had both, and both are VERY good. One of them does not have a 90 minute wait, usually. :-)

          2. Thanks for all the advice. We had a fantastic trip to New Mexico. For beer in Santa Fe, I give high marks to Santa Fe Brewing (fun to taste at the Taproom just outside of town; their beers are available everywhere). Albuquerque was even better. I went to Marble Brewing, sat up at the bar, and was lucky enough to sit beside a real local beer lover/drinker. He felt that there were really just three great local brewers: Marble, La Cumbre, and Il Vicino. Marble was certainly living it up to its reputation (serious about beer, fun sassy female servers, male servers who love their beer, lively place) so with just an afternoon left in ABQ i drove the 15mins to La Cumbre. It's in a light industrial area and food is available outside at the Burger truck. The beers are great (especially the cask ones) and the staff friendly and beer-loving. I didn't spend enough time in ABQ this trip but i'll be back very soon.

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            Il Vicino
            321 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

            1 Reply
            1. re: GuinnessGuy

              Thanks for the report--So glad you made it to Marble. We've had a few new brewpubs open in the past couple of months. Nexus and Tractor to name two. You could probably devote a whole trip to drinking great beer in Albuquerque.