21 E. Cross St., (410) 244-1283, thelocalfry.com
French fries are as common as cornbread in Federal Hill. There are dozens of places that serve fried things in the neighborhood, which makes sense, considering how many bars there are here. However, The Local Fry specializes in fries—and meat, apparently. Even though its main focus is on a root vegetable, this is not a veggie-friendly place. There aren't many dishes here that don't contain meat or meat gravy. I was told at the counter that they would happily make any of their dishes without meat. The logic of this fails when you notice that there's not much left except for fries when you leave out the meat. You can get your fries topped with gyro meat, cheese-steak meat, Buffalo chicken, barbecue pork, chicken and bacon, chicken bacon and cheese, pork, more pork, pulled pork, short ribs, etc. A lot of meat.
The staff recommended the carnitas, sans carnitas ($12 regularly, $10 sans carnitas), which I ordered, dubiously. It probably had the most toppings of all the meat-sans-meat offerings. Along with some really salty fries it had crema, pico de gallo, cilantro, avocado, cotija cheese, and lime, which was pretty good. The tanginess of the cotija cheese and limes made the saltiness of the fries seem less cloying, while the creaminess of the avocado and crema added interest to the crispy, straight-from-the-fryer fries. My 12-year-old son ordered the Irish Fish & Chip Fries ($10). (He's on an Irish kick right now.) This was a slightly bland but perfectly crispy Natty Boh-battered cod served with a delicious caper dill tartar which would have more than made up for the lack of seasoning in the batter, but alas, my young man will not touch creamy sauce. Adding to the dilemma, the fries were overly salted, which left us debating whether we should add salt to the fish when the potatoes were so salty.
The Local Fry was absolutely immaculate inside. I think they had just scrubbed the place down before we arrived. And the staff was attentive and friendly. Even when they explained why they didn't offer tofu anymore (nobody ever ordered their tofu Bahn Mis) they were super nice about it. But there was something missing in The Local Fry's menu options—if you're a vegetarian, that is.