Bar profile: Local Cantina keeps things (thankfully) simple

By Columbus Alive
From the May 23, 2013 edition

Grandview’s Local Cantina is a Mexican restaurant and bar that makes its bones by keeping things simple, but appropriately fun. The interior is characterized by roadhouse tchotchkes — license plates, hubcaps, sombreros, Polaroids and various aviary statuettes — and a mustachio theme. It all goes perfectly with Local Cantina’s self-described “taco truck with bar stools” vibe.

The first order of business after bellying up at the bar (or grabbing a table or booth) is making a tough decision drink-wise. Local Cantina has 16 taps featuring a respectable rotation of craft beers — check out Facebook and Twitter for draft updates — to go with a complementary bottle/can selection and a collection of hand-made cocktails and margaritas.

The signature is The Mustache Ride ($7), a puissant margarita made with Cazadores tequila, lime, agave nectar and a Grand Marnier float that’s highly recommended — and the double-sized Magnum P.I. version for $3 extra is a steal — but the flavored-versions are quality options as well. Too often fruity margaritas are saccharine disasters, but Local Cantina doesn’t go over the top. The Blood Orange ($6) is quite delicious; tangy, slightly sweet and the appropriate booze-i-ness.

A couple other cocktails feature adventurous twists. The (still red) Verde Bloody Mary ($7) with Absolut Peppar, olive and lime juice, Sriracha, a nitro beer float and pepperoncini garnish is a spicy variation that would be the ideal option during Local Cantina’s weekend brunch (11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). The Don Take Manhattan ($8) with Cazadores Anejos, walnut bitters and sweet vermouth sounds odd, but could work.

On the food side, Local Cantina boasts a wealth of options including a dozen street-style tacos for $3 each. The Cantina Fish Taco is one of the top-sellers, and the Grilled Chicken (with black bean salsa and agave nectar) is far better than the traditional poultry fare. The Roasted Carnitas (with mango, pineapple and mint) is quite tasty as well. The more imaginative creations include BBQ Beef Brisket and Tempura Shrimp tacos.

Larger plates include the Cantina Burrito ($8), a Cuban Sandwich ($7) with Italian cold cuts and the Casa del Nacho ($7), a massive pile of chips, shredded carnitas and toppings.

Photo by Meghan Ralston