Outstanding in Their Field
Sixty-Six Acres aces cocktails and plates at once
Sixty-Six Acres is all glass and polish, exposed wood in the rafters and pendant lighting that HGTV would approve of. It takes its name from the 66 acres of land it sits on, just across 12th Street from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Just inside the front door is a hostess station and shelves displaying some of the same local spirits featured behind the bar. While it's a little chilly now, come summertime I imagine the view from the patio will be pretty easy on the eyes.
I'll start with a few cocktails, as you should probably start with one while looking over the menu. An early favorite for cocktail of the summer 2019 is the 12th Street Main Squeeze ($10). Orange and ginger, a dash of bitters, and Taos Lightning “governor's reserve” rye whiskey call to mind an orange creme soda … only better, because it makes you tipsy. One taste and you'll know why I've already begun a campaign to have them sell it by the carafe. Another highlight was the house-tapped paloma ($7). It's everything you love in a traditional paloma, but punched up with jalapeño that turns the grapefruit and citrus up to 11.
Tumbleroot's reposado agave spirit (so, tequila, just not made in Mexico) and Naranja orange liqueur give the Manzano "margarita" ($10) a new twist on an old favorite. If it's just a Sunday brunch staple you're after, they mix a rock-solid bloody Mary ($7.50) as well. It makes sense that a spot that focuses on craft cocktails would get them all right, so no worries ordering—you won't be sorry whatever you try.
As for some food to take the edge off, the blistered shishitos ($6) are smoky and not terribly spicy, just an earthy, warm dish. While I don't mind the straight-forward, traditional approach—just sea salt and olive oil—it might feel a little one-note for some. A dipping sauce served alongside would be a welcome addition. Next time I'll add the Korean chicken bites ($10) to accompany. If you want a lighter, more citrusy beginner, the breaded zucchini ribbons ($8) are paper-thin, sliced-long-ways ribbons of zucchini, lightly breaded and fried, then dusted with parmesan. The sizable architectural mound belies the light and tasty dish, and they're great on their own or dipped in the lemon basil aioli they come with.
For lunch or dinner proper, there's plenty on the menu both new and familiar to land on a winner. The sliced steak and ports flatbread ($15) is pizza-like, though the red sauce is replaced by a luscious garlic spread. Chunks of steak, red bell peppers, and portobello mushrooms are finished with a drizzle of green chile chimichurri which is bright and tangy without losing any of the umami of the steak and mushrooms. The Sixty-Six patty melt ($12) is a right and proper patty melt—sturdy and grilled to perfection. They'll never make enough caramelized onions to satisfy me, but Sixty-Six Acres gets close, and their fries are a serious cut above typical. The chimichurri chicken sandwich ($11) is juicy sliced chicken with green chile chimichurri and artichokes under a melt of provolone. The flavors mesh beautifully for a warm and filling bite. Another hearty dish is the Korean fried chicken bowl ($16). A cache of delicious veggies top gorgeous and earthy red rice, with a few long boneless fried chicken strips. The batter is light and crunchy, with some kimchi to add a little pizazz. The quality ingredients really shine through in this supremely balanced dish that just feels good all around. Another light and flavorful dish is the spicy lime Caesar salad ($9). The surprise here were some cucumbers and the caramelized lime and jalapeño dressing, which at first blush seems contradictory to a creamy Caesar, but wins the day with very subtle but bright heat and acid notes. And I have to mention the kids' menu, as most folks know how hard it can be to get good plates on the cheap for the kiddos. Everything on the kids menu ranges from $4 to $6, with the chicken fingers and fries ($5) landing squarely among my kiddo's favorites in town. For dessert, the housemade cookies and milk ($5) was the perfect exclamation point. Three cookies—fresh-baked chocolate chip plus a rotating seasonal cookie—served with half a highball of cold milk to dunk in. The simple but precise dish took me right back to childhood.
I suspect that Sixty-Six Acres owner Myra Ghattas, whose Slate Street Cafe you likely know, will have an evolving menu. But this first iteration, while restrained, will comfortably have something for everyone—as will happen when a spot insists on high quality ingredients. Looking around the room, I spied other plates I wanted to sample, and the space itself is calm and inviting. I also want to try all the fancy drinks on offer as Sixty-Six Acres wisely rides the swelling wave of craft cocktails, but does so with some rock-solid and surprising dishes to boot. The quality obviously makes up for price, though, to be fair, it'll be tough to fully dine on the cheap. A drink-and-appetizer might be the best way to dip your toe in, but I suspect you'll be glad you did.
2400 Twelfth Street NW
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm
Vibe: Glass and polish, exposed wood rafters, and pendant lighting to make HGTV proud; warmer weather will put their scenic patio on the map.
Alibi Recommends: Paloma, 12th street main squeeze, the Korean spicy chicken bowl, chimichurri chicken sandwich, housemade cookies and milk