The Local: Great Food, Even Better People
Leading up to our foodie issue, we knew we wanted to highlight a newer place that didn’t have as much recognition but had some good food. When you walk down Del Mar, you are met by countless restaurants and options to satisfy your hunger, but one that recently caught our eye was The Local. Its exterior blends seamlessly with the aesthetic of San Clemente. The modern, Spanish exterior is complemented by the beautiful, colored tiles that accent its walls. The patio is inviting, filled with community-style tables and lined with countless plants.
The most incredible thing about this place, however, is the heartbeat behind it. Hooman Mofidi, the owner and executive chef, is one of the most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet. Originally from Newport Beach, he grew up cooking. At 23, he moved to New York City for culinary school. What was originally supposed to be one year quickly turned into eight. After graduating, he worked his way up, starting at the salad station, then to line cook, sous chef, and six years later, he opened his restaurant in New York.
What moved him back to Orange County nine years ago was his family. At the time, his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and as an only child, he wanted to move back to help take care of her. (She is now healthy and has been in remission for six years!) His parents had moved to San Clemente previously, and having not spent much time here before, he immediately fell in love with it. When we asked him what the thought was behind calling it “The Local,” he responded by saying often times people confuse it to mean that he is the local, but once again you see his big heart come through. The idea behind the name was to create a space that could be your local pub and bar, a place for you.
The mission behind this restaurant has always been to be more than just a place to be fed, but a place to be known. Hooman was quick to brag about his right-hand gal and front-of-house manager, Frankie Tombini, someone he couldn’t do this without.
“It’s like Cheers,” he says. “She remembers everybody’s name.”
Both Hooman and Frankie are keen on people enjoying themselves and do their best to make everyone feel welcomed and at home. Even their employees stick around for a long time. They have certainly created a culture that so beautifully reflects the family atmosphere that San Clemente prides itself on.
The Local is his second restaurant here in San Clemente, the first being Poche Burger near the DMV. Don’t be fooled by the informal exterior; the food they serve is top-notch and made from scratch. One of our favorite things they offer is Bottomless Brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for—wait for it—$25. Yeah, our jaw dropped too. To sweeten the deal, they also feature Bottomless Drinks for an additional $25. Crab eggs Benedict with jalapeno-sage hollandaise, a half-pound breakfast burger on a pretzel bun, avocado toast and chicken and waffles with salted caramel sambal sauce (drooling) are among their brunch menu items.
Their dinner menu is extensive as well and features the same creativity and excellence. From amazingly unique appetizers perfect for sharing with friends to a tomahawk rib-eye weighing in at 28 ounces, you will love it all! A few crowd favorites: Mussels y chorizo, poké and crispy rice, ramen with miso broth and pork belly, and a Carolina crispy barbecue chicken sandwich served on a pretzel bun.
What drew us in, however, was their lunch menu that features a list of six burgers, all of which come with fries and a house beer for $8. You definitely get the bang for your buck here. The lunch menu is available Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there is something on it for everyone. You have your classic cheeseburger with grilled onions and secret sauce, a barbecue bacon cheeseburger with onion rings and house-made barbecue sauce, a bacon cheeseburger, a bacon mushroom burger, an avocado burger and a jalapeno cream cheeseburger with fresh jalapenos and cream cheese. We took it upon ourselves to make a visit and try each of their featured burgers—and we loved them.
First Favorite: Jalapeno Cream Cheeseburger
Score: 5 stars
Second Favorite: BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger
Score: 5 Stars
Third Favorite: Bacon Mushroom Burger
Score: 5 stars
Judges (left to right)
Joel Foust: “I’ve been thinking about this moment all day.”
Melanie Foust: “Self-Proclaimed Burger Connoisseur since 1996.”
Rachelle Francey: “If this burger tastes as good as this place looks …”
Mark Francey: “Go big or go home.”