Cacti, scorpions and cowboys on horseback are staples of the decor at Highwater, the recently re-branded restaurant in the former Pour House space in midtown.
Officially opened on Aug. 12, Highwater is owned and operated by Mick Stevenson and D.J. Rogers, who also own local delis Dad’s Sandwiches and Dad’s on J. They bought the space at 19th and Q streets eight months ago with the vision of transforming it into something a little spicier, Stevenson said.
“(Pour House) was bar food,” he said. “This is Albuquerque-infused, high desert fare.”
The owners ran Pour House for several months before they closed it for three days last week to print new menus, drape some New Mexico-inspired blankets over the back patio and stock the bar – historically offering a serious whiskey collection – with as many varieties of tequila and mezcal. The also changed the signage out front to reflect the new name.
The food has taken a distinctly southwestern turn, with a few other cuisines in the mix. The brunch list offers huevos rancheros and chilaquiles, while the main menu includes adobo chicken street tacos, a Kahlua-roasted pulled pork plate and the “Chuck Norris” burger topped with smoked gouda and “spicy spin kick mayo.”
Aesthetically, much at the dimly lit, brick-walled restaurant has stayed the same, including the whiskey casks and the saloon-style wallpaper. A new desert scene mural, painted in reds and blacks by local artists Shaun Turner and Dan Osterhoff, is likely the biggest change customers will notice when they step into Highwater for the first time.
Miguel Garcia, 23, and Sydnie Reyes, 24, said they used to frequent Pour House for its ample seating and friendly service. They were surprised by the new decor and menu when they walked in Saturday.
“We wanted to come to Pour House,” Reyes said jokingly while finishing brunch. “Last time we came for bottomless mimosas and really enjoyed their food. I like the new decorations and the atmosphere. It’s a nice spot.”