“Are you going to explain how to pronounce “bosque?,” my Kim asked when she espied me working on this review. Though her Spanish vocabulary is rather limited, she pronounces the five or six hundred Spanish words she knows like a native speaker. For that she credits legendary Associated Press sportswriter Pete Herrera with whom she worked for years. Explaining that correct pronunciation is part of being respectful of other languages, Pete patiently taught her the nuances and fine points of Spanish. Today it rankles her ire to hear television talking heads on the local news–especially those with Spanish surnames–mispronouncing rudimentary Spanish words such as bosque.
“Why is it not one single television reporter can pronounce bosque?” my Kim often laments. Sure enough, every time Albuquerque’s expansive bosque is mentioned on the air, the anchor or reporter will invariably pronounce it as “boss-key.” “Aaargh! It is not “boss-key!,” she rants. Nor is it pronounced like “mosque” with a “b” as this online dictionary teaches. For the appropriate Spanish pronunciation, you can ask my Kim or consult this Spanish to English dictionary. And if you ever want to discuss all things Lobo basketball with Pete Herrera (there’s no one more knowledgeable) over a beer or burger at “Boss-Key Brewery,” he just might tell you a thing or two about its correct pronunciation.
The Bosque Brewing Company entered New Mexico’s keenly competitive craft beer market in November, 2012 and, despite an inaugural location far from the beaten path (San Mateo as far north as it goes), has experienced significant growth. Bosque Brewery’s inaugural location closed in 2019, but by then The Bosque Brewing Company already had two other Albuquerque locations as well as two in Las Cruces and the one in Bernalillo you’re reading about. In April, 2019, the team who started it all also launched one of Albuquerque’s most unique pizza concepts, Restoration Pizza.
When the first Bosque Brewery launched, it didn’t boast of a kitchen in which a staff of chefs, sous chefs, expediters and servers prepared and served your food. Instead, all the food was prepared behind the bar on small countertop stoves and a panini press. The “kitchen’s” motto “Flavor Is Boss” was an ambitious expression considering the spartan cooking capacity, yet large flavors emanated from that Lilliputian kitchen. It didn’t take long before the brewery had a full-service kitchen and was able to prepare and serve more than just sandwich-type fare. The expanded menu offered true gastropub fare–high quality, freshly prepared food that surprised discerning diners. It was a diverse menu, several orders of magnitude superior to the stereotypical pub grub of yore.
Several of those items grace the menu at Bernalillo’s capacious Bosque North Brewery & Taproom, a sprawling edifice that has been wowing guests since its launch in February, 2019. Multi-level seating at the brobdingnagian complex provides some of the very best east-facing views available from anywhere in the metropolitan area. Up close your views are of the murky, mocha-colored Rio Grande and yes, the bosque (repeat after me, “it’s not boss-key”). Further east you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Sandias. Dog-friendly seating is plentiful at the capacious wrap-around patio. It’s hard to believe this 15,000 square-foot behemoth sits in the space once occupied by a Jackalope building.
The menu is structured similarly to other menus you’ve seen with a few surprises sprinkled in. Appetizers, called “For The Table” aren’t just the de rigueur New Mexico favorites such as salsa and chips (though those are available, too). Instead, you’ll find such delights as veggie egg rolls and pomme frites served with a house-made anchovy aioli. Four street taco options are available and not just on Taco Tuesdays. How many menus have you seen in New Mexico with a separate section just for poutine? Bosque North’s menu has one. The menu also lists six burgers and sandwiches served with your choice of fries or seasonal veggies. There are three “house favorites” on the menu, hold-overs from other instantiations of the brewery. Two salads and a soup-of-the-day round out the gastropub menu.
1 May 2019: One of the house favorites we remembered so fondly were the Thai mussels. Few Thai restaurants could have prepared mussels quite as good as Bosque’s Thai-style mussels (mussels in a coconut milk broth with ginger, jalapeño and cilantro) served with a baguette to sop up the juicy goodness. The mussels are fresh and meaty with none of the characteristic off-putting “fishiness” that defines bad mussels. The broth is wonderful, reminiscent of an excellent Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut soup). While the baguette does its job admirably and dredges up the broth with efficiency, you’ll probably ask for a soup spoon, too.
1 May 2019: After his inaugural visit to Bosque North, excelsior Tom Molitor filed this assessment: “The Bosque folks are awesome. As I’ve said previously I knew these guys from the beginning and am impressed every day on how they execute their restaurants, service, and stellar beer. Just yesterday I was out at their Bernalillo facility and had the killer fish and chips.” It probably won’t surprise you that I fixated on “killer fish and chips.” One word of caution before proceeding further. You can request an additional fish plank (Bosque IPA-battered cod) for a pittance (and most of us will do so assuming the initial portion quantity to be meager). Unless you’re really hungry, you can probably make due with the four (yes, four) baby’s arm-sized planks that constitute a regular portion. On second thought, ask for an extra plank. These golden-hued fillets are superb, among the very best fish in the metropolitan area. The jalapeño tartar sauce is a worthy accompaniment as are the seasoned chips.
