Even though New Mexico’s license plates have been graced with the sobriquet “Land of Enchantment” since 1941, it didn’t become the state’s official nickname until 1999. For much longer than that, the more derisive epithet “Land of Entrapment” has also been in use. In 1955, the New Mexico Motor Club began using it because state highway police were perceived as being overly “aggressive and deceptive” in ticketing motorists. That infamous Land of Entrapment nickname is sadly still in use, primarily by malcontents and miscreants who wouldn’t recognize enchantment if it gave them 280 days of sunshine a year.
Those of us with unbridled state pride prefer to think that New Mexico enrapts you with its enchantment; it doesn’t entrap you. For us, New Mexico truly is the Land of Enraptment…er, Enchantment. No matter the length of time away, every time we set foot back in the Land of Enchantment, we just “get it” the same way we got it the first time we stepped onto its enchanted soil. Perhaps more accurately, New Mexico gets to us. It weaves its preternatural spell and stirs something deeply in those of us open enough to its calling. English writer D. H. Lawrence said it best, “In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to a new.”
Jerry Miller gets it. Back in 2003, he had expected to spend only a night in Albuquerque visiting a friend before returning home to Chicago. The very next day, he partnered on the purchase of a 20,000 square-foot warehouse on 1.5 acres of land. Jerry didn’t say whether it was “enchantment” that got to him or a potentially lucrative business opportunity, but he’s very happy to be here. Initially their vision was to develop the warehouse into a live-work condominium space. To help pay the mortgage while plans for the condo conversion were being developed, several rooms within the warehouse were turned into artist workshops. Quickly discerning the demand for inexpensive work spaces, Jerry and his partners shelved the condo project.
Today “The Factory on 5th” has more than thirty rental studio work spaces ranging in size from 130 square-feet to 1,000 square-feet, three large gallery spaces and as of January, 2018, one of the most exciting and eye-catching restaurants in the Duke City. That restaurant, the aptly named The Kosmos got its start as a multi-use performance space and coffee bar. Once neighborhood breweries began garnering attention, the entrepreneurial Jerry decided to repurpose the space. Today, the restaurant has a reciprocal arrangement with nearby breweries. Kosmos delivers food to them (three times a week to the Bow & Arrow) and they supply the local beers on tap.
While other restaurants may purport to serve edible art, Kosmos surrounds diners with art. You’ll espy whimsy at every turn— yellow and blue towers resembling oil derricks or windmill platforms, bicycles winding their way up a pipe spiraling heavenward, shoes mechanically going through a perambulating motion under the patio…and that’s even before you set foot in the actual restaurant. At the terminus of a ramp just beyond the entrance sits a dog-friendly patio where a well-practiced grill holds court. Weather permitting, a garage door opens up from the patio into the restaurant.
Step into the restaurant and the space does indeed have a cosmic theme, but it’s also rather eclectic and altogether capricious. A metal sculptor in a previous life, Jerry called it a do-it-yourself project, one he and partner David Cudney not only conceptualized but for which they did much of the work. Twinkling stars backdrop a river rock bar with more sparkling stars on its countertop. Bill also built the unique tap system which connects to a keg storage compartment he repurposed from a walk-in fridge once used for worms. Multi-hued walls festooned by art give you something to ogle everywhere you turn while a television with a vertical orientation entertains you with a billowy bulbous clouds floating in a cerulean sky.
Jerry’s talents extend far beyond his entrepreneurial and artistic bent. He also conceptualized and designed the restaurant’s signature burger, the Kosmic burger. It took four months of trial and error on the aforementioned patio grill before he was satisfied with the results. The ground beef for the burger comes from Keller Farm Store where it is custom-ground to Jerry’s exacting specifications then specially formed in-house on a device he created. Each one-third pound burger is seared until crispy on the outside and is served with lettuce, tomato, onion and house-made pickles on the side. The buns come from The Swiss Alps Bakery. They hold up very well against the moistness of a very large burger. You can customize your burger with your choice of cheese (Cheddar, American, Blue or Swiss) and other toppings such as grilled onions, mushrooms and green chile.
