New Restaurant: Local on 8th
Local originally opened in 2009 in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. It has since been making its way east, opening second and third locations in Medicine Hat and Edmonton. Now, the gastro pub chain has taken over the space formerly known as Dakota's on Stephen Avenue and is serving up food and drink to the always thirsty, always hungry downtown work crowd.
(Note: So as to not confuse this new establishment with the Local pub chain owned by Concorde Group, this small chain is run by Joey Restaurants, taking a more casual approach to its style of dining.)
The decor at Local is retro gas-station chic.
If you are anything like me and had never been to Dakota's before, this is a welcome new inhabitant and it was quite surprising to see how large the space is. The long room is lined with booths all down the left-hand side, with a large central bar on the right. Worn wood-paneled walls are adorned with vintage-looking items — think small town gas station chic. Dim tavern lighting tops it off for a low key, unpretentious environment.
Local's tuna poke is a fresh and light summer snack, perfect for the patio.
When it comes to the food, the establishment is not looking to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it's keeping it simple and keeping it good. The Local menu is definitely a "something for everyone" kind of menu with appetizers like crispy calamari, gyoza and yam fries. The tuna poke is a great summer starter with chunks of tuna tossed with soy, avocado, jalapeno and ginger and served with chips and best enjoyed on the patio on a sunny afternoon.
All of the burgers here are served on housemade buns. With the classic burger priced at $8 and the Brooklyn burger topped with red pepper relish and onion rings at $13, Local boasts some pretty reasonable price points, which is nice. In addition to burgers, it also offers daily rotisserie sandwich specials, fish tacos and more, so picky eaters should be appeased.
The bar's tap system pours out a decent selection of microbrew beers, as well as wines — four red, four white — Jameson's whiskey and Jack Daniels. It also has a small list of custom cocktails available in one ounce, two ounces or pitchers.
Leave some room for churros with warm hazelnut sauce for dipping.
Even if you don't have much of a sweet tooth, you should make an exception and save some room for an order of churros to end your meal here. The crispy, cinnamon-y dessert sticks are served with a warm hazelnut chocolate sauce for dipping. Rain or shine, these will always hit the spot.
If you're swinging by on the weekend, Local offers a small brunch menu with dishes like eggs Benedict, banana pancakes and huevos rancheros. What's even better is if you're a little tired from staying up too late on a Saturday night, the pub offers up some hair of the dog in the form of two-ounce caesars on Sundays for only $6. Can't beat that!