Corrales Bistro Brewery – Corrales, New Mexico

Corrales Bistro Brewery

Corrales Bistro Brewery

What is it about French words that make them sound haughty and pompous to some people and elegant and refined to others? Think I’m kidding? In Massachusetts, I knew a guy who sported the nickname “Le Cochon” like a badge of honor for two years before someone had the heart to tell him it meant “the pig.” He had thought that sobriquet was a testament to his prowess with the ladies (on second thought, maybe it was).

Still questioning my observations on French words? Take an informal poll of men (women are smarter) in the office and ask them what the word “bistro” means. I did and most respondents gave me some variation of “snobbish, hoity-toity, fancy, upscale” restaurant. In truth, a bistro is a small restaurant which typically features simple fare and sometimes provides entertainment. So, if you’re looking for a fancy, upscale French brewery when you see the name “Corrales Bistro Brewery” you’ll be in for a disappointment. If, however, you’re looking for terrific sandwiches you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Salsa and chips from the Corrales Bistro Brewery

Salsa and chips

The Corrales Bistro Brewery opened shortly after New Years Day on 2007 at the former site of Essencia, a wonderful fine-dining establishment which closed in 2006. It’s the brainchild of entrepreneurial Fritz Allen, proprietor of another business, Hanselmann Pottery in the same commercial center as his brewery.

Allen had to request a change in Corrales zoning laws to clear the path for his undertaking. An amendment to a village commercial zoning ordinance allows him to brew no more than 5,000 barrels of beer a year. The Bistro offers nine New Mexican beers on tap, carrying some of the area’s most popular labels: Tractor (Los Lunas), Il Vicino, Chama River and Turtle Mountain. Not one to imbibe adult beverages, my interest is solely in the bistro’s food. Initially the menu featured fairly typical pub grub: sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups and bar-type appetizers. An expanded menu was introduced on August 10, 2007 that also includes wraps, new appetizers and a section for “Superburgers.”

The Corrales Blue Quesadilla

Some of the very best quesadillas in the Duke City area

The Bistro has three distinct dining areas. As you walk in the door, you’ll see what almost appears to be a waiting area, but is in fact, an inviting casual lounge in which you can relax on oversized couches and armchairs. A tropical fish tank (on top of which are several teddy bears) has an almost hypnotic feel to it. A long wooden bar with a granite top separates the lounge from a more conventional dining room with tables and chairs.

The restaurant’s walls are adorned with unframed limited edition giclee prints by BC Nowlin, an Alameda, New Mexico native with a dramatic flair for vibrant and colorful paintings depicting Native Americans as sojourners toward brighter destinations.

The third dining area is seasonal as it’s outdoors on a shaded patio offering magnificent views of the Sandia Mountains. During balmy summer days the patio is made even more comfortable with a mister which dispenses fine, cooling mist. Appetizers include chicken wings, nachos, quesadillas, green chile cheese fries and roasted garlic and feta bread dippers. For New Mexicans who have salsa running in their veins, the old stand-by, chips and salsa, are also available.

The New Mexico Tortilla Burger

Tortilla burger

The chips are lightly dusted with red chile but are otherwise lightly salted. These are substantial chips–thick enough to support the weight of any size scoop of salsa. The fire-roasted salsa has the pronounced taste of New Mexico green chile and is made with finely chopped tomatoes. The only downer is that there just isn’t enough of it.

Fire-roasted salsa and sour cream come standard with the Corrales Blue Quesadilla appetizer. This is one of the very best quesadillas in the metropolitan area, easily on par with the breakfast quesadilla at the Calico Cafe. What makes this quesadilla special is that it’s crafted with two complementary cheeses, an ultra-sharp bleu (not blue) cheese and a mild Cheddar. It also includes New Mexico green chile, tomato, onion and Mexican herbs all grilled on flour tortillas.

The Superburger section includes an impressive array of creative burgers all starting off with a half-pound of beef. Basic toppings are lettuce, tomato and onion. Your creativity will dictate what else goes on. For a New Mexico inspired departure from the traditional burger on the bun concept, try the New Mexico Tortilla Burger, a half-pound of beef wrapped in a tortilla with chopped lettuce, chile con queso and fire-roasted salsa. It’s an outstanding burger grilled to your exacting specifications. At medium done its pinkish insides are dripping with flavor.

The black and bleu

Black and bleu burger

Alas, our sole experience with a more conventional burger (albeit one with bleu cheese and peppercorn encrusted beef) proved the Bistro Brewery doesn’t always get it right–or maybe they wanted to emphasize the “black” portion of the burger’s name. By the standards of other restaurants, the Black and Bleu Burger would have been fine–that is if you don’t mind a well-done burger when you requested medium and expected pinkish juiciness.

