We’ve all been there: scrolling through “food near me” on Google, unable to pick a place to eat. Am I in the mood for Asian? Maybe I should have some Spanish? Or should I go with American? Well, imagine a place that has all these cuisines. Now bring that imagination to reality and head over to The Local Fry, which is conveniently nestled in the Rotunda in Hampden.
Founded by husband and wife Kevin and Elizabeth Irish, this grab-and-go restaurant focuses on fries. But not just plain potato wedges. They’re all about fusion here — kimchi, bulgogi, taco beef and pickled daikon are just a few of the toppings you may find on their staple fries. Their menu represents their international relationship. Kevin is an Irish immigrant, while Elizabeth is a local Baltimorean. Before settling in Baltimore, the couple lived in Europe. Many of their dishes are inspired by their travels there.
I opened their online menu and picked a few items, and my order was ready in about 15 minutes. The shop was “homey” — almost bistro-like with its cursive logo. As soon as I stepped in, a woman smiled and instantly handed me my bag. No wait time at all. From the few seconds I was able to be inside, I caught a glimpse of workers chopping tomatoes, sautéing onions and shredding carrots. At that moment, I knew I was in store for a banging meal.
The Korean cheesesteak fries were a knockout. Steam rose from a mountain of bulgogi, caramelized onions, green onions and crema atop a crispy fry base. It was so big, I didn’t know where to put my fork. So, I started picking at each ingredient. Each one was like a different instrument in a jazz ensemble. The meat, trumpet-like, took center stage with its booming saltiness and juiciness. The sweet and soft onions perfectly interplayed with the beef like a piano riff flowing in and out of the melody. The wisps of crema added flare like spaced-out bass plucks.
Underneath it all, the golden fries were the hearty foundation, the drum groove keeping the tempo. After trying each element, I had to just “go in.” I sank my fork into the mound and went for that “perfect bite.” And let me tell you — that bite was damn near perfect. Not one element overpowered the other. I know it’s cliché, but it really was a symphony of flavors. For just $13, I got Korean barbecue in a box. I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a steal.
If you want a healthier platter, go for the asada fries – it’s a fiesta to say the least. Breaded chicken slices, cilantro, pico de gallo and avocado accompanied the fries.The white meat was succulent, and its skin was crispy. This crunchiness of the chicken and onions balanced out the fluffy potatoes. And the juicy tomatoes and creamy guacamole made for a very refreshing experience. Below the gargantuan portion of meat, I spotted a lime wedge. That spritz of lime juice gave it that oomph.
Not a fan of fries? Don’t worry, they also serve wings, banh mi sandwiches and rice bowls. I picked the honey Old Bay boneless wings and was pleasantly surprised. The 10-piece nuggets were large and came with two fresh stalks of celery. The chicken was saucy, but not too saucy, so dipping them into a side of blue cheese dressing wasn’t overkill, it was necessary. You know in Ratatouille, when Remy takes a bite of cheese and strawberry together, and fireworks erupt in his imagination? That’s how it felt taking a bite of these wings with the blue cheese dressing. The sweetness of the honey, spiciness of the old bay and slight tangy finish of the blue cheese all blend for an explosion of flavor.
The Local Fry values quality food. It’s not shocking that they enforce limited freezer space. Their food is clearly handmade and extremely fresh. For any interested readers, I’d recommend going to try some adventurous fries. Haven’t y’all dipped enough of them in ketchup? Get past Heinz and start exploring the tastes of different cultures. Take just a 15-minute walk from campus and order their fantastic food. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.