Eating ABQ: Nexus Brewery

I apologize. I’ve known about Nexus for months now and I haven’t told you about it. I have a good reason, I swear! The problem is that the food is too good. The first three times I went, I demolished half my plate before remembering to take pictures.
We first went to Nexus after I read that they had awesome chicken and waffles. As a sucker for fried chicken, I could hardly pass that up. So the first time we went, that’s what we ordered. And it was awesome. The fried chicken was hot, moist, super-crisp without being greasy, and loaded with flavor. The waffle was fluffy and came with butter and real maple syrup. 
But… BUT. We had also ordered the red beans and rice. And while the chicken was fantastic, the red beans and rice were phenomenal. The beans were slicked in a richly spicy sauce, topped with perfectly cooked rice, grilled slices of andouille sausage, and a crown of pico de gallo. Pico de gallo is hardly traditional on red beans and rice, but the cool tomato and crisp green onion made a fantastic counterpoint to the soft beans and chewy sausage.

On the next visit, we had another bowl of red beans and rice and one of gumbo – and once again, the expected star of the show was overshadowed. This gumbo… my lord, this gumbo. It is, hands down, the finest gumbo I have ever eaten. The broth is soulful and complex, with a texture like satin. I assume this is from a beautifully cooked roux and the inclusion of okra. I know people fear okra, and I understand why, but this okra is not slimy. It is vegetal and comforting, having donated all of its unctuousness to the deep red sauce that perfectly naps it.

Small chunks of andouille – which I assume is the same sausage as featured on the red beans and rice, but after simmering it seems quite different – and pieces of chicken swim in this beautiful broth as well. It’s topped by the same rice and pico de gallo as the red beans.

Let me just take a moment to praise this rice. I am jealous of this rice. I can be a little smug about rice, because I think I cook it very well, and many people find it a challenge. But this perfect rice is beyond my skill. Each grain is glossily separate from the next, and perfectly toothsome. It has chew with no hint of chalkiness. The flavor is wonderful too, with just a hint of buttered popcorn. Rice is the kind of thing that gets overlooked, but this rice is masterful.

We have also tried the chicharrone cornbread, which I found a bit disappointing. I wish it had been served warm. And last time we got a basket of fried pickles, because why not? I don’t think fried pickles will ever be my favorite thing, but they were crisp and tart and fun to eat.

Also, beer. This is a brewery, after all. I personally don’t like beer, despite regular tastings – but Arne does, and he always enjoys the brew at Nexus. The chocolate stout was a particular hit, and they always have interesting seasonals.

The location is a little tricky to find, set back from the road on America’s Parkway northbound just past Montgomery. Look for the sign that says “BREWERY.” The ambience is simple, with square tables, no-nonsense chairs, and several TVs tuned to sports, and a simple long bar. All of the staff are friendly and helpful, with ready smiles. It’s a welcoming place. I know I’ll be going back soon, because as soon as I finish a bowl of that spicy, silken gumbo, I start craving more. You owe it to yourself to give it a try.

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