Above:  Doris Herrera of Anodyne. Photograph by Allison Pharmakis.

DORIS HERRERA GREW UP IN TINY Anthony, Texas, just across the New Mexico state line, where she graduated from a high school class of 27. After earning two degrees from New Mexico State University, she followed a flame to Albuquerque, where she settled in a downtown apartment. She soon discovered Anodyne, an upstairs nightspot of understated cool where folks in pinstripes, Carhartts, lacy dresses, and ripped jeans meet for a local draft beer or a top-shelf Scotch, play pool at one of the 10 red-felt tables, hit the pinball machines, and mingle with a crowd of colorful characters. Stop in a few times and you’re pretty close to becoming a regular. Stay long enough and you become a part of the family, which is how Herrera turned into a bartender and an evangelist for her adopted hometown.

When I first came to Albuquerque, I wanted to have new and different experiences. So at that point I was like, Why not? I’ll do it for a little while. It would be an experience and I could say yes, I’ve worked at a bar. That was February of 2007.

Albuquerque’s not like any other city. If you had told 16-year-old me that I’d end up in Albuquerque, I’d have been like, No way. I thought I was going to move to New York City and start a band. But people here take care of each other, they care about each other. It’s a beautiful feeling.

It’s a very dog-friendly town. We used to allow dogs in the bar, but it turned into a dog park. There’d be like 20 dogs and it was crazy. I have a little black pug and an Australian shepherd and I love taking them to the bosque. Albuquerque doesn’t have a beach or a lake, but in the summer you can walk out to the river with your dogs and have so much fun. I play with them for maybe an hour and I feel like I’ve been away all day.

This whole stretch of Central Avenue between downtown and Old Town has so much new stuff going on. I love the Downtown Growers’ Market. I get baguettes from Bosque Bakery, and an americano from Zendo or Humble Coffee. I really like the food at the Feel Good—I saw Mayor Tim [Keller] there last week. Cocina Azul has great posole with red chile and a sopaipilla. Bar Uno, on Second Street, is tiny, but they have fancy cocktails and it’s more affordable than the bar at Hotel Parq Central. Harwood has cool art openings and a zine fest. Sister Bar and Launchpad always have bands playing.

Everybody comes to Anodyne. We get flight attendants, lawyers, landscapers, and graphic designers. Last week I met a country musician who was playing at the Sunshine Theater, and a group of Swedish dudes on a big cross-country trip. Anodyne is one of those places you stop when you’re younger and you’re traveling.

We don’t make craft cocktails, we don’t blend, and we don’t muddle anything. We only pour talls and we move pretty fast.

There are some people who take pool very seriously. We have a bunch of older people who play and have made friends here. Pool makes a bridge between people. Where else would a 25-year-old meet a 70-year-old and hang out to play pool with them weekly?

The bar opened in 1995, and there are a lot of people who’ve been working here the whole time. Regulars, too. I’ve seen their kids grow up and I’ve seen them go through hard times. At the holidays, people who’ve moved away come back to catch up, and they’re always so relieved we’re still here. Anodyne finds the orphans out there and brings them in, and we all make a family. The world changes so quickly, but Anodyne doesn’t. It’s like coming home.

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Anodyne opens for happy hour daily at 4 p.m.