9 January 2019: Jerry recommended several items on the menu, but obviously takes the most pride in ownership for the Kosmic burger whose name, by the way, he trademarked. My inaugural, but certainly not my last Kosmic burger was dressed with grilled onions, blue cheese and green chile. It’s absolutely magnificent! Searing the beef patty over high heat sealed in its juices so that even though the burger was probably prepared at medium to medium well, it was moist and juicy. The chef was very generous with the chunky, veiny blue cheese which is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The grilled onions are translucent and soft with a sweet flavor profile. They contrast nicely with the green chile which has a balance of roasted flavor and piquancy. You’ll love the housemade pickles, too. They’re equal parts savoryy savory, sweet and sour like cucumbers grown up and self-actualized.
11 January 2019: Two days after having been rendered starstruck by the Kosmic burger, I returned to The Kosmos with my friend Bill Resnik. Bill, much more of a burger purist than your humble blogger, has grown weary of burgers stacked with everything but the kitchen sink, especially when sweet and savory components are mixed. It made him very happy to customize The Meateor with only a few ingredients: blue cheese and mushrooms. True to its name, the Meateor is meatier. Our server told us only one diner had ever been able to finish it. No wonder! It’s a full two-thirds of a pound behemoth on two juicy beef patties. For Bill, it was love at first bite. He praised the earthiness and freshness of the mushrooms, the sharp intensity of the blue cheese and the general deliciousness of every single bite. By the way, he became the second diner at The Kosmos to polish off the Meateor.
11 January 2019: He also made quick work of the Spudniks, one of the three types of fries on the menu. Spudniks resemble a cross between potato wedges and French fries. Boomerang shaped and thick, they’re the 98-pound bully to regular fries–both in terms of flavor and size. They’re even better when dipped into The Kosmos’ signature green chile aioli–so good it may make you forget all about ketchup. Had I known just how good the Spudniks with green chile aioli are, I might not have ordered the side sized mac and cheese (garden rotini with a three cheese Bechamel sauce). Then again, mac and cheese this good is a rarity in Albuquerque. In fact, it’s one of the top five mac and cheeses in town. Trust me.
11 January 2019: Another rarity is ordering fish and chips and substituting mac and cheese for the chips, an egregious act committed before I knew about the aforementioned Spudniks. Even sans chips, this is a terrific dish: three thick planks of tender cod dredged in a house beer batter and fried to a golden hue served with freshly shredded coleslaw. The light, flaky, delicate fish is all fish without any of the residual “fishy” flavor or airiness. Moreover, it’s delicious as well as a great repository for malt vinegar, the way we’ve enjoyed fish and chips since living in England. The purple cabbage coleslaw is also quite good.
If you’re not in the mood for a conventional burger, you can also have a veggie burger or a pork tenderloin sandwich. The “Meals” section of the menu features such items as a 12-ounce rib eye, mac and cheese and Afghan rice. Both the mac and cheese and Afghan rice are also available in smaller sizes on the sides menu. A Caesar salad and house salad are also available as entrees or in smaller portions as sides. If you have any appetite left (portions are enormous), desserts would tempt Job.
17 April 2019: Ross and Rachel from Friends. Big and Carrie from Sex and the City. Derek and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy. It took these famous television couples several seasons (a decade in the case of Ross and Rachel) to finally…inevitably get together. In comparison, it took only two years for your friendly neighborhood blogger to meet for lunch with Sarita, a long-time contributor to the blog of great photographs and thoughtful comments. Both her photographs and comments should have alerted me that we’d hit it off right away. Sarita is a delightful person with a smile so radiant it parts the clouds (both in the troposphere and metaphorically) and lets the sun in. She’s fun, engaging and witty. Moreover, she’s a very adventurous diner and terrific lunch companion.
