photo: Kate Schwartz
If you've ever been to New Orleans you know that a properly made po'boy is enough to make a Cajun palette sing—spicy, breaded shrimp (or catfish or oysters), provolone cheese, tomatoes and shredded lettuce piled inside crispy French bread that's been slathered with Creole mayo. Lucky for us, the Lincoln Park neighborhood fave, The Local Option, knows how to do it right.
Of course, po'boys are just one of the crowd-pleasing options on the bar's N'awlins-focused menu. The spot serves up chicken wings and swordfish tacos alongside shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya and heavenly seafood gumbo. The eatery is near-famous for its monster salads, which include a mound of mixed greens, avocado, tomatoes, green onion and fennel topped with ahi tuna, calamari or blackened chicken. Served in classy plastic baskets, few items will set you back more than $10.
The range of high-quality, inexpensive noshes is as varied as the bar's clientele, which ranges from gray-haired patrons who have been loyal to the bar for decades to those just old enough to be stumbling onto the scene. Despite the age difference, the crowds mix amiably, probably due in part to necessity (the intimate space squeezes in just under 90 drinkers). The signature vodka lemonade, a refreshingly tongue-tingling drink, can't hurt either. Those more interested in brew can enjoy the beers on tap and 14 bottled varieties, including domestics, imports and microbrews.
As for the decor, gone are the beloved walls murals and quirky decorations of Local Option's yesteryears, but we can't say the new flat-screen TVs are yielding many complaints. And, beneath the changes, the neighborhood feel still thrives. In warm weather, head straight to the outdoor patio for one of the best outdoor spots in the area.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood