We had exhausted the (not terrific) restaurant options around our hotel (Casa del Balam) and were casting about for something new when someone picked up Yucatan Today and read the review of Local 3. Contemporary Mexican seemed right up our alley so we decided to give it a go, and are we ever glad we did.
The interior of Local 3 is sleek, clean and modernesque. We we warmly greeted and seated. First up was the drink menu which displayed a long list of creatively crafted option; some new drinks and some inovative twists on old standards. The Local 3 version of Sangria was deliciously updated by the addition of, among other things, a splash of Citrus Vodka. The bar also likes to play around with mezcal, giving smokey hints of flavor to unexpected drinks. Take the Michelada for instance, normally a beer enlivened with the addition of lime juice, tomato (or clamato) juice and spices, a change up in the add-ins plus a dash of mezcal created a beer drink with layers of flavor not ordinarily found in a regular Michelada. The Frida is a cocktail riff on a jamacia margarita, jazzed up with mezcal. There was a lovely, if not haunting, hint of smoke in all the drinks with mezcal that we tried. Thankfully, the bar has a light hand with the mezcal as a little can go a long way
The appetizers we tried included a unique cream of pistachio soup, cream of tomato soup, fried octopus salad served on a bed of chaya, panuchos with duck breas,t and empanadas. The pstachio soup, octopus salad and panuchos were the 3 strongest appetizers. The soup base was presented in a large bowl with a small pitcher of pistachio cream on the side. Once served, the waiter poured the pistachio cream into the the soup base. The panuchos were served with a red and green salsa both of which were a good match for the duck. The red salsa continued the Local 3's love affair with mezcal, and once again the chef was restrained enough in his use of it so that it did not overpower the salsa or the panuchos.
The entree menu is short and varied. There were 2 very nice sounding beef preparations but we opted to go with the fish, shrimp, pork and pasta entrees. Salmon lacquered with jamacia glaze was perfectly cooked and delectable. The mero (grouper) was a remarkable combination of flavors and easily the best dish of the night. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly what was in this dish, only that it was sublime. The pasta with huitlacoche pleased the fungus fan that ordered it. Encacahuatado usually indicates a dish with a peanut sauce; the pork dish was stuffed with peanuts, pecans and almonds and served with a refined peanut sauce as well as a smooth, and creamy avocado sauce. The only flaw with this dish was that it was hard to eat. The pork came as a larg hunk of the loin. While it made for a flashy presentation, it probably would have been easier to eat had the portion been sliced and fanned out over the plate. The most interesting, if not playful, entree were the shrimps encrusted with with crushed chicharron. They were far more delicate than anticipated, adding a soft porky nuance to the shrimp. The shrimp were also perfectly cooked. The plate presentation was attractive but unfortunately, the chaya on the plate was oversalted. One of the few missteps in the dinner.
Local 3 is run by a brother/sister duo. He's the chef and she handles front of the house. Service was attentive and competent throughout the meal. The kitchen had some timing issues with the entrees all coming out at different times.
All in all, Local 3 was the best, and most interesting, dining experience we had during a 5 day stay in Merida. I'd go back in a heartbeat. The good is fresh, creative, flavorful and cooked from the heart.
I have photos, but unfortunately, I also have a new computer operating on Windows 7 and it keeps telling me I don't have permission to attach photos? If I can figure it out, I'll post the photos later.