This week, I went to Kaktus Brewery Co. in Bernalillo to try some of its legendary pizza.
Some readers told me it’s the best place to get pizza in the entire state. That is some hype!
First off, this place is fairly hidden. You have to take some dirt roads to get there. Don’t worry, they are drivable dirt roads, and any car could do the job. If my 2005 Honda Civic (with worn-out tires) can do it, then your car should be fine.
“We call our place a hidden gem, a hole-in-the-wall kind of place; a lot of people say it reminds them of a place in Mexico or Costa Rica,” Manager Mikayla Jaramillo said. “We want people to come, and feel like they are at home … like they are hanging out with friends and family.”
When you approach the bar, you quickly notice hundreds of dollar bills on the ceiling with little messages written on them.
“The first day that Kaktus opened — about 10 years ago — the first customer that the owner had, he wrote on a dollar bill ‘goodluck on your venture!’ and they stuck it up, and it just became a tradition,” Jaramillo said.
Now, any customer can write something on a dollar and be part of the tradition.
The environment at Kaktus Brewery is electric. When my father and I stopped by, it was a packed house, there was a band playing (The Kaktus Kats Blues Band), and people were dancing. Not bad for 3 p.m. on a Sunday.
“It’s always nice out here on Sundays; it’s like coming to church,” singer and drummer Melvin Crisp said.
Kaktus Brewery is a nano-brewery that offers craft beer, pizza, desserts, appetizers, salads, indoor and outdoor seating, and a stage space for performers. It whips up very unique pizzas with very unique toppings including elk, duck, pumpkin squash, leeks, etc.
“My boss gets good, quality ingredients and sells the two best things around: pizza and beer,” pizza maker Tristan Drywater said.
I ordered two pizzas: The Chicken Bock-Bock pizza, and a pepperoni and green chile pizza.
The Chicken Bock-Bock has pulled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, basil pesto sauce and a catchy name.
The other pizza had pepperoni, whole milk mozzarella cheese, red sauce and Hatch green chile.
By the way, Hatch green chile is the best green chile out there! I had an argument with a friend who claimed that Pueblo, Colorado, has better green chile than Hatch, New Mexico. You’re wrong, Kevin! I digress.
The pizzas came out, and both looked magnificent. I took my first bite and quickly understood the hype.
The pepperoni and green chile pizza had an amazing crunch and undercarriage. The red sauce was tangy with a little spicy kick to it. The toppings were well balanced, and it had plenty of melted cheese goodness.
The Chicken Bock-Bock is a signature of Kaktus Brewery, and it was the first time I have ever had nuts on a pizza. The chicken was tender and had a sweet finish, the garlicky pesto paired great with the pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes, and once again, it had an amazing crunch.
The original plan was to eat some pizza and then watch “Barbie” at Cottonwood Mall. However, my dad was having such a great time that he kept asking me if we could stay a bit longer. I felt like I had a kid with me.
We missed the movie and had no regrets about it. Everything at Kaktus Brewery was fantastic, and I will definitely be back.
Kaktus Brewery is open six days a week and closed on Mondays. Hours are 2-9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
If you would like to contact Kaktus Brewery, call 505-295-3186.
Where should I go next? Email me at [email protected]