New gastropub joins crowded ABQ downtown beer scene

The taps are ready to go for Side Effex's grand opening.
The taps are ready to go for Side Effex’s grand opening.

There is a new gastropub set to open downtown, one with some familiar owners. Side Effex will celebrate its grand opening today (Thursday) at 8 p.m. The celebration will include a full food menu, beers, and cocktails. New Bullpen member Shawna and I met with one of the owners, Carri Phillis, to discuss her vision for the newest addition to the crowded beer scene along Central Avenue.

Carri owns the popular dance club Effex, if that wasn’t obvious from the name. Her vision for Side Effex is to create a “one-stop shop” in the heart of downtown. Customers will have the opportunity to try rare beers, while enjoying an eclectic food menu, ranging from chicken and waffles to Ahi tuna sliders. Carri owned the German restaurant, Heimat House, and has taken quite a bit of her lessons learned from there to Side Effex, including keeping things to a smaller scale in a more visible location. Side Effex will feature some of Heimet House’s diverse beer menu, as well as some of its more popular food items like traditional German-style pretzels.

Food, though, will not be the primary focus of Side Effex. Beer will come first and foremost.

“I told people it’s like an eclectic gastropub, with the chandeliers and the funky furniture,” Carri said. “But, definitely a focus on beer. That’s one of the things that we have. It will be (a lot of) the one-offs.”

The new space is considerably more open and inviting than Adieux ever was.
How the space look as Adieux, with a lower ceiling and a more compact bar area.

The beer menu was the most successful part of Heimat House, and Carri will try to recreate as much of that as possible at Side Effex.

“When Heimat closed, some of the distributors stopped carrying a few of the beers, but theyr’e going to start picking some of those back up for us,” she said. “We do have a couple of the Weihenstephaners around.”

Downtown has become crowded with taprooms and breweries in the last 12-plus months. Boese Brothers, Duel, Monk’s Corner, Red Door, and Sidetrack have joined established beer bars such as Anodyne and Sister, plus Back Alley Draft House. The challenge will be to keep the lineup just different enough at Side Effex that it remains compelling to beer drinkers.

“You’ve got the local breweries down here, which is awesome,” Carri said. “I think that this is the perfect place to have them, too. We’re kind of like a one-stop shop. You can come in here, hang out, get some food. We kind of want to be the place where people get started, fan out around downtown, and then come back in the end.”

The downtown crowd will be quite a bit different than what Heimat House had in the Northeast Heights.

“Finally downtown, I feel like the vibe is changing,” Carri said. “You see more people walking downtown. I could have expanded Effex, which we’ll probably do in the future anyway. But, I was like, OK, what do we need for downtown and for Effex, even? I’m a foodie, I like funky, cool food, and I love beer.”

Carri insisted on a lot of chandeliers for Side Effex.
Carri insisted on a lot of chandeliers for Side Effex.

Side Effex will have 20 taps, as opposed to the six that were at Cafe Adieux. The New Belgium Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale, Ballast Point Red Velvet (on nitro), Upslope Blood Orange Saison, Stone Xocoveza, Avery PumpKYn, and Odell Jolly Pirate were among the beers on tap when we visited. The more high-end, small-release beers will come later, likely including the next release of Deschutes’ The Abyss.

“The one thing that people really liked about Heimat House were the one-offs,” Carri said. “That’s what we wanted to keep.”

There will be multiple TVs around the space for sports fans, plus free wi-fi, and even plugs along the bar for folks to charge their phones. Overall, it should give folks another solid option for the neighborhood.

“Downtown, it’s not perfect, but I love downtown, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Carri said. “I like that we can walk down the street to Duel or Mezcal or Boese. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I hope that Side Effex is a good neighbor, a good addition, with good food and amazing beer.”

The Crew welcomes Side Effex to the downtown scene. We will endeavor to stop by tonight and perhaps raise a pint of Xocoveza in honor of International Stout Day.


— Stoutmeister

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