Steampunk beer taps, chandeliers, and giant bee murals aren’t usually found under the same roof. But at The Kosmos Restaurant, tucked away in the sprawling Factory on 5th Art Space, everything is fair game. Restaurant owner and self-described “Jack-of-all-trades” Jerry Miller dreamed up the restaurant after years of running the gallery and studio space for area artists with his partner David Cudney. “We’d sort of been waiting for this neighborhood to change,” Miller said. “And so finally the brewpubs started popping up and I thought, well, they all rely on food trucks – maybe a good restaurant would go.” The result is an expansive open floor with an idyllic Albuquerque patio and a host of classic burger and sandwich options.

Even before you enter the expansive dining room or order food, whimsy hits you from every direction. There’s a set of shoes rotating, wind-up-toy style, though a little pool under the patio. There’s the aforementioned bee, floating on the garage door closest to the restaurant entrance. A tower of brightly colored bicycle parts are piled high into a modern-art monolith of sorts. And there’s the gas grill Miller used to man, back when he got the idea to serve food at what was once an events-space section of the arts complex. Miller said, “a few years ago I started studying burgers. And I started making burgers on that because we didn’t have a full kitchen.”

Miller started looking into what went into his favorite burgers, from Shake Shack on the East Coast to his friend’s eatery, Rocky’s Crown Pub in San Diego. The result is the Kosmic burger, a patty specially shaped by a device Miller created, seared until crispy, served with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, house-made pickles from the kitchen and a choice of green chile. There’s a full kitchen now, and the ground beef comes from Keller’s Farm Stores, which processes the meat to order for them. Other featured locals include La Cumbre, Boese, and Bow and Arrow, Boxing Bear, Bosque, and Steel Bender, along with Atomic Age bakery, a bakery offering a small selection of cookies and dessert bars.

The restaurant has a loose outer space theme, with a backlit countertop full of twinkling stars, menu items with names like the “Meateor Burger,” “Spudnik Potatoes” (fries), and a mural by local artist Nani Chacon depicting an alien-esque woman eating a kebab made of planets. But the restaurant also strays from the theme – there’s an old walk-in fridge Miller repurposed into a keg storage compartment and re-finished to look like a classical marble wall-face, complete with a cherub and water spigot. Perhaps the most intriguing corner of the restaurant is another small-scale installation piece by Cudney. Miller calls it the “cloud door”: a door leading to nowhere with a shuttered window-pane above a moving image of a cloud in pure blue sky. The television cloud footage is eerie but bright, and its sideways position hints at a portal to an alternate universe. “He’s always coming up with unusual little things,” Miller said of Cudney’s many creations. “And that’s gotten us a lot of notoriety.”

Though foot traffic is hard to come by in a neighborhood still more industrial than pedestrian-friendly, Miller has met success in snagging catering gigs and big events. Gus Pedrotty, who ran for mayor in 2017, brought his whole entourage and well over 100 supporters to Kosmos for an event. Others have included a last minute order for a party at Boese Brothers and a training dinner for ACLU staff. “We’re creeping into other aspects of the restaurant game,” Miller said. His numerous ties to the art community have secured a reliable customer base of artists and creatives, and the flow of people through the connected artist studios, galleries, and ABQ Circus Arts practice space at Factory on 5th doesn’t hurt.

While Kosmos expands their customer base, they are constantly adapting, Miller says. “It’s a sort of an experimental restaurant and we’re constantly changing. It’s a unique environment and it’s very friendly, and we’re open to suggestions,” Miller said. They also hold musical events, are overhauling the menu, and are planning to make the selection more vegetarian and vegan-friendly. The mostly DIY space, Miller says, is ever-evolving.

Miller hopes to find new ways to connect to the surrounding breweries so that customers can order food while they have a beer and have it delivered from Kosmos. But true to the restaurant’s unconventional form, he’s hatching a plan to deliver burgers to the nearby Tractor Brewing – Wells Park soon – by drone.

Edible Santa Fe

Edible Santa Fe

Edible celebrates New Mexico's food culture, season by season. We believe that knowing where our food comes from is a powerful thing. With our high-quality, aesthetically pleasing and informative publication, we inspire readers to support and celebrate the growers, producers, chefs, beverage and food artisans, and other food professionals in our community.
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