Local 22 Kitchen + Bar is truly a hidden gem, located somewhat off of the beaten path in the Erwin Square directly on W. Main Street. This is between Duke’s central campus and the 9th Street district. It’s worth hunting down, as this local spot is a unique farm-to-table gastropub serving up modern Southern fare in a relaxed, casual vibe that is all about “sharing what they love.” The first thing you will want to do when you walk in is take a look at the always changing chalkboard, where you will find the featured farm specials’ of the day, the catch of the day, and, most importantly; the mac & cheese of the day!
Local 22 is a Giorgios Group restaurant. Through 10 locally distinct Triangle area restaurant concepts, the Durham based restaurant/hospitality group, which was founded by visionary local restauranteur Giorgios Bakatsias, aims to provide unique and memorable dining experiences with passion and enthusiasm, “one guest, one plate at a time.”
We are not just another restaurant. We are your neighbors, your friends, your next door chefs, and your down the street bartenders. We believe in a craft approach of the highest-quality ingredients. That’s why we work with local farms & partners… Our chalkboards always feature ingredients that just came through the door.. From our signature flavors and daily eats, to our down-home cocktails and local drafts, Local 22 serves your new favorites.
Comfort Food at Its Finest
Unlike most farm-to-table restaurants, the menu at Local 22 stays largely the same, with rotating dishes that feature ingredients that change with the seasons. For example, on my visit, the catch of the day was grilled trout served with summer veggies, such as zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes.
I’m a huge mac & cheese fan, so went straight for that feature, which included chicken, broccolini, and cheddar cheese. Other favorites include the Local Shrimp and Grits and the Pura Vida Lamb Cheeseburger. Pura Vida is a farm located in Bahama, NC, which is just outside Durham. Local 22 Chef Nick Aldrich enjoys slow-cooked meats and is a huge fan of the new featured item, the Barbacoa Street Tacos.
Amazing Whiskey Library + Creative Cocktails
I am a barfly, so I definitely took notice of the extensive North Carolina liquor selection. Local 22 has the most NC whiskeys available than any other area restaurant I have visited! Paul Jones, General Manager, is a former bartender who definitely takes the drink program at Local 22 to the next level.
The current Signature Cocktail menu features the Traveling Broadway, a unique drink made with Troy & Sons Oak Reserve and Carbano with a Campari and sweet vermouth ice cube. For a true taste of summer, try the Parlez-Vous-Frose, which includes Vrac Rose & Strawberry sorbet served with Method & Standard Strawberry Vodka. So refreshing!
Want a drink for dessert? Local 22 features a dessert cocktail list alongside its list of mouth-watering desserts. Wouldn’t a warm bread pudding trifle be so much better with A Damn Fine Chocolate Martini?
Y’all, they don’t play around here…
Local 22’s cocktail program is very NC centric. Every cocktail, with the exception of tequila and mezcal drinks, is based on a North Carolina Spirit. Longtime General Manager at L22 tells us: “This creates unique challenges at times with flavor profiles, sure, but they’re fun challenges! It’s also really awesome to turn people on to things they haven’t tried before.. To experience what Durham Distillery is doing, or try Method and Standard Vodka for the first time… To turn someone on to the cool single malts NC is putting out, like Rua out of Charlotte.”
L22 has an ever-growing whiskey list that they are very proud of, and there’s a nice group of NC Whiskeys coming down the pipes these days as well.
Right now they have 5 taps, and they are constantly rotating. You may not be able to get the same IPA from one trip to the next on draft, but hopefully, you’ll find something new that you like even more at Local 22. Sometimes there will be a fun sour or new seasonal on. Paul says “We like to keep fresh seasonal beers on, often right from our own backyard here in Durham or surrounding towns. Fullsteam Brewery’s Southern Basil is on as we speak. In bottles and cans, we have nearly 30 different brews before you get 50 miles from us. That’s actually how we list them, from miles from your seat!”.
” Our restaurant is tucked away in Erwin Square, and a lot of folks still don’t know we’re here all the way in the back, even though word of mouth is spreading daily and we are seeing a lot of new faces all the time. We’re confident once we get folks in the door they’ll be back again to see what’s next!! It’s really fun to be thriving at a time when the Bull City’s food scene is exploding the way that it is. We have a close-knit staff, and we feel like it shows through to our customers! Great food and drinks is part of the equation, but warm, efficient, and friendly service has a huge roll too.
— Paul Jones, General Manager at Local 22 Kitchen + Bar in Durham, NC
The kitchen at Local 22 is always trying to pump out local items that are as close to them as possible too! Paul says: “It’s really the way restaurant guests are trending these days, and over the last 4-5 years we like to think we’ve been cultivating our place in that scene in Durham. We always feature a Farm, a Catch, and a Garden on our chalkboard… They feature whatever our chefs are playing with at the moment, and always offer a unique meat, fish, and vegetarian, or at times vegan option.”
The Local 22 Kitchen + Bar restaurant skews a little southern style of course, and rotating variations of hush puppies and mac and cheese are always rolling out of the kitchen, pretty much every few mins! Paul says “We feel that being able to showcase so many unique specials on our chalkboard, in addition to our full standard menu, is what lets chefs stay creative and delivers the freshest ingredients to our customers to enjoy.”
In closing, the longtime General Manager at Local 22 Kitchen + Bar, of Giorgio’s Group, tells us that the ultimate goal is to have people feel comfortable at their neighborhood bar, eat some really delicious Farm to Fork creations, enjoy a local spirit they might not have known about, and laugh with friends and family together… “We try and offer a high-end product without pretension, in a chill environment. To us, that’s what the definition of a Farm to Table gastropub is!”
Coming Up at Local 22
The creative culinary team at Local 22 loves developing new menu items. Be sure to check out the website and follow them on Facebook for upcoming beer and wine dinners, featuring all things local, of course.
The Local 22 Kitchen + Bar is conveniently located right next door to one of Durham’s most well-established and popular all-time restaurants; Parizade, which has been in operation for over 25 years. It is one of the crowning jewels of Giorgios Hospitality Group and a Durham staple.
Local 22 is open for lunch and dinner Monday – Saturday and features a brunch menu on Sundays from 11am – 3pm. They do accept reservations, which is advisable if you have large groups coming to this favorite neighborhood hotspot with the locals. The word is officially out about Local 22 y’all, so expect a crowd.
So what are your all-time favorites being served up over at Local 22 in Durham? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.
This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Durham Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication via TBN