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The Pajarito Brewpub and Grill next to Beall’s in the Mari-Mac shopping center, is like a beacon in the night for those who want dinner after 8 p.m.
Despite what appears to be a very small space from outside, the owners have done a good job of using the space they have available. Not only do they have a bar in the establishment, but they also have a few booths and a decent amount of seating for diners.
Admittedly, the brewpub and grill was not the first choice on a recent Sunday afternoon, but alas, it was one of the only choices open after 2 p.m. A trip to another restaurant was attempted and despite the fact that the sign said they closed at 3 p.m. and it was only 2:36 p.m., the doors were locked. So a visit to the brewpub was in order.
The hostess was quick to seat the party and provide menus. The waiter was a bit slow in coming around, but that was OK, because the delay allowed the menus to be perused thoroughly. By the time he did come to take the drink orders, everyone was ready to order.
Three sodas, along with a fried pickle appetizer were ordered. Entrees ordered included the Reuben sandwich with fries, the mac and cheese and a burger with gouda cheese and bacon.
The pickles were brought with the meal, which is unfortunate. It’s an appetizer, so one expects it to be delivered to the table before the food. A fancy presentation was attempted with this appetizer. A few deep fried pickle spears were spread out on a round, white plate and were topped with thin slices of tomato and accented with truffle oil.
Because the entrees and the pickles were being worked on at the same time, the pickles had a chance to sit in the oil, so the breading became drenched in it. When they were bitten into, all you could taste was the heavy flavor of the oil. Also, a couple of the ends of the pickles were withered and looked like they’d been left in the fryer too long.
The Reuben was another story. Served on toasted bread and piled high with house-made sauerkraut, it was a winner. The pastrami was flavorful and just peppery enough, but not overwhelmingly so. The melted cheese was a good addition and all the flavors melded perfectly. Served with crispy, perfectly cooked shoestring French fries, it was definitely a must-try.
The burger was equally satisfying. Served on a brioche bun, the bacon that topped the burger was crisp and the apple wood-smoke flavor was evident. The gouda was perfectly melted and accompanied by those same shoestring fries, mustard, lettuce and tomato, the burger couldn’t have been better. Also, it was ordered well done and came out that way — not like a hockey puck. Oftentimes when burgers are ordered well done, they are cooked beyond perfection. This wasn’t the case at the brewpub.
Unfortunately, the mac and cheese did not receive the same thumbs-up that the other two dishes did. It looked good when brought to the table. In fact, it was ordered topped with bacon, so it should have been a slam-dunk, but alas, the truffle oil made another appearance and altered the taste. Instead of accenting and bringing out the flavors of the cheese, it drowned them, so all one could taste was the oil. Plus, it made the dish smell awful by the end of the meal. Needless to say, that it was only half-eaten.
The waiter was presentable, dressed in a neat-looking black long sleeve, button-down shirt. He was attentive and didn’t hover, but checked in regularly to make sure that glasses were filled and everything was in order. There was one gripe about him, however. He smelled of body odor, so each time he reached over to grab a glass or clear a plate, one had to turn away to try and avoid the smell. That is definitely not a pleasant experience when you’ve just taken a bite of food. In fact, this should never happen in a restaurant. It’s a sure-fire way to keep customers away, no matter how good the food is.
The menu is extensive, offering pub fare like burgers and sandwiches, to salads and a few things New Mexicans probably haven’t heard of before, for example, the pretzel banger. They also offer fish and chips, a variety of appetizers and more. Of course, there is also an extensive list of microbrew on tap, as well as wine and a full bar.
Overall, the experience was a bit of a mixed bag. Two of the three entrees were definitely worth another try. The fried pickles were just so-so because of the truffle oil and the fact that a couple were a bit overcooked. The waiter, while friendly and attentive, had a hygiene issue that was not at all appealing. The biggest plus is that the eatery is open later than anyone else in town.
Also, there are menu items for children, so one would assume that this is a family-friendly place, however, there were multiple flyers posted throughout the eatery, announcing their St. Patrick’s Day party. The problem? There’s a scantily-clad woman pictured on the flyer, which doesn’t exactly scream family-oriented, unless one finds a woman in lingerie an acceptable image for their children to view. But then again, it is a brew pub and grill.
Another trip might be in order to try something else on the menu, but hopefully another waiter or waitress will be working that day.
Total for three with tax, before tip, came to $41.71.