This breath-wrecking burger is served on a Kaiser roll. Prepared to my exacting specifications, it would have been a fabulous burger. After all, how can you possibly go wrong with this pungent, powerful seasoning and bleu cheese, a favorite fetid fromage?

The Essencia

Sumptuous sandwiches in Corrales

There are nine sandwiches on the menu, including one named for the former occupant of the edifice. The Essencia lives up to its name. It packs bountiful amounts of turkey, cream cheese and salmon lox on lightly toasted sourdough. The salmon has the prominent flavor of brine and appears to have been cold-smoked. Detractors may retort that it has a “fishy” taste, but lox lovers will appreciate its freshness and concentrated flavor. Despite being piled high, the turkey barely makes a flavor impact.

The Ruben sandwich is a grilled triple-decker sandwich skyscraper high with corned beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, mild sauerkraut on lightly grilled rustic rye bread. Russian dressing is in there somewhere, too, but it’s lightly applied to give the meat the opportunity to shine. Shine it does. This is one of the best Ruben sandwiches in the Duke City area. A propeller-headed mathematician friend of mine with a penchant for French words said it was “an order of magnitude” better than others he’s had in town, including Lovell’s Ruben at Gecko’s. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but agree it is a very good Ruben.

The Ruben Sandwich is a towering grilled triple decker

A robust Ruben

Faithful readers of this blog have been subjected ad-nauseam to reading about my passion for pastrami, a passion shared only by Meg Ryan in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” when she gave Katz Deli diners an impassioned appreciation for this mildly smoked corned beef.  Alas, with few exceptions (Sophia’s) pastrami in the Albuquerque area tends to evoke one reaction–disappointment.  Still my pursuit for pastrami perfection goes on.

A the Corrales Bistro Brewery, pastrami is showcased in a uniquely named sandwich called El Pancho Greenblatt (pastrami, green chile and Cheddar cheese in a tortilla).  It’s a nice idea, but not very well executed.  Outstanding pastrami literally melts in your mouth; you barely have to chew it.  This is not outstanding pastrami.  It is chewy and tough, fairly typical of the pastrami delivered by corporate distributors which seem to favor relatively thick slices of pastrami instead of thinly sliced shards that delis on the East Coast use.  Distributors also seem to eschew marbling on their pastrami. There’s a lot of flavor in the marbling of a good pastrami and there wasn’t much flavor in this one.

The Pancho Greenblatt

The Pancho Greenblatt

Still, the Corrales Bistro Brewery’s sandwiches are made the way you might make a sandwich for yourself. You wouldn’t scrimp on ingredients and neither does the Bistro Brewery. You wouldn’t haphazardly toss tomatoes and lettuce on your sandwich; you’d position them carefully so they complement your sandwich. That’s the way the Bistro Brewery makes them. These are excellent sandwiches!

Our waitress told us everything on the menu is made with an extra ingredient–love. The chef, by the way, is the entrepreneurial Fritz Allen himself. Obviously his talents extend far beyond owning and managing the complex in which the Bistro is situated.

Sandwiches are served with thin-cut French Fries, the flaccid, droopy ones that taste best. These are not the pale, golden and cardboard stiff super-salted fries served at chains.

Okay, if you’re still inclined to believe French words show refinement and class, I’ve got one that describes the sandwiches at the Corrales Bistro Brewery–magnifique!

Corrales Bistro Brewery
4908 Corrales Road
Corrales, NM
Web Site

LATEST VISIT: 24 April 2009
COST: $$
BEST BET: Salsa and Chips, The Essencia, Ruben Sandwich, New Mexico Tortilla Burger, Corrales Blue Quesadilla, Viking Roast Beef Sandwich

Corrales Bistro Brewery on Urbanspoon


  • Jim Millington

    We went by last night primarily to see Jeez La Weez (More fun than those other bands) & ate while we were there. The Child Bride had a Pastrami which was more or less-somewhat ok. I had an Albuquerque Turkey Sandwich which was one of the blander things I have eaten in years even though it was loaded with green chile (my spell check is balking at “chile”, so I guess it needs an education). Service was actually very good. Overall the restaurant was not nearly as bad as some of these comments would indicate but we would never go back just for the food.

    I would however eat almost anything to see Jeez La Weez even though the acoustics of the restaurant were awful and the packed crowd agreed (No I don’t know any of the performers).

  • Ben Mendel

    Guys Guys, can’t we all just get along. After all, isn’t it really about us in New Mexico searching where to have our next meal in the Land of Enchantment! What would Bob of the Village People say? It sounds like our friend Mr or Mrs/Ms Food here just needs a hug.