1 May 2019: Writer Isabel Quintero once quipped “Tacos are like what the voices of a hundred angels singing Bob Dylan while sitting on rainbows and playing banjos would taste like if that sound were edible.” I’m still not sure if she was complimenting tacos or insulting them, but will assume it’s the former. Everyone loves tacos! Bosque North gives you a lot of taco options to love, offering a quadrumvirate of tasty corn pockets brimming with deliciousness: chicken (chicken, pickled red onions, cilantro, jicama slaw and lime crema), chicharrones (pork belly, house-made salsa and lime wedges), steak (marinated flank steak, chopped onion, mojo sauce and queso fresco) and cauliflower (roasted cauliflower, chopped onion, cilantro, mojo sauce and queso fresco). Have one of each and you’ll want two of each!
7 May 2019: Existential questions–what is the meaning of life, are we in control of our own lives, is there life after death–are too deep for many of us to ponder. We much prefer the “not-so deep” deep thoughts posited by the likes of comedian Jack Handey. After all, isn’t it easier to ponder why you can’t find a good egg roll at any Chinese restaurant than it is to ponder whether there’s something more to life? The matter of finding a good egg roll at a Chinese restaurant is one I still contemplate after years of exploration and tasting.
The veggie egg rolls we enjoyed during our second visit to Bosque North may have altered my inner dialogue a bit. Now I’m also wondering why almost every other restaurant–including a brew pub–can make a good egg roll, but Chinese restaurants can’t. These veggie egg rolls are seriously good and ridiculously simple–crispy deep-fried wrappers stuffed with shredded cabbage and julienned carrots. That’s all! Oh, and they’re served with two dipping sauces–a Thai-inspired peanut sauce and a sweet chili sauce with some real kick. As dipping sauces go, these are quite good. So are the egg rolls.
7 May 2019: There’s nothing existential about pondering the sublime greatness of New Mexico’s sacrosanct green chile cheeseburger though contemplating the optimum meat to bun to ingredient ratio remains an oft-debated matter. Boque North addresses the “meat” component of the ratio with a “Kobe-style” beef patty. Whether “Kobe-style” means wagyu or akaushi beef our server couldn’t answer though he did explain the beef patties are formed to order, not some frozen beef puck.
The emphasis on Boque North’s green chile cheeseburger (beef patty prepared to order, Muenster cheese and green chile) is definitely the “Kobe-style” beef, a thick, well-seasoned patty with nice juiciness at the “medium” degree of doneness. The green chile didn’t have much kick which had me reaching for the sweet chili sauce that came with the veggie egg rolls. Burger and sandwiches are accompanied by your choice of fries or seasonal veggies (or soup or salad for a pittance more). If the cream of mushroom soup is available, order it quickly before it runs out. It’s a very good soup.
12 August 2020: An abbreviated menu, courtesy of government-imposed restaurant restrictions, means the highly touted soup of the day is not currently available. Neither are several other popular menu options. If the appetizers don’t grab you, an excellent alternative is a small house salad (mixed greens with tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers) with your choice of three dressings: ranch, IPA vinaigrette and blue cheese. A small house salad can feed a family of six rabbits or one hungry gastronome. If blue cheese is your preferred dressing, double your pleasure by asking for blue cheese crumbles, too.
12 August 2020: Writing for The New Yorker the brilliant humorist-journalist Calvin Trillin posed the question: “Is the national joke becoming the national dish?” He was, of course, writing about poutine (French fries with cheese curds and brown gravy). Trillin observed: “Jokes about poutine on that level are the equivalent of jokes about the Scots eating haggis or Scandinavians in the upper Midwest crowding into church basements to feast on lutefisk.” He also noted that “poutine has a strong association with late-night eating by young people who have had a lot to drink—either because it acts as what I’ve heard referred to as a “beer sponge” or because they’re too drunk to know any better.”
As we were discussing lunch options, our server did indeed confirm that poutine is the preferred meal choice among guests planning to drink a lot. Considering Bosque North has a two beer limit, we surmised guests take home a six pack (or five) and an order of poutine fries (a heaping mound of french fries topped with green chile cream gravy, Cheddar cheese curds, and pulled marinated chicken, steak or roasted cauliflower). Neither my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver or I enjoy adult beverages so we can’t validate the effectiveness of the poutine as a “beer sponge.” What we can validate is that this is a very interesting and delicious dish. The seasoned fries have a crispy exterior and pillowy interior, perhaps indicative of frying twice. They’re excellent fries which don’t need ketchup, malt vinegar or any other amelioration. The green chile gravy and Cheddar cheese curds along with the steak pretty much coalesced into a single almost rubbery mass somewhat challenging to pull apart. Still, while the textures were somewhat prohibitive, the flavors were certainly no joke. Nor was the heat of the green chile.
On my daily commute home every evening, it’s become commonplace to see a cavalcade of motorized conveyances (and once even a horse) in Bosque North’s sprawling parking lots. It’s become an overwhelming local favorite.
Bosque North Brewery & Taproom
Bernalillo, New Mexico
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 12 August 2020
1st VISIT: 1 May 2019
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Thai Mussels, Fish & Chips, Taco Variety, Veggie Egg Rolls, Poutine Fries, Small Salad