By Kelly Koepke
Where can you buy your buddy a beer, chow down on the best jalapeno poppers in the area, and count the lizards on the wall, all while enjoying live music? For the last two years, it’s been the Lazy Lizard Grill, Sandia Park’s family friendly pizza, calzone, and sandwich place.
Two years ago, owners Bruce and Kathy Ogle broke through walls of a former bike shop to create a comfortable, homey bar and grill with orange walls, plants in every window, and a collection of lizards placed around the space. The lizard collection keeps growing every time a customer brings another souvenir to be placed on the walls, in the rafters, or hidden in the greenery.
Kathy’s the one with the green thumb, while Bruce is the man in charge of making sure the salads (all named for real and imaginary lizards like Godzilla, gecko, and T-Rex), and Italian style grinder sandwiches like the rattler, iguana and mud puppy, make it out to customers. Even the pizzas carry on the reptilian theme with the cottonmouth, boa, and king cobra, to name only a few. The handmade calzones break with the cold-blooded monikers. They’re named after local towns: Tijeras, San Antonito, Cedar Crest, and Placitas.
The whimsical conceit of giving funny names to seriously good food evolved naturally from the way the restaurant received its own christening. The Lazy Lizard was the winning suggestion from customers, friends, and others during the name- the- restaurant-contest.
Even one of the wines on the beverage menu continues the theme – Lizard Flat from Australia. All the beers on tap, and there are about ten at any time, are exceptional microbrews from local and regional breweries.
“We started the mug club so that folks could try these great microbrews. For $35 a year, they get a discount on beer, and we keep the mug for them,” says Bruce. “And the buy-your-buddy-a-beer board lists the names of people who have pre-purchased a beverage or food for their friends. It’s a great idea we got from a customer, and people love it.”
It’s hard to find space sometimes on Friday and Saturday nights, with families, singles, and groups bellying up to the bar for those amazing jalapeno poppers. Made from scratch by Kathy with fresh jalapenos stuffed with homemade sausage and cheese and served with guacamole, these fried bites are spicy and addictive. The record number eaten? Bruce says 35 in a row.
Friday and Saturday nights also showcase local musicians and bands from 7:30 to 11pm. Sundays from 2 to 4:30pm is the afternoon blues session with a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s a perfect time to savor a piece of the Lazy Lizard’s tangy, homemade cheesecake. With several kinds available each day, you’ll be hard pressed to choose between the coffee bean and the blueberry. If you haven’t eaten dessert as your appetizer (which some people do, laughs Bruce), then be sure to try the Flaming Dix salsa, made in Santa Fe, as a starter with chips.
Summertime sees bicyclists and hikers turning the Lizard’s patio into a pit stop for refueling. In the winter, Bruce adds, the skiers keep the staff busy.
The Lazy Lizard’s summer hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 2 to 9pm, Thursday and Sunday noon to 9pm, and Friday and Saturday rock from noon to 11pm. Whenever you go, be sure to count the lizards on the walls and check the board to see if your buddy bought you a beer.
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