My Local

May 23rd, 2009 by Laurel

Most people have a window in their lives when they hone their moving skills. For me, that’s been my twenties. Whether you end up in a new province, new city, or a new part of town, there are certain things you have to do each time; one is find your new local.

A local is the pub that’s ‘stumbling distance’ to your front door. It doesn’t have to be your favourite spot in the city, but it’s the kind of place you’d go anyway; that, plus the proximity, is what makes a local so great. At the risk of making us Wo’MHers sound like alcoholics (what with Aaron’s recent post about the MLCC), your local can be extremely important to making your new neighbourhood feel like home.

After you leave a neighbourhood, your local is often what sticks with you the longest. Emma, Aaron and I all shared a local when we lived in the same house (at different times) in Kitsilano, a Vancouver neighbourhood. Nevermind was a dark, cozy bar whose main customers were the UBC students who lived in nearby suites and apartments. It was an awesome place to hang out, and take advantage of their $10 Burger and Brew on Tuesdays; Nevermind was my first and still favourite local.

Other times, you and your local may not click; this happened with me and my closest local, the Two Parrots. The Parrots was a bar that was well known to me by exterior alone –  it was a bright yellow building with two giant neon parrots on the side, located downtown on Granville Street. I ended up renting an apartment above the bar*; the first time I went inside the Parrots was when I signed my lease. After that, I went in a handful of times; after parties, to meet up with friends, and, on a couple occasions, to watch the Canucks. My next apartment (after I got sick of the bar’s weekly karaoke night) was only ten blocks away, but I didn’t return to the Parrots after I moved.

Fast forward to the present: I found my current apartment on Craigslist almost two months before I moved here. Emma went over and scoped out the place for me; after it was deemed livable, we ran random searches on Google maps, finding the nearest bookstores, grocery store, library, and – yes – pub. That turned out to be Shannon’s Irish Pub on Hargrave Carlton (Edit: My inability to keep street names straight is part of the reason I get lost so often).

The Wo’MH team did a little trial run of the place the other night, and it looks to be local-perfect – cozy, occasional live music, and nachos on the menu (though there was a little disappointment on the vegetarian side when it turned out the tofu dish on the menu was no longer actually being served). The only thing missing is outdoor seating, which, considering it’s underground, isn’t surprising. It seems like the perfect location for ducking over in the cold of winter, but I’m not too sure about the fairer months of the year; I think I still need to explore some more downtown pubs for some sunny patio action.

Fellow (and former) Winnipeggers: what’s your local?

* Kids, never live above a bar in downtown Vancouver.

14 Responses to “My Local”

  1. Emma says:

    Awww, great memories of Nevermind. My Winnipeg local is Big Rick’s Hot Rod Diner. It’s not a bar, of course, but it’s so close to home that I have a hard time considering it *not* my local. It affords us stumbling distance to delicious, delicious breakfast, which is just as important, right? 😉

  2. Julie says:

    FOr a great patio, check out the downtown Tavern United’s rooftop patio. Sure, it’s Tavern United, but the patio is pretty awesome in the summer.

  3. Travis says:

    My former local was Johnny G’s in the exchange.. my buddy and i would walk there from where we lived in Elmwood every saturday night.
    but having since moved to the south end of the ‘peg i have yet to find a new place.

  4. mrchristian says:

    The neighbourhood pub is a bit of a rare beast in Winnipeg. I’d have to say that my local would be LO Pub – it’s not that near my home but where I work (stumbling distance to the office lol).

    A little too far to be my local, but a nice snug pub, is Yellow Dog on Donald. Nice big window, cozy, chatty people.

    I think a good local is about chat-ability and really should have some sense of the street outside. Most of our ‘pubs’ tend to be dark and dank and have loud music in the background cutting back the chat-ability rating.

    In the neck of the woods you’re talking about one place I liked to go for something different was the Palm Room at the Fort Garry (though it’s sans palm now !). You can go dressed down or dressed up but it’s an interesting place. Often times a piano player will come in and sit at the baby grand. Whenever people would want to stop by I’d tell them lets meet in the Palm Room first and then come back to my place.

  5. I was going to suggest the same as Julie- the Tavern’s rooftop.
    I actually have another Tavern United near me in Fort Garry as well- it’s always pretty busy!

  6. There are not many “local pubs” in Winnipeg. I visited London, England a couple years back and that is how we ought to do it…

    Big Guys Ranch & Saloon, 16-200 Meadowood Dr., in St. Vital classifies as a good local.

  7. Laurel says:

    Emma – There really needs to be a special term for great, local breakfast places. It’s great to have a place you can just stroll to in the AM, and Big Rick’s wins for atmosphere and prices!

    Julie & PotU- I’ve walked by Tavern United and spotted the rooftop patio, but haven’t ventured up yet. I plan to get up there a few times this summer – it looks awesome up there!

    Travis – The Exchange almost qualifies as stumbling distance for me – Johnny G’s is now on the list!

    Mr. C – Two really good points I totally missed – a good local totally needs chat-ability, and having the neighbourhood interact with the pub somehow (big windows are nice, patio seating is FTW). I think the Palm Room might even be closer than Shannon’s — another place I need to check out for sure.

    GOM – I would totally go to England just for the pub scene. Big Guys is a little out of my ‘hood, but sounds like it’s worth the trip!

  8. Ian says:

    the draconian liquor laws in this province prevents the rise of the local pub in this province.

  9. Hat and Beard says:

    On the same block as Shannon’s Irish Pub, on the corner of Hargrave and St. Mary is the Elephant and Castle, another solid pub in my mind, and one that has a patio for the summer months. Myself and members of a jazz band I am in frequented the place often, and it has a monstrous brownie (for you brownie and ice-cream lovers out there).

  10. ct says:

    The Kings Head (best beer selection) or Yellow Dog are great — Kings Head is especially fun if you happen upon a local band playing there or if you go during the Fringe.

    Baily’s lounge is also pretty kischy and they have popcorn and a big screen to catch the game

  11. Laurel says:

    R in the S – I usually end up spending more time at locals-by-association than my own local at any given residence – it lets you live vicariously through someone else’s neighbourhood 😉

    H&B – I can’t believe I didn’t include Elephant and Castle for my ‘hood! I’ve been there a few times since moving to Winnipeg and really like the place — I actually wandered by while fence for the patio was being installed a few weeks ago. I think my brain may have E & C misfiled as a ‘BC Thing’ (the first one I went to was in Victoria), resulting in this glaring omission.

    CT – I’ve wanted to check out Bailey’s since I visited Winnipeg last November, simply because I love the sign and the building’s exterior. I am glad to hear it’s kitschy – that’s exactly what I was hoping it would be!

  12. Vanessa says:

    My absolutely favorite pub in the city is the King’s Head on King St. (in the Exchange). The atmosphere is really laid back, the food is awesome and – best of all – you can get Half Pints beer on tap!

  13. vogtee says:

    Great blog all! After 2.5 years living in Vancouver I was so content to be back in Winnipeg, even though I consider myself a big city girl. I happily brought back a man from Vancouver, who was originally from Lethbridge – so your topics hit very close to home. I do miss Nevermind but my favorite local in Winnipeg is The Toad (in the Hole). It seems like the obvious choice but maybe just to me as no one else has mentioned it.

    Keep up the great writing!

  14. MK says:

    I agree with the King’s Head. I live in the south end of the city and miss the King’s Head. Check it out on Sunday nights for a great band called All the King’s Men. Amazing atmosphere! Great beer! And decent food to.

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