  • Hi, “Food”!
    Shut up.
    Everyone else who reads this blog

  • Sr Plata

    Ah, Mr/Mrs Food, very interesting comment you left above but not real helpful to those who read Gil’s Blog. 1st – If you read when it was last reviewed, that was 4 years ago and in that time much changes in life from cooks, waitpeople and even customers. 2nd – Instead of blaming Gil who is doing what he can to provide a snapshot in time of where he eats for people, I recommend that you should have described what was really wrong with your experience and if you truly had such a bad experience, let the Owner/Manager know. They may not be aware of all comments in here or any blog and I am sure that they would be interested in your thoughts. 3rd – Also note that Urbanspoon (see above where Gil shares reviews/comments) shows 4 in 5 people like it. Please share what restaurants you would recommend and why, interested to know the basis for your comments.

  • Food

    First off Gills Thrilling Blog SUCKS! He led me to this Corrales so called brewery, The food SUCKED! The beer was on tap and the staff was RUDE! How can anyone spend a buck on this crap! Just look at the PICS! Shame on you Fritz who so calls himself the owner and you so called Gills Thrills Blog, well the only thrill you get is sending people the wrong way to enjoy food!

    • Foodie Star

      Dear “Food”,
      You didn’t include your first name, so I’ll just call you Dick for short. I happen to like what Gil does here. A true statesman in every sense of the word, he provides a valuable service to this community without any pay and without calling much attention to himself. While your experience at the Corales Bistro Brewrey may have been bad, your scalding condemnation of Gil and of the restaurant adds absolutely no value to this blog other than entertainment. If a restaurant is truly this bad, it will not need your help putting it out of business. It will end up there by itself. Gil didn’t come to where you work and knock the broom out of your hand, why do you have to mess with Gil’s job? If you hate this blog, don’t read it. I hope you don’t reproduce.

  • Megan

    My moms group had a night out there in October and it was awful to say the least. We had a hard time deciding what to order because the menu is quite large and everything sounds delicious. We were the only table in the place (7 of us total) and our food came out at separate times, very randomly. Food that was supposed to be hot was lukewarm at best. Half of our orders were missing things and we had to get up and get the waitress to correct them since she never checked back on us. They state they close at 11:00, we got there at 7:00 and were planning on getting dessert, but at 8:30 it seemed the waitress and kitchen staff was done with us, they never checked on us, never offered dessert, never refilled drinks. Instead they all hung around the bar drinking and talking instead of waiting on us. We left and went to Flying Star for dessert and coffee instead. Absolutely one of our worst dining experiences and a place we will definitely not be returning to.

  • Kay

    I just blew in from Texas last week and accidently stumbled into this place while driving out in Corralles. I loved it! The service was great, the art was beautiful and the Chef Eric even brought my lovely sandwich out to me. I liked the 2 beers I had and gave the waitress a well deserved, good tip. I will go back and look forward to some of the mouth watering sandwiches you blog shows. Yummmmmm!

  • DNP

    I totally agree with Robert!!!! My husband and I scored a babysitter at the last minute and decided to try something nearby in Corrales so we stopped in to have maybe a snack and a beer. The place was empty and had about an hour till closing but we still got very unwelcome looks as we walk in. They immediately tell us the kitchen is closed but we can order drinks. I try the Sangria by high recommendation who I think was the owner trying to get rid of it. It was not good. The bar had quite a few people who looked like they were waiting for the after party to start and us to scram. The waitress even started to put the chairs up at the table we were sitting at!!! Everyone was rude, and the owner seemed snobby. I have yet to find a place in my Corrales neighborhood that has good service. Could that be why the resturants out here never last more than 6 months? Hm?

  • Robert

    Sorry. But I also have to say that the reviewer on this site is either high or is being paid off by the restaurant. There is nothing good about them…really. Please read my past comment for more info and know that I am only a regular patron who is very objective about this stuff and not some paid-off hack who does not know a good place if he woke up in it!

  • Robert

    Just left there. Have been there a few times before. Only went there because it is close and I was in a hurry. Bad choice, once again. It was always mediocre at best.
    But tonight it was,
    Terrible, terrible, terrible. Eveerything about it was awful. Sorry, but it was.

    Got nachos that were missing several ingredients after waiting forever. Got a Ruben, that was also missing several ingredients, after waiting forever…it was basically corn beef on rye, and that’s it…after waiting 45 minutes!

    The beer is warm and the service sucks. And I’m not even a critic!

    As a matter of fact, despite what this review amy seem like, I am actually quite easy to please. But these guys really sucked, no bones about it! I will never go back and will never recommend it to anyone. This is sad because I really like supporting local businesses. But when they are this bad, I can’t help but hope someone else moves in.

    My name is Robert. And if anyone wants to call me on this, my e-mail is I live in Corrales and am sad that these guys suck so badly.

  • Roland

    Nothing unique about the El Pancho Greenblatt. It has been on the Quarters menu for years.

  • Gary

    Very sloooooooow service, at least when we ate there. Ok food. Nice patio which is much more inviting than eating inside.

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