Downtown hotspot tailors its brand just for Pacific Beach By FRANK SABATINI JR.
Published - 08/20/14 - 01:26 PM | 8017 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A neighborhood newcomer gives diners a taste of the tropics. 					            Courtesy photos
A neighborhood newcomer gives diners a taste of the tropics. Courtesy photos
Slow-cooked meats, Trader Vic’s mai tais and craft beer are among the creature comforts calling patrons back to the two-level space formerly occupied by Nick’s at the Beach on Thomas Street.

After months of renovations, the property recently reopened under new ownership as The Local Pacific Beach. The venture is an offshoot of The Local Drinking Hole & Eatery in downtown San Diego, differentiated in part by more square footage and several tantalizing Hawaiian twists on its menu.

“We have a good beach-restaurant feel here,” said Brendan Huffman, who, along with partner Mina Desiderio, also co-owns Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach. Both are experienced restaurateurs; Huffman operates Bootlegger Plates & Pours in East Village and Desiderio founded the original Local several years ago at Fourth and Broadway.

Redesigns to the 7,000-square-foot structure have included new exterior siding, the addition of an elevator and solar-heated flooring installed on the upstairs patio for cooler nights, an uncommon amenity in San Diego restaurants. In keeping with the islander theme, fresh flora was added throughout.

The billiard tables that once occupied the upper level are gone. They’ve been replaced by more seating options, including a raised “community booth area” that holds up to 20 people.

“The synergy of the two Locals is that they have the same attitude. Both are fun and edgy with good local craft beer and incredible food,” said Huffman. “But downtown caters to more of a lunch crowd, while PB attracts a big nightlife crowd, as well as being a restaurant.”

Visitors to the Pacific Beach location can also expect a decidedly different menu, with some of the dishes created by Sven Rusch, who worked as an executive chef in Hawaii for 12 years.

Meats such as huli huli chicken, kahlua pork, brisket and Asian-style short ribs are put through a slow cooker overnight. They appear in plate form, sandwiches and tacos.

“We’re going through quite a bit of them,” said Huffman.

Their sidekicks and condiments include sticky rice, fresh macaroni salad, spicy coleslaw, pineapple sweet-and-sour sauce and other elements that beckon to tropical cuisine.

There is also coconut calamari, ahi poke with macadamia nuts and The Local’s top-selling lobster tacos, which carry over from downtown. The tacos are made with char-grilled flour tortillas encasing three ounces of fresh tail meat from lobsters trawled along the West Coast.

Discounts on various tacos and drinks are offered from 5 to 10 p.m. on “tiki Tuesdays,” when musician Ben Benevente provides patrons with live Hawaiian compositions. On other nights of the week, a host of popular DJs raise the beat with contemporary music.

Complementing an ambitious craft-beer list that encompasses everything from IPAs and Belgians to lagers and pale ales are cocktails that remind visitors of their proximity to the sands, like Don the Beachcomber’s Zombie, which mixes passion fruit with white and gold rum, and the Ron Mexico Margarita that earns its kick from fresh jalapenos.

The drink selection extends also to swooped-up Trader Vic-style mai tais accented with cloves and fresh ginger, as well as PB mules, blackberry daiquiris and “sand-pail punch.”

Although The Local’s look and flavor is noticeably different from its long-established predecessor, Huffman said devoted patrons of Nick’s regularly drop in.

“We’re still fresh and trying to get the word out that we’re here,” said Huffman. “But so far, we’ve had a very good following and reaction.”

He said that in addition to offering lunch and dinner service, brunch will be introduced on Saturdays and Sundays starting

Aug. 30.
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