“Community” is one of those ideals that we socially concerned wanna-be rabble rousers constantly talk about, to the extent that it’s become a sort of buzzword for reaching out to a certain savvy demographic. It’s even approaching the point that the word “green” did a few years ago, where businesses adopt it and use “community” to promote a grassroots image of themselves whether or not they actually give a damn about the community they’re in. Never mind that when most people think about the term, they are not envisioning a new way to “target consumers” or combine “authentic storytelling and cross-channel capabilities,” as PR companies like Havas Worldwide see it. But, despite my obvious cynicism, there are special times and places where a feeling of community really does manifest even in a location built all around the idea of making money. Green Jeans Farmery, that collection of brightly colored blocky buildings you’ve probably seen from the intersection of I-40 and Carlisle, is one such place. Its communal heart comes from the fact that it’s based around multiple businesses co-existing symbiotically. I immediately want to compare it to a mall food court for the new millennium, but the similarities don’t really go any further than the surface. Built from repurposed shipping containers, the complex feels more like the nicest, cleanest Mad Max encampment the post-apocalyptic future could provide. It’s a playful scene, with stairs going up to second levels, interesting passages to explore and a glass elevator. The restaurants are little more than sliding windows that offer their wares for takeout to the several sit-down eating areas. Pretty much everyone is friendly and the customers uniformly seem to be having a good time. The center of this scene, the hub around which the rest revolve, is the Santa Fe Brewing Company’s first Albuquerque taproom. The taproom itself is a comfortable space, though often a little crowded. Unlike the eateries, the taproom offers its own space for lounging. On days when it’s not freezing you can sit outside on the upper or lower patios and take your ale in the breeze. When it’s a bit too chill, the interior offers dark wooden tables and cozy quartering, as long as there’s room to sit down. A full length shuffleboard takes up the center of the upper floor. Santa Fe Brewery is the oldest of New Mexico’s microbreweries, and it has a lineup of true-to-style beers that have served them well over the decades. The classic nutbrown ale is a fine choice for an autumn day; it’s a medium-dark style, malty with molasses and nutty flavors. The more recently released Happy Camper IPA should satisfy the hopheads with its piney overtones, though the high alcohol content demands caution. So, too, with the Chicken Killer barley wine, a 10% ABV beast that comes in an 8oz. pour or mixed with other beers for a variety of flavors. The best thing about the complex though is the variety of food options on hand. Rustic 505 food truck put down roots to offer their excellent hamburgers on site as Rustic on the Green, and seriously, these are some of the best burgers in Albuquerque, maybe even New Mexico as a whole. Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria moved from its Central location into the complex. Rockin’ Taco and Bocadillos sit side by side, and newcomer Soup Dog offers some tasty soup and gourmet hotdogs. Obviously, Zeus Juice has juice. Epiphany Espresso offers up caffeine. For dessert, Chill ’N will whip you up a batch of ice cream using liquid nitrogen to mix it to your order. And all of that within a 100-foot radius of the central courtyard. The courtyard is airy and open, and there’s often a musician hanging around plucking at a guitar and hoping you’ll drop a buck or two into his guitar case. There’s also a small sandbox to attract the children that are often in attendance. It’s a fun and lovely place to hang out with only one downfall: You can’t bring alcohol into the courtyard.Instead, you can bring any of the food you’ve bought into Santa Fe Brewing company, and, in fact, several neighbors like Amore Pizza will happily drop it off at your table. This arrangement is apparently a hit, as every time I’ve dropped by there’s a bit of a crowd, and sometimes it’s so stuffed that it’s difficult to find a seat in the brewery. But that also means that the atmosphere is always lively and diverse as parents and their children mingle with hipsters and retirees. It’s a lovely scene and, even a cynic like myself has to admit, a welcome addition to Albuquerque’s community.
Green Jeans Farmery3600 Cutler NEgreenjeansfarmery.comVibe: Happy mutants minglingThe Alibi recommends: Beer from Santa Fe Brewing Company, burgers from Rustic on the Green, hot dogs from Soup Dog