Editor's note: In July, Ground Zero visits restaurants outside of Lincoln.
EAGLE — More and more people are discovering what many cyclists have known for more than a year now — Bailey’s Local in Eagle is a dining destination.
In addition to the delicious nachos and tacos prepared specially for the “nacho ride” on Tuesday evenings, the restaurant is home to one of the best reuben sandwiches in the area. Executive chef Cory Rotert braises his corned beef brisket in a stout beer (Guinness) and — get this — makes his own sauerkraut to go along with the Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
The Red Mike Reuben is a must-try.
“Cory puts a lot of pride in (making his own sauerkraut),” restaurant manager Natasha Hoyer said. “He’s pretty proud of his reuben.”
As he should be.
Bailey’s Local opened in May 2016, taking the place of the One Eyed Dog Saloon. The restaurant is owned by Ty McIntosh. Hoyer is his significant other. They make their home in Eagle.
The couple worked with Rotert in creating a menu that’s a cut (or more) above the usual bar and grill menu common to small towns.
“It seems like, since the beginning of the year, we’ve been consistently more busy,” Hoyer said. “We have good local support. We’re seeing people from other (small) communities and from Lincoln, too.”
In March, the restaurant won Lincoln radio station KLIN’s “Munch Madness” as the area’s best new restaurant.
“I didn’t ask anybody (to vote) who hadn’t been here,” Hoyer said of the “Munch Madness” honor. “I wanted it to be legit.”
Bailey’s menu combines burgers and sandwiches — costing $10 to $12 — with a nice mix of steaks, seafood and comfort food favorites such as chicken fried steak and pot roast, with entree prices ranging from $10 to $25.
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My wife and I stuck to the burger and sandwich menu, although I was intrigued by Rotert’s Isolde Pasta, which I will order on my next visit. Diners can choose chicken, veggie, bacon cheeseburger or a combination of the three to mix in with the cavatappi pasta and house cheese sauce.
I enjoyed the aforementioned reuben ($11.29), which I accompanied with tots. Other side choices include fries, cottage cheese, soup or slaw. For $2 more, parmesan truffle fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, macaroni and cheese, side salad or cheese curds are available.
My wife loved her sandwich, The Irishman ($9.99). It’s the restaurant’s take on a Cuban sandwich featuring slow-roasted pork, green chiles, hot link sausage, ghost pepper cheese, dijon mayo, pickles and pickled onions. It was packed with meat and flavor.
We started with an appetizer, an order of onion rings ($7.95), which Hoyer admitted was one of only two items (cheese curds is the other) that’s not made from scratch. Still, the French onion dip was.
As for the Tuesday “nacho ride” fare, cyclists (and others) choose a shredded meat (chicken, beef or pork barbacoa) and toppings for either nachos or two tacos. Cost is $5. Grade: A
Hoyer said the restaurant learned how to manage busy Tuesday nights by trial and error. “Last year we struggled,” she admitted.
That’s not the case now. The bar sets up the nacho/taco bar outside. For those wanting a more substantial meal, the full menu is available inside.
We dined on a busy Thursday, and enjoyed excellent service. Our server, Ashley, hustled our drinks to us when we arrived. The food came out of the kitchen less than 10 minutes after ordering. The rings were to us in less than 5 minutes. Grade: A
Bailey’s Local is a small town bar, and it looks like, well, a small town bar — but a clean one. The room is divided into dining and bar areas. The restaurant is home to pool tables, TVs and other amenities you would expect of a bar. The big draw, especially on Tuesdays, is the outdoor beer garden. Grade: C+
There’s not much call for vegetarian fare here, but some can be had. The Isolde Pasta is the only true vegetarian option outside of a salad or appetizers (cheese curds, onion rings, Brussels sprouts, fried pickles and spinach dip). The menu makes no mention of gluten-free, so check with the kitchen. Grade: C+