You may think I am exaggerating in the "50 or so times" above, but as a 20-something working in downtown since 2004, with the Local a mere 2 blocks away from my former workplace, and 6 blocks from my current one, I have been there quite a bit. I used to work in advertising, where someone was quitting pretty much every other week. The Local was the go-to place for "going away" happy hours. Since leaving advertising, I haven't gone to The Local quite as much, but I still enjoy it.
I say that with a huge caveat. I enjoy The Local IF I can find a place to rest my weary bones. I do not mind standing at a bar if there is at least a little place to stand in and not have to move every 2 seconds because you are in the middle of a walkway, or if there is not even a place to put down your beverage. The Local is awesome if you can snag a table. If not, might as well just leave, unless you enjoy being shoved by throngs of people.
The crowd at The Local on Thursday and Fridays from 4:30-7pm is mostly 20-something downtown workers, probably most of them from Target because the headquarters office is right across the street. I think everyone is on the whole pretty friendly here. People know that it is a crowded bar, so you don't get too many people that are all pissy because you have to walk through their group to get to the bathrooms.
I think The Local is a beautiful bar, especially since they remodeled half of it 2 years ago. I love the wood and the windows and the colors of the walls. The outside patio is great too. The only gripe I have with it is that it can get loud being on Nicollet with the buses going by every few minutes. Other than that, it is great. I noticed that this year they have a different configuration to their outdoor tables so that more people can fit there. Great idea on their part.
The food at The Local is kind of meh. It's pretty expensive for what you get. Happy Hour is the only time where I think the food is priced at an acceptable level. The Wee Burgers (5 normal sized burgers) for $5.99 are the best deal. I really like their artichoke dip too, and they give you extra flatbread if you ask.
They used to have a lunch deal - a sandwich, side, drink, tax, and tip for $9.99. I am unsure of if they still have that - I know Kieran's does and they are owned by the same company so I would think the Local still does too. This is a great deal for lunch, that would be made even greater if they still had their club sandwich on the menu. For some inexplicable reason, when they changed the menu 2 years ago, they took off the club sandwich. In my mind, a club sandwich is an essential item at any bar. So that annoyed me and soured me on The Local for a few months.
I shouldn't end my review on that bad note, because really, The Local is one of my favorite downtown happy hour spots. It has a nice atmosphere, a good selection of drinks, and fairly affordable food during happy hour. I know a lot of people like The Local better in the summer with the patio, but I think sitting on the patio has you missing out on the beauty of the inside of The Local. The only reason I like it better in the summer is because it is less crowded inside. I think it is the perfect place to go on a freezing winter day to get some comfort food and a drink.
Erin and I both work downtown, so we end up going to the Local for happy hour occasionally, its a popular place especially in the warmer months when you can sit outside onNicollet Mall.
The Local is a pretty big place with a really cool Irish decor inside. They pride themselves for serving more Jameson than any other bar (in the city? in the world? I don't know). Behind the bar are dozens of bottles of Jameson to illustrate this point. There is plenty of dark wood trim all around with several semi-private nooks placed throughout the lower level. There is also a smaller upper level that has a couple pool tables, dart boards, and some couches.
Our service at the Local has always been great, I can't even think of a time where I was annoyed at a bartender or a server. The last time we went, which was a couple weeks ago, we had a really cool server who didn't have a problem showing a little attitude. When I asked her opinion on what drink to get, she just kind of looked at me, shrugged, and said "I don't know, what do you want?" as if she was annoyed. Right after I said it I realized it WAS a dumb question, how the hell would she know what I wanted to drink :)
As far as food and drink go, the Local is pretty good. Their taps are "ok" from my perspective, they don't really have a hoppy beer as I recall, but they do have Summit EPA on tap, which suits me just fine. They have a great selection of scotches to choose from, and they are home of the 'big ginger' - a mixture of Jameson (of course) with Sprite and ginger ale (I think that's it). But one of the greatest things about the bar, is that the glasses they serve beer in are huge. They are shaped like a pint glass, but probably hold closer to twenty ounces of beer. The prices may seem a little steep (~$5 for a beer), but it's not all that bad.
We've eaten at the Local a couple times, and even went there for Valentine's Day one year when Erin had to work late. The happy hour deals on the food are pretty good, you can get five little burgers for about $5 and they have other deals too. The food is pretty standard pub fare - burgers, fish and chips, fish sandwiches etc. and the prices are reasonable for a downtown restaurant.
The one negative thing that I'll say about the Local is that it gets pretty f-ing busy there during happy hour on Thursdays and Fridays. If you get there at 5 and expect to get a table, good luck, cause it's probably not gonna happen. If you can get there early enough to secure one of the little nooks, you're home free, but you have to get there early :)
- Service: Service is great, the servers know how to handle a crowd and are friendly.
- Food: Good pub food, good deals during happy hour.
- Drinks: The taps are so-so in my opinion, but there's something for everyone. Great scotch selection and full bar.
- Ambiance: I really like pubs, so The Local is right up my alley - unless it's overrun with downtown yuppies (myself included) at happy hour.
- Price: Beers are a little expensive, but larger as I mentioned. The food is very reasonably priced, especially during happy hour.
- Convenience: Not so convenient. The Local is at 10th and Nicollet, so if you don't have to drive, don't. The bus does go right in front of it, however :)
931 Nicollet Mall
Highly recommended for happy hour.