When a restaurant names a dish “famous,” it is asking for, at the very least, critique. On a recent visit to the clandestinely situated Nexus Brewery on Pan American Freeway near Interstate 25 and Montgomery, I wasn’t going to pass up the confidently named “famous Southern fried chicken and waffles.”
I wasn’t disappointed.
The chicken-and-waffle as ‘woke cuisine’ is a trend I was all too happy to jump on, but the degree of variation of quality is huge.
Some restaurants save time on the waffles, or overwhelm you with spices, but Nexus Brewery created something purely good and simple.
Two giant boneless chicken breasts ($10, but I paid $2 extra for all-white-meat chicken) balance on top of a perfectly round Belgian waffle, cooked fresh to order, with a side of warm maple syrup.
Two delicate little balls of butter sit on top of the waffle, a fanciful touch for such an intense pile of calories.
The chicken was thickly breaded, but not overly spicy, and the waffle was crispy on the outside and moist inside, with a great sweet, fresh flavor. Together, they were a match made in heaven.
Or, specifically, the deep south, though Nexus fused Creole cooking with New Mexico chiles. The result is indulgent, but they don’t call it comfort food for nothing.
The chicken was left in the fryer just a bit too long, so it was mildly tough but the flavor was fantastic. The waffle was perfect. The side of fries I (over)ordered were good and, for $4, the portion was huge.
A friend just raved about Nexus’ red beans and rice with sausage ($9), and the New Mexico hot chicken sounded interesting, but in the end I took the brewery’s advice and went with their most famous dish. It was delicious, if not entirely healthy, and it lived up to its name quite well.
Nexus has two locations, the original on Pan American Freeway and Nexus Silver Taproom on Coors Boulevard (which serves an abbreviated menu), with plans to open an additional one on Broadway. The brewery is the creation of Ken Carson, a former banker, who according to the website quit his job to open the brewery and serve self-styled “New Mexico comfort food,” and he has done a great job focusing not just on the libations, but also the food.
The brewery isn’t easy to find – it’s situated in the back of a commercial complex off I-25 and Montgomery, and signs direct you to the gated parking lot. The signage is minimal (they wouldn’t have to do much to switch it to a speakeasy theme) and navigating the frontage road to get there is tricky. But once you get inside, you’ll relax in the upscale, laid-back dining room with big-screen TVs. There’s also outdoor seating.
More than half a dozen original brews are on tap, with some other local selections thrown in. They make a handful of desserts fresh in-house. (I plan to return for the shrimp gumbo ($13) and the cherry peach cobbler ($7) very soon.)
The food is surprisingly good for an establishment with a primary focus on beer, and the New Mexico/New Orleans angle works well. The selection is small, but the quality is great and, on top of that, the prices are fair.
Even non-beer-drinkers will love the southern fusion coming out of the Nexus kitchen, particularly the chicken and waffles.
It’s famous, you know.