For our inaugural lunch, Sarita chose Kosmos because “it looks like a fun place and the food looks amazing,” both great reasons to visit a restaurant. As all first-timers to Kosmos should do, she had the Kosmic burger with a side of spudniks and green chile aioli. My choice was the steak sandwich (marinated, grilled steak sliced thin and topped with chimichurri sauce on a toasted bun). Relatively new on the menu, it’s a sandwich that should stick around for a while, just on the strength of the chimichurri, a neon-green sauce constructed from fresh herbs (parsley and oregano) combined with garlic and other seasonings in an olive oil and vinegar base. Anyone thinking about moving to Argentina because of its great chimichurri now has another reason to stay in Albuquerque. This is seriously outstanding chimichurri. Our server talked me into adding grilled onions to the steak sandwich. Great call. The pairing of sweet, translucent onions and tangy-savory chimichurri is magical. The grilled steak was very good, too, but made so much better with those additions.
Astronomer Carl Sagan described the cosmos as “all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Within the confines of The Kosmos, you’ll certainly appreciate the stellar, spectacular place in those cosmos which just happens to serve great food.
1715 5th Street, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 17 April 2019
1st VISIT: 9 January 2019
# OF VISITS: 3
BEST BET: Kosmic Burger (Bleu Cheese, Green Chille, Grilled Onions), Side Mac and Cheese, Fish and Chips, Coleslaw, The Meateor Burger (Bleu Cheese, Mushrooms), Spudniks, Steak Sandwich
14 thoughts on “The Kosmos – Albuquerque, New Mexico”
Aw, Gil, you’re making me blush! It was truly an honor to have you as my lunch companion on my inaugural visit to The Kosmos. The food tasted just as good as it looked. That chimichurri should be bottled and sold!
Sarita, Gil is right – you have a million dollar smile! I’m so jealous that I didn’t get to join you for lunch – there’s nothing like delicious food and great conversation. And your photo of the Kosmic burger put me over the edge.
Wow, I’ve driven past here I don’t know how many times and had no clue there was a restaurant here! The food looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it out! 😋
The first thing I can say about the Kosmos is WOW. Definitely a hidden gem.
Their Meateor Burger is an absolutely great double burger (2/3 of a pound of a special blend of ground beef) and can be had with pretty much anything from their generous list of toppings. I chose blue cheese and mushrooms – a great combination and added a slice of onion and slice of tomato that accompany their burgers. In spite of the fact that the burger was a little more cooked than I like, each patty was still juicy on the inside. Jerry explained they go for a crispy char on the outside for flavor.
The unusually shaped “Spudniks” were the perfect with their Green Chile aioli. I could drink a quart of this stuff! I may never use ketchup at the Kosmos, the aioli is THAT GOOD!
It was a pleasure eating with our favorite blogger, but also to meet the very friendly and proud owners. I’m bringing my “Taco Tuesday” gang there tomorrow, and I expect to hear great comments from them. I may have to try the fish and chips. WOW!
Bill, rumor has it that you know your way around the kitchen. Would you be able to provide a recipe for green chile aioli? I don’t have a prayer of locating anything even close here in the “NY Tundra”. Thanks!
1/2 cup total of oil (use olive, grapeseed, canola, peanut, whatever you like as long as it totals 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup freshly roasted and peeled NM green chile. Frozen will do, but do not use canned.
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
Fresh Lemon Juice
Heat 1/2 cup of oil over a low heat
While the oil is heating, finely chop 1/4 cup of green chile
Add the chile to the heated oil, then immediately take it off the heat and let it steep for at least an hour. We don’t want to fry the chile, just get it to flavor the oil.
To a bowl, wisk together the egg, and garlic.
Using a fork, pull the chile out of the oil and add it to the eggs.
Wisking constantly, slowly add a stream of the chile flavored oil. Wisking works best – you could do this in a food processor, but you won’t have nice little pieces of chile in the aioli.
Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. A little cayenne pepper is nice in it too.
Let me know how you like it, or if you experiment share what you did! All the best.
