As much as we at The Bite love street food, we have on occasion found ourselves standing on a busy corner with a bowl of curry or pile of tacos, longing for a beverage and contemplating the simple genius of tables and chairs. (Nothing against dining while seated on the floor, but it’s best practiced indoors or at least safely away from traffic.) Enter the food truck’s perfect match: the brewery.
This week, five writers recommend beer-and-entrée pairings from breweries that host a regular rotation of food trucks. Albuquerque predominates here—not only because the city boasts more breweries than others, but because few of those in Dirt City operate restaurants alongside their brewing systems. We do, however, sneak in an off-the-beaten path recommendation from southeastern New Mexico.
High and Dry Brewing with Tikka Spice
by Candolin Cook
On many sunny afternoons I find myself wanting a certain kind of dining space that Albuquerque could use more of—the patio. Fortunately, what we lack in alfresco options at our restaurants we make up for at many of our breweries. High and Dry Brewing is one of my favorite outdoor destinations (although they also boast cozy indoor seating options). The taproom is located in the Highland residential area, which gives it more of a laid-back, neighborhood vibe compared to those in commercial or industrial areas. Relaxing on one of their patio sofas with a small-batch craft brew is made even better when beloved local food truck Tikka Spice makes its (almost) weekly appearance. Try pairing the bold flavors of Tikka’s New Mexican–meets–Pakistani/Indian cuisine with one of High and Dry’s soft and milder selections, such as the How Do You Spell Kölsch? The koelsch’s subtle sweet and bitter notes play especially well with the samosa chaat—a potato-filled samosa loaded with chole (curried chickpea), raita (yogurt sauce), red chile chutney, sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney, cilantro-mint chutney, and a sprinkle of crispy noodles. This warm flavor bomb is best enjoyed with a cold brew—in any weather.
Differential Brewing Co. with The Pop Up Truck
by Clarke Condé
That stretch of Yale Boulevard just south of Coal Avenue, by the Smith’s, has been a traffic jam on Friday afternoons stretching back into the previous millennium. From my seat on the cozy front patio, just beyond the open garage doors of Differential Brewing, I can watch the traffic inch northbound with nary a honk as the sun moves eastward toward golden hour. The work week done, it’s time for a cold one and dinner without dishes.
Always relaxed, Differential is a breezy stop for happy hour, hosting a rotating roster of tempting food trucks. On tap is Differential’s Irish Red Ale. Copper like the setting sun, it starts off smooth and malty, with a slight bite on the finish. On order is The Pop Up Truck’s Philly Sandwich, a tasty but messy affair that has about as much in common with a sandwich you would get in Philadelphia (think green chile and swiss, no Whiz) as this spot on Yale has with an education one might receive in New Haven. But that’s the break I came here for, right? An unplugged perfect pairing to start a weekend in Albuquerque. Who’s up for a game of pool?
Gravity Bound Brewing Company
with Umami Moto
by Briana Olson
Gravity Bound sits in the shadow of the US District Courthouse, yet the patio feels sky filled and open—a quality that, thanks to the garage-style doors, spills into the more intimate interior. I like the planters built of old tires, the water catchment and repurposed glass, and the name, which nods at both the gifts and the constraints involved in inhabiting this planet. Best of all is the beer, produced in batches too small to make it to supermarket shelves—all the more reason to come here. I’ll go for any of their lagers—often on the dry side, always distinctive—but today I’m having a limeade sour, the Route 66. It’s a perfect distillation of lime, equal parts drinkable and tart, rich and light.
Something crisp—and I’m guessing the brewery’s kombucha would do it too—is the ideal match for Umami Moto‘s fried chicken sandwich. The chicken is brined in buttermilk and kimchi juice, fried Southern style, then generously (and beautifully) dressed in a sweet, gochujang-infused barbecue sauce evened out with the tang of Vietnamese-style pickled cucumbers and house-made kimchi. The bun is an easy place to go wrong—who wants to get lost in the bread of their sandwich, especially when the centerpiece is crispy fried goodness?—and this one, a nice soft brioche, is just right. It’s not a quick and easy assembly, so you’re more likely to find the fried chicken sammie on the menu at small venues than at festivals. If it’s not to be had, go for noodles. Pad thai was owner Jae Stulock’s first serious foray into Asian cuisine, and his curries are delicious.
Tractor Brewing Company with Lucky Goose
by Raven Del Rio
I rarely regret giving up meat, but when it comes to spending time with friends at one of our local breweries, I’ve often found myself with a sad plate of fries while everyone else chows down a hearty dinner from one of Albuquerque’s many food trucks. So I’m excited that a few meat-free options are now rolling from venue to venue.
One of said food trucks is Lucky Goose, whose vegan goods I recently sampled at Tractor Brewing in Nob Hill. The line was a bit long—always a good sign, especially on a Sunday—so I decided to start with a beverage. Tractor’s Bloody Helles—blood-orange cider blended with their Helles Lager—sounded like the perfect beer for a breezy, chilly fall evening. The brew was smooth, light, and easy to drink, with a citrusy scent and crisp finish; not too sweet, but not too malty or hoppy either.
Eventually, my order was up. I was a little surprised that my Lucky Burger with New Mexico–style fries arrived more toward room temperature, but I was willing to blame the chilly night air for that. One bite of the double-patty powerhouse and I forgot all about the wait. Unlike most meat-free burgers, the two patties of the Lucky Burger are prepared as slim, diner-style patties. The tangle of shredded lettuce, ripe tomato, and the tangy Lucky Sauce on a toasted bun made every bite a joyful reminder of my pre-vegetarian days. A forkful of my fries didn’t disappoint either; fried up shoestring style and slathered, the slightly sweet, slightly spicy sauce was solidly satisfying with a slow burn courtesy of the perfectly balanced green chile. Not too hot to offend the timid, not so mild as to leave the adventurous wanting more. My Bloody Helles not only put out the fire, but the citrus notes and hint of the blood-orange cider’s sweetness balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the Lucky Sauce on both burger and fries.
Public House 28 with Smokin’ J’s BBQ
by Stephanie Cameron
Running alongside the Rio Grande on Highway 28, I traveled from Mesilla through the pecan orchards that grow over the roadway to what seems like the middle of nowhere northeast of El Paso to find Public House 28. A little oasis beckons beyond the entrance, with towering cottonwoods and one of the best beer gardens in the Southwest. Celebrating their first anniversary in late October, they are one of the state’s newest breweries. The brewer, Blake Heath, was behind the bar in the open-walled warehouse space and kindly guided us through all their offerings. When asked what would pair best with the ribs, he suggested without hesitation the Mr. G blonde ale. “It won’t overpower the food,” he told me.
I grabbed my beer and settled into the expansive outdoor space while I waited for my Smokin’ J’s BBQ. The El Paso food truck coins its fare as backyard and Texas style. The pork ribs and green chile mac ’n’ cheese did not disappoint, and the Mr. G perfectly complemented the smoky meat. While I continued to nosh and sip my beer with the fall sun warming my back and the surrounding flora blowing in the breeze, I thought, as important as the beer is to the brewery, so is the space in which I consume it, and Public House 28 is a place I’d be happy to linger all damn day.