I like my neighborhood. It’s got most of the things I want in a neighborhood, such as a park I never visit and a liquor store I always visit. I don’t know or even think about my neighbors, which makes for the best kind. The only thing missing that would make it a perfect place to live is a good beer bar within walking distance. Since this is Albuquerque, I know that unless I move Downtown or to Nob Hill, I have to drive a ways to anywhere worth drinking. I wouldn’t live in Nob Hill because there's too much to do, and I’d be out spending my Alibi paycheck every night. I can’t live Downtown because, well, I’m not really allowed there anymore. (I don’t want to get into it. It involves drinking.)
But back to my bucolic neighborhood, where the only evidence of a neighbor is when I see that my trash can has been put back in my yard. My point is, I’d be willing to drive at least few miles if there was a bar that carried good beer.
The old Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Juan Tabo was once a lard lover’s paradise, and though it was in my neck of the Heights, I never visited. After closing, the space sat vacant for years until Rob O’Niell decided to give the idea of a second O’Niell’s Pub (3301 Juan Tabo NE, 293-1122) another go-round. The building where Uptown Sports Bar is located once housed an O’Niell’s from 2001 to early 2005, though this new location seems to be a better fit. It certainly works for me, as it’s only minutes by car. But does the new O’Niell’s complete my idyllic neighborhood?
Kinda sorta. If you’ve been in the location on Central, you’ve been to the one on Juan Tabo. They look that similar, from the tables, colors, lighting and bar setup all the way down to the same glossy menu. If I was new to Albuquerque, I might think this was a regional chain restaurant, though with much better food—and more importantly, better beer. Seventeen taps pour mainly craft beer (and PBR), including a house brand Red and Pale and five rotating seasonal taps. Add in 80 or so bottled beers and I’m ready to set up a cot and stay the night.
The main draw for this spot may be the giant patio, with views of the Sandias. There is nothing like it around, and the bar should do a booming business. While a little too polished to be my nightly haunt (if people can see me, the bar is too bright), I’ll be there often, finally able to enjoy a bar close to home.