Bill, thanks very much for the recipe. I must preface my remarks by noting that for eleven months of the year, we cannot obtain fresh or even frozen NM green chiles here in NY. I’ve tried. And tried. Shipping fees for frozen are pretty ridiculous. For only three or four weeks a year (August – September), the regional supermarket chain brings in Hatch chiles and sometimes they even bring in the big roasters. Two years ago, I bought a load of fresh, roasted them, and they were fabulous. This past year, I did the same with not so fabulous results. My friend Gil alleviated my disappointment by noting the chiles were likely not quality.
So – I committed the ultimate heresy today and used canned Hatch chiles to try your recipe. I know. Please don’t send the lynch mob after me. I was just too eager to try the aioli to wait eight months. Needless to say, the chile tastes tinny and a bit bitter (even a couple of good shots of lemon juice failed to brighten it up by much) but at least I know what to expect with a good batch of green chile – pure deliciousness!
That said, it didn’t stop me from eating the green chile aioli as it is with fries. Yes, desperate times require desperate measures. And I’m thinking of having it on a burger, too. I’m pretty sure I could pass this off on unsuspecting New Yorkers as the real thing and they’d love it. Meanwhile, your recipe makes an excellent garlic aioli with which I’ll be content for the time being. It’s far superior to traditional “garlic ball park fries”. So you really gave me the gift of two new recipes. Thanks again!
Outstanding! Canned chile is not optimal as you’re aware, but you have my kudos for using what you had available.
Try younggunsproduce.com for really good frozen Chile. Their hot is really hot and xtra hot is off the scales. And they don’t charge for shipping, but you’ll pay $12-15 per pound depending on how much you buy.
You can tell by the recipe that I love my garlic. It makes the chile pop and keeps the vampire away. Obviously you should adjust it to taste.
If I ever am lucky enough to meet you, I hope you’ll sign a couple of your books for me. I’m definitely a fan and honored that you tried my recipes.
Thanks for the complimentary words. If I could locate copies of my books in the 700 + boxes of my cookbook collection still awaiting unpacking from my move a year ago (SIGH), I’d send you autographed copies today.
I went full throttle on the garlic and it was just right – although I guess not many people would care to enjoy my company when I’m indulging in a load of your aioli!
Thanks, too, for the information on Young Guns Produce.
About Hatch chiles – I thought “Hatch” was key to authenticity but apparently not. I’m now at least a semi-educated consumer. The legal use of “Hatch” is kind of confusing to me but likely understood by everyone in New Mexico. I now see that in 2016, a trademark was approved for “real” green chiles grown in the Hatch Valley and if a label says “Hatch green chiles” it must have the trademark displayed. Chile grown anywhere else cannot say “Hatch chile” anywhere on the label. The chiles I bought are distributed by Hatch Chile CO LLC in Albuquerque and the label says “Hatch select whole green chiles” – they’re shown here : https://www.hatchchileco.com/products/. The back of the label states ”Product of Mexico – Not Grown in New Mexico” – a disclaimer that I did not notice when I bought them. There is no trademark. The company’s “About Us” tab is interesting. Again, confusing and misleading – but lesson learned. From now on, it’ll be real frozen or fresh Hatch chiles or nothing!
I have had good luck with jarred chiles. I prefer “Santa Fe Ole'”brand, available for shipping.
Thanks Randolph. I see that the Santa Fe Ole brand carries the Certified Hatch Chile trademark and the product has really good reviews on Amazon. In addition, I would think that jarred chiles versus canned would certainly be much better. I’ll definitely give them a try soon.
Ha! Now that might be an idea!!
Hey Gil, I love your intro and your way with words: “malcontents and miscreants who wouldn’t recognize enchantment if it gave them 280 days of sunshine a year”
We’ve been to Kosmos twice and were captivated by Jerry, the vibe and the food.
Happy New Year!
Thank you for the kind words. I look forward to reading more of yours when you complete your ambitious project on Indian food.
Now, shouldn’t Jerry open a satellite Kosmos restaurant in Roswell?
Happy New Year!